Has the spring cleaning fever hit your home yet? This time of year is great to freshen up your space and clear out the clutter. We tend to think of the physical clutter in our homes first. The junk drawer, the old condiments that need to be cleaned out, and the clothes you haven’t touched in months. Today I want you to think of spring cleaning in a different way.

It’s time to spring clean your schedule.

I know you are already saying to yourself, yeah right. It’s so busy right now and I just have to get through the next couple of months till summer.

But what if there was a better way? A way to carve out time for yourself, your family needs and still be present for the end-of-year recitals and tournaments. 

Take a few minutes to look at your schedule with fresh eyes and put these action steps into place.

Spring Clean Your Schedule. Declutter the unnecessary and make time for your priorities.


  • What absolutely has to be done? Where do you need to be and when? Write it all down or print out your digital calendar so you physically can see it. Are there invitations coming in and you haven’t made a decision yet? Are there any in the inbox you can take a pass on?


  • Can you divide and conquer? Often times Mom is the one doing all the driving around to get the kids everywhere, while also getting meals on the table. Is there one night your partner can cover the pickup or drop off for an event? Have you taken the time to ask? The secret here is to plan ahead. It doesn’t do anyone any favors to ask at the last minute. Look at that schedule you printed out and have a family meeting on a Sunday night to see where you can share the responsibilities.

Create Space

  • This is often the hard one but is the most needed to stay calm when life is extra-busy. Do you know what you need to feel centered? Is it cooking a meal from scratch? (When I spend quality time chopping vegetables it makes me happy. Anyone else?) Is it reading a book? Is it just finding time to take a shower? How can you make time in your day to recharge and be ready for the next day?
  • As a parent, can you also create space for your kids? After school can become a race of driving/practice/driving/homework/eat if we are not careful. Those days will happen but can you look to find opportunities for kids to get a breather? Let there be space in the afternoon for playing in the backyard or with neighborhood friends instead of scheduling something.

Give Yourself Permission to Say No

  • This may be the hardest of all. Remember those invitations in your mailbox/inbox/message box? They will continue to come even if you take a pass here or there. If you give yourself and your family members the opportunity to feel refreshed, you will be in a much better place to engage with friends at a latter date. Letting go of the “fear of missing out” is a hard one, but you can step away from your social media and monthly get-togethers if it will give you much needed respite to stay fresh and strong.

What do you think? Are the ideas here resonating with you? It can be hard to step back and relook at your schedule and to-do list with fresh eyes. As a parent I find myself struggling with the balance of letting my kids get involved with sports after school, but recognize that too much structured time doesn’t work well for them. Or me. We had to make changes for the spring and watching them play with friends spontaneously after school is good for the soul. (and all the science says outdoor play is really what kids need the most when they are little!)

Tell us, what can you edit to help you find more space in your day?


One of the biggest challenges we face in the kitchen is having enough time to cook the type of food we want to serve our family. There is an impression that cooking food from scratch will take an exorbitant amount of time. While in some cases that is true, 90% of the time it doesn’t need to be complicated. We also don’t need as many tools in our kitchen as some might think. While new gadgets can be fun, sometimes it’s the simple things that really save us time.

It’s so simple that sometimes it’s all about placement of things in the  kitchen. Do you have zones set-up that make breakfasts come together fast? A few common kitchen zones are for coffee, smoothies, cereal/oatmeal toppings, and lunch prep. You can create zones in the refrigerator too and keep lunch making supplies in one place, toast toppings in another.

I love this quote below from chef Kyle Connaughton who knows how important efficiency is in a busy kitchen.

Kitchen Organization Quote

I created a printable highlighting my 15 favorite kitchen tools that save me time everyday. Some of the tools you have heard me talk about before, while others are so simple I never thought to mention them. These workhorses in my kitchen make it possible to cook real food for my family without extra effort.

15 favorite kitchen organizing tools that save time and don't cost a lot of money

One of my favorite tips is the one about clear containers for your leftovers…are you storing them the right way in the fridge? Another tip I forgot to mention about my favorite blender: to clean it quickly add hot water and a squirt of dish soap. Blend away the last of a smoothie for a super fast clean up! Click here to get the full report!

Having an organized kitchen space is the first step towards feeling prepared to share healthy meals with others. Think about your own kitchen? Where are your issues with efficiency? Is it the clean up? Is it the meal prep? Take a look a the tools on the printable and see which ones would be helpful in your home. Which can save you the most time? Let me know what you think!


As winter drags on, it’s time to try out some new recipes. This week’s meal plan has a 5 new recipes after catching up on my magazine reading. Cooking Light is one of the few that I still prefer to receive in print so I can easily access the recipes.

The system I use for organizing recipes is to rip out the ones I’m interested in and add it to a folder that stays at the front of my recipe binder. Once I have cooked the meal and decide if it’s worth making again, then it gets filed into the correct section of the binder for storage. Most of the recipes from magazines end up in plastic sleeves so there are no worries about kitchen spills.

On the menu…

Family dinner meal plans for busy weeknights

Sunday: Grilled Rib Eye with shaved carrot and parsley salad. {recipe}

Monday: Pasta tuna salad. I make a pasta switch as the kids don’t care for campanelle. This is a great pantry-friendly recipe that comes together really fast. {recipe}

Tuesday: Seared Flank Steak with Blue Cheese Polenta. Kids who don’t care for blue cheese will get parmesan cheese swirled into their polenta. Sautéed broccoli on the side. {recipe}

Wednesday: Spaghetti and meatballs in slow cooker. Recipe from the Not Your Mother’s Slow Cooker Cookbook.

Thursday: CORN: Clean Out Refrigerator Night

Friday: Mushroom Asparagus and Roasted Red Pepper Pizza. {recipe} Getting creative with meatless meals during Lent. It will be even better with homemade pizza dough.

Saturday: Chicken curry bar. I’ll toss the kid’s chicken into a tortilla with their choice of toppings. Grown ups will have it over rice. {recipe} Are my kids the only ones who won’t eat rice?

Sunday: Mustard Glaze Chicken plus a big batch of roasted vegetables. {recipe} I’m loving the soup idea to make with the leftover veggies!

Which dinner night would be the favorite in your house?

Monday meal plan to help organize family dinner

For more recipes, see three years of past dinner menus here,

my Pinterest board here, or OrgJunkie for a link-up of meal plans.

organizing solutions book

The new year always brings about an organizing fever to many homes, mine included. Over the past few years, we have tackled small organizing projects, which often included buying new storage units for all of our stuff. This year I read the book, Organizing Solutions for People with ADHD. It was life changing and maybe it can be for you too.

Letting Go of Stuff

First off, I don’t have ADHD. However, I do suffer from owning too much stuff and blessed with three kids 5 and under who also have a lot of stuff. We try to take good care of our belongings (and toys) so everything is always in “good” shape. Reading this book taught me that being in good, or even perfect, condition doesn’t give an item permission to stay in our home. If it doesn’t have a purpose, it’s just more stuff.

As I keep my Word of the Year in mind, clearing out the clutter allows me to focus on the task at hand. Instead of struggling to put clean dishes away in an overstuffed cabinet, I took some time to pare down our collection of pots and pans. Some were donated and others that are used infrequently were moved to an accessible area in the basement.

The Organizing Solutions book addresses the challenge of dealing with sentimental items, like gifts. Some may not be your style, or the gifts are no longer IN style. Somehow after reading about how to reevaluate gifts made it okay for me to say goodbye to certain items. I’ll always appreciate the sentiment, but now my home can really show our favorite items and those that mean something to each of us.

The book is not just for people with ADHD, the author notes early on how distracted busy mothers can benefit from her methodology. In any give day (hour) a mother has to wear many hats. Following the same approach to make clean up easy, clearing the clutter in every room is the first step.

Chapter by chapter I got a few new ideas to bring order and calmness to my space. My office desk has a space for a couple of beautiful things and my new 2015 Emily Ley planner (yes, I am a paper and pencil girl!) Papers have a home and I’ve learned a few tricks on how to be a bit more ruthless with all the paper that does come into the house on a daily basis.

Simple rules for toy storage


In the playroom, I finally realized why my very pretty Ikea storage unit still didn’t help with clean up time. The book explains the difference between “pretty” storage and “efficient” storage. I think there is a happy medium but I would much rather make clean up as easy as possible for me AND the kids.

I created a downloadable printable of the SIMPLE RULES FOR TOY STORAGE that I hope can help you bring some peace and calmness to your toy mismanagement. Sign up in the box below to have it sent to you. Print it out and keep it handy to refer back to when the toy room starts to overflow again.

If you get on an organizing kick, my other favorite reads are One Bite at a Time and The Nesting Place. It’s easier to keep reading about organizing, but the reality is you have to start taking action. Good luck and happy sorting.

photo credit: Wendy Copley via photopin cc

Back to school Giveaway from Mabels Labels

If you have kids in daycare, preschool and beyond, you know how important it is to label EVERYTHING with their name on it. Even if you are just bringing in your kids to the daycare at the gym you need to label everything, like their shoes. {ask me why I know some time…} We have used Mabel’s Labels since Madison was in daycare and I have passed along clothes to friend’s babies with her name labels still attached. This year you too can get organized for back to school with the Ultimate Back to School combo pack of labels.

Shark Mabels Labels

JJ was the lucky winner of getting to pick out new labels this year. He was excited about the shark logo. I got started using those cute shoe tags to label his new back to school sneakers. His best buddy (or his Mom) picked out the same sneakers as JJ so having a label makes life a little easier.

Don’t forget to label lunch supplies too– lunch boxes, water bottles, reusable bags and an ice pack.

Label those ice packs for the lunch box

Note~ This is our favorite ice pack for the kids lunch. It’s “sweat-free” so it makes clean up at the end of the day a lot neater.

There’s still time to order your favorite set of labels for back to school from Mabel’s Labels. Got big kids? There is a Stylish Scholars combo that may interest them. Are you a blogger? I have seen lots of people use their Skinny labels on their iPhone case, chargers, and water bottles when they are at a blog conference. Just because you are a grown up it doesn’t mean you can’t get in on the fun!

Please enter below in the Rafflecopter. You will be able to pick the Ultimate Back to School combo package or the Stylish Scholars combo. Entries will close this Saturday at midnight~~ enter soon!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Disclosure~ JJ got a new package of Mabel’s Labels to help facilitate writing this post. All opinions shared here are my own. Some links included are Amazon affiliate links. 

This shop is part of a social shopper marketing insight campaign with Pollinate Media Group® and Sharpie, but all my opinions are my own. #pmedia  #StaplesBTS

Back to School Organizing with Sharpies

It’s nearly back to school season! Don’t you just love the rush of getting the kids all ready for school and buying beautiful new notebooks, markers and lunch boxes? I’m a sucker for pretty notebooks and colorful markers. I still remember how excited I was to go back to school shopping for all the items on our supply list when I was younger, back in my Trapper Keeper days.  While my excitement for back to school now focuses on my kids, it’s also about getting our family back into a routine.

Yummy Sharpie Colors. I just can't get enough!

As I started looking at the back to school deals at Staples, the fashion assortment of Sharpies caught my eye. All those colors…all that color coding I can do. Yes, even I who loves all things digital, has paper calendars and check lists. I read an article last year that said we remember more of what we write down on paper than we do after keying it into a computer (or phone.) The brain registers these two actions differently, and it’s handwriting that has the staying power. After reading this, I felt better about sticking with paper and pen for my weekly agenda. It has made a difference keeping track of my schedule as I write out the week ahead, along with my menu plan, every Sunday.

Free Printable Weekly Calendar

September has always felt like a fresh start to me, even if it’s not really a “new year.” Today I wanted to share with you a fun, FREE, printable calendar that you can use each week to stay organized. There are three ways you could use this to help keep everyone on the same page in your home.

Cute weekly calendar printable



(this is a file in Google Drive, open the link then go to File–>Print)

1. Print out the calendar each week and write out your family’s schedule and color code with Sharpie markers. The Fine and Ultra Fine Sharpie packs are currently on sale at Staples through August 24th, while supplies last. I love all the colors in the fashion pack I bought. (I dug up my Nana’s old cranberry mold glass jar to hold them all for easy access. You can get the same effect with a wide mouth pint jar.) 

2. Print out the calendar once, color code your “master” schedule and then laminate it. You can then add in the weekly appointments that change using a dry erase marker. (Hint- I use the wet erase markers, which you can also find at Staples.)

3. Print out the calendar for each child and write out their weekly schedule with them. I know the young ones ask a hundred times a day when they are doing something and which day it is. Having their own calendar schedule is a great way to teach them the days of the week, and explain to them when their activities will be. Use the Sharpie colors to color code their schedule for non-readers. Red = school, blue = swimming and so on.

Sharpies from Staples for Back to School

What other ways can you use this calendar? Are you a back to school organizing junkie like me? Want to shopping at Staples together and see what deals we can find? 


After an amazing trip to San Francisco, it’s back to reality and making dinner. Last year this post for easy summer dinners was a big hit and we are starting to work of this list again. I can see our dinners slowly moving into the pattern of something grilled and a salad on the side.

The kids favorite meals involve “making” something themselves. I’m going to try out some new taco themes and see if they work for everyone. This week will have a fish taco night, future weeks will include a greek and mexican themed dinners.

On the Menu…

Monday~ Cobb salad. The kids like hard boiled eggs so I’m going to see if this could be a new summer dinner for us. It’s an easy meatless meal for a summer night if you leave out the chicken.

bbq chicken cobb salad

Isn’t this salad beautiful?! {source}

Tuesday~ Fish Taco Night.

Wednesday~ Pulled pork sandwiches. The kids are always ravenous after swim class so I need dinner ready. Now.

Thursday~ Grilled Chicken with Barley Corn Salad. The perfect recipe to use up the red onion, avocado and cilantro in the fridge.

Friday~ Pizza night!

For more inspiration, see my past menus here, or the Pinterest board here, or OrgJunkie for a link-up of meal plans.


I am a member of the Collective Bias®  Social Fabric® Community.  This shop has been compensated as part of a social shopper amplification for #CollectiveBias and its advertiser. #WalgreensOlogy
Tips for Under the Bathroom Sink Organization

Time for some spring cleaning everyone! Every March I tackle a few organizing challenges and up first is the bathroom. In my Organization Pinterest Board, I noticed one pin has over 5,000 repins- it’s an Under the Sink Organization pin. I had two thoughts about this. One, I wish all the traffic was going to my site, and two, why doesn’t my bathroom sink look like this?! Now is the time to clear out the clutter and restock with some new cleaning supplies from Ology, which is endorsed by one of my favorite organizations, Healthy Child, Healthy World. The Ology product line uses sustainable raw materials, doesn’t test on animals and uses a variety of natural ingredients.

Ology endorsed by Healthy Child Healthy World

Just a few weeks ago I bought my own Ology product- toothpaste. We buy the same natural toothpaste but I noticed the Ology brand next to my usual one. I compared the ingredients and they were nearly identical so I gave it a try. Turns out I like the Ology toothpaste, and the lower price. When I started my bathroom organization product, I decided to give the Ology cleaning products a shot. There’s just something satisfying about having all the cleaning things match too, don’t you think?

Walgreens Ology Shopping Trip

I have to say I had fun doing this shopping trip. As I went from the beauty aisle to get some Ology Castile Soap (for my homemade soap recipe) and then to the cleaning aisle, I was impressed with how many Ology products Walgreens now carries. It’s a line of products for those of us who are trying to avoid using products with parabens, phthalates, fragrances, triclosan and a few other nasty ingredients. They are safe for me, but more importantly, they help maintain my healthy home for the whole family.

Armed with new cleaning supplies, in very cute packages, I started the big purge under the sink. It was a little scary down there and I was able to toss a lot of old cleaning supplies. If I hadn’t used it in six months, I decided it was safe to say it was time to get rid of it. I also found six empty spray bottles for creating my own cleaners. Clearly I had high hopes, but it’s just not something that I’m able to do these days. Once everything was sorted, cleaned and repurposed, it was time to set up a new system.

Create Cute Labels for Drawer Organizers

My advice for tackling an organization project, take the time to make it pretty. It may seem silly to make fancy labels, but I think the better it looks from the start, the more likely you are to maintain it. I made the labels above using PicMonkey and printed them out on sticker paper. You can also print them out on regular paper and laminate them with packing tape. The drawers fit so well and help use the space more efficiently. I think I’ll buy one more and label it Baby and include the wipes and a couple of diapers.

Label cleaning bottles from the top to easily identify them

The only tricky thing with having all your cleaning bottles match is you can’t see which is which when they are down low. Time for p-touch labels! I may move my all-purpose cleaner to the kitchen, but for now I like having all of them lined up. Yes, that’s how we Type-A people work.

Keep cleaning rags handy to wash the bathroom

The worst offenders under the sink were the towels and rags. I bought two drawers to contain them and I love how easy it is for me to reach for a rag when I need to spray down the bathroom after the three-year old goes potty by himself…and misses. If paper towels are more your thing, the Ology paper products are all tree free.

If you want to learn a little more about Ology, you can watch this fun YouTube video and get a quick flashback to Melrose Place…

Here’s a peek at the full before and after shot…oh my is it better!

Before and After Under the Sink Organization

 What organization project is next on your list?

Welcome back to the meal plan. After not writing one last week I’m back and happy to have the week of dinners figured out. Even though it wasn’t written down and we didn’t go hungry as we are still working through our 1/4 of a cow. I did realize that I still appreciate having the dinners planned out in advance, and the time it takes on Sunday is totally worth it.

I have two new meal planning resources to share with you today as well. The first is an article in Boston Globe magazine written by fellow Boston blogger Christine Koh, also the author of one of my latest reads, Minimalist Parenting. The article shares 4 great sites to check out for more dinner ideas. I would agree with #4–my Pinterest boards is one of my first stops as I plan the menu for the week ahead.

Second tip is from The Kitchen Hour podcast hosted by Megan Francis of the blog, The Happiest Home. I love listening to podcasts while I’m doing dishes at night or folding a load of laundry. It can be a great way to learn something new, or just get a good laugh. In the most recent podcast, Megan interviewed Jenny Rosenstrach of Dinner, A Love Story. Jenny’s blog and book of the same name shares her love for the family dinner, and appreciates the challenges of getting it all done. I love her easy recipes that don’t take a ton of effort, but instead leave more time for relaxing at the dinner table.

On the menu this week…

Meal plan March week 1

Got a favorite podcast? Leave a note in the comment section.

For more inspiration, see my past menus here, or the Pinterest board here, or OrgJunkie for a link-up of meal plans.

Welcome to the first meal plan of 2014! Are you trying to get more organized this year and make meal planning a part of your routine? Each week I share our plans for family friendly, healthy recipes for dinner my hope it that it inspires some easy dinners for your family.

As we start the month of January, we have been trying to declutter everywhere. Including the kitchen and pantry. After the busyness of the holidays, it’s time to take stock of what we have to use up, and make room to refresh our real foods pantry. The deep freezer is also helping us save money this month as we use up some of our summer stash of tomato sauce , squash and our 1/4 of a cow.

Meal plan jan 6~ celebrate the new year and start meal planning

This week’s menu…

Sunday~ Soy ginger scallops, steamed green beans and jasmine rice. {Madison got more scallops than anyone as she kept poaching them off of her parents plate.}

Monday~ Chickpea Stew with Apricots. Awesome slow-cooker dinner for Meatless Monday. I swap out the turnip for carrots which I usually have on hand.  Serve over israeli couscous. I’ll also get to use up some of our tomato sauce for this recipe.

Tuesday~ Spaghetti and meat sauce. Peas on the side…the kids LOVE them frozen, but will not eat them cooked. Anyone else’s kids do this?

Wednesday~ Whole chicken in the slow cooker with carrots and potatoesI love this meal as I get great stock out of making the dinner, then I save the carcass and make another batch of chicken broth overnight in the crock pot.

Wednesday Lunch we are making Pizza quesadillas from the Weelicious Lunch cookbook. It’s the one day we are all home for lunch so I’m trying to plan ahead a hot lunch.

Thursday~ Clean Out Refrigerator Night. Maybe use the chicken leftovers for chicken quesadillas.

Friday~ Family pizza night! Still enjoying our homemade pizza dough in the bread machine.

Lovely meatless meal in the slow cooker: Chickpea Apricot Stew from

Lovely meatless meal in the slow cooker: Chickpea Apricot Stew from


For more inspiration, see my past menus here, or the Pinterest board here, or OrgJunkie for a link-up of meal plans. Weelicious is an affiliate link on amazon, if you buy it through my link, thanks!