Monday, October 29, 2012

Meal Plan for Abundant Harvest Large Box: Week of 10/28-11/3

I'm diving right back in to meal planning!  These meal plans will be based on the Abundant Harvest Organics Large Box.  In the past I would assign what days I'm making what recipe & post it on the blog.  While I am still doing that for my own use, I am just going to post the recipes here.  Everyone's schedule is different and you may want to do the super simple stuff on less busy days.  Enjoy!

Box Contents:
Bartlett Pears (Snacks & with breakfast cereals/oatmeal)
Green Beans
Lettuce (salads)
Peppers (salads & wraps/sandwiches)
Potatoes (Baking & Freezing a few in addition to recipes below)
Acorn Squash
Basil (Use in wraps/sandwiches)
Mini Pumpkins (just using for decor!)
Swiss Chard
Spinach (In addition to the recipe below, may throw some in smoothies)

Lemon & Garlic Spinach

Persimmon Sorbet

Sorrel and Garlic Soup

Savory Swiss Chard Pie

Harvest Stuffed Acorn Squash

Italian Green Beans & Potatoes

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Fun & Fabulous Organizing with Clever Container!

Exciting News! Neat Doctor is now a Clever Container Consultant! I absolutely love their fun & innovative products.  I am continuing my journey to make our household and family organized and simplified and the clever products are a wonderful fit!  I will be offering parties in a few different formats; Q&A Girl's Night, Focused Sessions (Kids Room, Kitchen, General Household and More!), Catalog Parties, or just order online. Check out my website & online catalog - see the "Shop Now" icon in the upper right corner of the website. These make wonderful gift ideas for the holidays. E-mail me to host a party or for more info.!

Click here to view the Catalog

Monday, September 17, 2012

Nutrition on the Go!

It seems like I am on the go all the time!  It's hard enough to get all of my water in for the day, especially with this heat wave we seem to be having lately!  I always take my stainless steel water bottle with me. When I forget my healthy snacks though, my body really feels it and I get tired so quickly!  Here are some quick tips to making sure we keep fueled up with nutritious stuff when we are on the go.  It also helps prevent those pesky little trips to drive thrus or picking up snacks at stores that are no so high on nutritional value. 

1)  Pack your bag!
Whether you are bringing a lunch somewhere or just running a few errands, pack some healthy snacks with you, even if you think you will not be gone for too long.  You know that "quick trip" to the store where you got distracted by something & just had to keep browsing and then got a whole new project stuck in your head you wanted to do?  Yeah, me either (wink, wink!).  If you know you'll be needing a lunch, pack it the night before.  Some go to snacks I take with me:  almonds, dried fruit, protein bars, granola bars, and apples.  I also have a basket in my kitchen with ready to go snacks to just grab & put in my purse.  It's also got the ready to go snacks for my kids too.

2)  Pick one day a week to do your snack prep.
Yes, there are many healthy snacks in ready to go packages you can easily grab out of your pantry. If you want to shave even more time off though, try sticking a few of the packaged snacks you buy in your snack basket and place the basket on your counter.  That way you can just grab & go when in a hurry.  If you already have a meal prep day in your schedule where you chop veggies, plan meals for the week, etc. try prepping snacks too.  Or, if you don't have a meal prep day yet (we'll get to that in another post!), try easing yourself into a prep routine by prepping your snack basket once a week.  You can do things like package nuts and dried fruits in baggies, wash fruit, take packaged items out of the big box and place in the basket.  You can even prep and designate a spot in your fridge for quick snack items like bags of grapes, string cheese, baby carrots, etc.

3)  Have some back up snacks - you will use them!
Try to keep some back up healthy snacks in your purse/bag, kids bags and the car.  These are in addition to your daily snacks.  These need to be things that will last a while.  I reserve some of the pre-packaged items like whole grain crackers, Annie's Homegrown snacks, and dried fruit for our back up snacks. 

4)  Have some back up places & choices ready when out & about. 
Finally, there will be those times where you have to stop somewhere to grab a quick bite or snack.  It is important to know ahead of time where your local healthy places are, or to pre-select healthy options so you can plan for success.  For example, I sometimes meet friends at Starbuck's.  I know that their oatmeal is a great option (without the brown sugar packet), and I also only opt for the soy latte as my non-dairy drink of choice.  Or, even better, get a green tea or bottled water.  Also, get to know the health food places in your area.  Even markets like Whole Foods, Lassen's, Sprouts and Trader Joe's can be quick places to grab a snack.

I also love To The Max Nutrition on Thousand Oaks Blvd.
"To The Max Nutrition is a full service Nutrition Club. We offer free wellness consulting, weight loss coaching, sports nutrition, Healthy Body Challenge classes, and Free Fit Club. We also offer our Healthy Meal - which consists of a 2 ounce glass of aloe, a 16 ounce glass of our energy tea, and a 16 ounce healthy smoothie. You will leave feeling energetic, pleasantly full and loaded with great nutrition!"
If you have little ones like me and don't want to unload everyone out of the car,  feel free to call in your order ahead of time (805)497-9652, just pull up your car & they can bring your order out to you! 

*As a special treat to my Neat Doctor followers, print out this page, present it to To The Max, mention Gigi Dictor, who is a Wellness Coach there, and referral by Karen Gauthier, and you can get 1 free smoothie meal! (New Customers Only) 

Ultimately, it comes down to setting yourself up for success.  You can do it!

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Working Out for the Busy Mama!

Today's blog post comes from Justine over at
You can also follow her on Facebook here:
Thanks Justine!
There are two huge challenges in getting fit and healthy, coincidentally the two you HAVE to master. Eating right and exercising. Personally, I think your diet plays a bigger role than your workout routine, although, together the two can do amazing things. You may not know where to begin with either right now, and it's important to make a commitment, and understand your commitment before you jump off the unhealthy cliff into the scary waves of this new healthy life style. Just as I think exercising is easier than eating right, I think that working out can, and should encourage you to make healthier decisions. Let's look at is a a stepping stone. In my blog I talk a lot about baby steps (and every time I think "baby steps" I think of the movie "What about Bob", but it is a good point, Bob has a very hard time, and baby steps help him to move forward instead of being stuck). One small change will lead to bigger changes. A lot of people tend to jump right in on January 1st, they are going to lose (insert number here) pounds this year and they are going to go to the gym every day! Most people don't, and it's not because they don't want it, it's because their goal is not rational. I know the excitement of a making an awesome goal and going all out for it! I want to encourage you to truly understand your goal, and be realistic. Also, understand your needs. For a lot of people once they lose that weight (by dieting and cardio) they are still not happy because they are not toned. This is where you want to get to know the benefits of particular types of exercise, and come to terms with your new life style. No more dieting, you are not just eating healthy, and smaller portions for the next month, you will eat this way for the rest of your LONG life. It's time to get educated!

First asses your schedule. I know all about being too busy to work out. My schedule is crazy, and I had to move things around in order to ensure I got a decent workout in. First of all, I chose to workout 5 days a week for an hour, maybe not a consecutive hour, because that was not always an option, but I figured I could do 30 minutes of core work, usually yoga or pilates, and then I would run 3 miles, which was taking me about 30 minutes until recently. I also made the commitment to walk every day, usually that means walking to the park or the pet store with the kids, this way we are all getting out and spending time together. The first 30 minutes was some random time in my day, some days it was in the morning, other days the afternoon, Since I have 3 kids, it's difficult to say when I will have time. My fiance gets home at 5, so I decided to go running when he got home.

More recently I have taken more control of my exercise routine. I committed to a very rigorous program which can be 1 or 2 hours a day. I would love to have 2 hours per day to workout, but in reality, it won't happen. Not often anyway. Between play dates, picking the kids up from school, snacks, meals, dishes, vacuuming, laundry, you name it, just finding time for that ONE hour is tough! If it were up to my kids, I would not have time for anything, not even chewing my food! Recently I have noticed that after school the kids need some down time, I have been trying to take advantage of that, and this is where your commitment really needs to come into play. I would rather get the house situated before my workout because otherwise I am stuck with this list of things I have to do running through my head my entire workout and I can't focus. It's easier for me to take care of chores first. For some of you, though, you would rather get your workout out of the way in the morning. I see benefits of both. For others, of course it's easier to workout in the evenings, after dad gets home, or at the gym! 

We are all gonna have different schedules. The important part is to make the commitment and find the time. You may not be able to workout for the same amount  of time, or even at the same time every day.  There are tricks and tips, though for us busy mamas. You do not need a gym, a yoga mat, weights or a treadmill! You don't even need a workout video! All you need is a plan, and a half hour, even 10 minute increments will help!! There are countless routines out there, thanks to the power of google. Usually they include jumping jacks, mountain climbers, planks, push ups and squats. You usually do each exercise for about a minute before moving to the next one. You can also incorporate your workouts into your chores! I do! You can do ballet style leg calf and butt exercises while doing the dishes, you can stop in between chores and do a minute of push ups, or jumping jacks or whichever ones you want! You can always make time to better yourself, it may not be easy, I am exhausted by 8 pm, but, still, the only workout I have ever regretted was the one I did not do.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

CSA Box Review! Farm Fresh to You vs. Abundant Harvest

Last year I discovered the wonderful world of CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) Boxes.  I tried out the boxes from Underwood Family Farms, a local farm which I love so much.  If you live nearby, or even anywhere in the greater LA area, you've got to visit sometime!  There is so much for families of little ones to do there.  Over the summer we went blueberry picking at their farm in Somis - such a wonderful memory maker for my kids.  I got into a great habit of basing our weekly dinner menu on the contents of the box.  My life got a little crazy this past year and  I had let the planning go to the wayside.  I knew I wanted to get back into CSA Boxes for a number of reasons: they force me to cook more veggies, we end up having some new and exciting dishes, my kids have a ton of fun opening the boxes & naming all of the produce (and eating more too since they are involved!), and we are supporting local farmers.  Underwood Family Farms has a great CSA program which you can sign up for here.  You also get a free season pass to Underwood for being a current CSA subscriber!  This time I wanted to try some different CSA Box services.  I chose Farm Fresh to You, and Abundant Harvest, both local services of organically grown produce. 

Farm Fresh to You
I first tried Farm Fresh to You.  Immediately intriguing is the fact that they deliver to your doorstep!  How convenient!  Every other Wednesday morning I opened my door to a fresh shipment of goodies.  One time I even discovered the box there late Tuesday night.  I like that you have the ability to substitute produce.  I do not like radishes.  So, I can put in a request to sub radishes if they are on the shipment list.  It was very easy to set that up through their website.  Their website is very user friendly.  You can set up vacation requests and change your shipment schedule very easily.  You can do weekly & every other week and can change your schedule- just be sure to do it in enough time to allow them to process your request.  I also like the variety of box choices they offer; large, small, mixed, snack pack, veggies only, fruit only and more!  They update their website with box contents by noon every Thursday, providing more than adequate time to do some meal planning and prep for the following week.  We participated in one of their farm events one weekend, which was a great experience.  We got a tour of the farm, strolled through orange orchards, enjoyed a family picnic, and they had activities for the kids.  They also have a wonderful referral program. For everyone you refer, you get a free box, and the new customer gets $5 off their first box.  If you try Farm Fresh, please use the code 6164 and my name, Karen Gauthier as the referral to save your $5.

Here is a picture of the "More Mixed LA" Box, $44 from 9/12/12:

Abundant Harvest
I first heard about Abundant Harvest from a farmer at a local farmer's market.  I was thrilled to discover they have a delivery site very close to me (and very convenient to pick up for my weekly schedule)!  They also do home delivery for an added $10 fee.  It is important to note that you need to check with them ahead of time to see if you are within the delivery radius of one of their delivery sites.  I e-mailed them to confirm that we are indeed within the radius.  They responded via e-mail very quickly. I was a little confused when I signed up - there ended up being a charge of $30 for the reusable plastic crate your produce comes in and that you turn in every week.  Somehow I missed that detail - but I also have a habit of reading through things a little too quick sometimes!  In the long run though, I don't think this is a huge deal & that crate comes in pretty handy!  The large box through Abundant Harvest ($46) ends up being around the same price as the large box through Farm Fresh to You ($44) when it's delivered.  I'm not going to fret over a $2 difference.  Abundant is a weekly service.  However, you can set up vacation preferences on their website for every other week if you would like.  You cannot make substitutes through Abundant.  Hence, the eggplant that I had to cook the other week.  I do not like eggplant, but I ended up making an extremely tasty Cheesy Baked Eggplant out of it! My husband requested it be added to our list of recipes!  I just subbed the cheese & used vegan Daiya mozzarella instead.  I even liked it!  Abundant also has a variety of add-ons you can customize to your order.  Add-ons include a wide variety of produce, herbs, nuts, gift boxes, raw milk, honey, meat, eggs, beans, grains, and bread.  This week they are even offering catnip as an add-on!  Box contents are posted well ahead of time to allow for menu planning.  *Please note that Abundant Harvest will be doing some website maintenance from 8pm to around Midnight tomorrow night, Friday September 14th.  If you are interested in signing up, wait until after that time period. 

Here's a picture of one of my Abundant Harvest boxes:

The Decision
This was a very tough decision for us!  The quality of the produce was high and I was very pleased with both services.  We are within the delivery areas for both, and they both offered choices with the boxes and add-ons that would meet our family's needs.  I highly recommend both.  For us it came down to cash savings.  Since the pick up site for Abundant Harvest is so close to us and at a very convenient time to fit into my schedule, saving $10 a week on quality organic produce is huge to us.  Sure delivery would be more convenient, and we could switch at any time, but for now we'd like to save the money.  Even with the $30 cost for the crate, the savings pays for the crate within 3 weeks.  If you haven't tried a CSA Farm Box service yet, you've got to give it a try!  Now when I go to the stores it seems like I'm buying old produce.  It's such a fun family tradition to build too - from having the kids open the box & seeing the excitement on their fae to prepping the produce & trying new veggies.  My son was disappointed this morning that the fresh pears sitting on the counter were not ripe yet - he really wanted one for breakfast!

Please comment if you've used one of these services before - I would love to hear others experiences too!

Monday, September 10, 2012

Quick & Easy Ways to Pack in Nutrition for You & the Kids!

Today my guest blogger is Justine from!  Justine inspired me to start prepping food ahead of time & pureeing veggies to pack in nutrition to our food - especially for the kids.  Enjoy!

We all run into this problem, your kids are hungry, or you are hungry, you’re busy and don’t feel like making food, I mean, what do you make?? There is a Mc Donald’s down the street, a can of spaghetti o’s in the counter, and you just want to stop your rumbling tummy, or the whining kiddos. What do you do? Well, it’s only $1.00 for a double cheese burger, and if you went to the store it would take so long, and what would you make, anyway? Or you just grab the can opener…
I don’t do either of those things, and yes I do spend time in the kitchen. Healthy eating is a commitment,  but it does not have to be difficult for every meal. (For those of you who know me personally, you now I do not enjoy cooking, but my kids are worth it, and, you know what, so am I.) I choose a day, usually Sunday, and I get all the ingredients together for the week, and I prepare them. I puree the veggies I will be sneaking into the food, I cook up and season the veggie sausage that I put on nachos and pasta, I cook up the soyrizo I put in tacos or nachos, I slice bananas, I soak shrimp in curry, I make guacamole for tacos, nachos or snacks, and I make a box or quinoa (with black beans and a veggie puree.) for the nachos,  tacos, burritos, curry, and my easy lunches. I have a lot of tupperware, and I just put everything in the fridge (I freeze the purees and bananas, though because I like putting them in smoothies.) If you are a meat eater, I would cook chicken, or pork chops to add to food as well.
It it so worth it to get everything started, because all of a sudden, it’s lunch time, what do you choose? My favorite midday food is a bowl or quinoa and black beans with melted (soy) cheese and guacamole and a tomato (the purple ones from Trader Joe’s with some pepper are awesome!) Sometimes I will add a tortilla, and salsa. It takes 5 minutes to prepare.
Tacos are quick, tortillas, quinoa with back beans, shrimp (just add some pepper and lime) or soyrizo, cut up some cabbage or lettuce, I love jalapinos, so I add that. And salsa!!
You can very easily make your own chips with raw tortillas, or use coconut oil to make your won chips, just brush with oil and pop in the oven. If it’s a really lazy day, I love the flax seed veggie chips from Trader Joe’s. You can dip your chips in guacamole, I use all fresh ingredients, tomatoes, lots of limes, jalapeno, cilantro, garlic, basil (my FAVORITE herb!!!) cayanne pepper, black pepper, and avacados, of course. Acacados have healthy fat, so no guilt! I love to top nachos with guacamole!
Curry is delicious, I have been doing it the lazy way, Trader Joe’s has really good jars of curry, I soak shrimp until we are ready for food, and add tofu, and heat it up on the stove, add seasonings and pour it over quinoa or brown rice.
(I swear Trader Joe’s does not pay me!) Trader Joe’s also has really yummy ravioli in the refrigerated section. Personally, I could live on the butternut squash ravioli, and the lobster ravioli. The ravioli takes about 4 minutes, and a sauce is quick, I still use animal friendly butter, and garlic, basil, and rosemary… and I always add spice, a jalapeno, or cayanne. You can add sage to the butternut squash, and (shhhh don’t tell… a little brown sugar) I also put shrimp in the lobster sauce.
Pasta is so easy! You can choose the noodles you like, brown rice, wheat, spaghetti squash, you name it, and I add the fake meat sausage which I already seasoned, and purred carrot or red bell pepper to the sauce.
Don’t forget smoothies! I love giving the kiddos a smoothies with a meal. I add frozen fruits and veggie puree, maybe some almond milk. I love flax seed meal, and sometimes nuts, or dark chocolate chips. I also have a shake that I drink every day, and I add the powder to the kids shake.
I also buy lots of nuts and make my own trail mix, it’s the easiest snack. And snack time for kids is a piece of cake, I have lots of fruits and veggies, I just cut them up and up bowls out with various dips.
I know it is a challenge to make a healthy easy food, but I promise it is possible. Let me know if you have preferences, I can help you find a system that works for you! I have a friend who is breast feeding and is looking for easy meals that are wheat, soy, nut and dairy free, because her son has allergies. I am feeling for her her, and hoping she can find alternatives. If you have any ideas, please post them to my Facebook page or comment here!!!

Also, here are some great books with recipes and tips for sneaking nutrition in!

Friday, September 7, 2012

Purging Your Pantry! 3 Simple Steps to Start Towards a Healthy You!

One of the easiest ways to start eating healthy is to purge your pantry & fridge of ALL the bad stuff.  That way there's no temptation & you are treating your & your family's bodies to only nutritious stuff.  I've compiled a list here of 3 simple steps to start with. This is how I started purging my own pantry. Then as it gets easier, you can move on to more stuff to purge.  Little steps help!  If you feel bad about food going to waste, look up your local food bank and donate it.  With fall upon us, schools, churches and other organizations are always having food drives around Thanksgiving.  A great local resource for donations is Manna, The Conejo Valley Food Bank

Much of this list can be found on the Top 10 Food Additives to Avoid.   As a good rule of thumb, when you go shopping at the grocery store, shop around the perimeter of the store where the fresh products are. Try to avoid the middle of the store that contain mostly processed foods.  I do buy a few frozen items like frozen organic veggies & fruits, and some crackers, cereal and snacks.  You just need to be sure to be an avid label reader and become familiar with the bad ingredients to avoid.  I've also limited the stores I shop at, only opting for the ones that offer healthier options.  Sprouts, Whole Foods, and Trader Joe's are the only grocery stores I frequent.  Recently when I was at Sprouts, my kids were grabbing for snacks at the checkout stand.  I was happy to treat them to organic fruit snacks instead of processed candy junk you find at other stores!  I also like to get the majority of our veggies from CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) boxes offered by local farmers, or Farmers Markets. I will be posting a separate piece on that subject - I am currently in the middle of comparing a few services.  Things like granola bars are also a whole lot healthier if you make them yourself - more on that later too! 

1)  High Fructose Corn Syrup:  Get rid of anything with this ingredient in it! Read ALL your labels - you may be surprised what has this ingredient in it!  I concur with the information found here on Natural News on why it is so harmful. 

2)  Enriched Flour:  Stay away from it!  Look for bread & related items with whole grain flour instead.  There's a great explanation of why here.

3)  Sodas:  Plain and simple just do not buy sodas!  Not only do most of them contain high fructose corn syrup, the sugar levels in them just wreak havoc on your body.  Michelle spoke about the dangers of sugar the other day Here.  The only beverages you'll find in our home now is water, sometimes with fresh lemon slices, non-dairy milks, occasionally orange juice (watered down for the kids) and the occasional Kombucha for my husband & I.  Oh, and if we do some fresh juicing you'll find that too - but that only lasts about 1 day because we drink it up so fast!  For a while I was keeping Canada Dry Ginger Ale in my fridge "just in case" my stomach was upset.  For years that has been my go to drink for upset stomachs!  Not the healthiest option though - plus I found even that to be too tempting - I would grab for one as a refreshing treat while making dinner. They are now gone & we stock this in the pantry instead, a much healthier option:

There are a lot of other things to stay away from, but these 3 are a great start!  If you've already eliminated these 3 from your pantry, move on down the list.  Chances are though, if you are only buying fresh whole foods, you will be avoiding these ingredients anyways.

So purge away to better health!
Also, here is a great book that was recommended to me by a friend you may enjoy on the subject of nutrition & health:

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Sugar Consumption in America

Continuing my Organizing Your Health Series, welcome to my guest blogger today, Michelle D'Ambra!  We are starting in the category of nutrition and she's got some great information on the dangers of sugar.  Thanks Michelle!

Sugar Consumption in America by Michelle L. D’Ambra

Sugar hinders the body’s immune system and predisposes people to allergies and infections.  The number, shape and activity of the white cells are adversely affected by excessive sugar consumption.  Some health conditions associated with over-consumption are: allergies, obesity, eating disorders, eczema, cardiovascular diseases, high blood pressure, kidney stones and failures, learning disability, mood disorders, hyperactivity in children, tooth decay, irritable bowel syndrome, depression, candida, anxiety, type 2 diabetes, atherosclerosis and many others.
Many people see sugar as just the white substance we are familiar with, however sugar is hidden in so many things.  Most sugars are found in processed foods.  You can find it in barley malt, beet sugar, carob syrup, corn syrup, date sugar, dextran, cane sugar, caramel, dextrose, diastase, ethyl maltol, fructose, fruit juice and fruit juice concentrate, glucose, high-fructose corn syrup, honey, invert sugar,  lactose, malt syrup, maltodextrin, molasses, raw sugar, sorbitol, sucrose, xylitol and many others!!
Beware of “sugar free” or “no sugar added” as this could mean the products is sweetened with artificial sweeteners and other type of sweeteners.  They could also contain naturally occurring sugars, such as fructose.
Natural sugars are just as bad, with their empty calories and that your body responds in the same way, as consuming regular sugar.
Carbonated drinks are the single biggest source of refined sugars in the American diet.  According to dietary surveys, carbonated beverages provide the average American with seven teaspoons of sugar per day.  Our daily consumption should not be more than 6 teaspoons per day in total, of all refined sugar.  One teaspoon of granulated white sugar is equal to about 4.2 grams and about 15 calories.  One can of Coke has 39 grams of sugar, so you are already over, just with one soda.  How many people are drinking more than one can of soda per day?  According to the CDD “Sugar drinks have been linked to poor diet quality, weight gain, obesity, and, in adults, type 2 diabetes”.
Where does one start?  First go through all the obvious sugar consumption and get rid of it.  Soda serves no nutritional value and is empty calories, which are responsible for many health conditions.  Once that is under control, then start going through labels of your foods and looking for the hidden sugars, I mentioned above.  Replace processed foods with whole natural foods.  When grocery shopping avoid the inner isle’s where processed foods are found.  Eat more fruits, but try to limit those to 2 to 3 servings per day.  Many people with sugar addiction will replace it with fruit.  Even though fruit is natural and healthy, it will cause the same type of body’s response when consumed.  Have fruits during the day not evening.  Sugar is used for energy, therefore consume when you are most active.
For those dependent on sugar, you will go through a “withdrawal” and may experience headaches, mood swings and low energy.  Drink a lot of water and tough through it.  Once you get past all that, you’ll experience more energy and clearer head.
Michelle L. D’Ambra

Michelle L. D’Ambra is a certified nutritionist and health coach.  Having gone through her own health issues from poor diet and over-consumption of sugar, she now helps others learn to eat healthier and be more active.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Nutrition: Vitamin & Supplement Organization

Hello! I'm starting off my health topics on nutrition.  We'll be camping out in this topic for the next week or 2.

First of all, be sure to check with your doctor or nutritionist before putting yourself on a vitamin & supplement regimen.  I am going to focus on how I like to organize my vitamins & supplements, but the topic of which vitamins & supplements to take is a huge subject, and so individualized for each person & their health needs, so please seek your professionals for such advice.

I'm busy.  I'm guessing so are all of you.  I have days where I feel like I'm really on top of everything, and other days where I forgot to take 1 multivitamin!  I take a lot of vitamins and supplements, at least I feel like it's a lot.  I must admit though I really feel at my best when I remember to take them all.  So, I have figured out a system to keep them organized and to remind myself.  I have fallen off the wagon of this system once or twice, and found myself feeling sluggish and run down, and I seem to get more prone to illness as well.

The Pill Organizer:
I use a weekly pill organizer with dual slots for am & pm.  I put a few vitamins in the morning slot, a few in the afternoon slot.  Every Sunday is my refill day.  I get a lot of stuff prepped for the week on Sundays, so my vitamins are easier to remember amongst my prep activities.  I try to space them out and take them with my meals and snacks.  I have trouble swallowing pills, so I am not someone who can just gulp down my vitamins in one swoop with a bunch of water.  I love the following organizer.  If anything ever happens to my current organizer, I will get something like this.  However, I like to make use of what I currently have, so this one will have to wait.  I love how this breaks it down even further into morning, noon, evening & bedtime. 

There's also this option from Magellan's.  It's especially great if you travel a lot and the pouch is great to just wrap up and throw in a purse or bag:

The Checklist:
So, you figure, great!  I organized my pills!  That was the easy part.  Remembering to take them is often the hard part!  I keep a checklist on the side of my fridge listing out which vitamins & supplements I need to take every day.  At the end of the day I run down the list and if I missed some, I take one or two before bedtime. The missing ones will also be visible in your organizer! If I missed more than that, no big deal, I just save them for the following week.  When I am actively checking my list I am taking a whole lot more than without it, even if I miss a few.  The checklist also helps with remembering vitamins and supplements that do not go in your pill organizer.  I have some that need to be refrigerated.  I have also found that I cannot keep my cranberry supplement pills in the plastic organizer or else they will dry out.  They are a powder within a capsule & when the air gets to them they get hard and dry.  If you are put on a new prescription, simply add it to the list.  You can also make a daily checklist and physically check off the vitamins & supplements as you take them.  There are also some great apps you can put on your smart phone/computer that can be used for this purpose.  Just create a to do list in the category of vitamins/supplements and mark off as you go along. 

Now comes my safety reminder:  Please remember to keep your vitamins & supplements out of the reach of little ones!  I keep ours on top of the fridge.  Our kitchen is also blocked off with a baby gate.  Locked cabinets and pill safes are also a great option. Medical lock bozes are also great and perfect if you are traveling with lots of pills and little ones.

Cheers to Good Health!  Have a great week!

Saturday, September 1, 2012

20 Days to Organize & Clean Your Home! Join Me!

Hi Everyone!

Who couldn't use some extra motivation to organize & clean your home?!
This Challenge Starts Monday, September 3rd and there's still plenty of time this weekend to complete the simple pre-challenge tasks!  Who wants to join me?  Link up with Katrina from The Organised Housewife here:

The Organised Housewife
<div align="center"><a href="" title="The Organised Housewife"><img src="" alt="The Organised Housewife" style="border:none;" /></a></div>

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Blogging on the go!

I'm testing out the Blogger app. Looking forward to blogging even when on the go!

Organizing Your Health - Where to Begin?!

My bout with Bells Palsy and some other health challenges along the way really was a wake up call to value my health more.  I wanted to make my health a priority.  By doing so I figured not only would I feel better, but I would also be better able to serve my family and just plain enjoy life more! Being the organized person I am, my next thought was, where do I start?  This is how I organized my health.  I am not done organizing my health, in fact, I think it is a lifelong process.  I just need a strategy that made sense and would provide me some structure to go after health goals.

Healthy living can actually be overwhelming!  Where do you begin?!  There's eating right, exercise, vitamins, supplements, stress management, making sure you get enough sleep, getting rid of chemicals in your personal care & household products, and the list can go on.  In order to not get too overwhelmed, I have learned to just take it little by little.  Even the tiniest effort will work wonders to build a new healthy you.

I start organizing by creating categories.  I have split my health management into 4 categories:  Nutrition, Exercise, Environment, and Stress Management.  I'll explain a little about each category, then in the coming weeks dive in to each even more.  I am also providing a free printable "Organizing Your Health Goals Sheet" for you to jot your "to do's" under each category.  You can use this as a weekly, monthly, or annual sheet - or even use it daily if you'd like!  I'm using it as a weekly goal sheet, writing one thing down in each category to implement for the week.  It can be as simple as "put vitamins in a daily pill organizer" or "make annual checkup appointment."  If you like to create your own printable goal sheets, has some great free printable patterns to make your sheet fun.  Here's the pattern I used:

Nutrition is my biggest category.  I am a strong believer in good nutrition being the biggest indicator of our overall health.  Nutrition is also perhaps one of the hardest changes to make since most of us have eating habits that are deeply ingrained in us. If we've been eating a certain way since childhood, eating differently can take some major effort!  You may need to shop different, cook different, eat out different, and perhaps even ask others around you to respect your choices in nutrition too.  Also included in this category are vitamins & supplements.

I gotta admit, exercise is hard for me.  I have 2 toddlers who keep me on my feet all day long.  Sure we play, and go on walks, and I clean house and am up and about, but if I really want to make some physical changes in my life, I've got to up my exercise and do some more challenging stuff.  I would absolutely love to lose the 15lbs I have left to get back to my wedding day weight!  It's not my favorite, so it's no surprise that I've done more in the nutrition and other categories so far!  I need a plan to exercise.  Something that will be motivating, work for my schedule, be challenging, and make some amazing physical changes.

The environment category involves making the environments you are in the most the healthiest they can be.  It's making sure your home and work space are providing you with adequate support and tools you need to stay healthy.  It is also making sure your environments are free of harmful chemicals, clean, and pure. 

Stress Management
Stress Management can also be a big category.  I lumped doctor and health care provider visits into this category because it's something that needs to be regularly scheduled.  Annual check ups, specialist visits, nutritionist visits, and things like massage and pedicure appointments are in this category.  Also in this category are things like getting enough sleep, stress management techniques, and areas of simple living that will bring our stress levels down.

I look forward to diving deeper into each of these categories in the next few weeks!

Jillian Michaels 30-Day Shred Kit (Google Affiliate Ad)

Friday, August 17, 2012

I'm Back! . . .When Neat Doctor Needs a Doctor!

My last blog post was in January. Many of you may be wondering, what happened to Neat Doctor?! Sometimes life has a way of taking us by the hand & sitting us down for a while so we can re-focus & realign our priorities. Or, in my case, life just gave me a swift push in the tush to rest a little! I'm currently in a stage of life with 2 toddlers where I am go-go-go all day every day. I got to a point where I was over-caffeinated, under-rested, under-nourished, over-stressed, and just plain not taking care of me. I was not living out the concept of "put your oxygen mask on yourself first so you can better help others." Ever since my daughter was born in 2010, I have been sick very often. I think part of it comes with having kids - they run into germs here and there, and I'm taking care of them all day, so I'm bound to get sick more often. But I seemed to be getting sick not only more often, but with more severe ailments.

February 2012 was a wake up call for me. In the late afternoon I was giving my kids a bath and I felt like when I smiled I wasn't able to move my mouth fully. Then my cheek didn't feel like it was moving. I asked my husband to look at my face when I tried to smile, and he commented that it looked a little strange. I called my health insurance's nurse hotline. After describing my symptoms, her advice to me was to "hang up and dial 911." Huh? I was shocked, and scared. I've never had to call 911! I even tried to downplay it and say, I feel ok, I can walk around just fine, can't I just go to urgent care? She again reiterated her advice to call 911 right away. So we did, and the fire truck and ambulance came and got me. My kids at first thought it was pretty neat to have firemen at our house, until they saw them carrying mommy out on a stretcher. I'll never forget hearing my daughters cries as I was being lifted into the ambulance. After CT Scan, another ambulance ride to another hospital,a long night in the ER, and a MRI, it was determined that I did not have a stroke, but a condition called Bells Palsy.

Bells Palsy occurs when one of the facial nerves is inflamed. The nerve goes through a very narrow canal in the skull and basically turns off because of the inflammation. Doctors believe it to be caused by a virus that settles in the nerve. Many patients are under a lot of stress when this happens. The left side of my face was completely paralyzed. I was so grateful it was not a stroke! I was actually glad I only had to deal with the annoyances of Bells Palsy, and nothing more serious. I had it for 2 months. The most annoying things about this condition were not being able to use my tongue when eating on that side, and having to manually blink my eye. You don't realize how great it is to have involuntary reflexes like blinking until you have to do it by hand! I also had to put gel in my eye and tape it shut every night to prevent it from drying out. To this day I still find that I need some eye drops during the day and gel at night. Besides a little eye dryness, I have made a full recovery.  Here's what my smile looked like:
This was a wake up call like I had never had before. It was so frustrating! I realized how important my health was if I wanted to give my all in taking care of my family and enjoy life to the fullest. It really made me take a step back and finally strap on that oxygen mask. I am still fighting my tendencies to do too much every day, but it's getting easier. I took this as a very strong warning to change my ways, and I'm chipping away at it every day. To kick off my journey back to blogging, I will be focusing on health topics for a while. I truly believe living a healthy lifestyle is the root of being able to reach our dreams and goals. I am excited to share some of my a-ha moments & even my stumbles along the way! Cheers to good health!

Friday, January 6, 2012

Christmas Lessons Learned: Lesson #3 - Party On!

The Holidays are full of some fun & fabulous parties. The ones we attend usually involve bringing an appetizer or dessert, bottle of wine, and usually gifts for gift exchanges as well. I found myself scrambling a bit for a few of these party preparations, so here are some things I am going to do for next year.

1) Stock up on Wine!

I like to bring a bottle of wine for the party hosts. My husband is more of the wine fan than I am, so I usually let him pick the varieties. He knows the good ones! I do not want to bring just an ok or cheap bottle of wine, but something nice. I do want to make sure that we are stocked up on wine for gifts well before the holiday rush begins. This means another item to look for deal on throughout the year! Our local Total Wine store often has coupons in the Sunday paper that will help offset the cost. Costco also will often have good deals, although this year I made the mistake of going there on the weekend before Christmas - Big Mistake! Also make sure to have enough wine bags/bows etc. to make the bottles festive.

2) Have Recipes & Appetizers Ready!

I have once again made the mistake this year of trying a new recipe the day of a potluck. This time it was a Mexican Rice Pudding (which I had never made) that I over cooked and ended up scorching a new stainless steel pot. It also stunk up the whole house! So, I really need to stick to my tried & true recipes. Have a few recipes on hand that are your favorites and fairly easy for you to throw together. if you want to try some new recipes be sure to test them out ahead of time. September is a great month to start testing recipes on your family. One of my favorite holiday appetizer recipes is Bacon Wrapped Ricotta Stuffed Dates. Always a hit! So I will stick to that one as an appetizer choice. I also like to stock up on frozen items to bring to potlucks, including thaw & serve desserts, quiche, and other appetizers. These are so handy & quick to prepare. This year I will be looking for some good sales to combine with my coupons throughout the year. Always check the expiration dates to make sure they will not go bad before the holidays. Sometimes you can find great frozen items on clearance but their expiration date is often just around the corner.

3) Have a Few Gifts Ready to Go!

We always end up going to a few parties with gift exchanges. The value range is typically around $20-$25. Go through the gifts you got this year. Did you receive a gift card you ate not sure what to spend it on? Or maybe you received a duplicate gift or a gift you are not too fond of, but it's general enough someone is bound to enjoy it? Wrap them up now for these parties! Simply put a tag on it indicating "Gift Exchange" and a post-it to remind you what's inside (and to remind you who gave it to you to avoid an awkward "Didn't you get that from me last year?!") & you're ready to go! Gift Cards are usually big hits. Costco offers gift cards usually at discounts. This year I bought $40 worth of Cold Stone Gift Cards for $28! So, if you want to go that route keep your eyes open around Fall for those deals. Keep an eye out for good deals throughout the year for these gifts and add a few line items to the Christmas Spreadsheet to account for them. It's a good idea to have a limit too, so you can control the clutter. If you typically go to 3-4 gatherings with gift exchanges, you may want to set a limit of 5 gifts to have on hand (10 if you bring one for you & your spouse). There are always "great deals" throughout the year and setting a limit will help curb the clutter, not to mention help keep your wallet full too!

So get ready to get your Holiday Party On in 2012!

Monday, January 2, 2012

Christmas Lessons Learned: Lesson #2 - Family Photos & Greeting Cards

One thing is for sure - getting Holiday cards out on time takes some preparation! Here are some of my lessons learned to ensure they get out on time (or early!), with ease and at a great value!

1) Schedule time on your Calendar Now!
I like to get our cards mailed out by the Monday after Thanksgiving. The past few years we have done professional portrait sessions. Either way, if you do photo cards and do not want to be in a scramble to get them sent out, you've got to either have your photos ready or plan your portrait session around late October to Mid-November. I put a note on my calendar around mid-October to schedule our portrait session.

2) Prepare your Supplies ahead of time.
Make sure you have adequate amounts of stamps, envelope stiks (to save from all the licking!), return address labels, stickers, and whatever other embellishments you like to use. I like ordering stamps from Stamps will arrive in your mail box for only $1 shipping. A dollar well spent for the convenience factor! I also like ordering festive return address labels from Great deals! Please note though - if you want to pay the minimal amount of shipping, allow a lot of time & choose the slowest shipping method.

3) Address Labels
I have a whole separate category for address labels. This is going to be a project for me to take care of in January so I don't end up just hand addressing the cards like I've done the past 2 years! Probably one of the easiest things to do is to create an address label template, update it with address changes, and additions and print out. Make sure you have enough labels when you check your supplies ahead of time. I am going to update my labels now, print them out for next year, and put them in my Christmas folder. If I have any additions by the time Christmas rolls around, it will most likely only be a few that I have to hand address.

4) Card Options
There are so many options for cards! If you do traditional non-photo cards, or the cards you can slip photos in, shop the after Christmas sales for the best deals.

Another exciting option is Send Out Cards. You open an account, set up an address book, and can send cards out right from your computer! No trip to the post office required - all of the cards are printed from their facility & mailed out for you. So easy! You can make custom photo cards as well - create one Holiday card, and with just a few clicks that card will be sent to everyone in your address book! I use Send Out Cards throughout the year to send cards for all occasions and to save me trips to the post office - you can also set up reminders for Birthdays and other special occasions. For more info., please visit my friends website:

Some other online photo card websites I like: Shutterfly, Erin Condren, and Tiny Prints. They offer some really unique and beautiful designs. Be sure to check out to check for any current deals & offer codes they have.

If you are looking to save a lot, Costco has probably the best deal out there. Look in their November coupon book for a $5 off coupon on Photo Greeting Cards. Trick is, you have to have your photos ready and complete your photo order before the coupon expires around the end of November. Hence, the planning early with the photo sessions! With this deal, you get 50 Photo Cards plus 4 Photo Card Calendars for $9.99! (Regularly $14.99) They come with silver lined envelopes and you can order additional cards in groups of 25 or 50.

5) Displaying Holiday Cards
There are many options for displaying cards; on the fridge, hung up, in a basket. I have kept mine in a Christmas themed metal basket hung on a hook in my entry way. However, my kids will be a little older next year, and I am hoping to display them on a ribbon on my doorway. Some great examples of card displays can be found Here. If you have a Pinterest account, pick your favorite displays, pin them, print them out & put in your Christmas folder for next year.

I hope this has helped inspire you to simplify your Holiday Card process! Happy New Years & Happy planning! :)

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Christmas Lessons Learned: Lesson #1 - Gifts

Happy 2012 Everyone!

I know it's time to celebrate the New Year, but before I move on to New Year's stuff, Christmas is still on my mind as we are taking down decorations. There are a few lessons learned form both this Christmas and Christmas' past I would like to share. Each year I try to be a little more prepared for the next Christmas. It really helps to minimize the busyness and to be able to really enjoy the season with my family rather than having lots of things on my to do list. This week I will be sharing these lessons and things I am going to be doing to prepare for Christmas 2012.

Lesson #1: Gifts

We are a gift giving family. I love giving gifts. I also want to find the best deals possible. In order to do this, I must be on the lookout for deals throughout the year. I have a Christmas spreadsheet with every family member & friends name that we make things and/or buy for. When Christmas ends, I save another version of the spreadsheet for the following year and make any necessary changes or additions. Here's a snapshot of the spreadsheet:

I track how much I spend for budgeting purposes. I also fill the wrapped box with a color to indicate when wrapping has been done. Next year I am going to try and wrap throughout the year. Luckily I have decluttered a lot and have some empty bins in the garage to store gifts. I buy wrapping supplies after Christmas at great discounts. This year I needed some sticky bows and labels, both which I found at 50% off. I am a gift bag lover - they store so well. For the past few years we have been lucky enough to receive enough gift bags in great reusable condition to recycle for the next year. The Notes column of the spreadsheet is handy for things like needing to buy additional accessories like batteries, or if I need extra supplies for items I am making.

I also love making gifts. This year I found myself scrambling to make them at the last minute. I was still making my gifts in the jar Christmas Eve! For 2012, I am choosing what gifts I am going to make now. This saves me the decision making process and allows me to even make the gifts throughout the year, (as long as they are not perishable!) I also would like to choose a cookie recipe to make. I will be choosing that ahead of time as well. If you give cookies or other baked treats for the Holidays, get to the clearance aisles now to stock up on tins & other great holiday containers! I have heard of some people even making a Christmas binder to organize these Christmas things. For now, I am just going to make a Christmas tab within our family binder. Under this tab will be a paper version of my spreadsheet, my notes & supplies needed for my homemade gifts, and the recipe for my Christmas cookies. I am also going to have an envelope for any gift cards or cash I get throughout the year to spend specifically on gifts.

Throughout this week I will be sharing more Christmas Lessons. I hope they inspire you to have an amazing Holiday Season 2012!

Cheers to a New Year and New Organized You! :)