Monday, September 15, 2014

Meal Plan Monday: September 15-21

Coming back from a vacation does not make me want to cook! But. I must.

Last week was a little strange, since Blake started a new part-time job and we were going out of town. This week will also be a little strange since I truly do not feel like doing a lot of cooking this week! I want to work on getting our house back in order, so all of my recipes this week are coming from short-cuts!

Monday: Lasagna, garlic bread, sweet peas
Short-cut: The lasagna is one I made a few weeks ago to freeze. Just let it thaw in the fridge all day, then bake for 20-30 minutes (or until cooked through) at around 350F.

Tuesday: White BBQ chicken, rice, bacon & brown sugar green beans, sweet potato tots Short-cut: The chicken was previously cooked, shredded, & frozen! All I have to do is thaw & heat it!

Thursday: Black beans & rice
Short-cut: The black beans were previously cooked and frozen... noticing a trend here!? And the rice is leftover from Tuesday.

Friday: Parents' Night Out at the church (No cooking required!)

Saturday/Sunday: I don't know.

Haha! I really don't know what I want to cook this weekend. I am not sure what time Alabama plays, so what I make will largely depend on that!

Truly, freezer cooking is a lifesaver! Even though I had to do a little extra work a few weeks ago to get it all ready, it means that this week, I can take it easy and focus on my house...

Speaking of my house...

One of my absolute favorite blogs is IHeart Organizing. There are some fantastic ideas and resources and pretty, pretty pictures on that there blog! 

There are a ton of free printables available not only to help you streamline your life, but also to just generally make you happy because they're so darn cute! I loved her "Peek at the Week" printable, but it just didn't fit exactly what I needed it for. So... I created my own. I totally stole some of her intellectual property, but she doesn't offer customization so I took it upon myself to do what I needed. 

So, I created these! You can click on the image and it will take you to my Google Drive where you can download the PDFs for yourself! They were made in Publisher - it's very, very simple to use if you want to "tweak" them a little bit to suit your needs. 

I created this PDF for home. In the squares, I can can write our daily menu as well as any important events. The problem is... you have to write small! That's very hard for me to do. But I'm learning that getting everything important onto one page usually requires small handwriting!

As far as "To Do's" - there are just some big things that need to get accomplished each week, but it varies by week. Maybe this week my big "to-do" (on top of everything else I am doing!) is to pull out all of Maleah's clothes and store them in Space Bags. Or maybe my big "to-do" this week is to make some more chocolate chip pumpkin muffins. I'll let you know which one I choose. :)

I am also a "daily cleaner"... or... at least I profess to be! I've let some of my cleaning slip lately, but I'm hoping to jump back on board this week. I have a routine of what I clean each night so I write that down each week in the "To Clean" box to help me stay on track.

The "Thoughts" box is... well... for thoughts! A Scripture, a quote, a memory... just something "happy" for your week. 

This one is a little more suited to work (although I have this design in the home version as well). I halved the daily boxes just for my own visual space issue (aka big handwriting). I can put the things I know in advance up top and then little things that pop up below. This keeps me from writing way too big and running out of space for each day. That last box is flexible - I use it to write down things coming up in the next week.

The rest is self-explanatory!

I hope you have a great week! Happy Cooking!

Monday, September 8, 2014

Capsule Wardrobe: Planning Part 1

Just FYI - There is no "Meal Plan Monday" today because I'm only cooking once this week. We have a busy week with some traveling thrown in so all I'm making is spaghetti & meatballs... so, instead, let me fill you in on the Capsule Wardrobe project...

I got started this weekend! This is going to take a few weeks for me to really hone in on what I want to actually be in my Capsule Wardrobe for October-December. Slowly but surely, it is coming together!

Part of this whole Capsule Wardrobe experiment is being able to spend less time shopping, rummaging, hunting, and reinventing. Look, folks... at 29, I pretty much am who I am. And I am not Madonna. I am not going to change my look every five seconds. I know what works in my lifestyle and I know what doesn't (well, at least I'm trying to know what does and doesn't). So as part of Un-Fancy's Capsule Wardrobe planning is to know who you are and who you aren't. 

So I start thinking... What is my style? Or, at least, what do I want it to be?

It is: 
  • movable
  • girly
  • classic
  • basic
  • dressy with a casual feel
  • sleek
  • coordinated
  • multipurpose (business and casual)
  • neutral with soft colors {mostly}
  • cotton, natural blends
It is not:
  • sporty or athletic
  • edgy
  • stiff
  • overly casual
  • super trendy
  • yellow, neons
I kept all this in mind as I sorted through my closet Friday night. (Yes, I cleaned out my closet on a Friday night!) It was actually a great time to do it - Blake was in his office studying, Maleah was happily playing independently, and I was cleaning out the closet! We were all in our own little worlds!

My goal for Friday night was to go ahead and separate potential Capsule Wardrobe pieces (Pile 1) and definitely-not Capsule Wardrobe pieces (Pile 2). I will eventually go back through Pile 2 and decide what to keep and what to donate. Having thought about what I want my clothes to "say" made this process a lot quicker than I imagined (maybe two hours?). 

This is how the closet started out - it's embarrassing! On the top is all of my shirts and dresses and the bottom is sweatshirts, jackets, pants, and skirts. Some of these items I have been holding onto for YEARS! (Please ignore my poor iPhone photography skills!)

I started by pulling out similar items in groups - all my pants, all my jeans, all my short-sleeved shirts, etc. and sorted them into the two piles - keepers for CW and not-keepers. 

This was the original "keep" pile. It had over 65 pieces - way too many. So I went back through the pile and really thought long and hard about what I wanted to keep for my Capsule Wardrobe. The thing I had to keep reminding myself was that I am not getting rid of the clothes that aren't in my wardrobe - I am just putting them away for later. For instance, there's a khaki colored jacket in there that I just absolutely love and it works well in any season - but I have some jackets that only work well in fall/winter so I'm going to put that khaki one away for later. 

Finally, I got it down to about 55 pieces. I am still not done, but I got to a good stopping point. And I haven't even touched my shoes...

As I was going through my clothes, I realized 37 pieces (which is supposed to include shoes) is not going to work for me just yet. The blog author who uses 37 pieces works at home, so her 37 pieces are appropriate for her work, whereas some of mine just aren't. Also, since I am working with what I already have, I don't have a "color scheme" to go off of that would make it easier to mix & match. As I continue to do this, I will buy pieces that go together better and, therefore, can use fewer pieces. My new goal is 50 pieces, including shoes. Here's how I plan to break it down:

1 winter coat
2 business blazers/jackets
4 hoodies/sweatshirts 
2 cardigans
20 tops (short sleeve, button-downs, tees, tunics, sweaters, etc.)
2 dresses
4 skirts
4 dress pants
2 pairs of jeans
1 pair wear-out-in-public leggings
9 pairs of shoes (which will become less as the colder season approaches because some of these include sandals)

It still seems like a whole lot... but I haven't even looked at my winter sweaters, so, we'll see what really makes the cut in a few weeks!

This doesn't include the stuff I wear around the house - I usually come home and throw on a t-shirt and "only-at-home leggings" (AKA they have stains or holes in them! But they're still soooooo comfy!!!!). I also have some jackets/sweaters and shorts that I only wear around the house, so I'm not counting those either. 

That's how far I've gotten so far! 

Do you think you could pare down your closet in just a couple of hours? Honestly, I thought it would take all weekend - but since I decided not to make decisions about what to donate, what to sell, and what to keep for later, the process went much quicker. I can make those decisions at a later time when I really have time to think about it. But this got me jump-started on the process. Give yourself one or two hours and see what your immediate reactions are to your clothes - you may find it is much easier to pull what you really, really love than you think!

Here's another site that is totally dedicated to the Capsule Wardrobe to help get you started!

Friday, September 5, 2014

Bandwagon: Capsule Wardrobe

Clothes. Style. Fashion. 

Three words that make me wanna run screaming and crying to my mommy!

I absolutely love clothes. I buy more clothes than I want to admit. But, at 29, I am STUCK. I'm stuck in a clothes rut. Bad. 

It's hard to shop for 29-year-old working mom me. Shopping for 16 year old me was easy. This whole I-have-to-go-to-work AND I-am-raising-a-toddler makes dressing myself quite a challenge. 

On one hand, I want to wear fancy business gal outfits like this:

But most days what I feel like wearing is this:

And so what I normally wear ends up somewhere in-between - a basic pair of neutral colored pants with some sort of mom-style shirt. I do have some fun dressier, fancier clothes but I rarely wear them.

I also have a problem with colors. I try to "branch out" when it comes to colors, but... I mean, how many colors are there really??? Every season it seems like you can buy the same shirt at any store in the same color palette. And with limited time to shop, I end up only being able to go to one or two stores and end up coming out with several pieces in the same color family. That can be good for mixing and matching but... how many black pants and mint green shirts do I need? (A lot, apparently...)

Then there's the price factor. My husband is in graduate school, so clothes are not high on the budget priority list. But, still, we need clothes. For the longest time, I have gravitated towards clearance racks and Old Navy and end up feeling completely disappointed and like I've wasted money on clothes I don't like. So I have made a rule with myself NOT to buy things just because they're cheap. Sure every now and then a $4 shirt from Old Navy is worth the four bucks. I also get a lot of hand-me-downs that usually aren't "my style" but they're free, so I don't mind that they aren't perfect. But I'm working on buying pieces I actually really like. I try to watch for sales and coupons and can usually end up getting a really nice piece of clothing for up to half the price! But... I still struggle... Old Navy is SO tempting!!!

And let's not forget size and shape. I'm a petite person... short and small. To the "average" woman, it seems like being petite would make buying clothes easy. NO IT DOES NOT. Petite sizes (and FYI - "petite" sizes are based on height, not weight) are very hard to come by in stores. Many times I have to order things online to try them on because the store doesn't carry them or has such a limited selection that they don't have my size in stock when I am actually in the store. 

So all of that leaves me stranded in the closet struggling to pick out an outfit that meets my needs: style, color, comfort, affordability, and size.

I heard about this "Capsule Wardrobe" idea and have given it some thought and I'm going to give it a try!!! Basically the jist is that you have 37 pieces of clothes that you mix and match during a 3-4 month season. That includes shoes, but it does not include accessories - so you can go nuts accessorizing those pieces! And you do not buy any new clothes until the end of the season - this encourages you to put together outfits with what you already have so that you can see just how versatile your wardrobe really is. 

This weekend I am going to sort through the clothes I already own and I'm going to try to build my 37-piece wardrobe simply from the things I already have since I just did a little shopping before wanting to try this experiment. Then as I get more comfortable with the idea, I will purchase some new items towards the end of that "season". 

I am really excited about trying this! Of course, I'm going to keep you updated on my progress! I'll be posting pictures of the process of going through my closet, my 37 pieces, and outfits! 

Do you wanna jump on this bandwagon with me!?!? I think it's going to be a fun ride to Fashion Land!

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Meal Plan Monday: September 1-6

Welcome back for another week of Katie's Cooking... aka... Some-Things-Come-from-a-Box. I shamelessly let you see that, yes, we did have popcorn shrimp with blue box mac & cheese last week and no I didn't feel guilty about it one bit! Some days ya just gotta do what ya gotta do! 

This week I've got a little more "real food" in the mix, but I'm also planning to cook some things to freeze. Let's get right down to it, shall we!?

Monday: Fried Chicken meal from Publix (You didn't actually think I was going to cook on my off day, did you???)

Tuesday: Extra-Easy Lasagna, garlic bread, roasted zucchini 
*This recipe by Ree Drummond is also absolutely delicious but I ain't got the time for all that this week.

Wednesday: Dinner-on-the-go (probably Zaxby's... go figure...)

Thursday: Black Beans & Spanish rice, chips & salsa; I am also going to make taco soup while I'm at it (to freeze)

Friday: Pizza

Saturday/Sunday: Poppyseed Chicken Casserole, Rice, Crock Pot carrots, corn muffins (I also add cheese to my corn muffins... basically it's like corn casserole but in muffin-form!)


This is a special time in my life because it's the first of the month. Well, it's the last two days of a month, but you get it. And the first of the month means... SHOPPING! We go to SAMs towards the beginning of a month to get meat and then I try to buy pantry staples at Target. The goal is to only have to buy fresh ingredients week-to-week so that I'm not having to run to the grocery store every five seconds. I have a general knowledge of what we always need on hand (cooking spray, butter, pasta, frozen fruit, etc.) and then each week I can just go get the fresh ingredients (produce, eggs, cheese, deli meat, etc.) we need for the week.

Anyhoo... these big shopping trips also mean I do a little bit of extra cooking. Here's what I am planning to whip up during the week:

- Meat: I browned 4 lbs of ground beef and Crock-Potted 5 lbs of chicken on Saturday morning! Half of the beef went into the lasagnas (see below) and the other half went into freezer bags. I shredded the chicken when it was done (took about 9 hours on low) and divided it into freezer bags, as well.

- Lasagna: While I'm browning the ground beef, I'm going to assemble two lasagnas to freeze. We'll eat this both during this month. I have heard that you do not have to cook the noodles before you freeze, so I'm going to try it that way!

- Lemon Blueberry Bread: I have been drooling over this recipe for a while now. I made it Saturday and it was tasty! However, my zester decided to... umm... stop zesting... so it wasn't quite as lemony as I wanted. But flouring the blueberries before adding them in definitely helped keep them from sinking to the bottom - that was a great tip!

- Zucchini Cranberry Muffins: This is a recipe I got from a friend, so I don't have a link to the recipe. But I'm going to make mini-muffins for easy breakfasts/snacks for Maleah. It involves whole wheat flour and uses applesauce in place of oil. And yes... they're getting frozen...

- Peanut Butter Pie: I have not made this in a L-O-N-G time, but I made two on Saturday! So easy. So delicious. 

- Rice: Am I alone in hating to cook rice? Ugh. I just hate it! So I am going to cook a big batch of it and freeze it. I'm not sure how it'll turn out, but I will most likely be putting it into casseroles, so I'm hopeful!

FYI: If a recipe doesn't have a link it's because I either make it up as I go or it comes from a box (Spanish rice.... made by Zattarain's...caught me red-handed!). That's just how it gets done around here. But, I do want to share my recipe for black beans with ya. Now, FYI #2, I know that I could use dried beans. But I don't want to. K? K. FYI #3: Anything I label "Weeknight" basically means it is semi-homemade, easy, and quick!

Weeknight Black Beans
2 cans Bush's reduced sodium black beans (drain both cans, but don't rinse the beans)
1 green bell pepper, diced
1 red bell pepper, diced
1/2 white onion, finely diced
1-2 tbsp Cilantro (could also use a fresh bunch, but I have dried cilantro so that's what I'm using)
1 tbsp Cumin
1/2 tbsp chili powder
1/2-1 lime, freshly squeezed

1. Sautee onions and bell peppers in the bottom of a medium-sized pan. Cook until vegetables are tender and onions are starting to carmelize.
2. Add in both cans of [drained] black beans. Stir well. 
3. Add in spices. Cook for 5-10 minutes, until well heated. 
4. Add in cilantro and fresh lime juice. Bring to a simmer and keep on low heat until ready to serve. 

Sometimes I will make these with white rice (instead of Spanish rice) and add cilantro and lime to the rice for kicks!

Happy Cooking, everyone!