Happy New Year- Learn How To Get Organized!

How to Get Organized - Tips for Cleaning Out and Organizing Clutter

Happy New Year! 2016 is here! Have you made any resolutions for the new year ahead? For me, my top priority is learning how to get organized! I have been trying to organize and get rid of stuff for the longest time – but – there’s still multiple piles of clothes I need to go through, stacks of papers and magazines, a box of stuff waiting to be donated and then just everyday clutter. It seems like whenever I try to start, I get sidetracked or busy with something else and it never gets done. I go through a pile of stuff just to have it pile up again – the never ending cycle of clutter and “stuff”!
Well, at this point, I’m fed up with the clutter! Just taking a look around my house makes me feel anxious and stressed. I think it is starting to affect my productivity. So, my number one goal this year is making a determined effort to really clean out, organize and get rid of stuff throughout the entire house!
Now that I have a 7 month old, we have accumulated a lot of stuff. There are things that need to be stored somewhere including: baby gear, outgrown baby clothes and maternity clothes. And then there are things that I haven’t used or that have gotten their fair share of use and need to be tossed. The hardest part is setting aside time to plan, sort, clean, and find the space to store everything. It quickly becomes overwhelming when I think about the amount of work and effort it will take to finally get the house organized.
My solution is to break it down into smaller, more manageable tasks. Instead of spending an entire weekend trying to tackle everything all at once, I will work a little each day on a specific task so as not to get burned out.

Here’s my plan of action on how to get organized:

Step 1 – Create a plan
Mentally go through the list of things that need to be stored away. Think about how the best way to store them might be and where you want to store them.

Clothes: For maternity clothes and baby clothes that no longer fit my little man, I bought some space saving bags where you remove the air and I plan to store them in the closet. I thought about getting plastic bins but the bags were a better solution since we have limited closet space.

Baby Gear: For larger items like the infant swing and bassinet, I plan to take them apart as much as I can and put them in large plastic garbage bags to protect them from dust. I will wash and store any removable cloth separate in an inside closet.

Paperwork: Decide on a file system and come up with a designated spot for important documents/action items, papers that need to be filed away and documents that need to be shredded. I try to get rid of junk mail immediately so it doesn’t pile up.

Step 2 – Start Sorting
Before you actually get to packing clothes away or filing paperwork you need to sort through and decide if it’s something you actually need/want to keep. Make 3 sorting piles: keep, donate, trash. Once you have your items sorted it’s a good idea to immediately throw out the trash items and actually take that box to drop off at the donation site.

Further sort through the keep items:
Baby Clothes: Sorted by size and will be packed in separate bags for each size: Newborn, 0-3mos, 3-6mos, 6-9mos etc.

Paperwork: Sorted according to your filing system and categories. Action items go to their location, shred documents go to a pile by the shredder, documents that need to be kept are separated into their respective filing categories (credit card statements, bank statements, utilities, mortgage documents, taxes, etc).

Step 3 – Take Action: Pack, File & Shred
After planning and sorting you can now start to pack things away. Purchase the bins/bags or other supplies you need to pack or file items away. Once items are packed and clearly labeled, put them in their designated storage spot. File away papers and shred those documents! 

Step 4 – Keep it up!
When new documents come into the house don’t wait until they pile up, take care of them right away. Every so often, go through clothes, toys, and items that come into the house: Plan, Sort, Pack, Repeat!


Hopefully at this point, you can look around and sigh with relief at how clean and organized everything looks! I’m just starting with this process so I’m looking forward to getting it done and enjoying a clean and organized home!

Tips:

  • Remember to work on a certain task a little each day. Don’t feel like you have to finish it all in one day.
  • Once you complete one task, move on to the next until you have gone through the entire house.
  • Start with the things you can see and then move on to closets, cabinets, drawers, and boxes that need to be sorted. This way you can see that you are making progress and will be more motivated to keep going.
  • Try to keep piles of paperwork from accumulating by getting rid of junk mail immediately and filing or shredding documents. Go through magazines weekly and get rid of any you don’t use. If you see a recipe, article or coupon you want to keep, clip it out right then and have a designated spot to put it, then toss the magazine.

Baked Chocolate Donuts with Powdered Sugar Glaze

Baked Chocolate Donuts with Powdered Sugar Glaze | sprightliest.com

Today is such a beautiful day. The sun’s out and it’s a slightly breezy 65 degrees. As I look out my living room window I see the ducks are enjoying the sun and swimming around the lake. Flowers are starting to bloom and the grass and leaves are turning green again, Spring is here!
It’s been a long while since I last posted a recipe. Time just flies by these days. I’m 28 weeks pregnant and only have 12 weeks to go before we get to meet our little baby boy!
This pregnancy has given me a major sweet tooth so naturally I had to bake me up something sweet to eat. And since baked donuts have been all over Pinterest it was high time to give them a try.

Baked Chocolate Donuts with Powdered Sugar Glaze | sprightliest.com

I chose these Baked Chocolate Donuts with Powdered Sugar Glaze because you can’t go wrong with chocolate. They were really easy to make and while not quite as good as the full on fried version they were satisfying…especially dipped in a generous layer of sugar glaze. Sugar on sugar, give me more!

Baked Chocolate Donuts with Powdered Sugar Glaze | sprightliest.com

Baked Chocolate Donuts with Powdered Sugar Glaze | sprightliest.com

Next time I’d like to try these Carrot Cake Doughnuts or these Greek Yogurt Cinnamon Roll Donuts!
Baked Chocolate Donuts with Powdered Sugar Glaze
Yields 12
Old Fashioned Chocolate Donuts with a powdered sugar glaze. Baked instead of fried.
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Total Time
30 min
Total Time
30 min
For the Donuts
  1. 1 1/4 Cup All-Purpose Flour
  2. 1/3 Cup Unsweetened Cocoa Powder
  3. 1 Teaspoon Baking Soda
  4. 1/8 Teaspoon Ground Nutmeg
  5. 1/2 Teaspoon Salt
  6. 1/3 Cup Granulated Sugar
  7. 1/3 Cup Plain Yogurt
  8. 1 Large Egg
  9. 1 Tablespoon Butter, melted
For the Sugar Glaze
  1. 1 Cup Powdered Sugar
  2. 3-4 Tablespoons Milk
  3. 1/4 Teaspoon Pure Vanilla Extract
For the Donuts
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside.
  3. Combine the flour, baking soda, cocoa powder, nutmeg, salt and sugar in a bowl.
  4. In another bowl stir together the melted butter, egg and yogurt. Add the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and mix until combined.
  5. On a well floured surface, knead the dough a few times.
  6. Roll out the dough to about 1/4 inch thickness.
  7. Using a doughnut cutter, or cookie cutters, cut out doughnuts and place on your lined baking sheet. Place the doughnut hole centers on the 2nd lined baking sheet.
  8. Bake the doughnuts for about 10 minutes and then bake the doughnut holes for 4-5 minutes. Cool slightly.
For the Sugar Glaze
  1. While the doughnuts are baking in the oven, mix together the powdered sugar, milk and the vanilla extract. Add more milk a little at a time until you have the desired consistency. (More milk=thinner, more powdered sugar=thicker)
  2. Dip the top of each doughnut and doughnut hole into the glaze and allow to dry completely before storing.
Adapted from Heather's French Press
Sprightliest http://kaicreatives.com/
Do you have a favorite baked donut recipe? Share in the comments below!

It’s a New Year!

Happy 2015!
I took a little hiatus from blogging over the past few weeks. I needed some time to focus on other areas of my life, relax and enjoy time with friends and family and now I’m ready to start fresh in the new year.
I also have some big news to share…

Finley the Pomeranian

I’m pregnant! Our little one is due in June. I am so excited but being pregnant is also another reason why I needed a little break. I was lucky enough to have very mild morning sickness but I have been very picky with food. Often times nothing or very few foods actually sound good to eat. I sometimes have to force myself to eat something. It’s not that I’m not hungry it’s just certain smells or foods are a big turn off. I used to cook meals most of the time but since becoming pregnant I have started ordering out a lot because of the food aversions and so I haven’t been cooking many dishes to post on the blog! I did do a lot of Christmas baking and made iced sugar cookies, fudge, snowballs and cherry coconut treasures as baking sweets doesn’t seem to bother me all that much ;-).

Christmas Cookies

It has also been a bit challenging finding the time to blog since I’ve also been very busy with my day job – building and editing websites and working on graphic design projects. And we are busy with more projects around the house, like finally starting on our master bedroom closet, and then when that’s done we will be working on the nursery. I say “we” but it will mostly be the husband doing the labor…no pun intended, hah!
I’m hoping in the next few weeks the food aversions will subside and I will have some new dishes to share with y’all. If nothing else, be sure to follow me on Pinterest as I’m on there quite often pinning away tasty recipes, delectable sweets, home improvement projects, crafts and more!

Creamy Tomato Tortellini Soup

The Christmas tree is up and it smells so good! The fire is roaring in the fireplace and I’m sitting here all nice and cozy on the couch as I write this.
I just love this time of year. All the lights, the Christmas spirit, spending time with loved ones, baking Christmas goodies, it’s all so magical.
What else is magical? How about a big pot of this Creamy Tomato Tortellini Soup simmering away on your stove top!?

Creamy Tomato Tortellini Soup | Sprightliest.com

This is total comfort food in a bowl right here! A rich and creamy tomato soup is loaded with pillow-y cheese stuffed tortellini pasta and topped off with shaved Parmesan cheese. Mmmm mmm!

Creamy Tomato Basil Tortellini Soup | Sprightliest.com

“Souper” easy to make and oh so fulfilling, it’s sure to become a regular in your meal rotation.

Creamy Tomato Tortellini Soup | Sprightliest.com

Creamy Tomato Tortellini Soup
Serves 6
A rich and creamy tomato soup loaded with pillow-y cheese Tortellini.
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Cook Time
25 min
Cook Time
25 min
Ingredients
  1. 1 Tablespoon Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  2. 1/2 Large Onion, chopped
  3. 3 Cloves Garlic, minced
  4. 32 Ounces Vegetable Stock
  5. (2) 28 Ounce Cans Crushed Tomatoes
  6. 20 Ounces Cheese Tortellini
  7. 1/4 Cup Fresh Basil, chopped
  8. 2 Bay Leaves
  9. 1/8 Teaspoon Crushed Red Pepper Flakes
  10. Salt and Pepper To Taste
  11. 1/4 Cup Half & Half
  12. Parmesan cheese for topping
Instructions
  1. Heat oil in a large pot over medium heat.
  2. Saute onions until softened. Add in garlic and cook for 1 minute.
  3. Pour in the vegetable broth and both cans of tomatoes. Add chopped basil, crushed red pepper flakes, salt, pepper and bay leaves.
  4. Simmer on low for 15 minutes.
  5. Stir in the Tortellini and half & half.
  6. Cook for about 8 minutes, stirring occasionally, until Tortellini is cooked through.
  7. Remove bay leaves.
  8. Transfer to serving bowls and top with shaved Parmesan cheese.
  9. Bon Appetit!
Notes
  1. I took the photos the day after I cooked this soup so it thickened up a bit. It originally had a more soup-like consistency.
Adapted from Two Peas and Their Pod
Sprightliest http://kaicreatives.com/

Minestrone Soup

The weather has turned chilly so what’s a girl to do on a cold Fall night? Make Minestrone soup for dinner and enjoy it in front of the roaring fire.

Minestrone Soup Recipe| Sprightliest.com

I actually eat soup quite often not just on cold nights, but I have to admit it’s usually pretty satisfying to have a warm bowl to cozy up with when its cold outside. It gives you that warmth from the inside out.

Minestrone Soup Recipe| Sprightliest.com

One reason I eat soup often is because its so quick and easy to make. Even on the busiest nights I can throw together some veggies, protein and/or carbs add in some broth and seasonings and dinner is served in no time. It’s a great way to use up leftovers, it’s low in calories and soup provides a balanced meal that comes together in one pot.
Tonight’s menu: Minestrone soup with a healthy sprinkle of fresh Romano or Parmesan cheese. Get your spoons ready!

Minestrone Soup Recipe| Sprightliest.com

Minestrone Soup
Serves 6
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Prep Time
5 min
Cook Time
30 min
Total Time
35 min
Prep Time
5 min
Cook Time
30 min
Total Time
35 min
Ingredients
  1. 4 cups Chicken or Vegetable Broth
  2. 1 Cup Water
  3. 1 14.5 Ounce Can Green Beans, drained
  4. 1 14.5 Ounce Can Diced Tomatoes
  5. 2 Carrots, peeled and chopped
  6. 1 15 ounce Can White Beans, drained and rinsed
  7. 8 ounces of Orzo or other small pasta
  8. Salt and Pepper to taste
  9. 1 Teaspoon Dried Basil
  10. 1/2 Teaspoon Dried Thyme
  11. 1/2 Teaspoon Onion Powder
  12. 1/2 Teaspoon Dried Rosemary
  13. 1 1/2 Teaspoons Dried Oregano
  14. 1-2 Cups Fresh Kale or Spinach
  15. Romano or Parmesan Cheese for Topping
Instructions
  1. In a large pot add broth, water, tomatoes, green beans, carrots, basil, thyme, onion powder, rosemary, oregano, salt and pepper.
  2. Bring to a boil over med-high heat.
  3. Stir in the Orzo or pasta, reduce heat and simmer until the pasta is cooked through.
  4. Add in the fresh kale or spinach and cook until it is wilted.
  5. Spoon Minestrone into a serving bowl, sprinkle with Romano cheese and enjoy!
Notes
  1. If you plan to have leftovers you may want to cook the pasta in a separate bowl and add it in when you are ready to eat. This will prevent the pasta from soaking up all the liquid and becoming mushy.
Sprightliest http://kaicreatives.com/

Almond Joy Cookies

Almond Joy Cookies - Chocolate Topped Coconut Meringue Cookies with an Almond Center| Sprightliest.com

I was daydreaming the other day about cookies…specifically coconut cookies. I’ve made these coconut meringue cookies before which are great by themselves, but then I had the idea to add in dry roasted almonds and top them with chocolate to make a cookie that tastes similar to an Almond Joy.
Success!

Almond Joy Cookies - Chocolate Topped Coconut Meringue Cookies with an Almond Center| Sprightliest.com

Almond Joy Cookies! Perfectly sized bites filled with coconut, chocolate and almond flavors.

Almond Joy Cookies - Chocolate Topped Coconut Meringue Cookies with an Almond Center| Sprightliest.com

What’s better than chocolate and coconut together in a chewy cookie? Well, maybe the fact that they have about half the fat, sugar and calories than an Almond Joy candy bar. Here’s the nutritional breakdown I got for each Almond Joy Cookie when I entered the recipe into a recipe calculator:

Calories: 48 Calories
Fat: 2.5 g
Sugar: 4.2 g

Hard to beat those numbers when it comes to a delicious cookie. I’ll take 2 please!

Almond Joy Cookies - Chocolate Topped Coconut Meringue Cookies with an Almond Center| Sprightliest.com

Almond Joy Cookies
Yields 40
What's better than chocolate and coconut together in a chewy cookie with a crunchy almond center? These cookies taste similar to an almond joy but have less sugar and are made with just a few ingredients.
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Prep Time
5 min
Prep Time
5 min
Ingredients
  1. 2 Egg Whites
  2. Dash of Salt
  3. 2/3 Cup Sugar
  4. 1/4 Teaspoon Pure Vanilla Extract
  5. 1 1/4 Cup Shredded Coconut (you can use sweetened, unsweetened or a combination)
  6. 1/2 Cup Chocolate Chips, melted
  7. 2 ounces Dry Roasted Almonds (about 40 almonds)
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 325 F.
  2. Beat egg whites with a dash of salt until soft peaks form.
  3. Add in sugar a little at a time.
  4. Beat until stiff, glossy peaks form.
  5. Fold in coconut and vanilla.
  6. Drop onto a parchment lined baking sheet. I used a rounded teaspoon to measure out my cookies.
  7. Bake just until very slightly brown, about 10-15 minutes. The center will remain soft.
  8. Allow to cool.
  9. Melt chocolate in the microwave in 30 second increments at 50% power, stirring between each increment.
  10. Once the chocolate is melted use a spoon to drizzle/spread out chocolate on each cookie.
  11. Place in the refrigerator to allow chocolate to harden. Cookies will become nice and chewy.
  12. Store in the fridge for up to 5 days or freeze for longer storage.
Sprightliest http://kaicreatives.com/

Halloween Party (House Warming Party)

Last weekend we had our house warming party (even though it has been a whole 4 months since we moved in). We spent a good part of those 4 months working on home improvement projects getting our house in tip top shape. I’ve always thought it would be fun to have a Halloween party so since it was close to Halloween we decided to tie in our house warming party with a Halloween Costume party.
We had a lot of fun decorating and preparing for our party. I found some inexpensive DIY Halloween Party decorations on Pinterest and combined them with some store bought decorations.

Halloween Party Decorations | Sprightliest.com

I bought the door cover at Walmart for 0.97 cents. The green spooky looking light is actually a projection light we found in the Christmas decorations at Home Depot. It can do double duty since we can use it for Christmas as well. The farther away it is from the house the more it looks like snow falling, but putting it closer gives this nice spooky effect. For my goofy ghosts, I used a black marker to draw faces on plastic gallon jugs and put a glow stick inside.

easy halloween decorations | Sprightliest.com

We found these purple and orange lights at Target for $1 each. The Tombstone set came from Walmart ($14) and the 2 pumpkin balloons were in the party section. The balloons came with led lights inside, but only a few out the package worked. We also hung white balloons with blue and green glowsticks inside from the tree (not pictured).

Fall Mantel Decoration | Sprightliest.com
Fall/Halloween Mantel Decorations | Sprightliest.com
Halloween Mantel | Sprightliest.com Halloween Decorations | Sprightliest.com

This skull came out of the Tombstone set we bought, we thought it would be a nice addition to the fireplace :)

Fall Mantel | Sprightliest.comPainted Wooden Ghost Decoration | Sprightliest.com

I picked up this wooden ghost decoration at Michaels, painted it with acrylic paint and added the ribbon. It has a multi-color strobe light inside where the eyes are.

Halloween Bat Decorations | Sprightliest.com

I found the bat idea on Pinterest and used only the first page of this template to draw the outline of the bat onto folded construction paper and then cut out a bunch at once. I used scotch tape to attach them to the walls and ceiling.

DIY Halloween Decorations | Sprightliest.com

We served finger foods and mini sandwiches and I made these cute deviled eggs and cookie cup ghosts. Some of our guests also brought some goodies with them so we had a good amount of food.

Deviled Eggs | Sprightliest.com

I used this recipe as a base for my deviled eggs but wound up tweaking it a little bit. I skipped the hot sauce and added more mustard, mayo and pickle juice. The devil horns are made from a red pepper.

Ghost Cookie Cups Filled with Cream Cheese Icing | Sprightliest.com

For my Ghost Cookie Cups I used this recipe. I used a mini sized muffin pan instead of regular sized. The sugar cookie cups are filled with a cream cheese icing. The eyes and nose of the ghost are mini chocolate chips.

Vegetable Fried Rice

Easy Fried Rice | Sprightliest.com

Isn’t it great when you have all the right ingredients in your fridge and pantry to make what you are craving and at the same time use up leftovers?
That’s what happened last week when I was craving vegetable fried rice. The stars aligned and I had all I needed to put together this quick dish that’s way better than takeout (not to mention healthier too!)
I remember making fried rice for the first time way back in high school when I took a Food Production class.

Vegetable Fried Rice | Sprightliest.com

Food Production was one of my favorite classes. It was always fun to cook and then get to eat our creations while in school! The classroom was split into 5 or 6 groups and each group had their own kitchen. Sometimes we would have competitions like Iron Chef where our teacher would give us a tray with various ingredients and each kitchen had to come up with a different dish using those ingredients. Other times we would all have to make a specified dish following the same recipe. Vegetable Fried rice was one of the dishes where we followed a recipe but it was so easy to make!
Start by cooking your rice (or better yet, grab leftover rice from the fridge if you have it). In the meantime chop up the celery, carrots and cabbage and place a skillet on the stove to heat up. Add the veggies to the hot oil and cook until softened. Next add in all the spices, soy sauce, vinegar and rice. Mix all that up and make a well in the middle for the egg. Once the egg is scrambled, that’s it, time to eat!

Vegetable Fried Rice | Sprightliest.com

Vegetable Fried Rice
An easy fried rice recipe. Made with brown rice, celery, carrots, cabbage and an egg.
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Ingredients
  1. 1 Cup of Cooked Brown Rice
  2. 1 Large Egg
  3. 2-3 Celery Heart Stalks, chopped
  4. 1/4 Head Cabbage, chopped,
  5. 2 tablespoon of Soy Sauce
  6. 2 teaspoons of White Wine Vinegar
  7. 1/4-1/2 Teaspoon of Salt
  8. 1/4 Teaspoon Ground Black Pepper
  9. 1/8 Teaspoon of Ginger
  10. 1/2 Teaspoon Granulated Garlic
  11. 1/4 Cup Shredded Carrots
  12. 1 Tablespoon Saffllower Oil
Instructions
  1. Sauté cabbage, celery and carrots in oil over medium heat, until softened.
  2. Add in spices, soy sauce, vinegar and rice.
  3. Mix that all together and then make a well in the center of the skillet.
  4. Crack the egg into the well and stir constantly, scrambling in place until the egg is cooked through.
Sprightliest http://kaicreatives.com/