On Organizing + Homemade BBQ Sauce

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Just as I thought my work schedule was starting to calm down a bit, it’s actually going to get worse than ever…at least for a little while. Even still, I’m going to try even harder than ever to work some time for organization into my already-hectic schedule. Over the last year or so, I’ve sort of let my schedule get the best of me lack-of-organization-wise, but I function best when there is order around me. So, I need to put some attention to getting a handle on a few house projects. Lack of money is also an issue, but we’re going to make the best with what we already have and what we can afford.

I considered putting together an organization challenge for the month of June. I started to plan one today and began jotting notes down on different categories. What I realized is that there are far more categories and topics than there is time in the month of June. So, instead, I will have a different June-challenge and I will work on mini-organization projects throughout the year!

Any guesses what the June challenge will be about? Hint: it’s related to eating healthier. No cheating twitter and Facebook friends!

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Anywho, as far as organization, some of ours crosses into the decoration realm. Either way, check out this new clock we got at Crate and Barrel for the kitchen area. Hubby put it up this weekend, and it’s already made such a big difference. No more squinting at the microwave (which may be getting it’s own “organization” soon).

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And since we have more projects than time/money, Sis suggested we stick to just one. We wrote down and reviewed several and decided that the patio would be the easiest and wouldn’t cost anything.

First up, we swept all the leaves away.

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And then we organized my herbs. I told my sister that I wanted to put a shelf on the porch somewhere so I could get my herbs off the ground to help protect them from pests. We actually had a small shelf on the porch already but were using it to store garden supplies, citronella candles, and other yard randomness. We re-organized some of the tools to the garage and cleared the whole thing off. Then, we moved it closer to the natural sunlight and placed the plants on it.

I still have some temporary plastic pots that need to be replaced with nicer ceramic ones, but it looks a lot better already.

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Bailey even got to hang out for the cleaning action.

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And then hubby played frisbee with him and chased him around with a sprinkler.

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Run!

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Bailey!

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Run!

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After a quick breather and lots of water, we got started on dinner. First up, Sis and I worked on a new Cake Mini flavor – an idea we came up with together.

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And we also worked on something fun…

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Homemade BBQ sauce! We used this version, which came out pretty tasty.

I’d really like to test out a few different ones and then figure out our own special formula. This was a good start. Do you have any BBQ sauce recipes you recommend?

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We ended up inviting the neighbors over for dinner. It was awesome having the porch all nice, clean, and ready to go. We just had to add food!

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We made grilled BBQ chicken breasts using our homemade BBQ sauce and Earthfare chicken.

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Hubby has come up with his own grilled potato wedge recipe! I’m so proud. Once he perfects it, I’ll help him write it and publish it here on TCL so you guys can check it out.

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We had quite the feast.

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We had the chicken, potato wedges and also corn on the cob and steamed broccoli.

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And as for those Cake Minis…we made…

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Pineapple Upside Down Cake Minis!! Aren’t they cute? The pineapple rings are almost the perfect size for the 3 inch ramekins I use. The recipe will be publishing soon. I think so far the Carrot Cake Minis are my fave flavor, but there are lots of fun ones ahead! ;)

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Lookie! I’m organizing the blog, too. I’m making TCL easier to use! ;)

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I’ve added a list of my 5 most recent recipes where you can get the newest TCL recipes. You can find the others on my Recipes page.

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I’ve also added a archive calendar for searching for old/archived blog posts. It will display whatever the month is for the current post you’re viewing (so if you’re viewing a post that was published on 2/20/11, it will display February 2011). You can click on a particular day to see a list of posts published on that day.

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Like this post? Then click here to get free updates!

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Next time on TCL – another mini organization project (on clothes!) and a preview of the June Challenge.

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What are your organization strategies? Do you use any particular plans, guides, checklists, etc.?

Carob Cherry Oatmeal + Busy Signs

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Have you tried carob oatmeal yet?!

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Do itttttt! It’s divine! If you’re getting sick of oatmeal, add a teaspoon of ground carob to your oats and it will give your bowl of oats a whole new flavor!

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Today, I made Carob-Cherry Oatmeal. Nom!

I’ve had a couple requests for how to cook oatmeal, so I’m going to break it down today. :)

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Carob-Cherry Oatmeal

For 2 people who like small oatmeal portions

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup old fashioned oats
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/2 cup milk or non-dairy milk
  • 2 tsp carob powder (ground)
  • 1 tbsp agave syrup (or to taste)
  • 1 tsp chia seeds, optional
  • 6 seeded and halved cherries
  • sprinkle of sliced almonds, optional

Directions:

  1. Combine oats, water, milk, chia seeds, carob powder and agave in a small pot over medium low heat.
  2. Heat mixture till thickened to your preference, careful to not boil, stirring occasionally.
  3. Serve in bowls and add cherries on top with any additional toppings you want.
  4. Enjoy!

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Lunch was super weak. I was planning to go to the grocery store first thing this morning, but instead of being off, I had to work! :( I scrounged around in the freezer to come up with this: a TJ’s soy “corn dog”, a corn muffin (re-baked from a frozen batch), and peas.

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For a snack, I had a micro-baked sweet potato with a dab of real butter and a wee bit of brown sugar.

Then, it was time for ZUMBA! I was super tired in class today. I think it’s because I was stressed about work today and not doing a great job of hydrating. Doh! I downed a coconut water pretty fast near the beginning of class and was actually feeling more energized towards the end of the class than the beginning. Guess that stuff really works!

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Hubby cooked dinner tonight – a little concoction of his own. Bulgogi over brown rice.

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For dessert, we had cookies we got from our neighbor! Woohoo! Our first neighborly perk. :)

Wow, it’s been so long since I’ve had a day off with nothing major to do. I have a million things I could be doing, but I’m just not sure where to start! I feel like I’ve waited so long to have a free day of my very own. Normally, I feel like I rush from one to-do to another, barely accomplishing the must-dos (work, eat, sleep, Zumba, blog) in a day. Now that I have a free day, I’m so excited! I just have so many ideas I’ve wanted to execute and fun things I’ve wanted to do for so long that I want to do ALL of them! I am trying to get organized, though. I actually have a to-do list I’ve started and am hoping to share tomorrow.

In the meantime, here’s a funny little list that I put together about being busy all the time.

Top 5 Signs You’re Too Busy

  1. Your email inbox has more than 1000 unread emails (ok, maybe closer to 5000…yikes!)
  2. You’ve waited 2 years to buy a laptop so you don’t have to rely on your desktop and can work away from home. You got your laptop 2 weeks ago. You haven’t had the chance to even crack open the box.
  3. You find yourself blogging half asleep after midnight because it’s the only time you can do it.
  4. Your clean laundry sits in piles on your couch because you haven’t had time to fold it yet.
  5. Your significant other asks when they can see you again…and you live with them.

Reader question #1: What’s your sign you’re too busy?

Reader question #2: What do you like to do with your days off from work?

Cherry Almond French Toast

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Booyah!

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Best use of cherries to date…fo sho! :)

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I was feeling french toast today. Besides toast + almond butter, toast + egg is a great way to get whole grains (assuming you’re using a good bread) and protein.

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Bread of choice – Great Harvest honey whole wheat.

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Toppings = real maple syrup, sliced almonds and organic cherries. Nomalicious!

I really should have french toast more often!

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Remember this garden photo from several weeks ago?

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Just look at it now! It’s really getting big!

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I tried to plant beets in my front 2 boxes. Unfortunately they either died or were eaten by pests. :(

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So, last weekend I planted some more of my tri-color green beans! The seedlings are just starting to push through the ground.

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This one will see sun very soon! So neat how plants push their way through the earth.

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This sight makes me happy – yellow tomato plant flowers aka future tomatoes I can EAT! lol

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Most of the flowers around the yard are doing really well, too! Hazzah!

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I love my dahlias.

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This photo would look really good printed and framed and hanging in our house!

What are your favorite French toast toppings?

Chic Energy Bites – Cheerful Cherry

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I have so many ideas for Chic Energy Bite flavors to share with you love The Chic Life readers, but for now I have the second one I’ve attempted. First I brought you the Currant Crave flavor, now I bring you…

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Chic Energy Bites – Cheerful Cherry

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup pitted dates
  • 1/2 cup cashews
  • 1/2 cup almonds (I used raw, whole)
  • 1/2 cup dried cherries
  • 1 tbsp chia seeds (ok to omit)

Directions:

  1. Place all ingredients into a food processor.
  2. Process mixture until ingredients are chopped into tiny bits and the mixture starts to stick together. (At first the mixture will appear very dry. As you keep going, the mixture will become more sticky, though it won’t come together like a ball of dough). Start/stop and use the pulse as you go. Check it often if you’re unsure about consistency. Also, before you start forming discs, you can make a mini ball to test the mixture holds together ok. Mine was ready after about 2 1/2 – 3 minutes worth of processing in 30 second intervals, stopping to check consistency each time.
  3. Carefully remove blade from food processor.
  4. Pick up about 1tbsp worth of mixture, press/squeeze firmly together (this one was more crumbly than the currant version) into a ball and flatten slightly to a disc shape.
  5. Enjoy!

NOTE: Makes about 20 bites. Store in an airtight container.

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Materials gathered.

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Raw almonds.

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Dried cherries.

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All in.

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Not processed enough – nuts and dried fruits are too large. Keep processing!

Tip: This mixture turned out a lot more crumbly than the currant flavor. For the currant bites, I was able to roll them into balls and then flatten to discs…these needed to be pressed and squeezed firmly together, but they still held up together once they were formed. I had to press the edges a little extra as they tended to want to crumble or break up a bit, but I worked them together nicely.

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Bite meet mouth. Nom nom nom…

The combination of fruit and nuts make these great for a pre-workout or general energy boost snack.

To enjoy:

  • Eat them straight up (for breakfast, a snack, or even dessert)
  • Use them as an oatmeal topping
  • Chop them up over Power Toast
  • Make a dried fruit and nut sammie by placing on a whole wheat dinner roll

Like currants? Try my other flavor – Currant Crave.

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