Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Tuesday Declutter Update

Sunday night about 8 pm I got the urge to declutter a few more drawers in my kitchen. Lord know why, since there was a Red Sox/Yankees game on TV. But when the urge strikes, I must obey.

There are three drawers on the right side of the dishwasher that are out of the flow of 90% of cooking and doing the dishes. The only other appliance in this part of the kitchen is the coffee maker. The cupboard above the dishwasher holds our every day dishes. When we moved in these drawers became a leftover junk drawer and plastics containers. One day last weekend DH got up before me. When I got up that morning he told me it took him 15 minutes to find the coffee beans because they weren't by the coffee machine. Duh, I realized I was keeping the coffee at the other end of the counter, no where near the coffee machine. Not very efficient. I came up with a plan to move the coffee and declutter these drawers at the same time.

Here's the top drawer before. It was a mish mash of odds and ends - some tools, the apple slicer, manuals, candy and some junk.
Here's the middle drawer - a total mish mash of plastic containers and covers.
Drawer #3 - also a mish mash of containers and even potholders.
Here is the top drawer after cleaning. I left my tea spoons and coffee brush in it, along with small plastic containers, the apple slicer and a couple of other odds and ends. When I was cleaning it out I found my garlic masher I had forgotten I had and put that in my tool drawer. I know I will use it. I put all the tools in the tool box.
The middle drawer became my coffee drawer. I have my coffee delivered once every 8 weeks. It is fresh roasted coffee beans that are roasted the day before they are sent. Now when I make coffee all I have to do is reach down and grab a bag. DH was happy with this move!
Here is what remains of the the plastic containers and is in drawer #3. All of the butter and cream cheese containers went into the recycle bin. Any single container or cover without match went into the bin as well. What was left is containers with a covers.
On a not so decluttering note: when we working in the bathroom this past weekend I found 7, yes count them, 7 bottles of new shampoo. In the last few months I've tried to buy conditioner and every time I grabbed a bottle and came home with it I saw it was a shampoo. I'm feeling a little cursed by shampoo bottles right now.

I also bought three new kitchen tools last week: a pizza cutter, a set of whisks (my whisk broke last week) and a pair of tongs. I've already used all three of them so I know they won't end in the junk box. Speaking of the junk box - nothing came out of it last.

Be sure to check out what other people are decluttering in their homes. Let me know when you post about your decluttering project so you can be entered in the drawing!
  • Colleen did some organizing in her kitchen! Way to go, Colleen! I like the idea of all the covers in a basket.
  • Bren took decluttering from a drawer to her whole kitchen! She's written a wonderful post about cleaning her kitchen. Be sure to check it out! She also cleaned up her bookcase.
Until next time - happy homemaking!
Sweet P

Monday, July 28, 2008

I Need Some Design Help

Yesterday morning DH decided it was time to paint the bathroom. I said OK. Now I need some design help! Here are some photos of the bathroom before this past weekend. Here is the view looking in from the door.
This is what we were using for storage space.
This is the sink and counter top.
And after: looking in from the door.
The space where storage used to be.
Behind the door (we will be adding two more towel bars on the walls).
The counter top area (I had to take a photo with the lights off. Those lights are harsh!)
Here's my dilemma: I have looking into the bathroom and seeing the toilet! I know it is a bathroom and that's where the toilet is. The room just looks unfinished to me. The space where the storage was sitting looks so lonely.

Here's my question: What would you do with this space? I'd like options other than a laundry hamper or more storage. Any other suggestions for the bathroom?

I'll post about my decluttering task last night tomorrow. I need some help with the bathroom first.

Thanks for your suggestions!
Sweet P

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Dessert and Home Upgrades

It's been a couple of busy days in the Coffee Time home. Yesterday was pick-up dry cleaning day so I combined the trip with a visit to Target to find 4 1/2 inch tart pans. I have mini quiches on the menu for breakfast tomorrow and didn't have the right size pans. We would never eat a whole quiche so mini quiches it will be for breakfast. I couldn't find tart pans, but I did find cake pans that should work just fine. I also found this cute little tin filled with candy. I'm addicted to collecting unusual containers and I couldn't pass this up for only one dollar.
And what does one do with a mini cake pans and candy buttons? Why, make a mini cake, of course. The yellow cake recipe was on the back of the pan packaging. I only used the pink candy buttons as the rest of the buttons looked a little funky. Next time I make the cake I'm going to try to make it chocolate. This size is perfect for DH and I. There will be no waste of this cake.
Today our handyman came over to finish two jobs for us. First up was a cabinet in the bathroom. Can you believe there is no linen closet in this condo? How can you build a condo, a house or an apartment without a linen closet? The developer who built this complex is building several other complexes in Dover. All of them are essentially the same layout and none of them have linen closets. You would think after building the same plans for over four years someone would have told him to include a linen closet. We looked at his newest complex before we looked at this place and I didn't even notice no linen closet.

Anyway, here is our solution to a linen closet. This cabinet will hold our towels and some of our lesser used toiletries. We put a towel hook next to the shower and a hand towel bar next to the sink. The only thing left for the bathroom is to paint it. Right now the walls above the beadboard are a light yellow. We're going to take the yellow a couple shades deeper. The photo does the color no justice. The walls are all the same color right now.
DH and I bought our bedroom set at a consignment shop eight years ago. The set is made from cherry and walnut and consists of two nightstands, a tall dresser and this dresser and mirror. In all that time we have never hung the mirror. We finally did it today. Now I just need to clean the mirror and put the items back on the dresser.
How is your decluttering coming along? Have you picked out your next space to declutter? I have. I'm going to do some rearranging and decluttering in my kitchen to set up my coffee better. Check back on Monday for show and tell.

Remember to send me photos of your decluttering so you can be entered into the drawing. I'll be having the first drawing on Friday, August 29th.

Until then, enjoy life!
Sweet P

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

My Husband is a Reel Catch

I found this on Bren's blog and thought it would fun to do. So, here it goes.
  1. Who is your man? He is Teddy B
  2. How long have been together? We've known each other for 13 years. We started dating almost 10 years ago and got married 7 years ago.
  3. How long dated? We dated for 2 1/2 years before getting married.
  4. How old is your man? He turned 35 last Saturday.
  5. Who eats more? Him by a long shot.
  6. Who said "I love you" first? I did.
  7. Who is taller? He is. He's 6 feet tall, I'm 5 feet, 3 inches tall.
  8. Who sings better? I do.
  9. Who is smarter? Depends on subject. I'm smarter on computer programs. He's smarter when it comes to poker.
  10. Whose temper is worse? Neither one of us has a big temper. We're pretty even keeled people.
  11. Who does the laundry? I do and I love it.
  12. Who takes out the garbage? I do, he will if I ask him.
  13. Who sleep on the right side of the bed? He does. Although when we are in a hotel I always have to sleep next to the radio.
  14. Who pays the bills? He pays some, I pay some.
  15. Who is better with the computer? That would be me.
  16. Who mows the lawn? The landscape company. One of the reasons we bought a condo was so we wouldn't have to mow the lawn.
  17. Who cooks dinner? I do, unless it's steak. Then he cooks.
  18. Who drives when you are together? He does, except when we are on vacation. We learned early on that vacations are less stressful if I drive and he reads me the directions. Better yet, we get a GPS in the rental car.
  19. Who pays when you go out? He does nearly all of the time.
  20. Who is most stubborn? Neither one of us is stubborn.
  21. Who is the first to admit when they are wrong? I am
  22. Whose parents do you see most? His parents. My parents live 1,500 miles away. Plus he works in the family business.
  23. Who kissed who first? It was a draw. Our first kiss was at midnight, New Year's Eve, 1999.
  24. Who asked who out? He asked me first.
  25. Who proposed? Me - on the side of the Pennsylvania Turnpike on a foggy night with a semi driving by my car.
  26. Who is more sensitive? Me
  27. Who has more friends? He does. He is a social animal. I prefer to stay home.
  28. Who has more siblings? He is 1 of 6. I am 1 of 4.
  29. Who wears the pants in the family? We share who is in charge.
  30. How did you meet? At the family business. I was already working there when he started.
Thanks, Bren. This was fun! Consider yourself tagged! Tell us about your husband or significant other.
Sweet P

Monday, July 21, 2008

How's Your Challenge Coming Along?

I certainly didn't mean that by decluttering I would be writing fewer posts! Last week got away from me. Before I knew it - it was Monday again! I have started working on special projects for my old job so I have less time for blogging right now. I guess that means it's not my old job, but my current job! Anyway, I am working from home which is a good thing for me.

The photo above is the front door screen door our handyman installed while we were on vacation. I love having it open. The view may not be the best, but the breezes coming in the door are great.

On Saturday I had some friends over for a sewing day. After a visit to my local quilt shop we made ourselves banana splits. Don't they look yummy? The bottom one is mine and in there I had homemade coffee rum ice cream, sliced bananas, strawberries, caramel sauce, whipped cream, walnuts and cherries. Just the perfect dessert on a hot summer afternoon.
Have you started your Need This? Challenge? The following bloggers did some decluttering this week. Check them out:
  1. Brenda cleaned out her make-up bin. Nice job, Brenda. My make-up case has been cleaned out since I stopped working in the office.
  2. Cheryl cleaned out her spice drawer. She thinks she should go shopping for more spices. I say go for it, as long as you'll use them.
  3. Darlene cleaned out her kitchen tool drawer. She was one of my friends here on Saturday and said she felt so good about cleaning out just one place in her house.
  4. Miniature Quilter organized her closet. I'm wondering why she keeps a bread machine in her closet????
I decluttered my sewing thread containers this weekend. When I first started quilting I thought I would be a hand quilter. I purchased about 10 spools of hand quilting on E-Bay. I have since decided I am not a hand quilter. Mavie, the other friend who was over on Saturday, is a hand quilter. I gave her all my hand quilting thread.

I did have to go into my kitchen junk drawer box this weekend. I couldn't find any bag clips even though I know I have lots of them. There were none in the box. So I took one off an old bag of chips.

I'm not sure what I'll declutter this week. I'm still trying to decide. I did tell DH I was thinking about decluttering his socks drawer and he didn't say I couldn't, so that may be what I do.

Remember you can join the Need This? Challenge anytime. Just send me an email telling me you want to join.
Sweet P

Monday, July 14, 2008

The Need This? Challenge

While I was away I said I would be announcing a Coffee Time At Home Challenge and I said it would involve drawers. One of my readers asked me what kind of drawers. My answer was any kind of drawers. The Challenge is the "Need This? Challenge". I'm sure everyone has a junk drawer, whether it's in your kitchen, pantry or even sewing room. When I moved into this condo I did a lot of decluttering and tossing out of a lot of stuff. But with my newly built pantry I had reason to clean even more. Didn't our handyman do a nice job on it? I think so.
The junk drawer that has bothered me the most is this one - my kitchen tools drawer. I know there are many items in this drawer I don't use or only use once a year. So I decided to challenge myself with the stuff in this drawer. First, I took everything out of the drawer and cleaned it out. Then I only put the utensils I know I've used since we moved in back into the drawer. The rest of the items went into a box and then into the pantry. If I need to grab an item from the box at least once in the next six months I will put it in the drawer. At the end of six months what's left in the box will be donated.
This is the drawer all cleaned out. I have a can opener, whisk, bottle openers, misc. measuring spoons, salad tongs, ice cream scoop, peeler, thermometer and a bag of bar utensils. Looks much better now, huh?
I moved onto my spice drawer next. Every jar came out of the drawer. Some of the spices had expiration dates on them. If they had expired, out they went. If I know I haven't used them since I moved in five months ago, out they went. Everything else went back in. Would you believe I only found one duplicate spice? Ground coriander! I have no clue how that happened.
I decided to tackle one more cabinet. I think everyone has a cabinet like this. I know my mom did. This one sits right next to the stove and holds a little bit of everything: salt, pepper, cooking oils, bouillon cubes, tea bags, drink pouches. A little bit of everything and not always what you need. Again everything came out of the cabinet. Expiration dates were evaluated and items were put with like items or left in the cabinet if I use them a lot.
Here's the cleaned out cabinet. What made the cut? Salt and pepper, olive oil (when I get more), peanut butter (the toaster is right under the cabinet) and freezer and sandwich bags. On the top shelf is a bag of peppercorns and a box of Sweet 'n Low for when my mom visits.
Here's the reorganized spice drawer. It look so much better, too. Now there should be no reason for me to buy duplicate spices or have to hunt for them. They are all right here.
Of course I took the time to attempt to fill the pantry. This is what it looks like right now. On the floor are my grocery bags and step stool. Shelf 1 has drinks, large cereal boxes and the tool box. Shelf 2 is my cooking and baking shelf: flour, sugar, baking powder and soda, etc. Shelf 3 is for snacks, pastas, canned items and sauces. It still looks somewhat empty, but I haven't gone through my pots, pans and large cooking items yet.
Oh yeah, and while I was doing all this cleaning and organizing I made Cranberry Pistachio Biscotti. I figured I'd bake some instead of buying some. I already tasted one and they turned out yummy!

So, here are the rules for the Need This Challenge:
  1. Send me an email telling me you are going to enter the Challenge. If you have a blog address, please include that as well. I will create a Need This Challenge list on my sidebar.
  2. Choose at least one drawer, cabinet or closet you would like to get organized.
  3. Take a before photo of that place.
  4. Take everything out of it. If it's food, check the expiration dates, toss anything that is expired. If you know you don't need or want it, toss it out. If you know you use it all the time put it back. If in doubt, put it another box.
  5. On Mondays I will note in my entry if I have used any items in the box. Everyone in the Challenge will be asked to comment on whether or not they used anything in their Challenge box.
  6. As we go along you may decide to add another drawer, cabinet or closet to organize. That's fine.
  7. The Challenge will start today and will run until December 31, 2008 or we run out of places to organize (like that will ever happen!)
  8. At the end of the Challenge (or if you finish before then) post a photo of the cleaned out space.
  9. Every six weeks or so I will hold a drawing for a prize package.
Tell your friends about the Challenge. Anyone can join! Let's have some fun organizing our spaces.
Sweet P

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Vacation Food Reviews

When DH and I go on vacation we love to eat! We have two food rules on vacation: try to avoid chain restaurants at all costs and sample as much local cuisine as possible. That was easy to do in Vancouver and Whistler. We ate lots of good food in several great restaurants while on vacation and I thought I'd share some of it with you. One overall impression we have a food in Vancouver is their concept of bar food is way different than our concept of bar food. We went to Yaggers one afternoon to watch a Red Sox/Yankees game. If you go here, you can download their menu and see what I mean about their food choices. In several of the restaurants we ate it many of the menu items were similar. Way different from our normal burgers, chicken wings and pizza we find here in New England.

Our favorite dinner was our anniversary dinner at the Rimrock Cafe in Whistler. DH had a Mixed Grill dinner with caribou, lamb and a beef filet. I had filet mignon. For dessert DH had tiramisu. I had almond tuile filled with homemade vanilla and chocolate ice cream topped with homemade chocolate sauce. If you ever go to Whistler, you must go the Rimrock!

Our favorite lunch was in Vancouver when we visited Granville Island, a shopping and eating mecca. We ate lunch at Dockside Restaurant. The food was great and the view outstanding. I had the most wonderful lunch salad made with butter lettuce, pea shoots, fresh pies, feta cheese and grilled watermelon topped with green goddess dressing. I added grilled chicken for some protein. I can't wait to try my own version of the salad. DH had fried halibut and french fries.
Our most unusual meal was a three-course fondue meal at Bavaria Restaurant in Whistler. Dinner started with cheese fondue with bread cubes, followed by Beef Bourguignonne served with four sauces: teriyaki, chipotle mayonnaise, garlic mayonnaise and mango chutney. The final course was chocolate fondue with strawberries, bananas, pineapple, marshmallows and ladyfingers. We love fondue and hadn't eaten it in a long time. It was a wonderful way to enjoy dinner.

Our favorite appetizer came from Tantra Lounge at the Lonsdale Quay in North Vancouver. It was Baked Goat Cheese rounds and Carmelized Onions served on toasted baquette slices. Another new taste for us and one I'll be trying to make soon.

A new food adventure for us on this trip was visiting a downtown grocery store. In this case, I discovered Urban Fare. It's more than a gourmet shop. It has a restaurant and a coffee bar, plus every imaginable gourmet food item. If I lived in downtown Vancouver I would shop there a lot. I've started a new vacation shopping tradition: buying a grocery tote. This one from Urban Fare is great. It even has a zipper pocket inside to hold the grocery list.
Finally, two kitchen/food items I bought for myself on vacation: a new apron and a martini glass. I'm not a frequent drinker, but I had one martini nearly every day at dinner. I learned I love Chambord as the base of the martini. Today I'll be off to the liquor store to buy a bottle.
I don't watch Desparate Housewives, but this Desbearate Housewives apron was too cute to pass up. One of DH's nicknames is Teddy Bear so this apron is perfect for me. Note, DH took this photo while I was making taco salads last night and it was already dirty!
I always try to buy items made by the local artists when we are on vacation. I don't see the sense in going somewhere and buying trinkets made in China. Here is a close-up view of the martini glass. The other side has a painted red heart. It is hand painted by a local Whistler artist, Kerry, a mom with three young boys. You can also visit her blog and read about her.
I'll be back in a day or two with photos of some the home improvement projects that our handyman did while we were gone. I'll also talk about my first Coffee At Home challenge then.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Vacation Check-In

Hi All! I've written about our first few days of our British Columbia vacation on my quilting blog. You can read about it here.

A Coffee Time at Home challenge will be coming soon. I'll give you hint: it involves drawers.

I'll catch up sometime next week.