It Doesn’t Have to Be Complicated

“There is no reason to complicate your family culture just because the culture at large is complicated. When you choose the simple road over the one cluttered with gadgets, theories, and systems, your whole family will probably have more peace and less stress.” Tsh Oxenreider from her book Organized Simplicity: The Clutter-Free Approach to Intentional Living.
(Great book!)

The simple road … that’s the path I’m trying to take these days. It’s not always easy, you know?Some people pair the words “simple” and “easy” together as if they automatically go hand-in-hand. But they don’t. My friend Ben explains the difference a little better in his recent blog post “Simple vs. Easy.” The bottom line is – although it’s not always easy to simplify, it’s definitely worth the effort.

To me, simplifying is all about being who you were meant to be and taking the time to determine what it is you value the most, what your priorities are, and where you are spending your time vs. where you would rather be spending your time. We have to be more intentional about the decisions we make as far as spending money, bringing more stuff into our homes, scheduling events and activities, and just plain living everyday life if we want our lives and our homes to reflect who we really are and what matters most to us.

So, I’m working on that. One of the first steps for me is decluttering … learning to let go of the things that are just taking up space and weighing me down. In fact, I think I’m a lot like Gretchen Rubin from Good Housekeeping who says, “For most people – and this is certainly true for me – outer order contributes to inner clam. When I’m surrounded by a mess, I feel restless and unsettled, but clearing clutter gives me a surge of energy and cheer.” I want the calm that comes with a simple and orderly home.

Before 1This past weekend, I tackled the office closet. Here, I keep shipping supplies, binders, copies of completed jobs, suitcases, electronics, extra tote bags, a couple jackets, and my wedding dress. Quite an assortment of things. If we owned our home, I would redo this closet to include a better storage system, but since we rent, I found an inexpensive way to make use of the space. I use hanging closet organizers that are meant to hold shirts and sweaters and other types of clothing. The only problem is – I’ve been tossing miscellaneous items in them lately rather than using them in a way that makes the best sense for my office space. Before 2

When you’re decluttering and organizing, if possible, use items you already have around the house (boxes, crates, shelves) to help you corral your stuff; if you need some good ideas or want to purchase new supplies, one of my favorite places for organizational tools is The Container Store. Love that place!

Anyway, back to the task at hand. My first step was to take everything out of the closet. When I did that, I found several electronic items that we really have no need to keep anymore: a printer that doesn’t really work; a scanner that I don’t need because my new printer has one built in; a fax machine, which is unnecessary because I can scan and email documents; a DVD player, which we don’t use because we play movies in our XBox, etc. I pulled all of these items aside to get rid of them.


Did you know that Best Buy has been advertising a new Trade In Program for old electronics? You can get credit on a gift card for “gently used” electronics and games. Of course there are some conditions on what they’ll accept, but it’s certainly worth checking into. And anything that doesn’t have a trade-in value will be recycled for you, so you won’t have to worry about non-working items ending up in a landfill. I’m going to look into this trade-in concept this next week. At this point, we’ve got nothing to lose, but clutter.

After 2As I sorted the remaining closet items, I filled up a trash bag and a recycling bag, and then began to place things back into the closet in a more orderly fashion. It really didn’t take that long, and it wasn’t that hard to do. But it felt good to cross this project off  my list (I’ve been meaning to do it for two or three weeks). When Bart got home, I had to show him what I had accomplished; I was proud of myself. He was impressed that we could actually walk into the closet once again.

After 1As I closed the door on this particular project, I felt good. Not from achieving perfection, but from creating order out of disorder. From knowing that this was a simple start to a lifelong commitment of creating a more peaceful living space where things become less prominent, and what I do have is organized, easy to find, and much easier to enjoy.

“The surprising effect of getting rid of the things that you don’t love is that you grow deeper in love with the things you choose to keep.” Tsh Oxenreider

The hall medicine/linen closet is next on my list. What about you? What choices are you making to accomplish great things (or even small things) in the name of order and peace of mind?

Experiments in Baking

Almond Flour Cinnamon Roll

This past weekend, I had some extra time on my hands and some recipes I’d been wanting to try, so I have a few treats to share with you. The first delicious dish (that I’m proudest of) is my Almond Flour Cinnamon Rolls. I told you about them in my Sharing It Forward post. I had never used almond flour before, so I want to say thank you to my friend Ben Hulet for bringing me the flour and to his wife Jenni for her awesome recipe.

Ingredients for Almond Flour Cinnamon Rolls

If you’re new to baking, I wouldn’t recommend this recipe, as the consistency of the almond flour dough requires a bit of a gentle touch. And you need to be careful to use room temperature eggs with the coconut oil or the oil will harden. But if you’ve baked a thing or two in the past and are open to trying something new (as well as following directions), these rolls are the bomb!

Actually, they taste more like a light, sweet biscuit stuffed with pecans and cinnamon. Mmmm mmmm.

Baked Almond Flour Cinnamon Rolls

We tried one topped with vanilla glaze and one drizzled with honey; both were good. But when I took the leftovers in to work, some people ate them with no added topping at all. And they loved them. (Part of me wanted to keep them all to myself, but not the part that wants to get/stay in shape.) It was definitely a great treat to share. And a successful experiment for sure.


Ingredients for Apple Pecan Crescent RollsNow, if you’re looking for a simple but tasty dessert to bake, I’ve got just the thing for you. I found it on Taste of Home’s website.  It’s an Apple Walnut Crescent Roll. I didn’t have walnuts, but I had pecans, so I substituted. You can use either one. Your other ingredients are apples, refrigerated crescent rolls, cinnamon, sugar, and butter (raisins are optional). That’s it. (Although the picture shows raisins, I didn’t end up adding them to my recipe.)

You basically peel and core a few apples. Cut them into chunks. Separate the crescent dough. Sprinkle it with cinnamon/sugar. Roll up the apples in the crescent dough (starting at the small end). Drizzle them with just a little butter and top with nuts. You could also add a little more cinnamon/sugar if you want. Then bake. See … simple. (For the complete recipe/instructions, click on the link above.)

Apple Pecan Crescent Rolls

We shared these with Bart’s sister’s family, and I still had some left to bring in to work. I ate one at room temperature and it was good, but they really are best when served warm. And don’t they sound like they’d be great with a side of vanilla ice cream? Yum!


Ingredients for Cheesy Quinoa BitesFor my last baking experiment, I tried quinoa (pronounced keen-wa) for the the first time, as part of my quest to try new, healthier foods. I found an image on Pinterest for Cheesy Quinoa Bites several weeks ago that sounded interesting (hey, anything with cheese in it has got to be good). I clicked on the photo to find the source (, and I saved the recipe to try when I had time.

That turned out to be this past Thursday. To tell you how it went, I’m going to fess up, and share my ditzy moment with you. The recipe called for 2 cups of cooked quinoa. I had never made it before, so I read the package to see how to cook it. It said to mix 1 cup of quinoa with 1-1/2 cups of water and bring to a boil. Well, I needed 2 cups, right? So, I doubled it. Can you see where this is going?

If you are familiar with quinoa, then you know it is like rice in that it bulks up quite a bit in cooking. So, I now have several cups of cooked quinoa to work with. Turns out it makes a pretty good hot breakfast (especially mixed with a little sweet cream), and I’ve also mixed some up with black beans, corn, and a little lime juice, which I’ll be trying tomorrow.

Anyway, back to the bites … I thought they were okay, but I wasn’t totally impressed. However, my co-workers (who  get to try out my crazy kitchen experiments) seemed to like them. I think I will try making them again, but next time, I’ll use fresh grated Parmesan cheese or maybe even some cheddar – I think it needs something with a little more bite. I’ve still got half a bag of quinoa left. (I thought it was kind of expensive when I first bought it, but turns out – a little goes a long way.)


This week, I wanted to provide some inexpensive dinner ideas for one of my nieces.  There were some listed in the June issue of Good Housekeeping (is it just me or is it crazy that they come out so early), but they’re not available online yet, so I’ll share them later. For now, I found some Budget Dinner Recipes from Kraft Foods that I thought I’d post a link to. I haven’t tried any of them yet, so can’t recommend them specifically, but if you make any, let me know.

I also found my next “have to try” recipe. It’s called Queso Taco Pasta Bake from It sounds delicious. So far, I have pinned the photo to my Food Favorites board. I need to go back later and copy/print the recipe. Of course, I will let you know how it turns out when I make it. If you make it before me, please come back and share how it worked for you.

Well, I think that’s it for today. I apologize for not getting this posted this  morning. We’re temporarily down to one computer, and Bart had to get some work done last night. Hope I’m leaving you with some good food for thought and you have a wonderfully simple yet full week.