Posts tagged Spring Cleaning
Collect Moments, Not Things
 
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Food

Tips and recipes for grilling in the oven

 
 

Grilling disaster or great idea? It depends how you see it.

 One of the things I’ve learned this summer was how to turn my frown upside down when my plans for a cookout went wrong.

Living in the Carolinas, the weather can be tricky. One minute it’s blazing hot and then the skies darken and thunderstorms appear. That’s what happened with our plans for my birthday celebration — along with our grill not working.

Talk about when it all has a Jenga effect! First, the grill stopped working, then the thunderstorm started. What was I to do? Knowing me, “the party MUST go on!”

So I decided to ‘grill’ in the oven. and it turned out to be the best ever idea after all. Easy clean up, too! I am big on easy clean up. Honestly, I may just start roasting in the oven. It is super easy and I think you are going to like it, too!

 Burgers

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

  • Line a cookie pan with aluminum foil.

  • Spray a cookie cooling rack with nonstick cooking spray, then place on the baking pan.

  • Lightly spray the burger patties with cooking spray before placing on the rack.

  • Place in oven and cook for 15 minutes. Remove the pan from the oven, flip the patties and cook for 10 minutes, add sliced cheese of your choice, return to the oven and melt slightly. Remove from the oven and serve on warm burger rolls.

  • Add your favorite condiments and vegetables, of course.

Oven Roasted Corn

  • Heat oven to 400 degrees.

  • Line a sheet pan with aluminum foil.

  • Place corn in a plate and liberally drizzle with olive oil and kosher salt (add fresh ground black pepper if desired) then rub in mixture.

  • Place corn in pan, then put in the oven and roast for 30 minutes, turning occasionally. Remove from oven when the corn has a nice grilled finish.

  • Rub with butter before eating, if desired.

Roasted (grilled) Vegetables

  • Oven at 400 degrees.

  • Add sliced vegetables of your choice:

    • Bell peppers – Red, Yellow, Orange, Green

    • Mushrooms

    • Zucchini

    • Red onions

    • Yellow Squash

  • In a large bowl, toss all of the vegetables with olive oil, kosher salt, fresh ground black pepper. Mix well.

  • Line a baking sheet with foil. Pour the vegetables onto the baking sheet and place in the oven and roast for about 35 minutes, turning occasionally. Remove from the oven when nicely browned and cooked. Sprinkle with fresh, chopped parsley and serve.

 
 
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Fashion

Summer Clearance – Closet De-clutter

 
 

Closet cleaning used to feel like a big chore for me. But I’ve become very good at purging my closet at the end of one season and before the next one starts. I’ve already worked on my summer purging to make way for fall fashion. I know this can sound daunting and seems tedious, but with a plan in place it is quite easy and can be fun. Here’s how I get ready for my closet cleanse.

Set aside at least three hours of uninterrupted time. Have several bags where you can place sorted clothes. Then start going through your clothing. Do you really need 10 pairs of skinny jeans? Or 8 button down shirts of the same style? My biggest rule is, if I haven’t worn something all year, that means I won’t wear it. So that goes into the “giveaway bag”. 

I do the same with shoes and handbags. It is quite refreshing, once you clear the clutter and realize that someone else can use those items. Another rule of mine: don’t wait for things to be too worn or washed out before giving them away. 

Do the same with your drawers and accessories. Don’t ask yourself why you should get rid of something, but instead ask why should you keep it. This way, you can decide. Sometimes we tend to hold onto things because we feel an occasion might come up and we will use it.

If something is too tight, small, big, slouchy — get rid of it. Sometimes we buy on impulse, then a few seasons later find out we never wore or used the item.  Here’s another reason for purging on a regular basis: you find things you forgot you purchased.

When you have finally sorted through your piles of clothes and you know which pieces need a good dry cleaning or a trip to the tailor, the end is near. Now ask yourself which pieces you have plenty of (or more of than you would ever wear) and purge that pile again.

When you’re finished, separate into piles according to charities or people you may want to give items to. I normally donate my clothes to charities or Goodwill.

Have fun clearing out your closet and make room for some fabulous fall pieces!

 
 
 
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Family

Simplify life

 
 

How in the world is it August already? Summer is winding down and before we know it September will be here and the kids will be gearing up to go back to school — which means the chaotic mornings and busy evenings will be back.  But with some simple planning and a few strategies in place, you can find calmness and organization to help you through the hectic times.

When my children were younger and in school, playing sports, taking music lessons, and all those fabulous “things” of learning, I was a working mother. It meant getting up very early to prepare myself for work, then focusing on fixing breakfast, packing lunch boxes, and getting the children to the bus stop, then driving to the train station for my commute into the city.

Here are a few things that helped make my life easier and more efficient:

Meal prep and planning a menu for the week — this takes away the guesswork and cuts down on unhealthy eating or snacking. On Sundays, I did my cooking and food prep for the coming week. I prepared at least one or two extra dishes so that my weeknight evenings weren’t spent cooking (which would mean eating dinner late and make homework take longer, especially when we were all tired from our day).

I arranged my outfits for the week, ironed and had them ready. Then I did my manicure ( taking self care is important) These were huge time savers for me. Being organized lessens anxiety and gives you time to focus. When you’re rushing, you loose focus and become anxious.

A few more tips to make your busy days and evenings more manageable:

Sleep: Try to get to bed at a reasonable time to allow at least 7 hours of sleep. This helps you to function well, stay in good mood, concentrate at work and at home with your family. Avoid using electronic devices at least 1 hour before your bedtime. The more electronic devices that a person uses in the evening, the harder it is to fall asleep or stay asleep. Besides increasing your alertness at a time when you should be getting sleepy, which in turn delays your bedtime, using these devices before bedtime delays sleep, reduces the total amount of sleep, and compromises alertness the next morning. Over time, these effects can add up to a significant, chronic deficiency in sleep.

Less is more : Don’t over schedule extracurricular activities. What matters is how you teach children to be good people, learn skills and be their best without adding pressure or taking joy away from them and you. Building quality relationships with your children is priceless and rewarding when they become adults. I’m happy to report I am reaping those rewards with my children.

Healthy minds: Do make a hot breakfast; it doesn’t have to be a fancy full-course meal. Scrambled eggs are quick and simple to make. Toast with butter and jam or favorite spread is good. Or a bowl of nice hot oatmeal. Choose something highly nutritious and ‘brain worthy’; we sometimes forget that our brains NEED the vitamins to function. 

I hope you find these tips helpful and useful. Enjoy the rest of these lazy, hazy summer days making happy memories with your families. Go to that beach you’ve been meaning to visit. See a movie that's almost out of theaters. Check things off your summer bucket list.

 
Spring Brings Renewal
 

The weather is picking up and spring is almost upon us. It’s an inspiring season because life feels a bit more optimistic and cheerful after the winter blues. A few things I like to do to get ready for the season are taking out my spring recipes, packing away my winter wardrobe and bringing out my spring clothing. I also deep clean my home and prepare the vegetable garden. I hope I will inspire you to do the same. Here are some fun activities and relationship builders to promote mindfulness and give you a refreshed perspective on life.

I hope you enjoy this month’s read and find it useful as you get ready to welcome spring. Don’t forget to leave a comment, question or tip.  

Have a great month. See you in April!  

Renate

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FOOD

The Flavors of Spring

After all the soups and hearty meals of winter, I look forward to cooking and eating foods that burst with fresh spring flavors. My family loves this pasta dish, and it’s so simple to make. I generally serve it with a mixed green salad and either crab cakes or lamb chops, but it’s also delicious just by itself. I hope you’ll give it a try and let me know your thoughts.

Spring Linguini with fresh Parsley and Lemon

  • 16 ounces (1 box) linguini pasta
  • 5 cloves minced garlic
  • ½ cup chopped fresh parsley leaves, 
  • ¾ cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • ½-1teaspoon sea salt
  • ½ teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
  • ½ cup low-sodium chicken or vegetable broth
  • ½ cup olive oil 
  • ½ teaspoon fresh lemon juice

Bring a large pot of salted water with 1 tablespoon canola oil to a boil.  Add and cook the linguini in the boiling water until tender but firm, stirring frequently, for about 8-10 minutes, then drain in a colander.

In the same pasta pot, heat the olive oil on low then add minced garlic, stirring until soft and fragrant, about 2 minutes. Be sure not to burn the garlic. Add the pasta to the pot, then pour in the chicken broth, salt and pepper. Toss to combine and cook for 2 minutes, then add the lemon juice and grated Parmesan cheese and toss to combine. Taste for desired flavor, adding salt, pepper or lemon juice if needed. Sprinkle with the fresh chopped parsley leaves, stir, serve and enjoy.  

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FASHION

Fashionable & Functional 

 

April Showers bring May Flowers, so the saying goes! Although it was a mild winter in my part of North Carolina, I'm still ready for sunshine and blue skies. As much as I long for the sun, I know that showers are essential to making spring so colorful, bright and picture perfect. As the weather slowly changes into rainy spring days, I try not to let them put a damper on my look. Even if it’s just a supermarket trip or running errands, I like to think that cute styles, fun prints and colors have the power to combat any rainy day blues. So on those rainy or cloudy days, we can brighten them up with some chic rainy day essentials:

  • A sleek rain jacket
  • Slim boots or cute galoshes that can pass with any outfit
  • A sturdy and stylish one-button umbrella
  • A waterproof hat to protect that beloved blowout or, as in my case, keeps the frizz down. Even add a designated poncho for your expensive handbag (I mean, you don't want to ruin that distressed leather!)
  • A favorite lip gloss and waterproof mascara will brighten your spirits and help you face the day, regardless of what the weatherman says.

With a beautiful rain jacket, hat, boots or galoshes and umbrella you will be ready to weather the storms in style and feel good about yourself (adding a little zip to your step). 

I’d love to know your rainy day style, so send me a comment!

 

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FAMILY

Building Relationships

Let’s face it: The words ‘fun’ and ‘cleaning’ are rarely seen together. Spring cleaning is a big project; adding the whole family to the mix may leave you wondering whether it’s easier to just take care of your cleaning checklist by yourself. 

Keep in mind, however, that involving your children and spouse in household chores is a good thing. Cleaning can help build better family relationships.

Tackling chores is an important (and unavoidable) part of maturing and gaining independence, and it’s never too early for children to learn to take care of their belongings—including the family home. Teaching these habits helps develop organizational skills which are important throughout life. When the family works together to conquer tasks like these, not only are they making a home tidy and clean, but they’re also bonding and building their relationships; this can lead to better communication, understanding and really learning about each other. If parents or grandparents live with you, include them in tasks they can manage. Don’t exclude them, because when everyone is involved the bond gets stronger and life becomes even better. My parents are now living with me and one of things I've learned is that by including them in chores and activities they feel happy and appreciate having a purpose and sense of involvement.

Here are a few things I’ve done with family over the years; though my children are grown adults and on their own, they’ve continued some of these traditions in their own homes.  

  • Start a kitchen garden (in a flower bed or in large pots). Include plants such as tomatoes, cucumbers, herbs and peppers. Visit your local nursery or garden shop for ideas. It’s really easy!
  • For a fun family project, plant seedlings in small pots indoors and watch them grow. After the last frost, transplant them into your garden. 
  • Clean out closets and donate unwanted clothing to a local charity.
  • Start a library at home. Create a family reading room and designate a day and time each week for reading together.  

PARENTING & COMMUNICATION

Here are a few parenting tips to improve communications in your family. 

  • Notice times when your kids are most likely to talk—at bedtime, before dinner, in the car—and be available at those times.
  • Start the conversation; it lets your kids know you care about what's happening in their lives.
  • Find time each week for a one-on-one activity with each child, and avoid scheduling other activities during that time.
  • Initiate conversations by sharing what you’ve been thinking about (rather than beginning a conversation with a question).
  • Learn about your children's interests—favorite music, preferred activities—and show interest in these things.

Be available for your children, showing them that you value time together. Cultivate and tend these most important relationships (just as you would your garden)!