My Home Office Organization Project: Before

20130111 224100 My Home Office Organization Project: Before
Not only did I start a juice fast today, but at long last, I embarked upon my home office organization project!

You know I love to be as transparent as possible with you all, so I thought I’d give you a peak into the dumping ground this room has become after only 6 months of living in our home:

Hopefully today will be the start of an office transformation that will motivate me to do the same in other areas of our home that could be put to better use!

Do you have any great tips for how to organize a home office and keep it organized?

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Fridge Pickles Recipe

This simple yet delicious Fridge Pickle recipe is courtesy of Sara Foster of Foster’s Market in Chapel Hill, NC. Sara is a close friend of Martha Stewart and I wish I had known about her shop when I lived in Chapel Hill!

I love fresh pickles and these are SO good and SO easy to make. After getting 5 cucumbers from the Farmer’s Market this past week, I knew this was the first thing I was going to use them for!

Makes about 1 quartmoms fridge pickles Fridge Pickles Recipe

1 cup white vinegar
1/4 cup sugar
1 tablespoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
6 whole cloves
2 bay leaves
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon dill seed
4 to 5 small Kirby (pickling) cucumbers, peeled in stripes and sliced into 1/8-inch-thick rounds
1 small white onion, thinly sliced into rounds

1. Combine the vinegar, sugar, salt, black pepper, cloves, bay leaves, red pepper flakes, and dill seed in a quart jar. Place the lid on the jar and shake until the sugar has dissolved.

2. Layer the cucumbers and onion in the jar using a wooden spoon to press them tightly into the jar. Place the lid on the jar, shake it well, and refrigerate at least 4 hours, shaking the jar occasionally to keep the ingredients mixed. These pickles will keep in the refrigerator for at least 1 month.

*Sami’s note: I just omit the items I don’t have, like dill seed and cloves, and it still turns out great! I don’t even put it in a jar, just a tall reusable container. Let me know if you give this one a try and any variations you make.

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Must Have Plug-Ins for Bloggers

blog banner 300x153 Must Have Plug Ins for BloggersHave you ever wondered what the best plug-ins for your blog are? There are so many out there today, that it can become overwhelming to sort through them all!

Well worry no more! My friend Kelli who blogs at 3 Boys and a Dog has compiled the essential list of plug-ins for WordPress blogs (and blogger too!)

Here are a few of my favorites that I’m already using, but be sure to check her site for all 23:

1.  Akismet

Akismet checks your comments against the Akismet web service to see if they look like spam or not. You need a Word Press.com API key to use it. You can review the spam it catches under “Comments.

2.  All in One SEO Pack

Out-of-the-box SEO for your WordPress blog.

3. Google XML Sitemaps

This plugin will generate a special XML sitemap which will help search engines like Google, Yahoo, Bing and Ask.com to better index your blog.

Keep reading for the other top 20!

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Cleaning Tips from the Pros

 Cleaning Tips from the ProsiDreamofClean Banner 1 Cleaning Tips from the ProsAre you lucky if you get a shower in the morning, let alone keep your house clean & organized? I hear ya!

I’ve tried to implement Martha Stewart’s top 6 daily tips to at least keep some semblance of cleanliness in my house on a regular basis, but I still appreciate any tips & tricks I can get!

That’s why I love a post I just read over on I Dream of Clean. New friend and fellow Nashville blogging buddy Christine has 10 great cleaning tips from the pros. Here are a few of my favorites, but be sure to click over to her site to read the full list!

* Schedule, schedule, schedule.

When a professional cleans a house, they have a set amount of time. They schedule appointments, commit to a time frame, and finish on time. If we schedule a two hour time block on our calendar to clean, that should help us start and stop on time.

* Motivation.

Getting motivated to clean can be a lot like getting motivated to work out. Music helps! Listen to something upbeat and fun. Consider creating a playlist just for cleaning!

* Stay Focused.

Pros don’t stop to watch TV or check email (or twitter, or facebook, or skype, or….you get the idea) so if we want to clean like the pros it’s probably best that we remove our distractions as well.

* Clean top to bottom and side to side.

In order to make the best use of our time, we should clean top to bottom and side to side. Clean everything in one spot and keep moving. Professionals don’t move back and forth across one room or multiple rooms. They clean everything in their path and work their way out the door.

Click to read more cleaning tips from the pros…

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Martha Stewart Potholders

martha stewart potlids Martha Stewart Potholders

No, I’m not talking those little yarn potholders we all made back in third grade – I’m talking about the revolutionary organization tip I received in my inbox from Martha Stewart today!

I was just looking for a better way to store my pots without adding more cabinet space in my kitchen and VOILA! Leave it to Martha to come up with hanging a metal towel bar inside a kitchen door to store pot lids. I love these, inexpensive yet insanely practical tips that make my life easier.

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Martha Stewart Potholders

martha stewart potlids Martha Stewart Potholders

No, I’m not talking those little yarn potholders we all made back in third grade – I’m talking about the revolutionary organization tip I received in my inbox from Martha Stewart today!

I was just looking for a better way to store my pots without adding more cabinet space in my kitchen and VOILA! Leave it to Martha to come up with hanging a metal towel bar inside a kitchen door to store pot lids. I love these, inexpensive yet insanely practical tips that make my life easier.

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Martha Stewart’s Cook’s Helper

marrtha stewart cooks helper Martha Stewarts Cooks Helper

Curious about the helper in Martha Stewart’s kitchen these days? Want some help in your own kitchen.

Well now Martha is offering you her very own kitchen helpers. No, that doesn’t mean she’ll send someone over to cook for you (I wish!). What she has created are three very useful guides to post in your kitchen and keep handy as reference tools.

Ever wonder what pan to use when you don’t have the one the recipe calls for? Still don’t know how many teaspoons are in a tablespoon? Wonder how how sugar has to get  before it burns? Instead of the trial and error method some of us have been using oh-so-ineffectively for so many years, why not try printing her cook’s helpers onto cardstock, laminating them, and keeping them on your fridge?

What has been your biggest kitchen mishap lately? I was just talking about adding some bursts of red to my kitchen, so here’s a free way to start!

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Free Kids’ Valentines

martha stewart valentines kids project 240x300 Free Kids ValentinesIf your child’s classroom is anything like mine, things are NOT like they were when I was in school!

Gone are the days of carefully choosing cards for each of our friends; they’ve been replaced with a more politically correct handwriting assignment! My daughter can’t even fill out who each card is to: just sign her full name at the bottom and hand over the stack to the teacher two days in advance. What? Not even a homemade mailbox on the corner of her desk? I hope she isn’t scarred for life!

In my ongoing attempt to be more like Martha, I was going to opt for the homemade Martha Stewart Valentine’s Day cards, but once my daughter caught a glimpse of the Disney Valentine’s Cards in my inbox, that was it!

Whatever option you choose, good luck. I never realized Kindergarten could be so taxing!

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Easy Desk Organizers

0206 kids gtcerealbox l Easy Desk Organizers

I constantly feel like I’m cleaning and attempting to organize my daughter’s desk. While my mother (who is truly like Martha!) made it with her own two hands of her own design, there are not any drawers to put things in, so it is constantly scattered with pens, papers and other assorted items a 5 year old collects!

So imagine my delight when I could kill two birds with one stone – recycle and organize! I took an old cereal box and cut it to organize coloring pages and papers she was working on and wanted easy access to and also cut off the top of a small box of tea bags to hold all her sight words and flash cards. It’s amazing what a small thing like that can do for my sanity. Now if I can only get her to keep it there…

Click HERE to find more info on Martha’s cereal box organizers.

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Homemade Bread a la Martha Stewart

I did it! I baked bread!

No, not like Jiffy in a box. Not even with a bread machine. I’m talking real yeast, real rising and real kneading people!

For those of you who don’t watch the weather or news (like me), you may not be aware that we’re experiencing a snow “event” here in Nashville (yes, they actually have been calling it a “Snow Event” – you know I couldn’t make that up!). On his way home from work, my husband called and asked, “Do you need me to pick up more bread because we may be stuck in the house tomorrow?”…and I actually got to answer, “No, I’m making some!!!”

In this month’s Martha Stewart Living Magazine, there was an article about some lovin’ from the oven – Martha’s classic white bread recipe, along with some variations on the basic recipe (mulit-grain, rye, and cinnamon). I made my own variation: white-wheat. Although it was about a 4 hour process from start to delightful finish, I must say I’m quite proud of myself.

Only time will tell if this latest accomplishment will become a regular part of my routine, but you know I’ll keep you posted!

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