A New Year

Almost 2014.  Wow!

The older we get, the faster time seems to pass.  Or maybe we are just more aware of the value of time?

Either way, it’s a new year.  New goals, dreams and opportunities to make memories.

In our family we start the year by eating together.  We end the year the same way…

I see a trend.

January 1st we always make the same meal.  Lentil soup and Spanish omelets.  They don’t seem to go together but somehow they work.  Spanish omelets are hearty and can stand alone.  Sometimes we serve it with a salad.  Lentil soup can also stand alone or you can serve white rice as a side.

A New Year

Since we purchase a Ham for Christmas Morning, I freeze the bone with some of the ham and I use it for my soup days later.  Here is the lentil soup.  Enough to feed the entire neighborhood that I live in.

Or just enough for my family.

A New Year

I usually make some sort of white cake as a dessert.  Either coconut cake or carrot cake.  This year it’s carrot cake.

As a refreshment, we serve white sangria.

A New Year

Basically, this is just another excuse to get everyone together.  We are all so busy that if we don’t schedule time for family, we don’t see each other.  It is important to make an effort, make traditions, make memories…

Start the year with family.

This year let’s spend more time with family.  Let’s extend more grace to others.  Let’s add that to the resolution list.

Happy 2014!

Maria

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Christmas Morning Breakfast

Every Christmas morning we host a pajama breakfast at the house.  Our whole family knows that they are invited to swing by, eat and hang out.  They also know that they are welcome to come in their pajamas.  I really look forward to this day and so do the boys!

Christmas Breakfast

The menu is plentiful but the cooking is really simple because most of all, I want to enjoy my boys opening their gifts.

The night before, I prepare a couple of casseroles and I place them in the fridge.  These casseroles are supposed to be refrigerated so that the flavors can marry.  One is sweet and the other is savory.  As soon as I wake up, I turn on the oven, get the casseroles in there and turn on the timer.

My husband buys a ham the day before.  I prepare a fruit platter the night before.  I bake some cookies with the boys the day before and also bring them out to the table.

Christmas Baking

I prefer to buy or make everything myself because that way I know that all the food is laid out on the table and I don’t have to fuss with it again.  If I delegate the dishes, then I constantly have to come back to the table to re-arrange once the guests arrive, I have to re-heat dishes…you get the point.  It may sound easier to delegate but if your goal is to spend time with little kids…consider an easy menu that you can execute yourself.

My husband gets up really early and starts making the hot cocoa and grinding the coffee beans.

Christmas Cocoa

We put both the coffee and the hot cocoa in carafes so that they will stay hot for the duration of the breakfast.  Thermal carafes are a great investment because you wont have to re-heat or make more coffee.  These are pretty inexpensive and you can find them “here“.

I set up this coffee/cocoa station the night before.  Hence the dark cell phone picture!

Christmas Drinks

I sometimes make scones and freeze them in zipper bags with instructions for baking.  If I have any left in the freezer come Christmas morning, then I will bake them but only if I have extra time.  They are delish!  The ones below are cranberry scones.

Chirstmas Scones

Whatever you do, keep it simple.  Do as much as you can ahead of time.  Buy some of your items, they don’t all have to be homemade.  Have a checklist.  Have fun!  Whatever you do…don’t miss this!

These are my boys opening their gifts…this is my favorite part.  There is no scone that is yummier than this moment.

Christmas Gifts

I love you all!  Remember to give.  Remember to live.

Maria

“For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace, Isaiah 9:6”

Master Closet Organization

Master Closet Organization

Getting shelving installed in the master closets has been on the “honey-do-list” since we moved in 9 years ago.

In the meantime, I had a mix-matched “system” of shelves that were on clearance at some point and I tried to do the best with what I had.

Earlier this month, we finally gave ourselves the green light to move forward with my closet.  My husbands closet will wait a bit.

Here is a before picture.

Master Closet Organization

The shelves were dark and made the space look smaller and as you can see I didn’t have enough shelves for my things.  It was organized chaos.  Nothing “Graceful” going on in there!

Master Closet Organization

I got everything out of the closet.  The perfect opportunity to get rid of items that needed to be tossed or donated.  Needless to say my room was a mess for days.

Master Closet Organization

I knew I wanted to paint the closet walls since I had chosen white cabinetry.  My husband tried to “sell” me on the idea that we should leave it white.  He is smart and avoids having to pull out the big ladder.

I told him not to worry for one minute.  I would paint the closet all by myself.  ALL. BY. MYSELF.

So he helped me by patching up the holes in the closet, which were many.

Master Closet Organization

As soon as that dried, I happily embarked on my painting project!

The color that I chose was Behr’s Graceful Gray.  It really was my favorite gray and the name was a total coincidence!

Master Closet Organization

I have painted walls on my own before so I wasn’t at all intimidated.  I painted the bottom of the wall and then pulled out the ladder and started on the trim.

And then…I ran out of steam with two walls left.

So I did what any sensible woman with a good amount of self-respect does.   I walked into the kitchen and sighed (really loudly) for my husband to hear and he immediately turned around and said “are you done already?!”

And that’s when I whined…ALOT.  I am not above whining.

Master Closet Organization

And it worked.  He loves me.  That man loves me.

Master Closet Organization

I kept doing the trim but he helped me with the roller which was great because my arms were hurting so much!  So we were done in no time.

We just waited until the next morning when the cabinetry was scheduled to be installed.  I couldn’t wait!

Master Closet Organization

I was so happy to see it come together!

Master Closet Organization

I left a big space on top of the small dresser (from IKEA that we had previously to the install) so that I could add a big mirror and bring a little charm to the closet!

The dresser looked like part of the cabinetry that had just been installed.  I was so happy that it was a perfect match!

Master Closet Organization

I found this little tray for rings and I thought it was perfect.

Master Closet Organization

And it looked great alongside the little plant from IKEA.

Master Closet Organization

Time to add the clothing!

Master Closet Organization

I added them in a color coordinated manner which is how I had the closet before.  It takes a while to do initially but it makes the closet look so much better and its easier to find what you need.

All my hangers are from Crate and Barrel.  I am not a fan of felt hangers.  I prefer smooth hangers so that clothing slides off easily.  These are slim, plastic and really inexpensive.

Master Closet Organization

Shoes that were rarely worn I placed in these boxes from Target.  They are from the Threshold line.

Master Closet Organization

The rest of my shoes are in the very center of the closet.

Master Closet Organization

I did have to get rid of some of my shoes in order for them to fit but it pushed me to purge items that had been taking up space in my closet for years!

Am I the only one whose feet have grown after having kids?  I used to be a size 7 and now I am a 7 1/2.

Master Closet Organization

I wanted a chair or a bench to sit on while I put on my shoes and this one was large and small enough for the space.  Also, it is extremely light-weight and easy to move about.

Master Closet Organization

In the top I have a couple of bins.  I labeled the shelf instead of the bin.

Master Closet Organization

One has belts.

Master Closet Organization

Small scarves or fabric belts.

Master Closet Organization

My purses also have their own spot.

Master Closet Organization

I folded over some of them in order to fit more per shelf.

Master Closet Organization

I now have a belt rack attached to the cabinet.

Master Closet Organization

This frame was definitely the finishing touch.  I had it for years tucked away behind a couch and I spray painted the frame to match the rest of the closet.

The quote says “One shoe can change your life” by Cinderella.  Shakespeare didn’t have any shoe quotes.

Master Closet Organization

In the other end of the closet, I put away boots, chunky scarves…and other things that Miamians buy just for looks.  🙂

Master Closet Organization

That’s the closet!  I am so happy with it!  I waited to have it for so long and now I am that much more appreciative for it!

My husbands closet is next.

I think he should leave it white.

So what do you all think?  Share with me your thoughts on the master closet…

Happy Organizing,

Maria

Kitchen: Baking Drawer Organization

I don’t always bake but when I do…I use 47 baking gadgets!  My baking stash started small but then I kept adding different tools as needed.  I only have one large drawer in my kitchen and I decided to dedicate it to baking.  I don’t use the baking items often so the drawer stays pretty organized.  The tools that get used most often are all the measuring cups.  Years ago I organized the drawer using a utensil organizer and it did a pretty good job housing everything.  Here is what the drawer looked like a couple of days ago:

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The other day I was looking for a dresser at IKEA and I spotted this drawer organizer.  I thought it would be perfect to house all the baking items.  It was.

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The first thing I did was clean the drawer since it hadn’t been thoroughly cleaned in years.  I used my favorite method cleaner (that I buy at Target) to get it spotless.

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Then I placed all the items in their new home!

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I use measuring cups all the time because I don’t like to have to wash them mid-recipe to be able to use them for the next ingredient.  With most recipes having wet and dry ingredients, multiple measuring cups are a good idea.  Besides all the practical reasons…I like how they look nestled in there.

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Food Coloring.  I prefer these gels and I purchased them through Amazon.

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Since the organizer doesn’t go right up to the side of the drawer its the perfect spot for longer items like the icing knives.

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In the very back I placed the pop sticks and the fondant smoother.  My favorite set of decorating tips are the ones pictured below from Ateco.  I also purchased those on Amazon years ago.

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This is how I store my cupcake liners.  I have seen many cute ways to display them on Pinterest but this works for me.

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More measuring cup pics!

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So here it is again.  Not a huge difference but I like this organizer much better.  There is no way to make this drawer look uncluttered because there are so many things (all shapes, all sizes) but it can still look pleasing to the eye.

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What do you think?  Now lets get to baking!

Maria

Kitchen: Utensil Drawer

The utensil drawer.  Nothing daunting, an easy-peasy project.  I like projects like this because they offer instant gratification.  You can do this task in 5-10 minutes and then stand back and marvel at the results (I marvel at lined up shiny silverware…I am dorky like that).

Below is my junk drawer and my utensil drawer.  I will later do a post on the dreaded junk drawer.  Let us postpone that nightmare for now!

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As far as the utensil drawer, I encourage you to take everything out even if your drawer looks organized.  Once everything is clear you can wipe down the drawer and the utensil tray.   When you take everything out you will sometimes notice that there are food particles in the very bottom of the drawer.  Don’t ask me how a drawer that only holds clean utensils has food particles.  It is a mystery for sure.

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As you can see my utensil organizer is clear.  I like it because I can still see my drawer liner (from Target).  On the side I place my larger serving pieces that we use at dinner time.  The really large ones (for cooking and serving large crowds) are in a crock on top of the kitchen counter.  In the horizontal spot I place all of my toddlers utensils that are bulky.

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I cant leave scissors in in the front of the drawer (because of my toddler) so I tuck the kitchen shears and a pair of regular scissors in the very back of the drawer.  He doesn’t even know they are there.  I also keep some jar grips in the very back of the drawer.  Having all these things in the back maximizes the organization in the space and keeps my utensil tray from shifting around in the drawer.

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So there it is!  The utensil drawer.  It’s the little things.

Until next time!

Maria