Organize Simplify Create Design

It is perpetual, living life and keeping it simple. Peace of mind comes from having a place for things. As I watched "Horton Hears a Who", with my grandchildren I thought about no matter how "tiny" the thing, it deserves a home. So I live by the old adage, a place for everything and everything in its respective place...

About Me

My photo
Houston, Texas, United States
Ten things I am or have been: 1 Wife, 2 Mother of five, 3 Grandmother of 16, 4 Hair Dresser, 5 Bookkeeper 6 Bank Teller, 7 Scrapbook Store Owner, 8 Reporter, 9 Gardener, 10 Photographer,

Monday, December 6, 2010

Tame those bracelets and Monday morning what to wear?

For the better part of my adult life I have been a simple kind of jewelry girl. But in the last decade I have rekindled my love of costume jewelry! Housing it all became such a problem that I purchased a tall jewelry cabinet with drawers.
So my question today is where do you keep those adorable bangles and bracelets? Are they heaped in a box or drawer getting tangled and ruined? Are you frustrated when you go to find the perfect match for your holiday outfit?
On one of our frequent visits to Lowes, I realized that I could buy these small fluffy paint rollers that remind me of the ones in the jewelry store that are covered in velvet, and I could store my bracelets on them in an easy to see fashion! I love this!
I just lay these in to top of my jewelry drawer. Now if you don't mind having your bangles sitting out on your vanity or dresser, you could invest in this T-bar style to store your treasures. But the paint roller thing is super inexpensive and for me is stored out of sight until I lift the lid! These could be placed in a small shoe size plastic container and stored in a drawer or cabinet where you get dressed.

On those mornings when you just can't decide what to put on......?
Reach into your accessories and voila!!!! You become inspired with an outfit when you put on a favorite scarf or belt and then feel good ALL DAY in your outfit! Cool huh?

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Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Thanksgiving Dinner Tips

Timeline and Tips for Stress free Thanksgiving

Three days prior: Shop for groceries and buy turkey now if frozen, it takes 3 days to defrost in refrigerator.

Things you can do the Day before:
Bake Cornbread
Chop onion, celery and mushrooms for gravy, dressing etc.
Bake pies

Prepare Mac Cheese
Cook macaroni, layer pasta, alternating with butter slices, Velveeta and cheddar cheese soup mixed with milk.

Shoot up turkey; fold his wings underneath him so he stands pretty. Cook breast down for juicy breast. (Warning: might not look as pretty for picture.)

If making Por-Tur-Chick (my own "Cajun" invention), debone turkey breast, pound to flatten slightly, layer Owens hot sausage on top, pound chicken breasts, probably need two depending on size, lay on top and roll the layers around the Chapel Hill jalapeno smoked sausage. Secure with string ties and inject with butter, seasonings, Worchestershire sauce, +. (make up as you go :)

Take your cool whip out of the freezer

Day of:
Check to see how long your bird needs to cook and figure out what time you plan to eat.
If you are cooking a large turkey you need to get him in first, especially if you only have one oven.
Assemble Dressing

Begin Rolls or biscuits ( yeast rolls take longer)

Put yams on to boil
Boil taters

Assemble green bean casserole directions are on can

Assemble Green Stuff

Cut fruit for fruit salad, apples, pineapple tidbits, bananas (just before serving), fruit cocktail drained, chopped pecans, colored marshmallows. Add cool whip as served.

Slice yams, layer with slices of butter, sprinkle brown sugar and broken pecans, top with marshmallows, butter, pecans and brown sugar.
Bake 30 minutes at 350ยบ

Assemble relish tray

Check your bird each hour and baste with drippings and check more often toward end of cooking. His legs should move very easy if he is close to done. Insert meat thermometer to be sure. Remove foil to brown last 30 minutes. Turkey needs to rest before carving.
Remove juice with turkey baster, put some in dressing and make gravy with the rest.

Jackies Southern Macaroni and Cheese
 Grease baking dish, layer cooked macaroni, dotted with butter, Campbells Cheddar Cheese soup mixed with milk and slices of Velveeta. End with cheese. Mac cheese should take about 30-35 minutes to bake, as it bakes, stir and add milk to make it creamy, (every 10 minutes)  Add shredded cheddar about half way through and keep it stirred adding milk as needed. About 10 minutes before it is done add shredded cheese to top. (Tip: if you slightly undercook your macaroni when boiling, your mac and cheese won't be mushy :)

Green beans, rolls, mac cheese and yams can all cook together.
Heat the corn, go on add butter its Thanksgiving.


Begin browning flour in oil for gravy. Stir slowly over medium heat to desired brownness. Add cool water or broth quickly while stirring followed by hot broth. (I add turkey drippings) A can of Campbell’s Cream of Mushroom soup can be added for added flavor. Add mushrooms and taste for need of seasoning.


Mash potatoes with a stick of butter, a cup of sour cream, salt, pepper and Pet milk.

Chipped Beef Ball and Ham Roll Ups and Shrimp Dip are family favorites!

Serve, bless and eat! At our house we take turns sharing the special things we are thankful for!
This blog post was for the Crowley family Thanksgiving, you can easily substitute in your family favorites and enjoy a stress free Thanksgiving.

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Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Last minute Thanksgiving Help!

Thanksgiving Menu for our house

Mashed Potatoes
Green Stuff
Fruit Salad
Macaroni & Cheese
Green Bean Casserole
Vegetable Tray/Dip
Shrimp Dip 
Sweet Potatoes
Chocolate Chip Pie
Pecan Pie
Pumpkin Pie

Shopping List
The list has little letters out to the side of each item.
Legend as follows:
B: Baking Isle
Ca: Canned Goods
D: Dairy
F: Frozen
M: Miscellaneous
Me: Meat
Co: Condiments
P: Produce

B: Brown Sugar
B: Chocolate Chips
B: Cinnamon
B: Clove
B: Coconut 
B: Cornmeal or Cornbread Mix
B: Dark Corn Syrup
B: Flour
B: Garlic Power
B: Garlic Salt
B: Nutmeg
B: Oil
B: Onion Salt 
B: Pecans (Fruit Salad, Pie)
B: Pepper
B: Poultry Seasoning
B: Sage
B: Salt 
B: Self Rising Flour
B: Shortening
B: Sugar
B: Yeast
Ca: Cranberries
Ca: Crushed Pineapple
Ca: Dry Onion Soup
Ca: Eagle Brand Milk
Ca: Green Beans Fr. Cut
Ca: Mandarin Oranges
Ca: Mushroom Soup, Cream of Chicken, Cream of Celery, Chicken Broth, Chicken & Rice, Cheddar Cheese
Ca: Olives
Ca: Pears, Peaches, Fruit Cocktail
Ca: Pet Milk
Ca: Pickles
Ca: Pineapple Crushed, Tidbits
Ca: Pumpkin
Ca: Shrimp
Co: Hot Sauce
Co: Party Dip
Co: Worcestershire Sauce
D Goods: Rice
D Goods: Macaroni
D: Cheese Shredded
D: Cream Cheese (4)
D: Eggs
D: Butter (3 pounds)
D: Milk
D: Pie Crusts (6)
D: Sour Cream (Potatoes, Dip)
F: Cool Whip(Green Stuff, Fruit Salad, Pie)
F: Corn
M: Crackers
M: Fried Onion
M: Koolaid
M: Mini Marshmallows (S. Potatoes, Green Stuff)
M: Pepperidge Farm Stuffing Mix
M: Picante`
M: Pickles for relish tray
M: Pimiento Cheese for Celery
M: Pistachio Pudding
M: Velveeta
Me: Turkey or Turkey Breast
Me: Boneless Skinless Chicken Breasts
Me: Owens Hot Sausage
Me: Smoked Sausage
P:  Carrots, Celery, 
P: Apples
P: Bananas
P: Cauliflower
P: Mushrooms
P: Onion
P: Parsley
P: Potatoes/Sweet Potatoes

Monday, November 1, 2010

Shopping made easy

As the holidays approach we need all the help we can get! Right?
I'm planning to order this nifty trunk organizer (the one featureed all the way to the left) to keep things from rolling from one end of the trunk to another. I think it will be great for corralling groceries, holding anything you need to return or keeping those purchases together you made while out shopping.
Anyone have any brilliant ideas to share about this? What about the other two listed from Amazon? Do you have anything to share about them?

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Get Charged UP!

This might look like a Duracell battery ad, but it's all about the holder that hangs in my laundry room. Why do I need so many batteries you might ask? To me it's all about being ready for my grandkids toy train that loses juice, or my diabetic son's insulin pump needing a triple A, or perhaps my 88 year old mom's old walkman she loves to use to sing her to sleep.
I also live in Hurricane country, I need to be sure I have plenty of flashlight batteries on hand.
This Battery Rack 40 keeps my batteries organized. When you buy batteries always pay attention to their expiration dates. This nifty storage system keeps your freshest batteries at the top and dispenses the oldest ones from the bottom. You can see at a glance what you are low on.
I found this ad on Amazon and this is an excellent price. I paid $14.99. I will be honest, the tester has never worked properly, however, I like the storage unit immensely!

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

It's beginning to look a lot like?

Is it me or do retailers put up Christmas decor earlier and earlier? So by posting my Christmas Tree does that put me in the same category as them? I say NO.

And here is why.

I am all about the spiritual side of the season, but have always loved decorating and the music and buying or making special presents. I love everything about Christmas!

In order for me to enjoy the main "reason" for the holiday, I find I enjoy it more when I prepare ahead of time.

Yes, I organize Christmas!

One helpful idea, especially if you have a large family is purchasing their present during their birthday month, when buying the birthday gift. Usually you have some great gift ideas, more than you can afford for one event and it's nice to have Christmas taken care of then. One drawback is if there needs to be any exchanges or returns this poses a problem. Another plus though is gifts can be given when you might see the person as opposed to having to pay shipping costs, running to the Post Office or shipping company.
The more people you have to buy for the earlier you need to start. Many stores have gone back to accepting layaways again which helps out budget-wise and getting it done early.
I have 14 grandchildren, they range in age from 14 to as young as 1. Many times it is a good idea to find a special gift that all would enjoy and give everyone the same gift, perhaps in different colors. For instance one year I gave robes and pjs to all the kids. Knowing what you plan to buy ahead of the shopping trip is very beneficial. You take along the list of sizes and you have your budget set and you are good to go. I topped off the gift with a a favorite video for each family. Another great idea is to give similar age children the same gift. 
This year I am completely finished with two of my families. Some of it was done online with free shipping. My daughters do have to wrap the goodies when they arrive. But they don't seem to mind. I have two more families to buy for and some of those children will be getting the same gifts the others will receive.
I just have to share these adorable dinosaurs that I bought this year. They are by Learning Curve Dinosaur Train! Be sure if you get any that you buy the Interactive ones. They talk to each other!!!! I know my special needs granddaughter is going to be thrilled with these, as well as my other grandchildren who are receiving them. 

Other ideas I use are add ons. For instance I purchased Geotrax for some of the boys! It is really nice to add to a gift they have received in the past. Makes the old toy new again and teaches them to care for their toys.

When I buy Christmas ahead of time, it allows me to do special little things for them when I can truly enjoy what I am doing. Little handmade items, like fleece blankets, puppet theaters, special treat bags, or handmade ornaments or perhaps a special book. I find this way I truly enjoy the season.

Now, what to do for those grown children of mine!
Stay tuned! :)

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Are your stems in the water?

I keep a garden journal. It helps me know when I last fed my plants, what is
 doing well, what is working,
what isn't. 

Sometimes we have to get our mind in the right place before we try to organize... we have to find balance.

I had gathered flowers from the garden and placed them in a vase, later that day I saw some of them were wilting. I went over to investigate. As I looked closer I saw that some of the stems were not in the water.

Some days we can be that close to the water and not drink. If we place too much focus on one thing we may find other parts of life caving in.

Where is your quiet place, how long has it been since you visited? Are you taking good care of you? You feed everyone, you tend to each things need. Your eyes dart about, your mind is in constant motion always peering into the next task, even when your head is on the pillow you trek into the next day, week or year, plotting and planning to get to all the un-dones.

All I'm saying is stop, slow down....

Now breathe, nourish your soul in your quiet place today, tomorrow, write it out, it makes more sense on paper.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Fumbling through the Freezer?

A freezer can quickly become an exasperating pit of frozen mysteries if we don't pay attention and attempt to create order within. Mine gets out of control and I have bins to help try to prevent that from happening. Our freezer is now housed in the garage. As mentioned in a previous post I try to bring meat I plan to cook early in the week and stash it inside the small side by side in the kitchen, that way I'm not opening the big garage freezer as often.

My freezer has a handy chart inside to remind me how long I should keep things. I use a Seal-a-Meal to divide and freeze my meat. I label and date the packages with a Sharpie marker. I currently have 5 Rubbermade bins inside on the shelves. Each one is labeled. I have one for Chicken, Beef, Pork, Fish and Cajun meats my husband loves to use in gumbos and barbecue.

As you can see at a glance, I don't need to buy anymore chicken for a while, but may be a little low on fish.
I think I am going to buy some bins that will fit on that fourth shelf to hold those leftovers and sort them into meats and meal types. When you freeze them in the Seal-a-Meal bags you can pop them in a pan of boiling water and they taste like you just slaved over dinner! Everyone knows if you cook double you can freeze entree`s for later! Great when you come home from work tired.

The shelf next to the Cajun meats are prepared foods. As you can see I don't use very many prepared items, so my freezer isn't beautifully stocked with rows of prepared meals all alphabetized and sorted by type. But if this is you, keeping things with labels facing out and stacked neatly can save you money and help you find things easier.
The bottom bin has mostly veggies.I wish my shelves were adjustable! I only have one that is.

This is the freezer door. The cups are frozen mugs we use for keeping drinks cold in the hot Houston summer. I don't use them much anymore and considered tossing them out, they don't fit in my pool float cup holder anyway! lolol If I decide to redefine this space you'll find these for sale at the local Goodwill.
I love my frozen berries for homemade protein shakes, I am always stocked ahead since I can use up to a cup in each shake.
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Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Why is it important to organize a refrigerator?

One time at a party I was hosting a good friend opened my refrigerator and said, "Did you just clean your fridge or does it always look that way?" I sheepishly said, "No, I didn't just clean it and yeah, most of the time."
Does stuff get spilled? Yes! Do things leak? Yes! Do things go moldy? Of course. But because it is organized, I know what I'm out of because each thing has its own place, food spoils less because I use Green Bags. See my article about Green Bags, the article is titled, "How to avoid wasting food and save money on your grocery bill," see the link.

 So here is the inside of my refrigerator.
Top Shelf
As you can see, I keep mostly dairy and our bowl of greens on this shelf. My daughter taught me the Tupperware trick of preparing salad greens, placing a paper towel in the bowl and flipping it upside down to preserve the lettuce longer. I also write the date with a Sharpie marker on my water filter so I know when I replaced it last.
The next shelf is adjusted to be shallow on purpose. I keep yogurt and eggs here.
The bin below is our fruit bin. Diet experts say to keep the things you want to remind yourself to eat at eye level. You can see that each fruit is in a separate Green Bag.
The next shelf is what we call "Ello's," that means leftovers! If there are things on this shelf, I know we need to eat them, freeze them or toss 'em. In this instance there is corn I will serve for dinner tonight.
The bottom shelf is rather unique to us. I have two plastic bins that hold all the little jars of hot peppers that my husband loves to buy. There are pickles, my organic peanut butter, his "hot" jellies and my "Spreadable Fruit". If there are open containers of anything used for cooking, i.e., broth, minced garlic or roux it stays in the middle.
The next bin is veggies, in Green Bags of course. The bottom holds lunch meats, cheeses and tortillas. We have a refrigerator in the garage where we keep drinks, bulky items like watermelon, if we have it, and overflow items when we are having a party, or holiday menus.

To the right is the door of the refrigerator. Top bin is the butter and cream cheese. The next shelf is for my lime and lemon juice, spray butter, creamer, and a small plastic bin that holds hot peppers I have picked from the garden, dh loves to look here. There are boiled eggs and chopped onion I need to use and there is fresh garlic here too. Might seem like a weird combo of items, but the point is that we always know where to find these particular items.

The next shelf holds juice and milk. The two bottom shelves hold condiments, and salad dressings and again dh has special mustards and spreads he loves. We never end up with two of the same thing open because something was hidden in the back of the refrigerator shelf.

Last is the freezer compartment. The two top shelves have bread items. I make biscuits and freeze them and I use my bread directly out of the freezer. We are having hamburgers and hot dogs this particular weekend, so there is more bread than usual.
The next shelf has frozen fruit I use in smoothies. Below that, whenever possible, I bring in frozen items from the garage freezer and keep them on the next shelf to avoid opening the freezer too many times in one day. (I have a Seal-a-Meal that I use to date and seal all of my meats in the freezer in the garage) I will be featuring how I organize my freezer this week.
There is extra fruit on the next shelf and I use the bin at the bottom for cheese and packaged items I want frozen.
I use the door for frozen packs to use in lunches, storing sausage, yeast etc.
The drawback to my freezer is that there is very little ability to adjust the shelves.
Personalize your own space according to the items your family uses. Just keep things grouped together and containerize! :)
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Thursday, August 5, 2010

His and Hers Bath Shelves

The top shelf  houses cold meds in an open recycled container and on lazy susan and extra back up supplies

This is Darling Hubby's shelf! He complained because he wanted his own shelf. I usually have a back-up of each thing stored toward the back. So here you go, men are such minimalists?!!
This shelf holds things we both use. I love the little drawer containers that hold all the miscellaneous tubes of ointments and creams. These also hold extra floss, travel size items, nail clippers etc. This two-tiered lazy susan is great for getting to things you need. You can tell by now I am a big fan of lazy susans' since they make it easy for us to reach the stuff in the back!

This one is mine. I like storing everything for nails in these little drawers. The storage container on the right holds all of my scrunches, hair clips, headbands etc.

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Tuesday, August 3, 2010

You are gonna flip over this Flip Fold!

Even after 40 years of marriage my dh (darling hubby) and I were going around and around with how to fold his T-shirts. Particularly when he installed our closet system for me. He wanted his Harley Davidson T-shirts folded like the store. I am a perfectionist and had a hard time getting them folded just right. I wanted to just fold them in half lengthwise and go from there.
Then I was in The Container Store one day and spotted a Blue FlipFOLD! It was around $15 and I wondered how well it worked, or if it was a useless gadget? I thought it was worth a try, in particular with their liberal return policy.
I put it to the test!!! It is wonderful, I wish the product would have been available when I was folding laundry for 5 kids! I love this thing! I fold towels, dh's underwear, pillowcases, shorts etc. on it! It is seriously fantastic! They also sell a junior size for children's clothing. Ever wonder how the stores fold their clothing so neat? Now you know! I know, that any of you that worked in a clothing store probably know about this great tool, but I never had and I was in "fold heaven" there such a place? No! But it makes the whole job more pleasant for me.
Note: There are other brands on the market that probably work equally as well.
I am posting a tutorial of using it here and how the stack looks when I'm done.
By the way? It is great for packing too!!!!
Flip the bottom of the shirt up to the bottom of the folder

Flip the right section over, note his sleeve is laying on the opposite side.

Again, since his shirts are large, it requires one extra flip.

This is so quick and makes it so easy it's the best thing EVER for laundry day!
Flip up to finish! So fast!

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Monday, August 2, 2010

The Half Bath Fix

My home was built with a large beautiful master bath. This is the sole towel bar in the entire bathroom. It is above my beautiful jetted tub so how did I make it beautiful and functional at the same time?
Ikea again!
I found this clever drying rack at Ikea and had my husband mount it as pictured so when I have fine washables, things I wash in cold and hang dry or wet swimwear, I spread the rack out and it holds my things over the tub below while they dry. Then tucks secretly behind my towels when not in use.

In my previous post my daughter mentioned how we cut the legs off of the cabinets that are made to stand behind the commode in order to provide storage for items we need available in small half baths that are built without a shred of storage. I was particularly fond of this cabinet since the glass is textured to obcsure the contents.

Below, I found this wall mount magazine rack at Pier One and painted it white to match the rest of the cabinetry in the bath.
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Thursday, July 29, 2010

If you have a pedestal sink in your half bath...

Half baths are small, they are meant to be. But it doesn't mean we have to put up with inconvenience, especially when we have a pedestal sink. For a guest bath, you may want low light for parties, and there are lovely little lamps on the market and a bounty of candles, but no space to put any ambiance light at all. There are numerous decorative wall mount shelves that can be out of the way but hold this type of thing. I chose this because it matches some other lamps and iron I have in my home. My central theme is bringing the outdoors in and the half circle design with leaves helps hide the cord for the "sassy" lamp and gives me a place to put a votive and some hand lotion.
You may want to use a small fern stand for this same purpose.

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