January, 2012

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Chicken Soup Weather

Friday, January 27th, 2012

Now that cold weather is upon us, I want to share a family recipe for quick and easy “feel better” chicken soup.

My grandmother, E. Louise Miller, grew up in Pennsylvania Dutch country using homemade egg noodles. This recipe is a dryer, crumbly mix that you add to broth for the desired creamy thickness. [NOTE:  Rivels will absorb and expand so start with less than you think you need.]


Rivel Soup

*1 beaten egg

*½ tsp salt

*1 cup flour

* 2 cans chicken broth with 1 tsp chicken bullion granules (or 2-4 cups chicken stock)

Optional: diced cooked chicken, sliced cooked carrots, parsley flakes, pepper

Combine egg, salt and flour until crumbly. Heat stock to boiling, add rivels slowly, stirring constantly.
Reduce heat and summer 15 minutes. Add cooked carrots, diced cooked chicken, parsley, and pepper to taste. Serve immediately.

This is a yummy way to use leftover chicken in a homemade soup. Enjoy!

Save on Groceries with a Kitchen Inventory

Wednesday, January 25th, 2012



Did you go over budget on groceries these last two months? That’s easy to do with holiday baking and entertaining family and friends.  Odds are you have leftovers or your pantry is bulging from extras that were not consumed.

Why not take a Kitchen Inventory? A Kitchen Inventory lends itself to meal planning and is a good way to put feet to your New Year goals of healthy eating, watching finances, or spending more face time with family.

Let’s get started then!

1.  Grab a pad and pen. Divide your paper into five sections: Refrigerated (fresh) Food, Dry Goods (canned and boxed), Frozen Foods, and Expendables (spices, leavening, oils).  If you want to get fancy, EHow has instructions on making a computer inventory here. Just don’t make this harder than it is, OK?

2.  Make a list of what you have on hand in fridge, freezer, and pantry, checking “use by” dates as you go. Throw out any bulging cans!

3.  Put a star by:

  • Fresh food  more than a week old (like those baby carrots you swore you would eat instead of cookies and candy)
  • Canned goods/boxed foods more than a month old
  • Frozen food more than 2 months old
  • Spices/seasonings  more than 1 year old for ground, 2 years for whole.

4.  Brainstorm meals that will use only what you have on hand, especially the starred foods. Think soups, stir fry, casseroles. Recipe sites that allow you to search by ingredients can help.  These are a few of my favorites:   recipe.com,  allrecipes.com,  RachelRay.com

5. Make a grocery list including only the staples (bread, milk, eggs) you go through regularly and specific ingredients you will use in the next 5-7 day’s meals.

Yes, making the inventory takes time, but this process gives back to you! What you will save:  time wondering what to have for dinner, money you can put toward any holiday charges hanging around your neck, space in fridge/pantry for fresh ingredients.

Do this exercise once a month to truly gain is control over your kitchen storage spaces, your food consumption, and your grocery bill. You are your manager. Would you hire yourself?


Product Review: Urban Eco Trash Can

Friday, January 13th, 2012

I do not have a good poker face.

So, when I opened my Christmas present from my oldest daughter, I know my face showed exactly what I was thinking. “You’ve got to be kidding! My daughter just gave me a trash can for a present!”

Sarah was quick to say, “I know it’s a trash can, Mom, but I know you of all people will appreciate how it works.”

Once I saw how the molded plastic arms easily store and use plastic grocery bags for quick disposal, I was thrilled and want to share the website where you can get one (or more) for yourself.

This Urban Eco Trash Can comes in either black or lime green.

To store the bags, place handles over the side arms. Then pull up and hook the handles over the inner tab to form a new liner. I love both ease of use and the excellent way to reuse those grocery bags.

Sad to be excited about a trash can, isn’t it? I do love my present, Sarah!

Hope you had a joyous holiday!

Bull’s-eye or just B.S.?

Monday, January 9th, 2012

“Aim at a high mark and you will hit it. No, not the first time, nor the second, and maybe not the third. But keep on aiming and keep on shooting. Finally you’ll hit the bull’s-eye of success, for only practice will make you perfect.”      Annie Oakley

What have you chosen for your target this year? What is the one thing you truly want to see change in your life, your relationships, your work, your service to others?

Sometimes what we say and what we do are two different things.

Instead of giving lip service to a bunch of New Year’s resolutions, why not choose one as your single intention? Fill in the blank: “I purpose to ________________________ as an intentional choice and act of my will.”

Notice a few things about an achievable intention:

  1. Your target is realistic, i.e. it is doable.
  2. There is a way to measure the results to see if you have met your goal.
  3. You set a specific time period for completion.
  4. Your effort will determine of the outcome. Since no one can (or should) control another person’s decisions, don’t count on convincing a friend, partner or child to buy into your intention.

Knowing these four qualifiers, expand your intention into a 2 sentence target complete with measurement and time limit.

These are a couple examples:

“I want to increase my savings so I have 3 months salary in the bank in case I lose my job. I will bank 10% of my weekly earnings for the next 36 weeks. As my reward for spending less, I will use anything I save over my target amount for a vacation next summer.”

“I want my family to eat supper together around the kitchen table again so we have quality time  with each other on a regular basis. I will plan and prepare homemade meals for Weds and Sunday evenings for three months, then evaluate and revise my plan if necessary. ”

You can do it! Tell someone your goal so you are accountable. Take small steps consistently. Keep track of your results. Sometimes just writing down your progress (or lack of it) can help you get back on track.

Most importantly set a few intermediate mile stones – weekly or monthly checkpoints. Attach a reward to meeting those requirements. A reward that is too far away looks too small to be a motivator!

A resource I highly recommend for both planning and tracking purposes is a List PlanIt membership!  No matter what your goal, you will find practical lists that help you think of details and possibilities you might not have considered. [For the examples above, lists are available for both meal planning and financial planning categories.]

List PlanIt memberships are available in either print or digital formats to suit your preference.  Go to Giveaways and tell me the list category that would revolutionize your life for a chance to win a 2012 membership! The winner of this week’s contest will be announced on January 15th.

Good luck and be sure to let me know when your intended change comes to fruition!

Declare War on Time-Consuming Clutter with Action Zones

Friday, January 6th, 2012

Does your struggle to be productive at work and at home feel like waging war with yourself and others?

Perhaps it makes sense to perceive that struggle as a battle ground. You are the commander. You are waging war on several fronts – special projects, ongoing skirmishes, and supply logistics.  You have a map of the terrain (the floor plan) and know what your resources are:  equipment,  personnel, and supply lines.

To win the battle, you  must match trained personnel with specialized equipment and ensure that needed supplies are available for immediate use. In other words, you want to have all the components needed to engage the enemy to come together in the same place at the same time.

I’m sure you have decided (as I have) to work on a certain project only to spend 20 minutes or more gathering all the varying pieces of information, supplies, and equipment before you can begin. Whether that is finding your mixing bowl in the kitchen, asking yourself “Where did I put my 3-hole punch this time?”, or just trying to get the kids out the door in the morning, it is time-consuming as well as frustrating!

The answer is to designate action zones.

  1. First make a decision that you are  going to start now! The time you spend in planning for efficiency will be returned to you tenfold.
  2. Brainstorm. Ask yourself what activities you actually DO in the room/area you are organizing. Perhaps the question should be – what activities do you ideally want to do there!
  3. Assign specific areas in the room, or zones, to similar activities. Try to limit each room to 2-3 zones. In an office you might have action zones for:
    • Communication Central – your desktop and shelf above
    • Reference library – bookshelf and file drawer
    • Action/Projects – credenza with In/Out boxes and incline sorter for specific activities/projects.
  4. Place equipment and supplies within arm’s reach in the appropriate zone for each activity.
    • Filing – extra hanging files, manila file folders, labels
    • Enjoying media – TV, Radio/CD player, VCR/DVD player, CD’s, DVD’s, and remotes, of course.
    • Paying bills – computer, bills, calculator, check book, stamps, address labels
    • Baking – measuring cups and spoons; mixing bowls; baking pans; spices, extracts and leavening agents
    • Getting in the car – keys, diaper bag, shoes, coats, hat, gloves & backpacks

Now that you have the stage set for control over each new project, all you need are the trained personnel. Is that you or do you have employees, friends, or children you can delegate the task to?

The beauty of action zones is that whoever is assigned to that battle will have all the tools necessary to succeed! That will save you time in both set- up and in wages paid.

You may find that once you know where everything is to get started quickly, you are raring to take on that project yourself, right now. You are the commander and it is an easy victory!