Saturday, January 29, 2011

The Perfect Valentine Treat!

Remember these?

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These are so easy to make and I love keeping mine in the deep freezer. They are so yummy as a cool treat…and they are less tempting when they are all the way in the garage!

Lately, I have been thinking about trying to make some macarons. There are so many bloggers that have mastered making the perfect macaron.

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{via}

Let me tell you….the thought of making macarons intimidates me! Yes…I am publicly admitting that I am intimidated by a cookie! In addition to the success stories…I have also heard of the many failed attempts that people have experienced when trying to make macarons!

I am trying to put my fear intimidation aside and work up the courage to attempt making macarons very soon. You may…or may not…hear about how they turn out. That depends on how bad I butcher the first batch!

Anyways…the other day, I found myself at Delectable Deliciousness admiring her red velvet valentine’s macarons

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{via}

Aren’t those fabulous?!?

Then I had a “light bulb moment!” I decided to substitute red velvet cake mix in place of the devil’s food cake in the homemade oreo recipe that I shared {here}.

Ta Da….

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These would make the perfect valentine treat for friends, neighbors, teachers, etc…

I suggest freezing them for a short time before packaging them up so that the cream filling holds its shape.

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You could also tint the cream filling pink….or roll the edges in red and pink sprinkles…so many possibilities!

FYI…This is the first year that I have really decorated for Valentine’s Day! Watch for some posts in February showing how I am decorating and some other fun Valentine’s Day treats that I am trying!

What are you favorite homemade Valentine treats?

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There are only 2 more days after today to take advantage of Shaklee’s January offer of a FREE Cinch Sampler Kit (a $101 value).

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Also, don’t forget to contact me to find out about the special offer that is available at checkout…you don’t want to miss this!

Have a great weekend!

I'm linking up at:
Serenity Now: Weekend Bloggy Reading
Tatertots and Jello: Weekend Wrap-up Party 
Young and Crafty: Free for All 
Kuzak's Closet: Sister Sister Sunday 
Under the Table and Dreaming: Sunday Showcase 
Dittle Dattle: Amaze Me Monday 
The Girl Creative: Just Something I Whipped Up

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Giveaway at Dittle Dattle!!

I recently came across Carrie’s blog, Dittle Dattle, and I was instantly hooked!

Here are some of things that caught my eye…

A Crate & Barrel Knock-Off Bookcase:

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Seriously?!? How great is that! She turned an ordinary laminate bookcase into something so great! I just recently bought a small 3 shelf laminate bookcase for our master bedroom (after I swore up and down that I would never again buy laminate furniture) and I am definitely adding this re-do to my list!

I can’t wait until it is Christmas time again so I can try making one of these:

Fresh Cedar Monogrammed Wreath

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I can go on and on….and easily spend hours browsing through all of the projects on her blog. Go check it out yourself: {Dittle Dattle}…but only if you have enough time to spend browsing through project after awesome project….don’t say I didn’t warn you!!

Carrie is the mother of 3 kids. Somehow she manages to create all of these wonderful projects and homeschool. I’m impressed (and would love to know your secrets Carrie!)!

I’m so honored that Carrie is hosting a giveaway for me on her blog today.

Head over to Dittle Dattle to enter the giveaway. There will be 10 winners!!

This giveaway will end Tuesday, February 1 at 10:00pm EST.

Don’t forget that there are special savings available at checkout through my online shop…e-mail me for the details at healthy-solutions {at} hotmail {dot} com.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Simplify for the New Year: Conquering the DVD’s!!

Remember a couple of weeks ago when I shared that this box was delivered?
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Here is the reveal…

I’m pretty sure that I am not the only one who has a problem with the amount of space required to store a large collection of DVD’s…at least I hope I am not the only one. Please tell me that I am not the only one!!!
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Actually, compared to most people, we probably don’t have what would be considered a large collection. Either way…it has been out.of.control!

When my girls decide that they want to watch a movie, they pull all of the movies out and look through them. Of course they don’t put them back like they originally found them! This is usually what it looks like inside our entertainment center…
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Before my oldest daughter was born, we bought some pull out DVD organizers from Ikea that worked great. They fit perfectly in our entertainment center and 2 of them held our entire DVD collection.
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Then we had kids…and our DVD collection quadrupled!! I kept meaning to pick up a couple more the next time we went to Ikea, but I never did.

Early last year, I decided that I was going to purchase some binders with CD/DVD sleeves in them to hold all of our movies (I already do this with our CD’s), but I am so glad that I hadn’t bought them yet.
Jen over at {I heart organizing} (one of my favorite blogs that I have been following for a while now) shared how she organizes her DVD’s and video games here. {Love it!!}

She found this handy media storage case with *hanging* DVD sleeves at the Container Store…brilliant!! They also have this one…it took me a while to decide between the two, but I finally decided on the clear acrylic case. The black one just didn’t fit my style, but I loved that it was a drawer!
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Each one holds 120 DVDs!! That is basically our entire DVD/video game collection. So…what previously fit on 4 very deep shelves in our entertainment center now fit into one small box!! Perfect!!

I need to order one more so that we have room for any new movies (like the new Tinker Bell movie that is coming out later this year), but for now I only have the one.
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Each sleeve holds 2 DVDs (one on the front and one on the back) and is numbered accordingly.
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At first, I didn’t like the primary colors of the sleeves, but I soon realized how important this was going to be if I wanted my 5 year old to find the movies easily. They are in groups of 20 so it is easy for her to first find the right color and then find the right number.

Jen created a cute inventory sheet (that you can download on her site) and had some great tips to go along with it. For instance, I would naturally want to alphabetize my DVDs and place them in the sleeves. I would have learned the hard way that this was not the best option when I purchased a new movie and then either had them out of alphabetical order or had to reorganize them and create a new inventory list. Thanks Jen for pointing this out!

I also would have typed out my inventory list…but then I would have regretted it when I either had to reprint my list each time I purchased a new movie or had handwritten titles on my typewritten list!

I designed a basic color-coded inventory system:
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This way, my daughter can look through the list and choose the movie that she would like to watch, identify which color group the movie is in, and find the numbered sleeve. I “tested” her a couple of times to make sure that this system would work and it did…yay!! I also made sure that she would be able to put it back in the right spot and she could. Of course, that doesn’t mean that she actually will put it away, but I would like it if the area next to the DVD player didn’t look like this too often:
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Now I needed somewhere to put the inventory lists. I found a small clipboard in the dollar spot at Target (have I mentioned that I love Target?!?) It had an ugly pattern on it that I easily covered up with some scrapbook paper (I have plenty so I didn’t need to purchase anything new). Voila!
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Of course I had to “pretty up” the box a little bit…especially since I wasn’t a fan of the primary colors.
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With a little scrapbook paper and some vinyl lettering (courtesy of my Cricut and Expressions Vinyl), it had my personal touch!

Now I just need to figure out how to convince my 2 year old not to “help” pick out movies! Any suggestions?
Before:
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After:
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There are only 8 more days left to get a FREE Cinch Sampler Pack!!
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Also, don’t forget about the FREE ADVERTISING available until I reach 300 followers!! E-mail me at healthy-solutions {at} hotmail {dot} com!

I'm linking up to:
DIY Showoff: Project Parade
The Girl Creative: Just Something I Whipped Up 
Making the World Cuter Monday 
Between Naps on the Porch: Metamorphosis Monday 
Keeping it Simple: Motivate Me Monday 
Sassy Sites: Operation Organization 
Organize with Sandy: Organizing Mission Monday
Saturday Mornings: Strut your Stuff
Homebody: Mondays Tips and Tricks 
New Nostalgia: Anti-Procrastination Tuesday 
Not Just a Housewife: Show Me What Ya Got 
Thrifty 101: DIY Thrifty Thursday
Organizing Junkie: 52 Weeks of Organizing 
Young and Crafty: Free for All 

Share your organizing posts below! I will be sharing my favorites at the end of the month!

Friday, January 21, 2011

Free Advertising!!

Sara from Sweet November, one of the great blogs that I follow has been offering free advertising on her blog until she reaches 300 followers! What a great idea!

She has tutorials like this magnetic pin holder
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…along with recipes like these Homemade Girl Scout cookies that are definitely going on my list of things to try…yum!

She also has the cutest little shop with these gorgeous headbands
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earrings….
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pins
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…and more! Go check it out….Sweet November, the shop! Become a follower on her blog via Google Friend Connect and help her reach her goal of 300 followers!

She featured Safe and Healthy Solutions in her “new sponsor” post today…you can read it here.
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I thought that free advertising was such a great idea that I decided to do it myself!! So….FREE ADVERTISING is available on my blog until I reach 300 followers via Google Friend Connect!
Here are the details:

1. You must be a PUBLIC follower of A Home Made by Kiki via Google Friend Connect in order to advertise here.

2. Send me an e-mail at healthy-solutions {at} hotmail {dot} com with the following information included:
    • A paragraph telling me a little bit about yourself and what you have to offer on your blog or in your shop. I will use this paragraph in my weekly “new sponsors” post.
    • The url for your blog or shop.
    • The html for your blog button if it isn’t displayed on your blog.
3. Your button (125x125) will be displayed on my sidebar until I reach 300 followers. I will rotate the buttons each week in order to be fair to all sponsors.

4. Once your button is placed on my blog, please place my button on your blog.

5. I also ask that you share my blog by writing a post about my blog and Safe and Healthy Solutions (Shaklee).

6. I will only be advertising for family friendly blogs/shops. I retain the right to refuse advertisement if I feel like the content is inappropriate.

7. Once I reach 300 followers, all ads with be removed. If I decide to continue offering advertisement opportunities at a reasonable fee, you will be contacted with the details!

So spread the word....I look forward to working with you!!

Simplify for the New Year: THE DESK, Part 1

As I have mentioned before, my desk is definitely the “problem area” for clutter in my house! It is located in the “kitchen nook” of our house and is basically the central location between the living room and the kitchen. Our play area is also located in the “kitchen nook”. Needless to say, I spend a lot of time each day walking past the desk or near the desk. It easily becomes the “catch-all” for everything!
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When I don’t have time to “deal” with something as I should…junk mail, things that need to be filed, things that need to written in my planner, etc…it ends up on the desk! When one of the girls colors me a picture (this happens multiple times throughout the day…they love to color!)…they put it on the desk! Coupons? On the desk. Receipts? On the desk. Magazines and catalogs? Yep…on the desk!! Kylea’s school papers…on.the.desk! You get the point, right? Do you need a picture to prove it? Okay…..
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Yep….there it is. AHHHH!

Are you still with me after that? I think I may have scared some of you away with that picture!

This picture was taken right after the holidays….right during the time that I was sick for 2 weeks with some crazy virus that lots of the little kids I know had (not mine, thank goodness!!)…and right during the time that I was tearing my house apart trying to simplify and organize every area of the house (except this one obviously!). Still….there is no excuse for this!!

So…. I cleared every.single.paper off of the desk and put it into a box! I only left the things on the desk that I wanted to stay on the desk permanently!
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Aside from the fact that I now had a box full of papers and other junk things that needed to be sorted through, I already felt so much better!!

I used my Basic H2 to remove the dust from the surface of my desk. You wouldn’t think that dust would be able to accumulate on the surface of the desk since it had previously been covered in layer after layer of paper, but….it did!
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Nice! Check out that shine!!!

In order for me to avoid the “paper mountain” from occurring again, I knew that I needed to develop a system for the paper that enters our home on a daily basis. I have been thinking about this for a long time, but it was now time to put some of the ideas into action!

I remember seeing a post about an errand center over on Aby Garvey’s blog, Simplify 101. I loved the idea of having a container of some type to keep paper items organized on a desktop. This is what hers looks like:
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I wasn’t sure what time of container I wanted to use so I just kept an eye out for something when I visited the stores that I normally go to. I was at Lowe’s and spotted this set of 3 baskets…
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I wanted it to blend nicely with the d├ęcor of the living room and kitchen so I knew that it would work perfect!
This is what I ended up with…
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All of my paper items contained in a pretty little basket! It makes me happy just to look at it!
Of course, my planner is in there…front and center!
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I use it multiple times throughout the day so I knew it had to be easily accessible! I discussed how I use my planner in my post “Starting Fresh”,  but here is an inside look at how I organize my columns:
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My husband and I each have our own column and my girls share a column for now. Simple things that I need to remember to do for the day….such as to call someone or pull some chicken out of the freezer for dinner…go in the “To Do” column. I also write birthdays/anniversaries at the bottom of the “To Do” column. About a week ahead of time, I assign a meal for each day. I will be discussing more about my meal planning process in an upcoming post.

Next in my basket, I keep a spiral notebook. I use this for recording my grocery shopping list.
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Throughout the week, if I realize that we are running low on something, I take a couple of seconds to add it to my grocery list.

Am I the only one that writes my grocery list out according to the layout of the grocery store? In my case, produce goes in the top left, pantry/staple items go underneath the produce on the left, meat goes at the top right, refrigerated/freezer items go on the right side under the meat, and the bread items go on the bottom right. I follow this throughout the week as I add things to the list and it makes it much easier when I am at the store. I guess I don’t care if I am the only one because…it works for me!

Last fall, I purchased a green quatrefoil patterned clipboard at Target…on clearance…yay!
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Recently, I have been seeing posts about people using matching file folders. “i heart organizing”….one of my absolute favorite blogs that I have been following for quite a while now…did a series called “Project Paper” this month…and she had the file folders!!

So…since I visit Target very frequently…..I love Target….I looked for them the next time I was there. I looked where all of the other file folders were at, but they weren’t there. I was so sad! I went to 3 other office supply stores to look for pretty file folders for this project, but I just couldn’t find anything I liked. Don’t get me wrong, Office Max has a great selection of decorative file folders, but they just didn’t match the picture in my head of the completed project.

Then, another time when I was at Target, I happened to go down a different aisle in the office supply section and there they were!! (I may have let out a squeal of joy when I spotted them…..maybe.)
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So…I brought them home and got to work with my Cricut to label them! I don’t mind handwriting the labels on the files in my filing cabinet, but it wasn’t the look I was going for with this project. The file folders came with some printable labels that I could have used, but…once again…didn’t match the “picture in my head.” Luckily, I have quite a bit of vinyl on hand for various projects that I have been doing.

BTW—ExpressionsVinyl.com is the best place that I have found to purchase sheets of vinyl. They have so many different kinds in so many different colors. They just added printable vinyl that I can’t wait to try!
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At this point, I have 6 folders:

“To Do”: forms/applications, appointment cards, flyers, etc…

“Coupons”: I print various coupons out as I come across them throughout the week. I don’t always take the time to cut them out and file them in my coupon accordion file (more on my coupon “system” in another post soon). I also receive quite a few coupons in the mail or come across coupons in magazines so this is a great place to keep them until I can file them so that they aren’t scattered all over my desk.

“To File”: This is mainly for recipes or articles/photos that I pull out of magazines until I can file them away (more on that later too). I also put large receipts (like the full size receipt that came with my top-secret purchase from the Container Store…yay!) in there until I can enter it into my money program.

“Shaklee”: This is where I keep some reference materials for my Shaklee business along with the 2011 catalog. I also have a file folder for Shaklee in my file cabinet (to be featured soon), but this folder is for frequently referenced notes and info.

“Handmade by Kiki”: In addition to my Shaklee business, I also make and sell handmade items. This is where I keep patterns that I am currently using or other items related to my business.

“Scraps”: My printer recently gave up on me and I was forced to replace it. Booooo! I try to keep scrap paper for printing unimportant items (I print my coupons on papers that only have print on one side that I no longer need if I have them lying around) or if my girls want paper to color on. I used to be able to keep them under the paper tray of my old printer, but my new printer doesn’t have that space so…I keep them in this pretty file folder now!

I have extra file folders so I can always add to these if I need to.

Behind the file folders, I keep my notebook. I have actually been using this notebook for a couple of years now, but it used to be hidden in a drawer. Now that it was going to be out on the desk, I needed to “pretty it up” a little. I just used one of the extra file folders and slipped it into the front cover and binding of the notebook:
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I just need to add some sort of label onto the front of it and it will be perfect! This notebook holds all of the important information that our family needs. I use dividers to create sections and page protectors to hold things too. Some of the things that I keep in here are….school calendars, important phone numbers, my Christmas card list, etc.

I have a section in there right now with the information that I have been collecting on creating our own vegetable garden. It is something that we have wanted to try for a while now so hopefully it will actually happen this year!

In the front part of the basket, I have a small container to keep my receipts that I need to enter. I plan to go through these at least once a week..hopefully more frequently though.
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To the right of that basket is where I keep my camera. I like to have it easily accessible! I never know when one of my girls is going to do something cute or funny….like totally enjoy their first candy necklace even if it is super messy:
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So there you have it…my new “desk system”. So far…so good! I still end up with a few random papers on my desk throughout the day, but it is much better than it used to be now that everything has a place!

I even made a fun little tag to remind me of my goal to Simplify!!
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Before:
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After:
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What a difference!





There are less than 10 days to take advantage of the AWESOME deal that Shaklee is offering this month. Receive a FREE CINCH SAMPLER PACK (a $101 value) with a new member or distributor purchase of $70. Wow! Read more about it here.

Also, there is a great deal available at checkout through my online shop. E-mail me for details...you don't want to miss out on this!

I'm linking up to:
The Trendy Treehouse: Creative Share Blog Hop
Remodelaholic: Remodelaholics Anonymous
The Girl Creative: Just something I whipped up
Fingerprints on the Fridge: Feature Yourself Friday 
It's a Hodgepodge Life: It's a Hodgepodge Friday
Kojo Designs: Friday Fun Finds 
Tidymom: I'm Lovin It 
Raising Homemaker: Homemaking Link Up Day 
Simply Designing: Simply Link Party 
The Romantic Home: Show and Tell Friday 
The Shabby Nest: Frugal Friday 
Chic on a Shoestring Decorating: Flaunt it Friday 
A Few of My Favorite Things: Favorite Things Friday 
Sassy Sites: Operation Organization 
Tater Tots and Jello: Weekend Wrap Up Party 
Kuzak's Closet: Sister Sister Sunday 
Serenity Now: Weekend Bloggy Reading 
Under the Table and Dreaming: The Sunday Showcase Party 
Dittle Dattle: Amaze Me Monday 
The DIY Showoff: Project Parade
The Girl Creative: Just Something I Whipped Up
Making the World Cuter Monday 
Between Naps on the Porch: Metamorphosis Monday 
Keeping it Simple: Motivate Me Monday 
Organize with Sandy: Organizing Mission Monday 
Saturday Mornings: Strut your Stuff 
Homebody: Mondays Tips and Tricks 
New Nostalgia: Anti-Procrastination Tuesday 
Not Just a Housewife: Show Me What Ya Got 
Thrifty 101: DIY Thrifty Thursday 
Organizing Junkie: 52 Weeks of Organizing 
Homebody: Monday's Tips and Tricks
 





So....what have you been organizing?
I would love it if you would link up your organization projects this month. At the end of the month, I will feature my favorites!