Easy Summer Squash Soup

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Oh summer, what would you be without the delicious squash?

Of all the summer vegetables available, squash is one of the ones that comes to mind first, besides being, quite possibly, my favorite (ssh, don’t tell the tomatoes!). I love squash sauteed with onions and butter. I love it grilled. And I even love it in soup.

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I made this summer squash soup a couple weeks ago for lunch when I didn’t have time to hit up the grocery store on my lunch break. (Lunch break? What’s that?)

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I only had time to pluck this yellow squash from my garden before scavenging my freezer for other items to cook with it.

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When I don’t have fresh proteins around, I almost always have a can of beans (or previously cooked batch in a tupperware in the freezer) that I can rely on. I love beans for a quick and easy vegetarian protein. Not because I’m vegetarian. No, I’m obviously a meat eater. But I like to have protein with every meal so I’m not hungry 5 minutes after eating.

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Easy Summer Squash Soup Recipe

This easy (and fast!) summer soup makes a great, light lunch served with whole grain toast. You could also leave out the beans and serve it as a lighter first course for a multi-course meal. Nom!

Freeze the leftover for an even easier emergency meal for later.

*Vegan/Vegetarian if you use appropriate broth/stock*

Serves 2

Ingredients:

  • 1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 medium yellow squash, cut into half moons, about 1/3 inch thick
  • sprinkle salt/pepper.
  • 1/4 cup chopped onion (I used frozen)
  • 2 cups chicken or vegetable broth/stock
  • 1/4 cup frozen corn pieces
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1 cup frozen cooked pinto beans (or 1 can rinsed and drained)
  • 1 tablespoon fresh Italian parsley, chopped, optional
  • additional salt/pepper, to taste
  • fresh basil, ripped or chopped, garnish, optional

Directions:

  1. Pre-heat a medium sauce pan over medium heat. Add extra virgin olive oil, squash, onion, sprinkle of salt/pepper, and saute until onions are translucent and squash are starting to get tender, about 3-5 minutes.
  2. Add broth, corn, and basil and bring to a boil. Add beans and cook until beans are warmed through.
  3. Taste test and add parsley, if using, and add additional salt and/or pepper, as needed. Stir.
  4. Serve and top with fresh basil. Enjoy!

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What’s your favorite thing to do with summer squash?

Which do you prefer: yellow squash or zucchini?

One Pot Turkey Skillet Dinner (With Potatoes and Smoked Mozzarella)

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I have a wonderful new recipe to share with you guys. It’s light, it’s tasty, it uses up leftover cooked veggies, and you can cook it in one pot.

Now hubby and I have what I like to call a happy-cooking-relationship. We came up with it years ago, and it’s worked really well for us. The concept is simple: I cook, he cleans. Yet, although it’s tempting to dirty up as many dishes as possible, since I don’t have to worry about clean-up, in order to maintain the healthy relationship, I like to keep things as clean as possible whenever possible. One of the easiest ways to keep things clean is to use less cookware. And who doesn’t love a one-pot meal, right?

And this one pot will be a cast iron pan!

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This One Pot Turkey Skillet Dinner isn’t the fastest in the world, but it’s easy as pie and tastes like amazing.

I got the inspiration for this recipe whilst flipping through one of my favorite magazines – Clean Eating Magazine. I like turkey, I like potatoes, and I saw both in the picture. But I ended up putting quite the TCL twist on it adding fresh rosemary from my herb garden, broccolini, and subbing smoked mozzarella for the cheese in the original recipe.

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Pretty much you brown ground dark meat turkey in the pan and then set it to the side. Then you add potatoes, onion, fresh herbs, salt, and pepper.

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Stir to combine, put it in the oven and forget about it for a bit.

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Meanwhile, you can gather up some leftover cooked veggies. Chop them into bite-sized pieces and…

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…after de-glazing the pan with some broth, add that veggie to the pot along with your cooked turkey…plus additional salt and pepper, if needed.

Stir and bake for 10 minutes longer.

Psst – Important Tip: You can set the table, get drinks together, etc. while the dinner finishes up.

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Remove the pan from the oven, add small pieces of smoked mozzarella…bake just until…

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…the mozzarella gets niiiiice and ooey-gooey. Yum!

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Garnish with fresh parsley, if you want. I like to rip mine over the meal. The parsley adds fresh little bites as you enjoy the skillet dinner.

Doesn’t this whole thing sound simple?

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One Pot Turkey Skillet Dinner (With Potatoes and Smoked Mozzarella)

This easy one-pot dinner, inspired by a recipe I saw in the latest Clean Eating Magazine, makes for light comfort food with easy clean-up. And you can even use up leftover cooked veggies. This recipe specifies broccolini, but any cooked veggie should work. Just use what you have. One bite of this cozy dish, and you’ll be hooked!

Serves 2

Ingredients:

  • 1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 3/4 pound ground dark meat turkey
  • 4 medium/large red-skinned potatoes, brushed and eyes/bad spots removed, cut into roughly 1 inch pieces
  • 1/2 onion, chopped large
  • 2 sprigs rosemary, stems removed, chopped fine (about 2 teaspoons)
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • fresh ground black pepper, dash
  • 1 cup broth/stock of choice (I used chicken)
  • 1 cup leftover cooked veggies (I used blanched broccolini, cut into 1 inch pieces)
  • Additional salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1/2 ball of smoked mozzarella, cut into small pieces (about 1/3-1/4 inch pieces)
  • fresh parsley for garnish, optional

Directions:

  1. Pre-heat oven to 425 degrees F.
  2. Pre-heat a cast iron skillet (or other oven-proof pan) over medium heat. Add oil and spread. Add turkey and cook until turkey is cooked through (no longer pink). Remove to bowl and set aside for later.
  3. Add potatoes, onion, rosemary, salt, and pepper to skillet. Stir to combine and place in pre-heated oven. Bake for 15 minutes. Turn off burner.
  4. Remove skillet from oven (you can place it back on the burner you used before, but it doesn’t need to be on). De-glaze pan with broth by pouring broth into the skillet and scraping up any brown bits. Add turkey, broccolini (or other vegetable) and if needed, salt and pepper. Stir to combine. Return pan to oven and bake for 10 minutes.
  5. Remove skillet from oven, top with smoked mozzarella pieces, distributing evenly. Return skillet to oven and bake just until cheese melts, about 5 minutes.
  6. Garnish with fresh parsley, if using. Serve and enjoy!

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Nomalicious!

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  • Cookies 'N Cream Rice Krispies (44%, 21 Votes)
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Reader Question: Who usually ends up doing the dishes in your house?

Lentil Kale Bowl (for One)

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Here’s a easy, throw-pantry-stuff-together meal perfect for Meatless Mondays or days when you “have nothing to cook.” I love a meal that makes something out of nearly nothing. We all need a few more of those in our lives, right? Things to make when you stare blankly at your nearly empty refrigerator and think, “Geez, I really, really need to go the grocery store for realz!”

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I present – the uber-simple Lentil Kale Bowl (for now – though you could easily multiply proportions)

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Nearly all you need to do is saute some onion, add lentils and broth, cook…

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…steam / saute fresh kale…

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…serve over your favorite grain – cous cous is the fastest and easiest, though rice in the rice cooker takes the least effort.

Lentil Kale Bowl (for One)

This meatless meal whips up in a jiffy with mostly pantry ingredients. Unlike some vegetarian meals that open large packages of tofu or tempeh, you can easily portion out just enough lentils for you from your pantry. I used red lentils for the fast cooking time, but feel free to sub in whichever type you prefer – just adjust the cooking time, as needed. Serve over your favorite grain (or leftover!), though I suggest couscous or rice.

*Vegetarian and Vegan*

Ingredients:

  • 1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 onion, chopped
  • 1/4 cup red lentils
  • 1 – 2 cups broth of choice
  • dash of tumeric (maybe 1/8 teaspoon or less)
  • dash of coriander (maybe 1/8 teaspoon or less)
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, or to taste
  • 1/4 teaspoon fresh-ground black pepper
  • 2 large or 3 medium (or about 2-3 loose cups) kale, cleaned and torn into small pieces (about 1-2 inches)
  • fresh parsley, optional

Directions:

  1. Pre-heat olive oil in a large saute pan over medium heat. Add onion and cook until translucent, about 3-5 minutes.
  2. Add lentils and broth and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to simmer and cook until lentils are tender, about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add additional broth over the cooking time, as needed (somewhat similar to cooking risotto).
  3. Ensure the pan isn’t too dry (add extra broth if needed so lentils don’t stick to pan, to just cover) and add kale leaves and cover pan). Steam kale for 2 minutes, then remove lid and stir kale into lentils to continue cooking for 3 minutes. Add broth, if needed. Sauce should not be too liquidy, but lentils shouldn’t be too dry – just adjust to your preference. Add additional salt, pepper to taste.
  4. Serve over couscous or grain of choice and garnish with fresh parsley.
  5. Enjoy!

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Do you participate in Meatless Monday? Why or why not?

Stuff-Your-Face Breakfast Potatoes

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Sundays are for sleeping in and taking your time making breakfast. Not that you need to cook for hours to have something delicious on your plate. But if you’re like me, you rush around during the work week whipping up whatever is relatively quick and easy. But on Sunday. Ahh…when Sunday rolls around, you can sip coffee and take your time sautéing up some tasty potatoes and onions. At least that’s what I did this past Sunday.

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I love eating breakfast potatoes, but they aren’t always the quickest thing to throw together. I typically only enjoy them at my parents’ house or when I’m out at a restaurant for brunch. While my parents make a mean batch of breakfast potatoes, they also live  almost 2 hours away. And the problem with eating them at a restaurant is that 1. they’re more expensive and 2. they’re usually doused in excess oil and butter. By making them at home, you can better control the price and fat level.

The recipe is at the end of this post, but here are some photos and tips:

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You can peel all the skin off your potatoes if you like, but I prefer the texture of the potatoes with the skin on. After scrubbing my potatoes, I usually only take off the bad parts (where it’s dark or rough) and the eyes. And in case you need another good reason to leave the skins on, consider that the skins contain vitamins, phytochemicals, and most of the potato’s fiber. (source – whfoods.com)

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Anywho, after scrubbing and removing the bad parts off the potato, just cut it into roughly 1/2” cubes.

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As for the onion, you can use one small onion. I happened to have two teeny-tiny onions, so I used both of those.

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After tossing the potatoes in the oil and butter to coat them, spread them to an even layer.

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After a few minutes, turn and spread to an even layer again.

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When the potatoes are done, toss in some fresh, green parsley for color and a fresh bite.

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Stuff-Your-Face Breakfast Potatoes

Unlike most restaurant breakfast potatoes, these potatoes are not overly cooked (squishy potatoes and onions…ew!) and are also not cooked in an excessive amount of butter and oil. The onions have a bit of a bite to them, so cook them for a couple minutes before adding the potatoes if you like them more tender.

By the way, while I prefer to use as few pots and pans as needed, I find the boiling step necessary. Sorry, but these potatoes are worth a little extra dish-washing! :)

Oh, and although I usually reserve my weekend mornings for making these potatoes, they actually come together pretty quickly and easily.

*Vegan options listed*

Serves 2

Ingredients:

  • 1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon butter (or vegan substitute)
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 3 medium/large red potatoes, scrubbed, bad parts of skin and eyes removed, cut into 1/2” dice, about 2 1/2 cups
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt, plus extra salt for the boiling water (about 1 teaspoon total)
  • 1/8 – 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/4 teaspoon fresh-cracked black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon fresh parsley, chopped

Directions:

  1. Boil potatoes for 3 minutes in salted water. Drain potatoes and place back into the same pot you just used to boil the potatoes. Place the pot back on the burner, but make sure the burner is turned off. Note: the residual heat will help the potatoes dry out.
  2. Pre-heat a saute pan over medium heat. Add oil and butter and stir butter to melt. Add onions and potatoes to the pan. Sprinkle mixture with salt, garlic powder, paprika and pepper, and toss until well-coated and spices are evenly distributed.
  3. Spread mixture to an even layer and let brown on bottom, about 3-5 minutes.
  4. Flip potatoes (it’s ok if you don’t flip every single piece over), spread to an even layer and let brown, about 3-5 minutes.
  5. If needed, toss again and continue cooking to desired doneness. (I didn’t need this step, but everyone likes their potatoes a little more or less crispy, so just cook to your liking)
  6. Stir in parsley just before serving.
  7. Enjoy!

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What foods do you cook on the weekend that you don’t normally make during the week?

Lazy Lunch: Easy BBQ Tempeh & Tangy Power Greens

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Feeling lazy, but want to eat something dee-lish? Then read on for a high-ROI(where investment=cook time) meal you can enjoy any day – BBQ Tempeh and Tangy Power Greens Recipes.

On Friday, I enjoyed one of my favorite lunches of recent times. As I started wondering about lunch, I had no idea what to eat. But, I knew I had some homemade BBQ sauce, tempeh, and swiss chard in the garden. I also had some kale on its last legs in the fridge. I wanted to make use of what I already had on hand, but I was already really hungry. So, lunch had to come together quickly and easily. This meal would turn out to be a wonderful surprise in ease and deliciousness.

BBQ Tempeh and Tangy Power Greens Recipes

After doing so well kicking off my day with lots of veg (spinach and onion in that tasty dill-egg-scramble), I knew I wanted to get a great serving of vegetables with lunch.

BBQ Tempeh and Tangy Power Greens Recipes

I have had swiss chard getting bigger and bigger in my garden for awhile, so I decided to pluck some leaves from that plant. I also knew I had some kale (from the farmer’s market the week before) in the fridge. I combined the two for a powerhouse-combination of great greens. Some chopped onions chillin in the freezer would be a quick addition to add instant flavor.

Tangy Power Greens

Want a quick and easy vegetable side? This combination of nutritious greens come together in less than 10 minutes and without the need of blanching. Use frozen, chopped onions (a staple in the TCL house) to shorten the prep time. Multiply the recipe, as needed, for a larger serving size.

Serves 2

Ingredients:

  • 1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/8-1/4 chopped onion (I used frozen for convenience, but you can fresh-chop some)
  • 6 cups packed greens (I used swiss chard and curly kale, but spinach and other greens that don’t require blanching would work)
  • 1/4 cup broth/stock or water (I used water since I didn’t have any broth, but broth/stock would be more flavorful)
  • 4 sprays of Braggs liquid amino, optional
  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • salt and pepper, to taste

Directions:

  1. Pre-heat oil in a large saute pan over medium heat. Add onion and cook till translucent, about 3-5 minutes.
  2. Add greens and water and cook till wilted, about 5-6 minutes.
  3. Spray in Braggs, add apple cider vinegar and stir to combine. Cook for 1 minute to bring flavors together. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  4. Serve with BBQ tempeh (recipe follows).

BBQ Tempeh and Tangy Power Greens Recipes
BBQ Tempeh and Tangy Power Greens Recipes
BBQ Tempeh and Tangy Power Greens Recipes

I snacked on tortilla chips whilst whipping this dish up. Before serving, I used some smaller broken pieces to garnish the top. Pretty and tasty!

Enjoy!

 

BBQ Tempeh Recipe
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
BBQ Tempeh couldn’t be easier. The flavor is best when combined with homemade BBQ sauce, but the bottled kind will work just as well. This is the easiest way I’ve ever prepared tempeh before, and it packs a lot of flavor with very little effort. Talk about high ROI!
Author:
Serves: 2
Ingredients
Instructions
  1. Combine tempeh and BBQ sauce in a bowl. Gently stir to coat all sides of tempeh slices. Marinate for 5-10 minutes (while you prep the greens for the previous recipe)
  2. Heat oil in a medium saute pan over medium heat. Add tempeh and cook till each side is golden brown, about 4-5 minutes per side.
  3. Serve with Tangy Power Greens (previous recipe). Enjoy!
Notes
Time-saving tip: Marinate the tempeh while you prep the greens for the previous recipe.


Note: Feel free to marinate your tempeh longer for extra flavor – from 1 hour to overnight.

Clothes Organization – Part 1 & Crispy Onion BBQ Burger

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Cooking and organizing with sis continued right into Monday. I know most people like to do fun and relaxing things on their day’s off, and I do, too, but lately, I’ve been feeling so behind, I feel obligated to be productive for most of the vacay-day. Luckily, getting things done gives me a great sense of accomplishment…like checking something off of your to-do list. It’s stress-relieving and I actually enjoy it. And I do try to work some time for relaxing and fun into my days, by the way. I’m not all work and no play.

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And just to clarify, being productive does include cooking up a yummy breakfast. ;) I made my multigrain pancakes with easy raspberry sauce (click for recipe), except I used oat flour instead of white. (I’m already looking forward to raspberry sauce leftovers over oatmeal tomorrow!)

Clothes Organization – Part 1

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I continued our organizing spree by taking a first stab at one of the bigger projects going on at the Chic house – my clothes situation. As some of my long time readers know, I used to be quite the shopaholic. I never needed an intervention or anything, but let’s just say I have more clothes than the average gal. (I know…I polled my fashion blog readers…whoops! lol)

When hubby and I moved into the Chic house back in fall 2009, I bid adieu to my giant walk-in closet and traded it for our first house – tiny closets and all. Our new house has such small closets because it’s never really had much of a renovation and it’s an older house. Since we’ve moved in, I’ve struggled to figure out what to do with all my beloved clothes. I like to purge my belongings regularly, so I knew that wasn’t the main issue, though I did try to go through them again. In my opinion, my primary problem area is organization tools.

Hubby and I poured all our money into our kitchen reno and when that sputtered out (unfinished), it left nothing for my clothes. I made do with what I already had furniture-wise – a strange assortment of various types of shelves collected over the years – but it wasn’t getting the job done.

Sis and I decided to take another look at my clothes to see if we could do anything with them without spending any money.

Step 1: Identify Mini Project

The major change we identified was storage of fall/winter clothes. I’ve always had the space such that I never needed to switch out fall and winter clothes, so I’ve never done that before…ever. I think that puts me in the minority, because I’m guessing most people do switch clothes out for the warm and cold weather seasons. We decided to take my 3 sweater bins (the best way I’ve found to store sweaters so far – I used to line the bottom of my closet with them) and separate them in fall/winter and spring/summer.

Step 2: Get Started – Tweak As Needed

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Remember in school when you’d dread the start of a new essay assignment? It was everything you could do to get those first words out, yet they’d flow pretty easy afterwards? I think sometimes the hardest part of organization is just getting started. Luckily, I had my sister to motivate me. We picked one bin and just started going through my sweaters one by one. What we found was that I actually had 3 types of sweaters – heavy, medium, and light weight. So, we separated the sweaters into 3 piles and decided to worry about folding later.

Step 3: Assess What You Have – Consider Better Solutions

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My sister managed to fill 1 1/2 bins full of heavy-weight sweaters. But, we decided to keep the medium and light-weight sweaters out…at least for now. I definitely like the lightweight ones for layering, even in the summer (it’s still cold inside sometimes!). And I’m thinking I may wear the medium weight sweaters to work since they like to set their thermostat to “icebox.”

We decided that it would be best if we could fill the 2 sweater bins and move them to storage and do something with all the medium and light-weight sweaters we wanted to keep out. Sis noticed that the shelves in this storage cabinet (that I bought in college! can’t believe it hasn’t fallen apart yet) seemed like they could be used more effectively.

At the time, I had the following in it:

  • T-Shirts (not fitting space well)
  • Workout Clothes (pants ok, but tank tops hard to stack)
  • PJs (not using space effectively – lots of lost vertical space)

I also noticed that I had a 4-box wire storage shelf (originally purchased for my craft room…back when I had one) that weren’t really being used. So, we decided to pull a switcheroo.

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But not without making time to break for lunch. Hubby helped out by picking up food from Mellow Mushroom while we sorted away. We started with a tomato/mozzarella salad.

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And cheese pizza.

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With happy stomachs, we were able to dig in and finish our Mini Project – Sorting the sweaters.

We filled two bins of heavy-weight sweaters and a couple polar fleeces, and these will be moved to the basement for storage till cooler weather returns.

The third bin contains athletic cover-ups, polar fleeces, etc., which my sister folded and re-organized. This one will stay upstairs since I wear these a lot for Zumba and around the house.

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We moved all the clothes out of the shelf system and into the fabric bins:

  • Workout clothes
  • Nice T-Shirts (to wear out and about)
  • PJs (bottoms)
  • Crochet Project (leftover from when it was in my craft room – the project just fits too nicely to move…lol)

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Into the newly freed space on the shelves, we moved:

  • Light-Weight Sweaters on top (left 2 piles are cardigans/cover-ups & right is regular sweaters)
  • Medium-Weight Sweaters in middle (left 2 piles are cardigans/cover-ups & right is regular sweaters)
  • T-Shirts on bottom (these are like sleep-wear t-shirts to wear around the house or in the yard – there are more than what’s pictured, but they’re in the laundry bin)

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While the clothes-organization overall project is far from being done, I’m really happy with the progress we made.

Changes/Observations:

  • Less-used items are in lower/harder-to-reach spaces – frees up room for popular clothes
  • More-used items are in easier-to-access spaces – makes getting ready easier/faster since I don’t have to work as hard to get to these clothes
  • Cardigans/sweaters are now visible instead of being piled in a bin – I forgot I had some of the items because they were so buried. Now that I can see them stacked in the shelf, I know immediately what I have and what my options are when I’m putting an outfit together
  • Clothing groups are better kept together – makes things easier to find and keep organized
  • More floor space – visually better already

We (I?) still have a lot of work to do with my clothes, but since I don’t have large chunks of free-time to pull from, I plan to tackle everything one mini-project at a time. So far, so good!

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After wrapping up our organization project for the day and saying adieu to sis who had to return home, hubby and I went furniture shopping at a local consignment shop. We didn’t find anything we liked, but we did enjoy our visit. The inventory is constantly changing, so we know we’ll be checking back often.

Then, we hit up Earthfare to get goodies for dinner and for my next challenge for June – can you tell from the produce photo what it’s going to be about?!

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And for dinner, I decided to try something I’ve seen at many restaurants -

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A crispy onion topping. Why?

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To put on this Earthfare burger, of course!

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Hubby also requested pina coladas with the leftover fresh pineapple we had on hand thanks to the Pineapple Upside Down Cake Minis. I made ours using pineapple, coconut milk, sugar, and ice…and of course rum. I thought the flavor was ok, but it needs tweaking before I’m 100% happy with it.

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But the burger! The crispy onion rings were perfect on the burger!

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We also added leftover homemade-BBQ sauce on the burger, and the combination of it all was simply outstanding!

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We also had kale chips, leftover potato wedges, and corn (that I made hubby eat since he put too much cayenne pepper on it – he likes it spicy!).

We enjoyed a casual and relaxing dinner whilst watching The Green Hornet. Nothing like a productive day followed by relaxing over dinner and a movie to cap off a fantastic day.

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And since this blog was for Memorial Day – Sending a special thank you to those who have paid the ultimate sacrifice in the name of our continued freedom.

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Next time on The Chic Life, I reveal the June Challenge (Hint: it’s related to produce!) and blog about a fun dinner double date with new friends.

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Reader question: How do you organize your clothes? Do you hang everything? Put sweaters in a special container? Do share your clothes-organization tips and ideas.

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