July 4th Foods–Yum!

Many holidays are celebrated with a meal or two that have lots of special foods. Looking forward to eating those foods is part of what makes the holiday fun.

The Fourth of July is no different.  All the summer vegetables and fruits are at their best.  Their cool refreshing taste in the heat of the summer help balance out all those heavy hot dogs, hamburgers, ribs, and baked beans that are a part of the meal.

If your not sure what to cook or want some new ideas I’ve listed below plenty of links with mouth watering recipes.  Don’t forget the decorations to complete the festive celebration.


Happy eating!



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How To Prevent Holiday Clutter

A couple of weeks ago (before my computer crash) I sent out a newsletter listing things you can do to help prevent cluttering up your holidays with too many things to do and/or buy. Here is the list again. I’ve included links to articles I have written that can give you more information and tips on those subjects. Planning ahead will help you keep your life and finances under control.

1. Make a list of who you are buying gifts for. On this list write out what you want to buy this person and how much you can spend (maximum).

2. Always take this list with you when you go shopping. It will help you stick to your budget and make it less likely to get caught up in the marketing ploys the stores use to get you to buy what they think you need.

3. Plan out your holiday meal on paper. List what dishes each guest will be bringing (if you do it this way). Confirm this with your guests a couple of weeks ahead of time so they will be organized.

4. Check all your recipes and write down any ingredients you will need to buy. Buy non-perishables a week or two ahead. Buy the perishables a few days ahead of the day.

5. Make out your holiday card list before you buy those cards. Check out my article, “Holiday Greeting Card System” for more information.

6. If you are traveling this holiday season you can make a Travel Planner that will help you pack the things you need and leave home the things you don’t need. (clutter)

If you haven’t already signed up to get my free newsletter be sure to do so now. You don’t want to miss out on any tips. Plus you get a free eBook filled with tips for year round decluttering and organizing. You can sign up on the sidebar of this blog or go to my website.


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Organize Kitchen Cabinet Clutter

Sometimes all it takes is a simple tool to help keep an area organized. Unfortunately it is hard to know if the sales/marketers claims are true or a bunch of baloney. I’m sure you have bought items that claimed to help you become organized and decluttered. I know I have! But many of those items don’t live up to their hype.

Along the way I have bought many items that do work and I’m sure you have too. Today I want to share one simple item that has keep one of my kitchen cabinets organized for the past 17 years. It’s a wire rack that holds my cutting boards, cupcake tins, and cookie sheets that would otherwise be a mess.


When I bought those wire racks they cost me $11 each. They have been well worth the $22 spent. I saw on Amazon these same racks are selling for under $10 dollars. Your local stores that have kitchen supplies may have them at similar prices.

Look at your cabinets before you buy any tools to help you organize. A tool such as this wire rack will keep you organized but only if it fits your cabinets. You may have to look for some other tool that will work for your kitchen.

Do you have other tools that help your kitchen cabinets or drawers stay organized? Please leave a comment and let me know. Thanks.


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Simplify Your Holidays – Tip #9

Food is a huge part of the holidays. There’s parties and family dinners along with all the homemade food gifts (cookies, candies, cakes). If you are the one who is in charge of the planning, cooking, and preparing for a party or family dinner then here are some tips to help it from becoming overwhelming.


1. Keep meals simple. Not every dish served at the meal has to be a gourmet delight. If the entree is fancy then keep the sides simple and easy.

2. Make as much ahead of time as possible. You want to be able to spend more time with your guests and less time in the kitchen cooking.

3. Consider Pot Luck parties. Have a horsdoeuvre or dessert party and asks guests to bring their favorite recipe.

4. For a family dinner you can assign a portion of the meal to each person or family. Sharing takes the responsibility off of one person (usually you) from having to do it all. Instead of feeling like just guests they will also feel like contributors.

Remember that people are the most important ingredient at your party or family dinner.

If you have a tip to share please let me know in the comment section. Thanks.


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How to Simplify the Holiday Season

The holiday season is suppose to bring joy, peace, and gratitude for our family, our homes, and our friends. This is the ideal situation.

But for most people the reality is far from the ideal. With the economy the way it is many are struggling just to keep a roof over their head. Others are living in a chaotic mess both figuratively and literally.

So how do we find joy, peace, and gratitude in our lives? One way is to step back and take a good look at our surroundings and learn to simplify. There are areas of your life you can’t change at the moment but there are plenty that you can change. Many are small changes you can do that will help you move closer to the true meaning of this holiday season.

Here are some suggestions.

Holiday Decorations:

Do you look forward to unpacking boxes and boxes and boxes of decorations or are you feeling overwhelmed and dreading it? If you love it, then go for it! But if you are dreading all the work and time then take a few moments to think about why you do something you don’t enjoy.

Maybe this is the year to only take out a few favorite decorations and leave the rest packed up. Would the lack of massive decorations kill the spirit of the holiday for you? Probably not. Fewer decorations (and work) just may help your home look and feel more peaceful.

Presents: clip_image001

When it comes to the economy some are feeling it worse than others. However, we all want the most for our money. But this time of year we sometimes forget that it is the thought that counts and not how much we spend or how many gifts we give or receive.

You can reduce the stress (and clutter) by cutting back on your gift giving to family and friends. At the same time you may want to give more to those less fortunate.

Many local charities have a list of items that some of the neediest families in your home town need. Some charities have you pick a family (anonymously) and purchase some or all the things on their list. This could be the groceries needed for a holiday dinner or clothes such as a robe or slippers or even a winter coat. Get your children involved in the shopping and help them realize how important it is to help others. This helps you and your family put gratitude back into the season.

Holiday Meals:

We all have special foods we expect each year. It’s also fun to try new recipes. If you do all the planning, preparing, and cooking for the big family celebrations it may be time to let others help out.

Have different family members or friends who come to your home also bring a part of the meal. Don’t be afraid to ask. Most people would be honored if asked to bring a special dish. When everyone contributes to the meal they each get a chance to be complimented on their dish. They are no longer just a guest but part of the inner circle.

When everyone helps out it takes a lot of work and stress off of the main hostess. This helps put joy back in the season for everyone, not just the guests.

Small changes can add up. Don’t try to do it all, buy it all, or cook it all. This is the time where less really can be more – more joy, more peace, more gratitude.

Please share any ideas you may have in the comment section. Thanks.


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