Organizing the Kitchen

Whenever I’ve moved, organizing my kitchen has been my most anticipated and most dreaded task. It always takes some tweaking to make sure it works, but here are some tried and true rules for organizing and setting up your kitchen, along with some notes that work for me.

  1. Keep like items together.
    No need to have different kinds of plates in different cabinets. Keep it simple and keep your sanity.
  2. Store stuff where it makes sense.
    Basics: dishes near the dining area, glasses near wherever you usually get most of your drinks (sink, fridge, wherever), mugs and coffee stuff near each other, cooking tools near the stove.

 

Things that work for me

  1. I love having all my stuff within arm’s reach when I’m cooking. This means using all the available space, mostly because my kitchen is small and I don’t have a lot of other options: magnetic knife rack on the side of the cabinet, crock with cooking utensils, towel rack on the side of the cabinet, and well-curated tools in a highly organised drawer (seriously…stuff only fits in there one way…). There are perks to having a small kitchen! I never have to move to get what I need.
  2. Use the outside of cabinets. Listen, I’m all about a clean, streamlined look, but that gets a little rough when the insides of your cabinets are running out of space!
  3. COMMAND HOOKS. I have like eighty of these around our house, and about two-thirds of them are in the kitchen. I use them mostly for hanging stuff on the backs of cabinet doors: pot lids in the pantry, potholders and strainers in the workhorse cabinet, a paper file in the pantry that holds the plates for our griddler, strips to hang magazine files that hold parchment/aluminum foil/wax paper. Lots. Of. Storage.
  4. Shelf stackers have gotten us a lot more storage in our cabinets!
  5. Hanging wire baskets are another great storage multiplier, although I find them a little more difficult to work with than the shelf stackers. That’s partly because there’s a definite weight limit to these guys. We use ours for plastic baggies and (currently) ice trays.
  6. Over-the-door baskets are great under our sink and keep things in arm’s reach but out of sight. Which I kinda love.
  7. I keep less frequently used items in clearly marked, see-through boxes in the top of my pantry. That makes it easy to get out what I need a couple times a week (canning stuff, or cookie cutters, or my stick blender), but don’t need readily accessibility to at all times.
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Dressing Up | Oatmeal

There’s little that can be as filling as oatmeal for breakfast. It’s full of good carbs and, when cooked well and mixed with the right things, it’s downright COZY. It’s also a milk-booster for nursing moms, so sign me up! However, the same thing over and over for breakfast can get boring, and for me to eat breakfast, it basically has to be ready to eat when I get up with little or nothing more to do than pop it in the microwave. So my stipulation in searching out these options were that they 1) had to be make-ahead-able or require extremely little effort and 2) had to really vary in flavor so I don’t get sick of this nutritious goodness. Here are some great ideas for dressing up your morning bowl.

Classics:

  • maple syrup, pecans, bananas (super easy if you just keep chopped pecans on hand–I’m actually SUPER lazy and pull out as many pecans as I need the night before–and slice the banana in the morning)
  • diced apples, cinnamon, and walnuts
  • blueberries and brown sugar (totally works with any frozen berries too, especially if you’re already heating up the oatmeal again)
  • peaches and cream–add nutmeg and cinnamon to basically have peach pie for breakfast (I absolutely use frozen peaches for this)

Fun ideas:

  • mango and coconut (and cashews? Maybe?)
  • yogurt and orange marmalade
  • peanut butter and strawberry jam
  • banana and molasses
  • maple, brown sugar, sweet potato, and pecans
  • chocolate chips and raspberries
  • banana and nutella

Savory: Totally appropriate for lunch or a quick, solo dinner as well as breakfast. I had to give these names so that my sweet tooth and I are more likely to make them!

  • The Grits Treatment: cheddar cheese, scallions, and a sprinkle of paprika
  • Mexi-Oatmeal: avocado, salsa, and a fried egg
  • The Baked Potato: cheddar, fresh tomatoes, chives, and bacon
  • Oatmeal a la Provence: apples, rosemary, and gruyere

 

What are your best oatmeal hacks? Any favorites that aren’t on this list?

My Dinner Clean-up Routine

Let’s be real, friends: it does NOT happen on its own. Honestly, I love having a clean kitchen, but I don’t love putting in the work to get it there. So, routine! Not that it makes me like it more, but it gets it done (which is the goal) and gets it done more quickly (which kinda makes me dislike it less). There are necessities in here, naturally, but there are also a couple things I wrap into this routine that simply won’t get done otherwise.

I start off with the dishes being removed from the table and put in the dishwasher as much as possible. Between me and my husband, that just kinda happens as part of dinner. Then I just move anything I haven’t already washed during dinner prep over to the sink. Aaaaaaand here we go:

  • Wipe off stove. I’m the worst about my stove. I love cooking at it, I just hate cleaning it. So I committed to doing it every single night. Kinda like when I was a kid and was afraid of the toilet flushing, so my dad locked me in the bathroom and made me flush it ten times. I was TERRIFIED and super annoyed, but I got over my long-held, deeply-rooted belief that the Beast from Beauty and the Beast was going to come roaring out of the flushing toilet, teeth-bared, ready to kill me. I was an imaginative kid, okay?
  • Wash and PUT AWAY dishes. This makes a gigantic difference in the morning when I get to the kitchen. I will absolutely go out of my way in the evenings to not walk into a pile of dishes first thing in the morning. It’s just so stressful and feels icky when that happens. When I prep ahead and wash-as-I-cook, this is a relatively small task anyway. And putting the clean dishes away makes all the difference in the world the next day. It’s all about the prep.
  • Scrub high chair. Something I only do once a day (I’ll sweep crumbs out of the seat and wipe off the tray as needed after other meals, but I only go to town with the rough side of the sponge once a day), but something that definitely does need to be done that often. Maybe Baby Girl will be a cleaner eater? …maybe?
  • Wash sink. Our sink gets a real workout everyday, and dude. It gets grimy. I just squirt a little soap in there, swish it around, and I’ve got a sparkling clean sink to use the next day. Or for Kyle to pile more dirty dishes into throughout the night as he snacks his way to bedtime. Honestly, I feed the man four square meals a day, but you’d never guess it.
  • Take out trash, compost, and recycling. No, I don’t do all three of these every night. Only as needed. But I try to not let them get too full before taking them out. Mostly because I don’t take them out…Kyle does, and he hates when they get too full. It’s also nice to come into the kitchen the next day and have not-too-full bins to work with.
  • Toss the dirty dishtowels in the laundry bin. My laundry room is off of our kitchen, so I keep a basket out there specifically for this. Once I’ve cooked, cleaned up, and dried the dishes, the towels have done their duty and usually need a long soak in a hot bath.
  • Sweep. So tempting to skip. So so extremely tempting. But I only do it once a day, and it really does make me feel better walking in there in the morning when I’ve swept the night before. And it makes me feel a lot better when I don’t have to sweep up a week’s worth of crumbs off the floor all in one go. Because gross.

Doesn’t seem like a lot, and when I get going it’s not. Sometimes before I get going it can seem like an unsurmountable task!

What’s your dinner clean-up look like? Anything important I’ve left off? Share below!

My Afternoon Routine

After I’ve set myself up well for the day with my morning routine, there are still little maintenance things to do. Around the same time every afternoon/evening, I fit dinner prep and this afternoon maintenance routine together and make life a little easier  🙂

  • Mama tea: I have a little cup of herbal tea in the afternoons, partly just to signal to my body that we’re getting ready to wind down, and because I like to know I’m getting the benefits of the herbs. It steeps while I’m doing the rest of the routine.
  • Grind coffee for the morning: We have a small house and a loud coffee grinder, so I go ahead and grind beans for Kyle each night so he can use them the next morning. It’s also easier (and significantly quieter) for him to just dump grounds into the coffee pot from a little jar than it is for him to shake them into the pot from the grinder.
  • Fill kettle: To make the mornings easier for both Kyle and me. Push one button and be seconds away from caffeinated bliss? Yes please.
  • Light candles: It’s just nice! And it takes so little time to actually do this.
  • Close curtains: Because I don’t like the idea of living in a fish bowl.
  • Fluff pillows: Because company, and it looks nice.
  • Pull out clothes for the following day: This goes for everyone in the family, save my husband who is a grown man and can dress himself. Right now that means me and Nolan, and pretty soon it’ll be Baby Girl too. I get out my workout clothes for first thing in the morning, as well as regular clothes to wear when I actually get dressed. Each of the kids has a basket on the changing table that is intended to hold clothes for the next day. This little prep act saves so much time, hassle, and headache in the mornings. We’re more likely to actually be dressed during the day, and on weekends or days when Daddy is home, he knows just what to put on our boy and doesn’t have to guess.
  • *Bonus: When I’m pulling out Nolan’s clothes for the next day, I also get out his pyjamas and overnight diaper for that night. So easy to just have them waiting for us on the changing table whenever we need them.

Morning routines are pretty common, but do you have one for the afternoon, also? Share below!

10 Pinterest Ideas That Worked In My Kitchen

We’ve all seen the pins.

“65 Genius Hacks To Organise Your Kitchen”

“27 Kitchen Ideas To Try RIGHT NOW”

“Here Are 172 Professionally Designed, Perfectly Organized Kitchens That People Don’t Actually Live In, But We’ll Show You Photos For The Purpose Of Making You Feel Inadequate”

Oh, I know you know. I KNOW you know.

The ideas I’ve listed here are things I’ve actually tried in my own kitchen, and they actually work for me. The ideas themselves may or may not have initially come from Pinterest into my life (I do have a brain of my own, believe it or not), but I’ve seen them all on there.

1. Hang pot lids
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This idea definitely came from Pinterest. I currently have 25 command hooks hanging in my kitchen. Twenty five. Partly because I’m an addict, sure. Partly because I find them in the clearance bin at Home Depot for 70% off. And partly because they just work. Using them to hang my pot lids on the back of our pantry door was a real win for me, since our lids don’t stack nicely in our pots or make for easy storage otherwise.
I will say, hanging stuff on the backs of cabinet doors really only works if 1) the stuff is basically flat and/or fits in between the heights of your shelves, or 2) you have cabinet shelves that don’t fill the depth of your cabinet.

2. Paper file on the back of a cabinet door
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I’ve seen this used to hold cutting boards or baking pans or any number of other things, but we use this one to hold the pancake and waffle plates for our griddler. They’re large and odd to store, and we use them each at least once a week, so access needs to be easy. I just hung the file with command hooks, so I’d be careful of how much we put in them unless we were to secure it otherwise.

 

 

3. Magazine files on the back of a cabinet door
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It took me a while to use these efficiently after putting them up, but now I have one for food storage and one for baking needs, so it holds my silicone baking mats as well (rolled up, secured with twist ties), and I love them.

 

 

 

4. Shelf stackers
Guys, look at this…
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I’m not joking when I say that this has literally doubled the storage in this cabinet. Please ignore the unfinished trim work…it’s uh…a work in progress. I also find that we don’t have enough shelf space in our upper cabinets and we really could use another shelf in each of them, save maybe one. So I’ve popped this shelf in one of them to double our food storage space.
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5. Vertical organiser for baking pans
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I was a little skeptical of this one, but tired of my pans falling over themselves on the shelf. Because of the extra space between the pans, I’m not convinced that this gives me more cabinet real estate to work with, but to me it’s worth it for the ease of getting out exactly the pan I need so easily.

 

 

 

6. Turntables in cabinets
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These are helpful particularly in the corner cabinet I have. We use them to simply make things easier to access, and they’re great for condiments and vinegars.

 

 

7. Turntables in the fridge
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This is one thing that actually takes away from storage for us, so we’ve recently done away with it but we had a turntable in our fridge for a good long time. It made accessing condiments and other frequently used items really quick and easy.

 

 

 

8. Fridge and freezer organizer bins
IMG_5750I love having these, especially on our cavernous lowest shelf. When one is empty or we need more shelf space, I just stack them together. And we can change the labels as frequently as we need to. We pretty consistently have ones for meat, dairy, and things to use this week. This method also extends to the freezer, where I think they could work better if they were a different size, but it’s what we’ve got right now. In the freezer we keep bins for veggies, fruit, meat, and lunches, along with our ice bin.

9. Towel rod on the end of a cabinet
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To be honest, when I came up with this idea (all on my own, thank you very much) I didn’t factor in that I’d soon have a walker/destroyer-of-all-things-tidy. So we do find it annoying that the towels are so accessible to Nolan and that he takes full advantage of that at times, but if I could go back I don’t think I’d change this because we find it so valuable to have somewhere predictable for our towels. They’d be all over the counters if we didn’t!

 


10. Magnetic knife rack
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We oriented ours differently than is traditional, but having this rack freed up space in my one truly usable kitchen drawer, keeps my knives in better shape than being all jumbled together in their drawer organizer, and ensures they’re just a quick grab away when I need them. It’s also keeping the knives out of Nolan’s reach as he gets taller and has begun to reach into our kitchen drawers…PERK.

 

 

 

Any Pinterest ideas that have worked in your kitchen? Let me know below!

Homemade | Freezer Waffles

We’re not much of a prepped foods family, but one thing I’ve picked up from time to time is gluten-free freezer waffles. As time marched on, Nolan developed an addiction. Honestly, who can blame the kid? Those things are awesome. Quick, convenient, carby and sweet with that maple syrup goodness on top…nom nom nom. But when the experiment started I knew they had to go. Besides, even when they’re on sale, they’re $2.50 per box! After finding the pancake recipe I was bolstered into trying it in the waffle iron.

After the pancake post, this is probably pretty straightforward. I use either the same recipe as I use for pancakes or this recipe, make a big ol batch, wait for them to cool, wrap them with parchment in between, and pop them in the freezer to wait for when we need them/want them/must have them right this minute.

Now, a couple notes about either of those versions:
1) I don’t have a hardcore blender like the one recommended for the Live Simply waffle recipe and nearly burnt out my blender the first time I tried to make the entire recipe in mine. So until I can save up enough to get myself something bigger and better, I blend the oats and milk and stuff really well, leave it to soak, and later combine the other ingredients in a large bowl then whisk in the mixture from the blender. Just mash the banana really well and this works out just fine.
2) GREASE YOUR WAFFLE IRON! Super well! I use softened butter spread on the iron with a silicone basting brush. Easy to use, easy to clean up, and totally effective.
3) Things turn out better if you cook the waffles for more time rather than less.
4) They do not turn out crispy at first, and don’t crisp up quite as much as store-bought versions when toasted, at least in our experience.
5) If you don’t wrap them with parchment/something else in between, they WILL stick together and be an absolute bear to pull apart. Just trust me, you don’t want to travel that road. I did it for you. Accept that gift.

My Morning Routine

Since this blog is a totally selfish endeavour of documentation for me to look back on later, here’s my morning routine. I’ll be completely upfront: this isn’t really “5 simple steps to turn you into a morning person.” I’m not a morning person, and I don’t think I ever will be, but over time my personal priorities have changed. Mostly from, “Sleep. At all costs,” to something more like, “Please…pleasepleaseplease can I have just FIVE DAMN MINUTES TO MYSELF?”

My weekday morning routine is really just a wonderfully productive 20-minute walk from my bed to my dining room.
I start in the bedroom. I’m already there and I’m unlikely to go back, so I just plug away at stuff right away.

  • Make the bed. Mostly so I can’t get back into it as easily. And because if I’ve just gotten out of it, it’s right there. And once it’s done, it’s like I’ve jumped a hurdle. I’ve accomplished something, and everything else seems easier.
  • Change into workout clothes. Because it preps me to work out, which removes an obstacle to actually following through on that. And if it doesn’t happen that day, at least I’m not still in my pajamas.
  • Gather the laundry. Because the floor grows it overnight. All on it’s own. Constantly.
  • Grab my water bottle. Because if I don’t make it an intentional part of the routine, I’ll probably forget.

Then I head to the bathroom (see what I did there? No? Forget it…):

  • Put laundry in the bin. Works out well because suddenly the laundry that’s grown on the bedroom floor and the laundry that’s grown on the bathroom floor is all in the same place, so it can all make its way into the bin at the same time.
  • Clean up after Hubby. Because, like I said, the bathroom floor has grown laundry since I was last there. And because I keep low expectations for him, since he has bigger things to worry about than whether or not absolutely everything makes its way back into the cabinets and drawers.
  • Personal hygiene. Minor, because it’s usually like 6:17am and zero percent of me cares about being fancy at 6:17am.
  • Put bath toys away, if needed. We usually let them dry out on the counter overnight after a bath, so on the mornings after bath nights I just tuck them in their basket.
  • Replace tea lights. Candles are nice, and we often won’t even use lights in the bathroom at night when the candles are lit. So that saves electricity! Or something…
  • Wipe the sink. Remember my goals and how being ready for company is one of them? We have one bathroom in our bitty house, shared between two adults and a toddler, and it’s just not always clean. This is one way I keep it looking clean. So if a friend wants to come over for a playdate, I can panic a little less than I would otherwise.
  • Spritz room spray. Because it smells nice, I like nice things, and it takes no time.

And on to the kitchen:

  • Kettle on, mug out, tea at the ready. I’m pretty sure I basically do this while I’m still half-asleep.
  • Replace tea lights. So I can light them later that evening. Again, just because it’s nice  🙂  And takes very little time, since I keep a stash of tea lights in the kitchen.
  • Replace water in flowers, and water herbs as needed. I usually get flowers when I go grocery shopping. It’s an inexpensive way to make me feel special and give me a shot of joy during the day. Different flowers have different needs/preferences/thriving conditions, but they all need clean water, so I change it regularly. Also herbs. Because herbs. They get watered roughly once a week. Ish.
  • Fill and run oil diffuser. I’m already by the sink, so might as well get water for the diffuser. In the mornings, I like sweet orange oil. I can honestly feel a difference in my mood and my brain cognisance when I run this oil. So, obviously, it’s made of magic.
  • Put clean, dry dishes away. Anything left from the night before, and empty the dishwasher if needed, because this makes my life WAY EASIER than trying to do it with Nolan “helping.”
  • Clean up after Hubby (lunch dishes away, clean coffee pot). Again, I have very low expectations for him. And he’s not going to clean the coffee pot before he leaves for work, that’s just silly. And if I don’t do it right away, it absolutely will sit there all day long till I do it–no joke–rightbeforebed. I know this because it has happened probably hundreds of times.
  • As I’m getting the milk for my tea, I pull a sandwich out of the freezer for Kyle for the following morning and tuck it into the fridge. We’ve found that they thaw out best this way, so he doesn’t end up with a toasty english muffin ensconcing a frozen egg.
  • Open curtains. In the winter it’s nice to watch the sunrise, and in the summer it’s nice to have curtains open for the mornings, before it’s too ridiculously hot and we need them to keep the heat out.

And finally, my reward for roughly twenty minutes of very mindful work. Because yes, I just got all of that done in twenty-ish minutes. My time, with my tea:

  • Vitamins. Because it will not happen until bedtime otherwise. Also because I have magic prenatal multivitamins that I can take on an empty stomach.
  • French practice (Duolingo). This takes five minutes or less, unless I choose to do more. And it’s fun. And it kinda wakes me up. And I’m becoming a more well-rounded person during those five minutes, so it feels awesome.
  • Bible reading. If I’m working through a study book, I use that for this time. If I’m not, I use a timer set for five or ten minutes. Because it needs to be done, but sometimes it’s hard! If the timer goes off and I’m in the middle of something, I’ll totally read more. Not a slave to the timer.
  • News (theSkimm). I love this daily email I get. So cleverly put, and it quickly fills me in on the basics of what’s going on in the world.
  • Workout. I looooooove Barre3. Their online subscription workouts are perfect for me. Right now I’m trying to get in a better habit of doing it super regularly, so I’m trying to do it everyday, but only for ten minutes (because they’re awesome and understand real life and have ten-minute workout videos). But if I can start by a particular time, I’ll do a thirty minute video.

By that time, Nolan usually wakes up. His wake up routine is short (change diaper, turn off fan and humidifier, open curtains), and we snuggle and sometimes watch a show while he wakes up because it’s a process, man. We have breakfast at the same time every morning, then play and get some housework done. Sometimes he’s allowed to watch another show or two if he’s particularly cranky or if I have to buzz about to get other things done. We’re usually ready to go by 9 or 9:30, so we can get errands done or just get on with our day.

What does your morning routine look like? Anything I’m leaving off here? I’d love your input!

6 Things That Make All the Difference In the Whole Wide World While I’m Cooking

For someone who cooks as much as I do, having kitchen systems is super important. The idea of a pile of dishes, floating food scraps, and a mad search for particular tools can deter even the most enthusiastic of cooks (trust me…I’m one of them, and that sounds in no way appealing). However, with a very busy toddler, the rest of the house to take care of, and, I don’t know, SANITY, sometimes things can get out of hand and suddenly, having take-out for dinner sounds infinitely appealing.

These are the things I do to make cooking easy and consistently a blast.

  1. Take a look at the plan for the day.
    I really try to make our meal plan work with whatever we have planned out for the week, but sometimes on busy days (or just lazy days…) I forget to look at the meal plan and get dinner started on time. Taking a minute early in the day to remind myself of the dinner plan is really helpful!
  2. Start clean.
    This seriously makes a huge difference for me. When I have a counter full of clean dishes on one side and/or dirty dishes on the other side, or the sink is piled full of stuff waiting for my attention, or the dishwasher isn’t empty, or our compost bin is already overflowing, the entire process of cooking a meal is much more difficult. I try to make sure to start with cleared counters, an empty sink, and a not-clean dishwasher.
  3. Wash as you go.
    Another huge one, totally affected by #2. If you don’t have anywhere to wash dishes or to put clean dishes once you’ve washed them, you won’t be able to do this, so get things in order, then wash as you go. It’ll save you loads of time washing them all later, and it’s discouraging to see a whole sink or counter full of dirty dishes! I recently started taking a cue from my grandmother and just making dishwater before I start cooking, so that it’s ready to go when I need it. It requires me to start with a cleared out sink (because where else am I going to make dishwater…?), getting dishes washed up has never been quicker or easier, and I think it probably saves water in the long run too! If this washing-as-you-go business is a totally foreign concept to you, just start small. Commit to washing your chef’s knife as soon as you’re done with it every time. Then it’ll be ready for you to use again as soon as you need it, and you’ll find it easier to carry the practice on with other dishes.
  4. Get your kitchen orgainzed.
    Honestly, if I couldn’t find my stuff, I’d never cook. Little, inexpensive drawer dividers make life a lot easier. Here’s what my “workhorse drawer” looks like…
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    It’s not fully stocked in the photo, since I’d been cooking all day when I took it. With three drawers total in my kitchen, and only one in my actual workspace, this puppy has got to pull its weight. While I’m standing at my cutting board, most of my tools are in reach.
  5. Have a plan for trash.
    This sounds weird, I get that. We live in a part of the country where we have like fourteen different “right” ways to dispose of waste. Also, I kinda have a thing for not making waste. So I make a plan. Usable veg scraps go in a baggie in the freezer to make chicken broth later. Unusables go in the compost bin, which I like to park next to the counter. Recycling and trash go in their respective bins under the sink. Boom boom boom boom and done!
  6. Prep ahead.
    Especially with a toddler, prepping ahead makes a ton of difference for me. As simple as it may be, if I don’t have to wash and cut the lettuce for a salad, we’ll probably actually end up having a salad with dinner.

Homemade | Granola

About a year and a half ago I showed up to meet my darling new friend for a walk. We knew each other by sight and had spoken a few times before, but we really became friends when I was in labor with Nolan. I went into our midwife’s office, she was there for an appointment (due about a month after me) and recognised me, and wrote me a sweet Facebook message wishing us well with the labor and new little one. Before I knew it, I had another best friend! This girl has blessed me immeasurably over the past couple of years, and I’m so thankful for the gift she’s been.

On this particular morning, when we met for a walk, she sweetly shoved a half-full gallon-size baggie of something in my hand. She’s a giver, just little stuff, all the time, and always super thoughtful and generous. It was her granola, and it was one of the very first gifts she ever gave me.

Guys, of all the gifts that keep on giving, this is seriously a biggie. One handful out of that bag and I was completely hooked on the lightly sweet, nutty GREATNESS I was noshing. I boldly asked for the recipe, sure it was a deep family secret but willing to risk the ask anyway. Just like she does with everything else, she generously, selflessly gave me the recipe. It’s gained a permanent place in my weekly cooking/prep day because when we run out, it’s really bad news.

She’s always downplaying her “domestic skills” and seriously every time she does I want to take her by the shoulders, look her straight in the eye, and say, “Your granola changed my life. Hush.”

Also great when taking dinner to new mamas, along with a quart of yogurt and some fruit!

This, my dear readers (all three of you), is Andrea Springer’s granola recipe, shared with her permission.

Preheat oven to 300F. Prepare two cookie sheets with parchment paper. Put four cups of rolled oats in a big ol’ bowl.

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Add 1 cup each slivered or sliced almonds, chopped pecans, and chopped walnuts, ½ c. unsweetened coconut flakes (or more…you know…if you mismeasure or something…), and ¼ c. flax or chia seeds.

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Mix well.

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Add 1 t. salt and 1 ½ t. cinnamon. Again, mix well.

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Combine following ingredients: ½ c. coconut oil, ½ c. maple syrup, 1 t. vanilla.

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Add liquids to dry mixture, and mix thoroughly.

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Divide oats mixture evenly between the two prepared cookie sheets, spreading as evenly as possible.

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Bake 20 minutes, then rotate the pans and bake another 20 minutes until toasty and maybe a little golden, if that’s your jam. After you remove the granola from the oven add ½ c. raisins. (I condensed pans in the midst of other cooking, so this is both pans on one sheet.)

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Cool completely, then store. I like to store it in jars  🙂  How cute is that?

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Go. Make granola. Be happy and live a fruitful life.

Andi’s Granola

Ingredients:

  • 4 c. rolled oats
  • 1 c. sliced or slivered almonds
  • 1 c. chopped pecans
  • 1 c. chopped walnuts
  • ½ c. unsweetened coconut flakes
  • ¼ c. flax or chia seeds (or a combination)
  • 1 ½ t. ground cinnamon
  • 1 t. salt
  • ½ c. coconut oil, in liquid form
  • ½ c. maple syrup
  • 1 t. vanilla
  • ½ c. raisins

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 300F. Prepare two baking sheets with parchment paper.
  2. Combine oats, nuts, coconut, seeds, cinnamon, and salt in a large mixing bowl, mixing well.
  3. Combine oil, syrup, and vanilla, and add to oats mixture. Mix well.
  4. Divide mixture between the two prepared baking sheets, and spread evenly. Bake for 20 minutes, then rotate the pans and bake another 20 minutes, or until as toasty as desired.
  5. Remove from oven and scatter raisins across warm granola. Cool completely, and store in airtight containers.

Routines: A How-To

So routines are good for us, right? And they make our homes run more smoothly, right? Then why can’t so many of us make them work better?!

Unfortunately, getting on a routine is not as easy as taking someone else’s plan and plugging ourselves into it. It takes some serious thought to get it started, then it requires tweaking, and because it requires tweaking, it takes commitment to keep it going.

However, I find that when I’m in a routine, everything really truly does run better at our house, so I’ve established a few that have made a big difference for us! Here’s how I got started.

DETERMINE YOUR PRIORITIES

– What do you do regularly?
– From that list, is there anything you could combine, delegate, or drop?
– From that list, what would cause utter chaos if you didn’t do? These are your “musts.” If nothing else makes it into the routine, these need to.

WORK SMARTER, NOT HARDER

With priorities in mind, and keeping the combine/delegate/drop thought nearby, I thought about how I could streamline my time. What things are you doing that are eating into your time? Are you spending valuable hours paying bills each month, or are you signed up for automatic bill payment services? Do you take time every single night to prep snacks to take/send to work the next day, or do you do that once a week? Do you comb through cookbooks and Pinterest each week trying to come up with a meal plan, or do you have a list of favorites you can pull from? What takes the most of your time, and how can you cut down on that?

SET YOUR GOALS

This is your “why.” This is what will keep you going when you feel brain-stumped while planning your routine, or when your commitment to the routine falls off the rails, or when an hour of extra dozing in bed sounds better than anything else possibly could.
– What do you want to accomplish?
– What would make your life less stressful?
Here are mine:
1. Have the house be generally less cluttery and more pleasant.
2. Be ready for guests pretty quickly.
3. Make time for myself to work on habits/goals.

COMMIT

You have your “why” already, but here are some tools to help keep you on track with this new routine.

  • Outsmart yourself.
    Do you realise how much harder it is to get back into bed if your bed is already made? Make it as soon as you get out of it. Or how much easier it is to actually go through with your workout if you’re already prepped and ready to go for it? Change into your workout clothes before you have a chance to change your mind.
  • Make your stuff work with you.
    I’ve found that keeping things where I use them is hugely helpful in making a routine that’s quick and nearly mindless to execute. So, for example, I keep my bathroom cleaning stuff in the bathroom (locked up, of course, so kids can’t get anything out…don’t call CPS…) to wipe up the counter every morning, and my vitamins, Bible/books, and phone/charger in the dining room, where I use them first thing (perks to not keeping a phone in your bedroom here). I also keep a stash of tea lights in the kitchen, where I use them in the mornings to replace the ones on my sill.
  • Create routines that feed off of each other.
    It’d be harder to follow through with my morning routine if I also had to get my workout clothes out, put ALL of the dishes away, or even do something as simple as fill up the kettle. And it’d be more of a pain to go through with my evening routine if I had to also replace the tea lights or put dishes away from beside the sink. So I worked those kinds of prep things into each routine, and it makes my life a lot easier.
  • Figure out what works for you.
    My routines took SO long to put together! That’s why I wrote a freaking blog post that’s basically a “how-to” on setting up a routine…because life happens and I’m going to need a tutorial later. Honestly, finding what works for me during any given month can be a challenge. This is what seems to work well right now and it has for a while, but things and needs change. Roll with it! Don’t throw out the entire concept just because it will take some tweaking from time to time.

What are your routines like? Do you find it hard to stick to them? Share below!