Sunday, January 30, 2011

MPM # 39

Picture courtesy of Cook with Campbell's

Well, I'm not usually one to wish weeks away but I am very thankful last week is OVER. Our whole house ended up with the flu and it put us out of commission all week. Needless to say, last week's menu did not get enjoyed but I decided to not just shift it all forward - new week, new menu!

I've also gotten back into planning my menu a month at a time. I've also decided to try and add one new recipe to my repertoire each week. This is to add variety as well as to split up the costs of any ingredients I may need to purchase for the recipe I'm making.

Over the past few years, our grocery budget has spun out of the control. The escalating cost of food coupled with our family whims just added up to an enormous expense each month. I haven't run the records lately, but I know at one point, the grocery budget (which includes things like paper products, vitamins and toiletries) was near $1200 per month... We are only a family of three - and one of those three was a very little child at the time! *gasp, cough, CHOKE*

This year, it is important to me that I get this under control through better planning, stretching food, buying bulk, making 'homemade' instead of convenience and making wiser consumer choices.

Part of the things I can do is to plan, plan, plan. By planning a month in advance and organizing my grocery shops into two main shops a month, I'm hope this will reign it in a noticeable amount to start with. I also like being able to properly inventory my pantry so I can plan a few meals a month by using up leftover products from the week before.

New week, new month, new plan!

January 31 to February 6

Monday KD & Fish sticks (recycled from last week)
Tuesday Two Step Honey Dijon Chicken
Wednesday Pork Chops with Noodles n' Sauce & corn
Thursday Cheesy Beef Burritos with Mexi fries
Friday Chicken burgers with Caesar Salad
Saturday Sante Fe Shepherd's Pie
Sunday Beefy Crock Pot Tortellini

For more great menu plans, recipes, tips and tricks, check out all the fabulous links over at the Menu Plan Monday at the Org Junkie!

Friday, January 28, 2011

Week # 4 - Cupboard of Doom

I am very thankful that I did this task last weekend (instead of leaving it until the last minute like usual) as our house was flu-bound and since Monday night, this is the most productive the whole house has been... And TroubleMaker and I are still jammie-bound and in recovery mode.

Thankfully last weekend I made a decision to tackle one of the most disastrous places in our home. When we moved in six and one half years ago, I never thought I'd fill all the storage spaces in our house. It didn't take long for me/us to do it but somethings I've been realizing is that without a 'plan' to regularly go through and purge, clean and organize these spaces, the clutter and stuff just piles up and up and up.

When we purchased our house, this cupboard/closet was one of those spaces I knew had been thought of by a cook - it's adjacent to the kitchen, has lots of shelving and is open and spacious. I knew it was the answer to the "appliance garage" used in so many new kitchens. But not only did it have space for all my small kitchen appliances, it had room to be a pantry for big boxes and baking supplies and it had 'out of the way' shelving for coin jars and other odds and ends.

It didn't take long for me to realize that it could also be a convenient dumping ground for all those homeless belongings every home accumulates... But today was my day - today, all the shame would be put to rest and I would conquer the...

Cupboard of Doom


I knew I'd need help so I got a big folding table and my faithful son, TroubleMaker.
He and I began to empty the Cupboard of Doom. He would ask "Mama, what's this?" and I pulled something else for him to put on the table. When we got to the meat slicer he said in reply "Mama, we don't need a meat slicer." He was quite serious and I realized he was right. We got it second hand more than six years ago from my Mother In Law and I'd never used it. A week or two ago, I asked the guru of organization, The Org Junkie and she had the same advice my son gave me this week. So I started my "give away" pile of appliances and stuff. Once we got the cupboard empty and wiped out, I stared at the empty shelves for a few minutes unsure of the next step.

Then I began to sketch. After all, I'm an interior designer - designing and planning spaces is kind of my thing... And it all came to me! Storage for appliance, food, wrapping centre and a shelf for TroubleMaker's art supplies and his snack shelf! Sketch in hand (and TroubleMaker off playing tractors) Photobucket
I began to put things back together again. Then, to fund the new baskets and organizational tools I want to get, TroubleMaker and I started to roll up some coins (in the coin rollers I found in the deep recesses of the Cupboard of Doom).

It also dawned on me that organizing is just planning specific spaces... Instead of planning a room for living, I planned my cupboard for living! Last week it was my closet and the week before, TroubleMaker's Dresser... It is all starting to make a surprising amount of sense to me now!

So now, not only do I have a great, organized and easy to use cupboard, I have 'found' money to buy some new things for it! I have a pile of stuff to give away on our local Freecycle message board and my husband could not believe the transformation... He was so shocked, he actually peeked around to the corner into the kitchen wondering where I'd stacked all the other stuff (thinking I'd just hidden it for the pictures). HA! Was he surprised!


To see some other great projects from the Org Junkie's 52 Weeks of Organizing, Check out Week #4! Happy organizing and thank for stopping by!

PhotobucketThe Leftover Piles from the Cupboard of Doom Awesome!

Sunday, January 23, 2011

MPM # 38

Another weekend is coming to a close and I'm so proud of myself for having my menu done in time! I'm working on getting back into my month at a time planning. It just makes my life so much easier... And budgeting so much easier!

One thing I've been asked frequently is how do I know what I want to eat... Most people say they can't decide day to day, let alone an entire week (or month) at a time. The fact of the matter is, this makes my life easier and makes me WANT what I've planned! A long time ago (two years, at least), I made a spread sheet of all the meals I can (and do) cook. I printed this off and put it in the front of my recipe binder. When I go to plan, I flip to this page an pick my weeks worth of meals. When I find a new recipe I like, I add it to my list (in pencil)... I need to update that file soon as I've added several new meals to my repertoire. I often search recipe books and magazines and surf the other MPM folks over at the Org Junkie's Menu Plan Monday!

How do I deal with daily desires or cravings? Well, I plan my menu based on a seven day plan. I plan a beef, pork, chicken, vegetarian, crock pot, pasta & soup night. This gives the menu variety and diversity and allows me to move dinners around depending on our time and wants. And sometimes, things go all astray and we don't have what's on the menu but I find having it planned makes it easier. There are so many things in life to worry about, why would I want to spend one minute more than I have to worrying about what's for dinner?!

January 24 to January 30

Monday Soup & grilled cheese
Tuesday Beef with Snow Peas, spring rolls & fried rice
Wednesday Omelets
Thursday Sante Fe Shepherd's Pie
Friday KD & Fish sticks (from last week)
Saturday Chicken fingers & fries
Sunday ??? Crock pot something ???

We had a bit more snow this weekend and we had to get a picture of TroubleMaker out playing and helping. He's a good helper! Enjoy your week and thanks for stopping by!

Friday, January 21, 2011

Week # 3 - Two for One!

I was beginning to wonder if I'd get a chance to do my organizing this week... I tend to procrastinate and here I was, Friday afternoon, with nothing done! Instead of the panic setting in, I thought I'd take advantage of the hour I had and DO something other than surf and think about the things I could be (and should be) doing.

I looked at my list and thought - what to do? What to do? And like Henny Penny, I thought the sky was falling - then I realized that it was just one of my toppling towers. My closet shelf was at least two years over due for a 'make-over'.

I started like I'd planned - pulling everything off the shelf and sorting into three piles... "donate", "keep", "garbage/recycle". And then the shelf was empty. So I then sorted the "keep" pile and pleased them neatly back on the shelf.

I was done. But it only took me 10 minutes. I looked to ensure I'd done it correctly... I think I did but only 10 minutes had passed. I decided this was an opportunity I could not pass up... I had planned on doing my closet too so why not now?

So I took the same approach and then it was done... I packed up the clothes, fixed my dresser (the drawer slide fell off), hauled an armload of stuff downstairs (to quote the Org Junkie - "Never leave a room empty handed") and then I came downstairs to enjoy 20 minutes of time to write without a lanky little hand pawing at me insisting I play 'gucks' or 'tains' or 'race'. Now he'll have my undivided attention to play all the games he wants tonight!

For more great organizing tips and to check out the 52 Week Challenge, check out the Organizing Junkie! A huge thanks to Laura for her mentioning my blog in this week's post!

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Recipe Swap Thursday - Quick & Easy Italian Cheese Bread

Italian Cheese Bread
2-1/2 cups flour
2 pkgs yeast
1/4 cup sugar
1 tsp salt

1 cup milk
1 cup water
1/2 cup margarine

2 eggs

2-3/4 cups flour

1/4 cup margarine, softened
1 cup mozzarella cheese, shredded
1 pkg of dry salad dressing mix, like Salad n Dips Italian or Country Herb
1/4 tsp garlic powder.

Combine first 4 ingredients, mix well in large mixing bowl.

Heat milk, water and margarine well (until hot and margarine is melted). Stir to combine and add to dry ingredients. Add in two eggs and beat on low until well combined. Turn mixer to medium and continue to beat for 3 minutes. Add second amount of flour, one cup at a time until blended and dough is sticky.

Turn onto lightly floured surface and kneed gently. Cut into two pieces and shape into a two balls.

Grease a 12" bundt pan well. Sprinkle lightly with Sesame Seeds. Poke hole in one of the balls and fit into bundt pan.

Combine filling ingredients and put on top of dough in pan.

Poke hole in second ball and place on top of filling and first lot of dough.

Cover with greased wax paper and clean tea towel. Place in COLD oven with only the oven light on. Wait 30 minutes.

Remove from oven and preheat to 350 F. Put uncovered pan of bread in oven and bake 30minutes (or until done - bread should sound hollow when knocked). Turn onto wire rack to cool.

Hints & Tricks to make it better
The bread was good but a little 'heavy' and 'cakey' so I may try just putting it in the bowl first, letting it rise and punching it down before forming (assuming I've got the time to do it). Also, it was a little short on flavour. Next time, I'd add the seasoning packet to the dry ingredients (first 4). I'd likely omit the butter in the filling too and just either add the cheese into the dry ingredients or put it in the middle as originally suggested.

The good news is it is quick and makes a nice addition to a pasta dinner. It also would be very good with a supper salad (like Chicken Caesar Salad). I hope you try it - original or modified!

One more note: It makes a bundt pan full - we are a family of three... When I made it the last time, I cut it into three sections and froze two for later use. We've eaten both pieces and I'm happy to report that it stays fresh and tasty for several months in the freezer (I froze it in late October, we ate the last piece a week ago).

PhotobucketPhoto courtesy of Blackstone Images

For more great recipes, check out the Recipe Swap at Prairie Story!

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

We-Design-Day: Practical Theory Week #2

This week, we're going to look at two more design principles: proportions and scale. Both principles express concepts of size and magnitude and both serve an important function in design.


    a.In a design setting, it can refers to the visual proportion - relating to the use of colours, patterns and textures. Too much of any one thing can dominate a space and overwhelm it negatively.

    b.It also refers to the classical architecture terminology - defining the relationship of the parts to the other parts or to the relationship of the parts to the whole. For interior design, it can be applied to the relative size and scale of the various elements in a design.

It is often easier to cite examples of badly thought out proportion. If you think architecturally, we often see huge "McMansions" placed on tiny city lots. Additionally, have you ever driven through an older area of your city and noticed small post-war style homes "re-invented" with additions or second storeys that clearly don't work with the existing structure. Furthermore, over sized furnishings in a small room do nothing but create clutter and a sense of 'small'. When selecting furniture, one must clearly understand that although the piece is really comfortable and 'just the right size' for a person (thinking of overstuffed furniture or California King sized beds) proportionately, a Cali King bed in a 10'x12' room will dominate and overwhelm the space.

Interior, usually most people aren't attracted to using all of one colour or pattern but proportion should be applied and carefully thought out so no one things (be it colour, texture, or object) overwhelms the space.


    a.Scale works hand in hand with proportion. In design (architecture or interior) scale specifically compares the size of an object or an environment to a human being. Anything used or applied in an interior should be compared to a person to ensure it's scale isn't overwhelming or dominating. Scale should suit the occupants, as well as the space.

Special consideration can be given when designing children's rooms or seniors centres to ensure that the furnishings and rooms are scaled to their special need & size!

We're on the home stretch of the principles now! Next week, we'll finish them up and then move forward and get back into working with our projects.

Further reading:

Architectural Proportion (Wikipedia)
Photo Flash Graphics

Monday, January 17, 2011

MPM # 36

It's the third week of January and the snow in our back yard is more than 3' deep - and it's still snowing! I love the winter wonderland outside - many are complaining - and although I'm not crazy about the -30 deg. Celsius temps, seeing it through the eyes of our TroubleMaker makes me appreciate it in a new way.

This week, our menu is 'old standards' - I'm feeling tired and uninspired. Also, I'm working very diligently to stay to a reasonable grocery budget. It's really important to me to get the spending under control so I'm working on planning meals that use the things we have. Although I love trying new recipes and part of what I love about the Menu Plan Monday's is perusing the other blogs and getting new and fresh ideas, I think I'll have to ensure that any new selections are planned when I do my menu planning (which I have to start doing a month at a time again - it just works better and keeps our budget better under control). This is what we're eating this week.

January 17 to January 23

Monday Tuna Casserole
Tuesday Chicken Salad Sandwiches
Wednesday Spaghetti
Thursday Beef with Snow Peas, spring rolls & fried rice
Friday KD & Fish sticks (TroubleMaker's request)Saturday Nachos!
Sunday Crock pot Hamburger Casserole


I'm proud to announce that after nearly two years of breakfast planning, my Husband feels secure in his ability to 'do' breakfasts during the week unaided! YAY! But in a week or two, lunches will be back on the menu as my husband's contract is wrapping up and he'll be home again full time with TroubleMaker. :)

For more great meal planning ideas and menu planning tips, check out The Org Junkie's Menu Plan Monday!

For a yummy, easy dinner, check out my Sweet & Sour Hamburger recipe!

Crock Pot Hamburger Casserole
1.5 pounds hamburger
3 medium potatoes, thinly sliced
1 med onion, thinly sliced
3 medium carrots, thinly sliced
2 ribs celery, thinly sliced
10 oz frozen peas
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
10 oz can tomato soup
2 tsp beef bouillon
1/2 cup water

-Scramble fry hamburger in frying pan until no longer pink. Drain and turn into crock pot.
-Add next 7 ingredients, stir.
-Mix soup, bouillon, water in a bowl, add to crock pot. Stir & cover.
-Cook on low 8-10 hours or high for 4-5 hours.
-Makes 8 cups

Friday, January 14, 2011

Week # 2 - TroubleMaker's Dresser

I thought this challenge would be a breeze but time is short and I'm still learning how to be organized...

As dinner was cooking, I had an hour. I thought about my list and figured my #2 could be done in the time allotted. I walked in to his room and sighed. Doing his dresser is a continual task but I knew it really needed doing when this is what I saw...

So I doubled back to the kitchen and got a blue bag to pack up the clothes to pass along. I peeked in the drawers... And was embarrassed.

I started by taking everything out and sorting into piles...
"Keep" "Pass On" "Too big"

I then bagged up the "Pass On" and then sorted out the two drawers we use for clothing and put the summer stuff and the "too big" back in the middle drawer.

Here are the results!

Hey! There was a dresser under that stuff and LOOK at the piggy banks! He's got two - one must've have a baby! ;-)

And the inside looks pretty good too!

And this is the bag that's being passed along to my good friend's little boy!

Cat not included

Guess what? It didn't hurt or cause pain. It wasn't comparable to torture or agony and I think I even had a little bit of fun! You'll have to excuse the top drawer - I still have that to do but dinner was ready and I thought I'd end on a high note! Join me next Friday for the next adventure on my 52 Week Challenge!

*Technically, this is my first week but I'm planning on doing a double project one week to catch up...

52 Weeks of Organizing... Challenge Accepted!

Ok. I like to tell people I'm organized. Very organized, actually. It's on my resume. My organizational brags have likely gotten me a job or two. Thankfully, I'm very talented in other ways because, well... Although it's not a lie, I am a bit delusional in my organizing ability. Well, no, that's not quite right... I'm delusional in my ability to keep my life organized.

The one notable exception is in my project management ability - although I may have to shuffle through an enormous file folder that contains all the documents, I know to the penny what my project is costing, how much is left in the budget and exactly where we are in regards to the schedule. I remember conversations and details and actually had a file drawer full of every single incoming and outgoing phone call I made over the six years at my last position.

Personally, well, I need serious help. So during my recent lunch time reading session, I came across a great motivator... The Org Junkie's 52 Weeks of Organizing. I had a "plan" for the year - one of which was to be a little more organized. I've got room after room of 'stuff' that I need to go through. But I think I had that list at the start of last year too... I tried and I wrote about it here and here and it was part the reason I started my blog. I thought if I was 'accountable' publicly, I'd get the job done.

It didn't work.

I realized when reading the challenge on the Org Junkie's site that I have many talents and knowledge but organizing is not one of them... But I can learn and why reinvent the wheel? I have knowledge and skills, which I'm sharing with We-Design-Day but I must realize my specialty is interior design - organizing is not one. So now I'm sifting through articles and hints and I've committed to the 52 Weeks project.

One of the tasks was to make a list. The other night, I made mine. Now, I only have 30 items on my list but I know there are a couple of the tasks are going to be multiple week projects. And I know as I get started, the list will grow.

Here is my dirty little list... It isn't in order either, I just wrote as things came to me and I'll pick/choose the task based on the time I have that week to commit to it.

52 Weeks of Organizing
1. Closet shelf (mine)
2. TroubleMaker's dresser
3. Appliance Closet
4. Ensuite medicine cabinet
5. Ensuite vanity
6. My dresser
7. Front hall closet
8. Main bath vanity
9. Linen cupboard
10. Phone desk
11. Guest room closet
12. Wheel cart
13. Spice cupboard
14. TroubleMaker's toys
15. Cookie sheet cupboard
16. Laundry room
17. Cold room
18. Christmas decorations
19. Painting supplies
20. Non fiction library
21. Sewing studio
22. Design books/library
23. Computer files!
24. Email "inbox"
25. Gardening supplies (shed)
26. Night stand
27. Fabric stash
28. Photos (print)
29. Recipes
30. Back hall closet
31. Broom/pet closet
32. My closet/clothes
33. Dresser top

Wish me luck... I'm going to need it!

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Recipe Swap Thursday - Sweet & Sour Hamburger

On Sunday night, I'd planned to make spaghetti but TroubleMaker informed me he wanted RICE! I had a craving for Chinese takeout, but the foot or three of snow we'd had over the weekend had made the streets a nightmare and I knew if we ordered in, we'd likely be waiting hours for it to arrive. So, out of my desire and TroubleMaker's insistence for RICE, this recipe was born...

Sweet and Sour Hamburger with Fried Rice

1 lb hamburger
1/2 green pepper, large dice
1/2 red pepper, large dice
1 to 2 cups broccoli florets
1/2 white onion, sliced into rings
1 medium carrot, peeled and sliced
1 rib celery, sliced on the diagonal

3/4 cup brown sugar
1-1/2 cup water
1/4 cup white vinegar
1/4 cup ketchup
3 tbsp soy sauce
3 tbsp flour

1.Scramble fry hamburger in large frying pan or electric skillet (with a lid), keeping the pieces bite size (like small meat balls) until no longer pink.

2.Add onions, carrots and celery. Saute until tender crisp. Add other vegetables and saute a few minutes more.

3.Combine all sauce ingredients in a large measuring cup, whisking to combine until no flour lumps remain.

4.Pour sauce over meat and veggies and stir to combine well. Reduce heat, cover and simmer until firm vegetables (carrots) are soft and broccoli is slightly wilted or reaches desired doneness (we like it quite soft).


We served it with my Fried Rice (a long time family favourite) but the sauce was tasty and I think it would be good with plain rice too!

For more great recipes, check out the Recipe Swap at Prairie Story! This is my first link to her site and I'm so excited to share it!

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

We-Design-Day - Practical Theory!

Last week, we looked at design composition and the elements of design. The elements are generally applied using the principles of design – this week’s topic.
There are eight principles. We’ll look at each one closely as they can be invaluable resources when planning your space. I’m going to list them ‘laundry’ style and then we’ll work through them individually.

    I. Balance
    II. Rhythm
    VII. Harmony


    a.In a design setting, it refers to the visual balance. It relates to the perception of the weight of an object (or objects) in architecture and interiors. Balance can also be more than just physical arrangement. Balance can also mean the balance of the elements of design: balanced texture, line, colour or shape.

    b.There are three basic types of balance generally used.

    i.Symmetrical or bilateral

    1.Described as being equal and in proportion to one another. Most commonly used as it is predominant in our natural environment. We have two arms, two legs, two eyes – and generally, all are similar in size and location (on the body). Often mirror images.

    2.In Fig.1, the vases are symmetrically balanced (one on each end of the table, similar distance from the edge and each other).


    1.Described as being ‘not symmetrical’ – meaning not equal in size or proportion but the pieces work to stabilize one another. Although some things in nature are asymmetrical (Fiddler crab has one claw bigger than the other), our tendency is towards symmetry. Being ‘left’ or ‘right’ handed is also asymmetrical as it’s easier for the brain to ‘train’ one hand rather than both.

    Other hints for understanding and employing Asymmetrical balance:
    Brightly coloured objects can visually balance a dull colour.
    Large objects can be balanced by a grouping of smaller objects
    Generally considered “informal”

    2.Varying the height and arrangement creates visual interest and definition.

    I always find asymmetrical arrangements difficult because they don’t seem natural and can often look contrived and planned.


    1.Most similar to symmetrical balance but has a central point or core from which the elements extend outward.


    a.Think of rhythm – what has rhythm? A heart beat, music, the person in the next cube over tapping his pencil. What do they all have in common?


    1.Repetitive use of materials, form texture or colour.

    ii.Regular Intervals

    1.Alternating the elements of design (use of curves against stripes)

    iii.Organized Movement

    1.Progression of movement can draw the eye in a directional sequence – light to dark (colours) or sizing objects small to large.


    a.Emphasis in a design context gives variety and uniqueness to an interior by creating focal points or centres of interest. It can be obtained through dominant or subordinate use of forms, colours, textures and lines.

    i.Dominant Forms

    1.Have the greatest impact

    ii.Subordinate Forms

    1.Secondary and should coordinate or contrast with the dominant form

    b.When selecting the focal point, it’s important to select it carefully and balance it with the other elements.

I’m going to end this week with that. The principles are an important area and deserve time to digest and comprehend the material. Next week, we’re going to look at Proportion and Scale – two principles that often get neglected when planning a space.

As always, if you have any questions, feel free to leave a comment or send me an email. Thanks for stopping by and see you for next week’s We-Design-Day!

Sunday, January 9, 2011

MPM # 35

Ahhh... The second full week of the month. Last week, we all got sick. I got it Friday so I got to spend the majority of the weekend feeling 'unwell'. Thankfully, whatever it was is fast moving and we are all feeling much better.

I can tell you I was very disappointed in some of the new recipes I tried last week... The Southwestern Soup was a YUCK. I love soup - it's my 'thing' and I could not eat one bowl of that abomination. I'm very glad I halved the recipe. It wasn't beany enough, it had such a yucky acidic flavour (yes, I tried a little sugar and a little Worcestershire sauce) and it was just boring and bland. It won't be moved over to my Family Favourites, that is for sure! On the plus side, my toss together quesadillas were great. They were fab and were even great reheated the next day.

This week, I'm using tried and true recipes. No 'new' vegetables - it's winter and we've had a foot or three of snow (no kidding - it started snowing Friday afternoon and I think it's stopped now... We had so much snow, we built TroubleMaker a toboggan hill in our back yard. Although our Barbeque is buried under all the snow, I'm digging out our indoor grill to make a summertime favourite - it's just been too long since our last BBQ and we all need a fix!

Two hours of shoveling, some kitty litter and a big push and we finally extracted our car from the front street. The snow is thigh deep on me (I'm 5'-11" tall) and TroubleMaker fell into a snow bank today and he was up to his head!

I hope you have a great week - whether you're snowed in our enjoying the sun! Thanks for stopping by and we'll see you next week!

January 10 to January 16

Monday Soup & Grilled Cheese
Tuesday Chicken & Mushroom Linguine
Wednesday Hamburgers & salad
Thursday Beef Stroganoff with egg noodles
Friday Chicken Nuggets with fries
Saturday Beef & Bean Burritos
Sunday Slow Cooker Beef Roast

Cereal, toast, bagels, muffins, Bacon & Eggs

For more great meal planning ideas and menu planning tips, check out The Org Junkie's Menu Plan Monday!

Toss Together Quesadillas
1/2 white onion, sliced
1/2 red pepper, large diced
1/2 green pepper, large diced
4 very large white mushrooms, sliced
Heinz Chili Sauce
10" flour tortillas
Shredded cheddar and mozza cheese

-Preheat oven to 375.
-Saute all the vegetables in a little olive oil in a pan. Add 1/4 to 1/2 cup Heinz chili sauce and continue cooking until vegetables are tender and most of the moisture has evaporated.
-Divide mixture and spread on flour tortillas.
-Top with lots of cheese and another tortilla
-Place on a cookie sheet and bake 10 minutes or until cheese is well melted
-Slice with a pizza wheel and serve hot with sour cream

Friday, January 7, 2011

Fun Sock Friday - The New Year is Here!

Image Courtesy of Blackstone Images

Last Friday was New Year’s Eve and I had a post planned – I’d wanted to share how much I love entertaining and post pictures of the large spread my friend and I put together for our gathering (of 4 adults and two kids). But I was so busy planning, preparing and enjoying that I didn’t get it done!

So as I thought about this week’s Fun Sock Friday post, I wasn’t sure what I wanted to write about… The 12 goals for 2011 I wrote for myself? My love of Freecycle? The soup I loved throwing out? My love of lists?

My head is blank – oh sure, there is lots going on but nothing quite focused enough to write about. My head is a bowl of unleavened dough – not quite ready for bread!
Perhaps you’re a full loaf this morning – I’d love to hear about what you love this week so please join us and post a link to your blog below.


I know we all have something – be it socks, electronics, singing ornaments, or a closet full of beads that we want to share with the world. I want Fun Sock Friday to be a potpourri of things you love. I know this is vague and nondescript and I’m sure we’ll refine as we go along but let’s play!

This is new and as far as I know, original. Share here and spread the fun but please don’t host your own Fun Sock Friday.

Fun Sock – the Guidelines
1.Fun Sock Friday is about sharing. Posts should be original and mention your participation in your post. I’ll try my best to ensure my post and the linky are up by 9am Mountain.
2.Share something you love – craft, photo, person, song, collection – it can be anything but it should be something done by you because you love doing it!
3.Posts should be “G” rated and family oriented– no adult content or graphic images, please.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

We-Design-Day: Design Theory

This week, I’d like to step back a bit and look at some more design theory. Although all of this is ‘text book’ stuff, it’s helpful in the sense that knowing it can help you see and feel a space differently. One thing I forget is that I use this stuff daily – whether I realize it or not. It’s become such a part of my daily life that the terminology gets lost, but the application and the theory are ingrained. Knowing all of this is helpful and I’m only going to provide an overview for you. There are many great resources available for further study – I’ll share a few later in this post.

Essentially, I learned design is comprised of two key purposes:

Design can be structural or applied

Structural design is integral – the underlying framework. It isn’t an embellishment.
Applied (or Decorative) is applied to the structural framework. Often to add character or a ‘personal’ touch to something.

Here is an example – a piece of fabric is structural. It has purpose and it is useful in its function. Adding a pattern to the fabric is applied (or decorative) design. It doesn’t change the structure of the design (of the fabric) but it enhances its visual aesthetic.

I won’t touch on it today, but there are several approaches that can be taken when looking at structural and applied design. These include organic and abstract – I suppose you could call them methods of design. We’ll look at these another day.

For my basement renovation, I’m primarily looking at applied design; however, I’m changing and altering some of the structure – but of course, not load bearing structure. Interior design focuses a lot of the applied design – but it isn’t always decorative.

Looking at the ‘bigger picture’, although I’m not creating something new or revolutionary, I’m altering the structure or space of our basement to make it work and function better for our family and our needs. I’m reworking the existing framework of the space and redefining the way the spaces relate to one another so structural design is integral to interior design and this is where interior decorating and interior design often stand apart from one another.

To wrap up this week, I want to take a look at the Elements of Design. Most of the reading and studying I’ve done refer to six or seven elements and often call them the building blocks of design (or language of design) – whether it’s paint on a canvas, pencil to paper or fabric to chair, building to ground. It is the starting point and the areas we examine when thinking about any type of design.

Generally, these are the seven with a basic “one line” definition.

Space – Area where things exist: Spatial concept & relationship to that concept
Line – Has direction and projects emphasis
Form – Can have dimension or mass, can be essence or inspirational; can be abstract (often called “Volume” – but the two are actually quite different but kind of fall here)
Shape – outline or definable contours
Texture – Visual or tactile characteristics of an object
Colour/Light – can be used to define form and give a sense of scale. Colour does not exist without light
Time – This one isn’t always listed – but I learned it as a fourth dimensional element – what will the space look like in 20 years? Life cycle and sustainability – how will the finishes wear (fading, discolour) etc.

Hand in hand with the Elements are the Principals of design, but I’d like to cover that next week as this is a lot to digest in one sitting. Putting the elements in any search engine will get you a host of definitions and explanations. A lot of the terminology used in interior design is applicable to graphic and industrial design and art. They are a foundation. I’ve provided an illustration of a very famous chair and highlighted the Elements for you. Can you see how they relate?

Barcelona Chair & Stool – Ludwig Mies van der Rohe – 1929
Photo courtesy of Knoll

(click on the picture to get a larger, readable view)

As always, I’m always open to questions and comments so please leave one! Next week, we’ll look at the Principals of Design and keep working through this process together. Thanks for stopping by!

Further Reading:

Wikipedia: Design Elements
John Lovett

Sunday, January 2, 2011

MPM #34

TroubleMaker in 2011 - Inspiring Better Budgeting and MORE Vegetables!

Image Copyright Blackstone Images

Happy New Year, everyone! I hope 2010 was a prosperous and happy year and that 2011 brings you all that you need.

Our "Appy New Year" was a huge success and lots of fun! We had too much food - way too much and we are going to my Mother In Law's house tomorrow and bringing lunch!

I've been reflecting on my year and where things will go for me (and my family) in 2011. Menu Planning wise I hope to introduce more vegetables to our menu. Living in a northern climate makes trying some new things difficult - fresh produce in the winter months here isn't always an easy thing to come by but I think I can speak with confidence for all my family when I say we're a little tired of the frozen peas, corn and green beans! Broccoli and cauliflower can only be jazzed up so many ways before it gets BORING! I also want to get my grocery budget in control. Although I diligently plan, our shopping budget needs tweaking and improving. I had been getting good at budgeting so much per week and eating one week for 'free' (using items I'd bought ahead or using the stores of food we have)... But it has been awhile since I took the time to plan my month properly and I have no idea what I have in the cupboards any more!

How about you? What are you hoping to improve with your Meal and Menu Planning in 2011?

Here is our first full week of 2011 - see you next week and thank you for stopping by!

January 3 to January 9

Monday Perogies & Sausage
Tuesday Chicken Cordon Bleu Rice, Sauteed zucchini with garlic
Wednesday Egg wraps with tater tots
Thursday Southwestern Soup with quesadillas
Friday Beefy One-Pot Dinner
Saturday Pizza Party!
Sunday Spaghetti with meatsauce


Cereal, toast, bagels, muffins, Bacon & Eggs

For more great meal planning ideas and menu planning tips, check out Organizing Junkie's Menu Plan Monday!


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