Room by Room Organizational Tips: The Kitchen

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I thought after my last series of posts on organization, it might be nice to give you some Room-by-Room Organizational Tips. Through this month I’ll touch on the most common rooms in our homes and give you tips and idea’s on how-to organize and clean with purpose. I thought we’d start with the kitchen… so here we go!

The kitchen is the gathering place in our home like most others. It’s where little boys get to lick the icing off the mixer beaters… where soap-bubble beards are made and wet towel ‘thwacks’ happen… yes the kitchen is the heart of the home… after all it’s where we nourish those we love.

I’ll give you the details of how I keep my kitchen tidy and organized. Next time I’ll touch on my pantry.

What a happy mom am I when the boys rooms are clean, the fridge is shining with no ‘science experiments’ going on in it, the appliances are shining and the windows are clean… at least for fifteen minutes! After all, with a three-year old that likes to lick the window at the cat sitting on the window shelf and the six-year-old that loves to draw on a steamy window… I’m lucky to get the fifteen minutes!

So here are some helpful Room-by-Room Organizational Tips for the kitchen.

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*I keep all my spices and herbs in half pint, pint and quart size mason jars.

*In the fridge, I always keep the older products up front so they are used first. I do use Tupperware Fridge Smart containers in my fridge. They stack neatly and they really do keep things fresher longer. I use them for my lunch meat, cheeses and even leftovers. They are not just for fruit & veggies.

*I also prefer to use cling wrap over foil to cover things in the fridge~ it’s easier to see what’s in the bowl.

*I keep all my baking supplies: measuring items, spices, herbs, flour, baking pans and sheets on the same side of the kitchen in neighboring cupboards so I don’t have to run all over the kitchen for items.

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*Use plastic totes to keep loose items like cookie cutters and other items that you don’t use every day in and then they stack neatly in the cupboard as well.

*I use baskets in my utensil drawers~ I like the way it looks better than the regular plastic utensil dividers. I am all about cute~ especially if I can use baskets!

*If you do a lot of baking like we do, keep your 25# and 50# bags of sugar, oatmeal and flours in plastic totes with air tight lids. This will keep it fresh and keep the bugs out!

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Here’s  my Kitchen Routine as I have it in my journal. This is to be done on a weekly basis unless otherwise noted.

Weekly:

Wash down: Counter back splash, fronts of cupboards, spot wash walls.

*Wipe down counters and stove after every use

*Wash windows

*Put clean foil on stove burner plates; clean out fridge

*Wash floors- Saturday; spot clean through the week‰ 

*Sweep floor after each meal daily

*Dust all around ceiling lines and through room

*Wash floor carpets

Monthly

*Take down curtains and wash; pull fridge & stove out and clean; wash down ceiling fan

Seasonally
Spring and Fall:

*Wash walls and ceiling

*Empty out cupboards and wash

*Take all knick-knacks off top of cupboards and wash

*Dust top of cupboards and wash

*Touch up any spots with paint.

I hope this gives you some inspiration to get your kitchen organized and cleaned up! Next time we’ll look at how I keep my pantry organized and tidy… until then,
Happy Day,
Jean

Organization Day 8: Weekly Schedule at a Glance

DSC03539The saying that time flies is true enough indeed. I can hardly believe the year is coming to an end and we’ll soon enter into the next.  Today’s the last in my series on organization and I hope they’ve helped you create a plan of action to build your own lists and schedules from.

It’s no surprise when I tell you I love to create schedules, make lists and have multiple day planners and calendars. I thrive on all things organization.

Over the years I realized I inherited this trait from my mother… who I may say even has the labels of her spice jars and canned goods all facing in the same direction and to size… they might even be alphabetized I’ve never dared look.

Her cupboards are immaculate and she never has dust. Mind you, it’s just her and my dad and she only had me! But none-the-less I’m glad I inherited this trait thanks to her… even though I never realized it while I was growing up. My maternal grandmother was also extremely organized. I remember her sewing supplies neatly arranged in her sewing box (which I now have), her fridge was always tidy and her flower beds were beautiful and manicured. So, I guess I come by this naturally thank God!

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It’s only since I’ve had a home and family of my own that I’ve realized all the important things they both taught me… or at least tried to! My ‘other’ mom, is also extremely organized. I think I’m just naturally attracted to those kind of people.  She’s been an inspiration to me tremendously, especially with sewing ‘stuff’. Her material/craft closet is immaculate and completely organized right up to type’s of fabrics and colors. Her craft stuff is always tidy and in it’s place! What wonderful examples I’ve been blessed with!

Anyway, back to schedules and lists…

Here is my Weekly Schedule At A Glance… this has really helped me over the years as my family has grown and evolved.

Please note this doesn’t include any of our farm related chores. I’m only focusing on the daily home chores that most of us face.

*Use Put Away Basket daily for my walk through’s!

MONDAY:

*Focus on what’s planned for the week through my P.M.S. list- make list of appts/calls/errands for the week.

*Back Entry zonal cleaning, Bathroom and Upstairs Hallway, stairs- Ryan

*Zonal clean Kitchen~ clean out fridge; put clean foil on stove burners- Mom

*Main floor of house- floors- Ryan

*Laundry- mom

*Fill bird feeders- Kyle/Evan

*Water porch pots on tables- everyday as needed

*All outside yard chores: mowing, weed whacking, weeding- boys

*General machine maintenance- boys

‰ 

TUESDAY:

*Laundry- bedding, dish towels and anything that didn’t get done yesterday-Mom

*Zonal Clean Pantry, Family and Dining rooms Taylor/Mom

*Moms office day- phone calls, pay bills, etc.

*Purge any old mag’s/newspapers/etc.- Mom

*Menu planning day/ create grocery list from menu- think about what’s going to be baked next week as well.

WEDNESDAY:

*Zone cleaning Bedrooms

*Sewing/mending if any.

*Baking day if no sewing

THURSDAY:

Errand and Grocery Day~

*Try to schedule all errands for today- post office, cleaners, doctor’s appts., shopping etc.

*Grocery Shop- do any budget shopping today as well.

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FRIDAY:

*This is our market prep day and we do all running for this.

*Laundry~ as needed

SATURDAY:

*We are at market all day and the boy who is home takes care of general home duties.

*Grocery Shop on way home from market

*Any meal prep for Sunday gets done today.

SUNDAY:

This is our day of rest and worship… and we never feel guilty! Praise the Lord!

One more thing I wanted to touch on today is how to remain focused on your schedule for the days. I refer to this as Focused Event Days. Here’s a more detailed break down of what we do here.

*Errand Day~ this day needs to be structured to have the best time and gas management possible.

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*I always make a list of the places I need to go and I write them down in the order I plan on going to them. When I do this I think about the direction’s of the errands and map out the best possible route to take. I try, if possible to start with the furthest stop and make my way back toward home. This doesn’t always work, but most of the time it does. I also try to do any grocery shopping last, especially in the summer because of the extreme heat that could damage the goods.

*If I have appointments to keep, I try to make those first thing in the morning where I can do the remaining errands in a timely fashion afterwards.

*I also try to spread any appointments out over the month so I do not over book myself just causing everyone frustration. Also take into consideration when making appt.s  children if it is the school season, make them after school if at all possible.

*Grocery shopping~ this is ‘typically’ done on Errand day but not always due to the fact that I like to shop at one particular grocery store that has a very large selection of Organic goods. This store is an hour away from our country home but we drive past it every Saturday on our way home from market… so my main grocery shopping is done on Saturday. The other place I like to purchase items in bulk is done at a store right down the road from us and that’s the shopping that gets done on Errand day… usually!

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*I go over the menu for that week and check to see if there is anything I need- write it down on list right away~ I would too quickly forget.

*I always make sure I have my grocery list, coupons and shopper bags ready to go.

*My Checklist before I leave: My purse with checkbook with checks in it, debit card; all lists; Bill stubs, banking papers if needed; sale ads; mail to go out; anything else I need to meet my list.

Lists are crucial here! Another important tip when going grocery shopping is to NEVER go when you are hungry! You’ll end up buying things because they ‘look’ good at that present moment! Stick to the list and the budget.

Hope you all enjoyed… please leave me comments and suggestions!
Happy Day,
Jean

Organization Day 7: Menu Planning and Grocery Lists

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Welcome to the next article in my new series on Organization.  In the last article I showed you how to incorporate Zonal Cleaning into your daily schedules and routines.  Today we’ll look at a very important and potentially time-consuming job~ Menu Planning and Grocery Shopping. I say ‘potentially time consuming’ because if you are not organized and structured in this area of managing your home, you can end up spending much more money on things that you don’t need and won’t end up using. By planning your meals and therefore your grocery shopping lists you won’t find yourself buying ingredients on a whim or wasting time thinking about what you should get ‘this time’. It will also save you fuel because you won’t have to run back to the grocery store or market because you forgot something.

If you missed the previous post follow this link to it http://fordragonfliesandme.com/2013/11/20/organization-day-6-zonal-cleaning/

Menus & Grocery lists

I decided to spend one day with the help of my children to design our weekly menus for a year.  That may sound a bit scary but not really… you see I didn’t make 52 separate menus. I designed two groups of menus according to the seasons. Spring & Summer’s menus focus on the fresh produce we’re growing and that’s available. The second is Fall & Winter which features what we’ve canned, frozen and what’s in the root cellar along with what we’re still growing in the fall garden and winter hoop house. I created eight weeks of menus for each group. This allows me to rotate over two months. I keep that weeks menu on the fridge so we don’t have to think about meal prep, especially during our busy gardening and canning season. Having a menu helps in grocery shopping and meal prep every morning.

Cooking is not my favorite thing to do, but I have five growing boys that need to eat.  My daughter Taylor’s the one who loves being in the kitchen. It’s funny though… baking is her favorite thing to do, that is my least favorite; she likes to cook and I don’t mind, especially with garden fresh goodies; she doesn’t mind canning and I absolutely love it; and we’re both OK with yeast baking stuff~ although I will say, I like that a bit more than her.  But neither one of us can make a pie crust to save our lives~ honestly, we just have never been able to master that!

Taylor would be happy to sit in a rocking chair with a pile of cookbooks and cooking mag’s where I would be there with my gardening ones! We balance each other out I guess…

Anyway, lets look into organizing your life with Menu Planning and Grocery Lists.

Menu Planning

I love anything that will simplify my life in the everyday stuff that needs to be done like preparing meals for my family. Remember my P.M.S.? I’d much rather take a few hours sitting down with my favorite cookbooks to compile a couple of months worth of menus eliminating the question “What’s for supper tonight?”  Taylor and I do run out of ideas and our meals can quickly fall into a rut of the same stuff over and over again! The ‘what’s for supper’ question can quickly become spaghetti all too often without menus! I’m sure many of us can relate to that! So I thought it would be nice to share a few tips in menu planning.

*First take 1-3 of your favorite cookbooks and 2 blank monthly calendars and a PENCIL! Don’t take more than this, you’ll get side tracked!

*Be sure you take into consideration what days off children might have from school, scheduled extra curricular activities, each family members day’s off from work. Don’t plan a favorite meal for someone when they won’t even be home for it!

*I only include breakfast and supper on the menus because most of the children are at school and/or work.

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*Before you go into the cookbooks, fill in a few of the day’s with some meals that you know each family member enjoys. Think about the groceries each meal will take beforehand. Fill in one breakfast, lunch and supper for each family member with their favorite thing over the two weeks of menus- don’t duplicate any meal and don’t include any deserts… YET.

*Now that you have several of the days and meals filled in decide if your family wants to have a ‘night out’ meal… jot that in the appropriate box.

*Next, decide how often you want to have desert with meals… fill in accordingly.

*Now go to the cookbooks. I encourage you to try a new recipe once a week. This will be fun and will help you and your family find new favorites. It’ll also help you from getting in a rut of the same old thing.

Some extra tips when planning your menu:
*Do you have a garden? Do you shop primarily at the Farmers Market during the season? Do you have any of your own live stock that you raise? Do you have your own chickens for eggs? These should all play a factor in your menu planning.

*Take into consideration what season you’re in. Spring will hold more salads if you have a garden; summer will be the mother load of produce and will eliminate much grocery shopping for fresh produce, so incorporate meals that save you from buying ‘stuff’; fall will give you more root crops and squashes as well as it being butcher time- plan according to what you have available and growing.

*Have your family members help create the menu. This can be a fun family activity and sharing time of who liked and didn’t like what!

*You now have two whole months planned out and it was so much fun and so easy. If you feel adventurous try doing another month and plan it out seasonally.

*Be sure to jot down what the cookbook and the page number for the recipe on the calendar. I recommend using abbreviations for cookbooks. For example I would put LS for my cookbook, Lovingly Seasoned Eats & Treats. If you don’t think you’ll remember them, jot down a legend on the back of the calendar.

Include this job in your control journal in one of your desk day jobs.

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Grocery Lists

Grocery lists are really not complicated and won’t take up too much time when you have your menus to work off of. Here are some tips!

*I recommend keeping a magnetic note pad or grocery list right on the front or side of your fridge! Each time you run out of something jot it down or tick it off the pre-made list.

Google ‘grocery list’ and you’ll find oodles of styles to download. Keep a master in your control journal and make a copy for each week, unless you have a pre-printed note pad. Here are a few sites to try:

http://www.workingmom.com/grocerylist.htm
http://www.practicalspreadsheets.com/Grocery-List-Template.html
www.home-organization-online.com/free-printable-grocery-list.html
www.freeprintablegrocerylist.com

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*You’ll need to go over your menu for the next week and shop accordingly.

*As I mentioned you can save a lot of money when you grow your own or at least eat seasonally. But if that’s not an option for you shop the farmers market which is the next best thing. There are many winter farmers market as well that you can shop and support and still eat seasonally with root crops, storage crops and fresh greens.

*Stick to the list when you go to the grocery store. I’m sure most of you shop at several stores for different items.  Have a list for each store and coupons/ ad’s to go with each.

*I always make sure I have my grocery list, coupons and shopper bags ready to go.

*If you have empties to return, be sure they’re ready to go and in the trunk.

*Don’t go shopping when you’re hungry… you WILL buy things you normally don’t because ‘they look good’ at the time!

Here is a sample of my monthly menu.  Sorry if you can’t make out my ‘printing’ 😉 and abbreviations.
I hope this gives you some great ideas on how to incorporate menu planning and grocery lists into organizing your life!
Happy Day,
Jean

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Organization Day 5: The Walk Through

My officeWell today I thought it was time to touch base on a common statement that occurs in my home every single day… The Walk Through. “What is a walk through?” you ask. Well, it is the next step in my organization series.

The walk through is a very basic concept that I believe most of us do everyday, but never really had a name for it.  It’s easy to apply to our daily schedules and routines and it’s one that children can completely understand. The walk through is simply going through a room and picking up everything that is out-of-place AND putting it away where it belongs.  Simply eh?

In the next post we’ll learn what Zonal Cleaning is and how to apply the walk through in it.

It’s been said that if you do something consistently for thirty days, it’ll become a habit or a routine~ that works with good or bad  stuff, so be careful!  I’ve incorporated this aspect into our daily lives over the last ten years and now it’s just a normal part of cleaning up for me and my children.

Here are a few tips when going through this step in the organizational process of getting your home where you want it to be:

Basket and bag for walk through

*Each time a walk through is done, take a plastic bag and basket along with you. You’ll use the bag for trash and the basket for items that need to be put back in their proper place.

*As you go through, it’s best to start from the top down. For example table tops, book or other shelves, couches and chairs and then onto the floor. Be sure to look under the furniture. Gather up what needs to be put away in the basket, put trash in the bag.

*While you’re doing your walk through straighten things up as you go, fix haphazard cushions, re-fold any throw blankets, straighten pictures on the wall, tidy books and magazines on tables in the room as well as on the shelves, straighten any decorative objects or table clothes/ linens.

Once you’ve completed the walk through, I suggest you vacuum or sweep the floor. That gives the finished look!

The walk through is not ‘cleaning’ day, it’s something that should be done repeatedly through the day and especially right before bed. Vacuuming only once unless needed more.

I focus on three daily walk throughs- right before lunch- this is when we typically vacuum, just before supper (or just before dad gets home from work) and then before bed. There is nothing nicer then getting up in the morning and coming down to a tidy house!

Keep posted for my next topic in my organization series: Zonal Cleaning.

Happy Day,
Jean

Organization Day 4 : My Daily Home Blessing

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“There is no place like home…”

In my previous post on using journals, day planners and calendars I mentioned my Daily Home Blessing and told you I’d share that with you in an upcoming post… so here it is.   If you missed the last post, here’s a link to it.
http://fordragonfliesandme.com/2013/11/08/organization-day-3-using-a-journal-and-day-planner/

Some of you may be wondering what my Daily Home Blessing is and how it applies to my home and life being more organized.  Well… as a mother of six, keeping the children happy is a key to a happy home 😉 I’m sure whether you’re a parent or not, you’d agree.

My goal in the daily home blessing is two-fold:
1. To train my dear children in the fruits of the spirit and help them to apply these qualities to their daily lives.
2. …not just them, but myself.

We as wives and mothers strive to be a blessing in our homes… if you’re neither of these you’re still looking to feel peace and comfort in your home environment.

With that said, I feel that helping my children to be scheduled and strive for organization now, will help them tremendously when they have homes, garages, vehicles and more of their own.  If they don’t learn now that everything has its place and everything in its place, when will they?

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happy mom + happy children + organized home environment + structure
= Happy Home
… at least most of the time!

I believe that by teaching my children that they can find happiness and joy in applying these fruits to their everyday life, they’ll become happier and content… doesn’t always work right off the go, but I’m looking for long-term results.

I thought today I’d share what I did over the years with my older children. All though this practice has fallen by the way side over the last few years, reviewing it over again has stimulated me to get back into the process with my two youngest ones… and believe me, I think it’ll help!

My Daily Home Blessing
by Jean Smith

Goal: To train my dear children in the fruits of the spirit and help them to apply these qualities to their daily lives…
not just them, but myself.

Each day is assigned 1-2 fruits of the spirit (9 fruits in 7 days)

Daily Breakdown of the fruits…
Sunday, Love
Monday, Joy and Peace
Tuesday, Longsuffering and Gentleness
Wednesday, Goodness
Thursday, Faith
Friday, Meekness
Saturday, Self-control

At lunch (or supper would be fine too) we talk about that days fruit and how we are trying to apply it to our day.

We talk about our successes as well as our failings for the day.

We encourage each other on in our weaknesses’ and strengths.

We also review the verse and I encourage the children to share their thoughts about it.

“But the fruit of the spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance;
against such there is no law.”
Galatians 5:22-23

I believe that an organized and structured home provides a more peaceful environment and teaching my children to apply the fruits of the spirit is a step in that direction.

Happy Day,
Jean

Organization Day 3: Using a Journal and Day Planner

journalWelcome to Day 3 of my new Organization series! Today we’re going to discuss the importance of using a journal and day planner as well as calendars.

If you missed the first post in the series, here’s the link http://fordragonfliesandme.com/2013/10/29/organization-series-day-1-creating-and-maintaining-routines/ . You can find the second one by using the ‘next’ button at the bottom of that page.

A brief re-cap of the previous two posts puts you at the point where you’ve created and P.M.S.’ed your lists and routines. Now you need a place to keep them so they stay organized and are easily accessible.

This is where a journal, day planner and calendars come into play. Using these tools will help you keep on track with visual ease. I could never keep up with my many ‘hats’ without them.

My journal is primarily used for household tasks and responsibilities where my day planner and calendars keep my work related projects scheduled.

First lets look at the journal. It can be as complex or simple as you the designer want it to be.  Be aware that it’ll evolve and grow along with your children and as home renovations occur.

I thought it would be helpful if I explained how my journal is set up, so here we go.

I use a leather-bound 1 1/2 inch 3-ring binder for my journal. It’s filled with top loading plastic sleeves and side tabbed divider sheets.

My Sections are in this order: Zones, Daily Routines, Daily Home Blessing, Menu Plans & Grocery Lists, Tools, Personal and Activity Frequency List.

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Here’s what is in each section:

Zones refer to each room of your home and is where you’ll put your room-by-room detailed cleaning routine lists. With this concept of zone cleaning, spring and fall cleaning can almost be eliminated.

Daily Routines holds my morning, daily, after school and evening routine lists as well as each day of the week’s schedule of routines that get done. This is where the example of my morning routine I shared with you last time would be placed.

Here’s an example of my Monday Routine:
*Purge magazines and newspapers
*Fill bird feeders
*Bathroom (this is where you’ll go to your Bathroom Routine)- tub, sink, toilet, floor
*Wash all area rugs and throw blankets, laundry
*Kitchen floor, sweep, dishes

The Daily Home Blessing is my Mission Statement. I’ll share this in another post!

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Menus & Grocery lists. I decided to spend one day with the help of my husband and children to design our weekly menus for a year.  That may sound a bit scary but not really… you see I didn’t make 52 separate menus. I designed two groups of menus according to the seasons. Spring & Summer’s menus focus on the fresh produce we’re growing and that’s available. The second is Fall & Winter which features what we’ve canned, frozen and what’s in the root cellar along with what we’re still growing in the fall garden and winter hoop house. I created eight weeks of menus for each group. This allows me to rotate over two months. I keep that weeks menu on the fridge so we don’t have to think about meal prep, especially during our busy gardening and canning season. Having a menu helps in grocery shopping and meal prep every morning. I will go into detail on menu planning and grocery shopping in an upcoming post… so stay tuned.

My Personal section holds things that inspire me. I have several poems on mothering, being a help meet, cartoons, drawings from the children and cards from friends and loved ones.

Frequency of Activities section simply holds a list of how often I want to do particular tasks.

*Each section has a Title Page. I have family photo’s, pictures the children have made, poems, cards and other special things to me.

As I said, your journal is exactly that- yours. Let it be a reflection of what you love, who you want to be, your faith and your passions!

Now onto Day Planners and Calendars.

I purchase a new day planner along with a desk calendar every year. I live by my day planner and calendars because they allow me to visually see what I have going on and aid me in planning ahead through the year.

I also have my Google Calendar, but honestly… I like my tangible planners and calendars best. It’s not always easy for me to jump on my desk or laptop. I know lots of friends that use their calendar on their phones as well. I think this is a great idea, especially for setting up appointment reminders.

As a writer, I have many dead-lines for articles and projects that cannot be forgotten. I keep a list of the magazines, blog, etc. in my day planner in the side bar on the Month-at-a-glance page. I  write what articles need to go to which one and the due date. Having these visible on this page makes it really easy to organize my writing time through the month.

I also own/manage a winter farmers market. I keep all the events, special guest vendors, permits due as well as any other important info I need to remember here. Otherwise, all 24 weeks of floor plans, that were completed well before opening day are in a work file. I print out that weeks floor plan on Monday so I can be specific in business emails and remind any vendors of ‘need-to-know’ info.

I also keep all my appointments in this part of the planner.

IMG_8351On the Daily Pages of my planner I keep more detailed information. Here are some examples
*On office/desk day I’ll jot down all my phone calls that need to be made.
*I put down what’s for supper if it requires something needing to come out of the freezer, like meat.
*I’ll add extra chores to be done that may not be on that day’s routine. For example, during canning season my kitchen gets a bit more messy. The day we do apple sauce I may want the floor washed or the cupboards wiped down when we clean the following day.
*Errands and appointments.
*Birthdays and anniversaries.
This is my favorite spot because I love the feeling of accomplishing my tasks and seeing them be crossed the list!

My desk calendar is basically a large visual and it’s where the children leave me notes of what is on their agendas.  I then add them to my planners.

Well… now you have the ideas of how to create your own journal and an outline on what to include in your planners and calendars. Go ahead and start working on these until I get back with the next article in the series…how to do a ‘walk through’ and then the how-to on Zone Cleaning!  Keep posted!

Happy day,
Jean

Organization Day 2: P.M.S. This is NOT what you think!

office1_emailverWelcome to the second article in my new series on Organization. Last time we talked about getting your lists made so you could begin creating routines. I mentioned that in today’s article I’d be teaching you about P.M.S. and how to use it with your lists.

If you missed the first article, here’s the link for it.
http://fordragonfliesandme.com/2013/10/29/organization-series-day-1-creating-and-maintaining-routines/

Some of you may be thinking you already know all about PMS and want nothing to do with it. But I guarantee by the time you’re done reading this, you’ll be wishing for it!

First, get your notebook out with the lists you made the other day….
Now I’m going to teach you how to P.M.S. them… but first, I thought it’d be interesting to share with you how I developed this concept and explain what P.M.S is.

I created this concept from a good friends over-zealous list making and the frustrations the uncompleted tasks created for her. You see, my friend consistently made lists that were well over and above anyone’s ability to accomplish in a week, much less a day. Don’t get me wrong, her motives were beautiful… she’s an energetic, vibrant woman, but she continually tried to over extend herself.

One day while we were talking on the phone, I asked her what was on her agenda for the day!  I should have known… off my dear friend began to rattle a list that scared me! I knew her and I knew she’d never get it all done and she would feel like she’d failed.

Now I don’t have any problems with lists… as I mentioned in the first article, I’m all about lists. After all, you’re probably thinking, “That’s what she told us to do… make a list!”  You’re correct… but I also said to start small.

Later that day as I was looking over my own list of to-do’s, I realized I’d done something with my list… I P.M.S.’ed it.

P.M.S. simply is an abbreviation for: Prioritize, Minimize and Simplify.

So now it’s time to implement P.M.S. on your lists, and don’t worry if you forget something, you can add it later.

First you’re going to look over the lists you made the other day and prioritize the jobs in order of importance for each one.  This may take a few attempts and that’s OK, take your time and think the tasks over clearly as have to-do, need to-do and  want to-do.

Next, you’ll minimize the tasks as to how often and when the job gets done.  Again think have to, need to and want to!

Finally, simplify your life by writing your lists down in a journal or calendar. By documenting the tasks you’ll be able to have a visual help to keep you organized.  Keep posted for the next article where I’ll touch on helpful tips to create your own journal and calendars.

From these lists you’ll create your routines. As mentioned in the previous post, routines are combined into daily, weekly, monthly and seasonal tasks that need to be accomplished in and around our homes. Having a routine for each part of the day, as well as for each day of the week is important.

Here are two samples of my routines. The first is a Monthly Breakdown of Daily Household Tasks. I designed these on an excel spread sheet that can easily be adjusted as things change.

Monthly Breakdown of Daily Household Tasks:

TASK:  Household Chores

CHORE DESCRIPTION      DAILY       WEEKLY      MONTHLY    SEASON

Sweep Floors                       X

Vacuum                                X

Clean Bathroom                                     M W F

Laundry                                                   M W F

Clean Back Entry                                    T R Sat

Sweep Basement Stairs                        T R Sat

Strip all bedding                                     Tues

Clean out fridge/ wash appliances     Sat

New foil on stove elements                 Sat

Wash windows                                       Sat

Shop vac stairs                                       Thurs

Clean upstairs hallway                          Thurs

Vacuum under furniture                                                X

Wash down all kitchen cupboards                               X

Clean/organize dining room closet                              X

Wash all curtains                                                             X

Clean Garage                                                                                         Spr Fall

Once your routines for the basic household tasks are set, you can create a more detailed Room by Room task list that can be printed off as a check list. Notice on this bathroom chart, I have the jobs in a logical order of cleaning top to bottom, as opposed to frequency schedule like my weekly task list.

Room: Bathroom
Task Days: M W F

Job Description:                                                   each day      weekly      monthly

Wash curtains- week you do the rest                                                           XX

Dust all around ceilings                                                                XX

dust window ledges, wash windows                                          XX

wash down walls do the week of
month curtains are washed                                                                            XX

clean: bathtub/shower                                             XX

sink                                                                              XX

toilet                                                                            XX

change garbage                                                                              XX

dust/clean soap dishes/ lotions, etc.                                           XX

tidy linen closets/ lines                                                                  XX

clean & organize vanities, cupboards, shelves                                              XX

sweep floor                                                                 XX

No matter how organized we think we are, without a routine based schedule, disorganization can get to the best of us. The goal in using my P.M.S. program is to create and maintain routines through lists that will aid you in organizing your home life.

After you’ve designed all your routines, you’ll start to build positive habits helping you to remain focused and organized.  We all want to provide a peaceful, relaxed home environment for our families… and with P.M.S. we can!

Stay tuned for the next article in the series: How-to Create and Use a Journal and Day Planner

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Happy Day,
Jean

Organization Series Day 1: Creating and Maintaining Routines

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I’m all about routines, lists and general organization. I wear several different hats: Wife, mother, writer, organic farmer/ gardener and winter farmers market Manager/ Owner, to name a few 😉

Up until recently I also operated a fifty member CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) share program on our farm which was a type of co-op. I organized and scheduled several farmers crops along with our own two acres according to our needs. I also attended a weekly farmers market. Our farm had several wholesale restaurant accounts where we sold specialty sausages, eggs, other meat products and produce.

Our farm raised both hogs and poultry for meat and eggs.  We also have an on-farm butcher shop. Cut flowers for bouquets was another branch on our tree.

Not to mention I write two personal blogs, the one you are reading and Wren In The Willows http://wreninthewillows.com/2013/10/28/irony/

I contribute weekly to The Detroit News, The Good Life blog http://blogs.detroitnews.com/thegoodlife/2013/10/17/how-to-incorporate-herbs-into-your-table-decor/#comments

More recently contributing weekly to “Your Home with Karie Engels” http://yourhomewithkarieengels.com/2013/10/24/how-to-create-a-friendship-garden/ and “Farm to Table, Field to Plate.”http://outdoorsexperiencejournal.wordpress.com/2013/10/17/kitchen-gardens-tips-and-ideas-on-how-to-create-your-own/

I also have a new cookbook and gardening book in the works.

I’m currently working on a new Food Co-op project at one of Michigan’s oldest nursery/ greenhouses. Besides the co-op, we’re working at creating a community garden as well as a farmers market there in the next few years.

On top of this and several other things I didn’t mention, I am a mom. My youngest children are six and three years old. They require much of my attention. Encouraging them to help and work along my side is part of the process as well. I couldn’t do all I do without the help of my children.

Being mommy is the most important of my ‘hats’ and it requires the most energy and thought. It would be very easy for me to get side-tracked and neglect them. That is why I do much of my writing and computer work ‘after-hours’.  Knowing my limitations helps to me stay focused and organized. I know where to dry the line and not over-extend myself. I know when to say ‘no’ to a project that just doesn’t fit into my life.

To the point… I have a lot to organize and my time must be scheduled accordingly. I don’t have time to diddle-daddle or fly by the seat of my pants . Every minute is precious and must be used wisely.  I plan on a daily, weekly, monthly and seasonal agenda according to what project is at hand.

Over the next month I’m going to help you get your life organized by teaching you how to set and maintain routines. Routines are the key to success in life and when you have a plan of action written down to visually see, you will succeed!

There are many benefits to creating routines which include keeping yourself organized, scheduled and on track. You’ll be able to create daily, weekly, monthly and seasonal routines that will be geared toward your life and what is happening with you and your family.

Today lets look at the first important element in creating a happy organized life!

Creating and Maintaining Routines

How do I create routines?

*First, think about yourself and your needs.

*Next you’ll make a list.  Get a notepad and write down what you’d like to accomplish in your home over the next week and through the current month.  Remember to start small and don’t worry about trying to organize the list right now, you’ll do that later. Right now just focus on brain storming and write down everything you think of no matter how large or small the task.

*Write down your normal household chores, for example, laundry, cleaning out the fridge, etc. If you do any of these chores on regular days, jot that down too.

*Now make a list of your appointments for the current week and month in your notebook. Include yours, your spouses and your children.

Now that you have all the basics down, you’ll be able to create routines for everyday of the week and organize your time through the year.

The next step is my favorite! P.M.S.~ This is not going to be what you think…and this is for the next day, so keep posted!

How do I maintain my routines?

Like anything else, once things become a habit it’s much more likely that you’ll continue to do them. Routines are no different. By doing your routines on a daily, weekly and monthly basis, they’ll become second nature to you!

I also have my routines for each day of the week written down in a journal. I use to keep it open on the counter during the day so everyone could see it freely, although over the years I’ve drifted from this simply because they really have become habits.

Until then, here is a sample of my Morning routine.

MORNING ROUTINE- School days

“She riseth while it is yet night and giveth meat to her household…” Proverbs 31:15a

This would be during the school season. I have a different one for our summer schedule.

•5:50am~ Rise and shine with smile and praise in my heart and get the coffee brewing!

•Swish toilet and sink; get a load of laundry together to throw in.

•Brush my teeth; get a quick shower; put lotions on; get dressed.

•Have some quiet time with the Lord and a warm cup of coffee…

•Check email/messages;  send any responses that need done.

•7:00am~ start waking the rest of the clan up… get breakfast going.

•Throw load of laundry in.

•7:30am~ everyone at table for breakfast; family devotions

•7:55am- Clearing off table; wash breakfast dishes; switch laundry loads.

•8:10am~ Get children off to school.

  • 9:00 am- Think about my day; make list’s for jobs to be done; check my day planner

•Check menu~ take anything that has to thaw out of the freezer; make sure we have all ingredients for the menu.

Next we’ll look at P.M.S. and how wonderful it is!

If you missed Day 1 follow this link to see the schedule of topic posts!
http://fordragonfliesandme.com/2013/10/29/new-organization-series/

Happy Day,
Jean

New Organization Series

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It’s autumn.  My gardening as well as canning season is coming to a halt. It’s not an easy time of year for me… putting away all the things that make me live.

The soil.
The green.
The suns warmth.
The feel of living things.
… I live and breathe my gardens…

Then comes the time I spend putting all the bounty from my gardens ‘up’… precious life source that I feed my family through the cold winter months here in Michigan. Canning, freezing, drying and root cellaring… I love to feed my family.

The house gets pretty neglected starting mid-August through the end of October.  The gardens and their goods take every spare moment of my time. It’s a race… between me and the produce…. and I won!

Now’s the time I begin my fall cleaning, purging and organizing the house. It’s time to regroup, pitch and toss the junk and tidy up what stays. Organization falls into one of my ‘love’ categories… everything has its place and everything in its place.

A couple years back I did another series on organization. I thought I’d do some updates and revisions over the next month.

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Here’s a breakdown of the topics I’ll be focusing on through the month of November.

*Creating and Maintaining Routines
*My Journal
*P.M.S.- this is not what you think
*Weekly Schedule at a Glance/ Focused Errand Days
*Menu Planning/ Grocery Lists
*The Walk Through
*De-cluttering
*Room by Room Cleaning How-to
*The Kitchen
*The Pantry
*The Laundry Room
*The Mud Room/ Back Entry
*The Family Room
*The Dining Room
*The Bedrooms
*The Bathrooms
*The Office
*Hallways
*Closets
*The Garage
*The Homemakers 10 Commandments

Keep posted for my first post coming tomorrow!
Happy Day,
Jean

More on Organization: Working on Menu Planning & Grocery Lists, The Organized Home Makers 10 Commandments (adapted from the FlyLady!) & More Yummy Market Fresh Recipes!

I don’t mind cooking, it’s not my favorite thing to do, but we gotta eat right?  Taylor is the one who is in love with being in the kitchen. It’s funny though… she firsts loves to bake~ that is my least favorite; she likes to cook and I don’t mind, especially with garden fresh goodies; she doesn’t mind canning, but I love it and we are both OK with yeast baking stuff~ although I will say, I like that a bit more than her… but neither one of us can make a pie crust to save our lives~ honestly… we just have never been able to master that! Taylor would be happy to sit in a rocking chair with a pile of cookbooks and cooking mag’s where I would be there with my gardening ones!  We balance each other out I guess…
Anyway lets head into the last of this series on Organization with Menu Planning and Grocery Lists… be sure to check out my blog spots & web site for lots of great photo’s to go along with the post!

NEXT SERIES of blog posts will focus on Eating In Season. It will be based on some great ideas from another one of my favorite books, “Animal, Vegetable, Miracle”, by Barbara Kingsolver with Steven L Hopp and Camille Kingsolver.  this book gives a journal of this families life when they made a decision to eat locally and seasonally. We have tried to incorporate this into our families life… 
   
*Menu Planning~
(see a sample of a weekly menu attached!) I love to make my life simpler in the way of the everyday stuff that needs to be done… like preparing meals for my family.  I would rather take a day and sit down with a few of my favorite cookbooks and make a couple months worth of menus so I don’t have to think about what to make!  Taylor & I do run out of ideas and our meals can quickly fall into a rut of the same stuff over and over again!  “What’s for supper tonight?” can quick become spaghetti all too often without menus!  I am sure many of us can relate to that!  Here are a few tips in menu planning:
*First take 1-3 of your favorite cookbooks and 2 blank monthly calenders and a PENCIL! Don’t take more than this… you will get side tracked!
*Be sure when you start you take into consideration what days off children might have from school, regular extra curricular activities happening, each family members day’s off for whoever may work outside the home. (Don’t plan a favorite meal for someone when they won’t even be home for it!)
*Before you even go into the cookbooks, fill in a few of the day’s with some meals that you know each family member enjoys… think about the groceries each meal will take beforehand.  Fill in one breakfast, lunch and supper for each family member with their favorite thing over the two weeks of menus- don’t duplicate any meal and don’t include any deserts… YET.
*Now that you have several of the days & meals filled in decide if your family wants to have a ‘night out’ meal… jot in in the appropriate box. 
*Next, decide how often you want to have desert with meals… fill in accordingly.
*Now go to the cookbooks… I encourage you to try at least one new recipe each day that you have an opening.  This will be fun and will help you & your family make new favorites.  It will also help you from getting in a rut of the same old thing.

~Some extra tips when planning your menu: *Do you have a garden? Do you shop primarily at the Farmers Market during the season?  Do you have any of your own live stock that you raise? Do you have your own chickens for eggs? These should all play a factor in your menu planning.
*Take into consideration what season you are in… spring will hold more salads if you have a garden; summer will be the mother load of produce and will eliminate much grocery shopping for fresh produce, so incorporate meals that save you from buying ‘stuff’; fall will give you more root crops and squashes as well as it being butcher time- plan accordingly.  
*Once your menus are done, you will see how easy it is. 
*Have your family members help when doing the menu.  This can be a fun family activity and sharing time of who liked and didn’t like what!
*You now have two whole months planned out, and it was so much fun and so easy. If you feel adventurous try doing another month and plan it out seasonally. 
*Include this job in your control journal in one of your desk day jobs.
~Grocery Lists: … are really not that complicated and won’t take up too much time here.  Here are some tips from The Flylady and me!
*First thing I recommend is keeping a magnetic note pad or grocery list right on the front or at least the side of your fridge! Each time you run out of something jot it down or tick it off the pre-made list.
… Google ‘grocery list’ and you will be able to download anything you want!  Keep a master in your control journal and make a copy for each week, unless you have a pre-printed note pad.  Here are a few sites to try…

http://www.workingmom.com/grocerylist.htm 

www.practicalspreadsheets.com/GroceryList-Template.html

*You will need to go over your menu for the next week and shop accordingly.
*As I mentioned you can save a lot of money when you grow your own or at least eat seasonally. But if that is not an option for you shop the farmers market, which is the next best thing.  There are many winter farmers market as well that you can shop & support and still eat seasonally with root crops, storage crops and fresh greens. I will go into that more this fall!
*Stick to the list when you go to the grocery store.  I am sure most of you shop at several stores for different items. As I mentioned earlier I do the majority of grocery shopping at two stores, one being a local bulk food store.  I do some of the house hold shopping for toiletries at yet another.  Have a list for each store and coupons/ ad’s to go with each.
*
I always make sure I have my grocery list, coupons and shopper bags ready to go.
*If you have empties to return, be sure they are ready to go and in the trunk.
*Don’t go shopping when you are hungry… you WILL buy things you normally don’t because ‘they look good’ at the time!

~To end our organization series I would like to incorporate my version of  The Organized Homemakers 10 Commandments adapted by me from the FlyLady’s!
1. Thou shalt start your day with meditation and prayer-fulness to get it off on the right foot.
2. Thou shalt keep your sink clean and shiny and your counters free of dirty and clean dishes.

3. Thou shalt get fully dressed and wear shoes… this I agree with the FlyLady wholeheartedly!
4. Thou shalt stick to your daily routines by using your control journal faithfully.
5. Thou shalt not get side tracked by the computer or anything else… stay focused.
6. Thou shalt pick up after yourself… put everything in its place as soon as you are done with it… set the example!
7. Thou Shalt stick to one project at a time and use the P.M.S. guild faithfully!
8. Thou shalt do something everyday for someone else as well as your self!
9. Thou shalt smile when you don’t feel like it because it is contagious and remember to be happy!
10. Thou shalt end your day the way you started it… or at least the way you should have started it (see #1).

~Here are some easy recipe’s to use up all that great garden produce that is piling in right now… or that you picked up at the Farmers Market! Enjoy friends!

 Italian Garden Frittata
6 egg whites
4 eggs
1/2 c grated Romano cheese, divided
1 tsp minced fresh sage
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1 small zucchini, sliced
1 small onion, diced
1 tsp olive oil
1 tomato thinly sliced

1. in a large bowl, whisk the egg whites, eggs, 1/4 c Romano cheese, sage salt & pepper; set aside.
2. In a 10 inch over proof skillet coated with cooking spray, sauté zucchini and onions in oil for 2 minutes.  Add egg mixture, cover & cook for 4-6 minutes or until eggs are nearly set.
Uncover; top with tomato slices & remaining cheese.  Broil 3-4 in. from the heat for 2-3 minutes or until eggs are completely set.  Let stand for 5 minutes.  Cut into wedges.

Veggie Stuffed Eggplant
1 medium eggplant
1/2 c chopped onion
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 c each chopped fresh mushrooms, chopped zucchini & chopped sweet bell pepper
3/4 c chopped tomatoes
1/4 c toasted wheat germ
2 tbsp minced fresh parsley
1/2 tsp thyme
1/4 tsp each salt 7 pepper
Dash crushed red pepper flakes
1 tbsp grated Parmesan cheese

1. cut eggplant in half lengthwise; remove pulp, leaving a 1/4 in. thick shell.  Cube pulp; set shells & pulp aside.
2. In a large nonstick skillet coated with cooking spray, sauté onion & garlic until onion is tender.  Add the mushrooms, zucchini, bell pepper & eggplant pulp;  sauté for 4-6 minutes or until vegetable are crisp tender.  Stir in the tomatoes, wheat germ, parsley, thyme, salt, pepper & pepper flakes; cool for 1 minute.
3. Divide mixture evenly between the eggplant shells; sprinkle with cheese,  place on a baking sheet.  Bake at 400 degrees for 20-25minutes or until shells are tender.

Happy Day,
Jean
www.fordragonfliesandme.blogspot.com
www.wreninthewillow.blogspot.com
www.farmgirlwisdom.blogspot.com