Home · Organization · Travel · Uncategorized

Organizing my makeup drawer

I’m on an organizing mission these days.  The back to school, end of summer, beginning of fall is propelling me to get done those things that have languished on my to do list far too long. On top of that list is cleaning out my makeup drawer.  Makeup has a shelf life, especially mascara and eye liner.  One guideline for mascara and liquid eye liner is three to six months once opened.  Lip gloss has a similar time line.  Lipstick is a bit longer at six months.  The danger here is bacteria which may cause infection.  Since I wear contact lens, I’m very careful about my eye health and don’t care to take chances with my makeup.  So, about every four months, I do a thorough clean out of my makeup drawer.  The best part of this exercise is that everything is organized for ease of use and I have a clean space.  This cuts down on my searching for something when I’m getting ready for work in the morning.  Since I’m a night owl and not a morning person, this is a direct benefit to me.

 

The before:

 

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Not only do I throw away products near their expiration dates, I also clean out the clutter.  This means that eyeshadow that I thought I’d love but really don’t gets thrown out as clutter.  I also wash my brushes.  In the end I make a list of the things I need to replace.  I generally buy my products from Carmen at the Chanel counter at Bergdorf Goodman.  She is absolutely wonderful.  She lets me know when there is a gift card event and is wonderful to send samples for travel.

 

The after:

 

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entertaining · Food

Spaghetti Squash – a preview of fall

Squash is a favorite of mine, zucchini, yellow, and spaghetti routinely make their way into my kitchen.  Spaghetti squash is a fall favorite.  I usually serve the “noodles” from the squash with marinara or spaghetti sauce and, on occasion, I whip up a cream sauce and make an alfredo type of squash with cream, garlic, and Parmesan cheese.

Recently, I began looking for new recipes.  I wanted something different and new from my standard dinners.  I eat a lot of chicken, so I began to experiment with the concept of chicken and squash.  I ended up with this variation on chicken and spaghetti squash.

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Two chicken breasts diced in bite sized pieces

Half an onion diced

One carrot shredded

One medium tomato diced

One bell pepper diced

Fresh basil chopped

Parmesan cheese to taste

tomato pesto sauce, half a cup

Small spaghetti squash

Olive oil, salt and pepper, and Italian seasoning all to taste.

Cut the spaghetti squash in half, length wise.  Sprinkle olive oil, salt, and pepper over each half.  Place the halves open side down in a baking or oven proof dish and cook at 350 for thirty minutes. After thirty minutes, remove and permit to cool.  Once cool, remove seeds with a grapefruit spoon then, still using the grapefruit spoon, remove the squash in long noodle like strings to a bowl.

Next, in a skillet, add more olive oil, onion, chicken, Italian seasoning, salt, pepper, and shredded carrot.  Sauté until chicken is almost done.  Toss in the tomato and bell pepper and sauté another three minutes.  Next add in the Parmesan cheese and spaghetti squash.  Remove entire mixture to a baking dish and place in the oven on 350 for thirty minutes.

Enjoy!

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Decorating · Home · interior design · Travel

The Summer of Show Homes: Southern Living Idea House 2017

I call this the year of show homes.  I’ve visited all that are near me and a couple, not so near, that  I’ve stumbled across.  While I missed my annual trip to the Kips Bay House in New York, I did make it to the Charleston Symphony House, the Raleigh Boys and Girl House and now the Southern Living Idea House.  I think the decorator houses appeal to some dormant creative gene in me.  I love seeing how someone puts together a room.  It gives me ideas for my own home.

 

This year’s home is not my first Southern Living house tour.  I’ve visited several with the last one being the one Bunny Williams did in Charlottesville.  It was spectacular.  This year’s lived up to the Southern Living standard.

The 2017 idea house is found on Bald Head Island, NC.  Bald Head Island is located at the convergence of the Cape Fear River and the Atlantic Ocean and is accessed by a twenty-minute ferry ride from Southport, NC.  The island is idyllic.  A subtropical climate, prime white sand beaches, birds, and sea turtles all make for a wonderful escape location.  Travel on the island is principally by golf cart or bike – no cars!

There were many details I loved about this house, but the fire pit and outdoor kitchen have to be at the top of the list.  The laundry room was another highlight for its design.  The living room and porches were beautiful and I could just imagine them filled with family on vacation.  The master suite was another favorite and the closets were to die for.

There were choices that left me scratching my head.  The master bath was beautiful.  I particularly loved the shower design but where was the tub?  The outdoor shower was lost on me.  Not so much the concept but the way this one was designed.  If I’m coming off the beach, then I want to be able to access the shower without going through the house.  The gourmet kitchen was something of a miss for me.  I liked the appliances and overall design but would have preferred different counter tops and where was the pot filler?

Tips I may use?  I loved the drawer refrigerator in the game room over the garage.  It was perfect for drinks and snacks.  Finishing the wallpaper with grosgrain ribbon in the upstairs bath off the “yellow” room was a nice touch.  The hooks near the door to the garage were a nice touch for all those things like totes, recycle bags, hats, and dog leashes.

If you get the chance to visit the home or just the island, do so.  It is a wonderful way to spend an afternoon.  Take time to visit Old Baldy, the decommissioned lighthouse.  It is the oldest lighthouse in North Carolina that once lit the way for sailors through Frying Pan Shoals and the Cape Fear.

entertaining · Food

Chicken Chorizo Tomato Soup

 

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One of my tips for managing my time is to make a large pot of soup on Saturday or Sunday.  I have several favorites that I tend to make in rotation.  I freeze some of the pot and eat off the remainder during the week.  It makes for an easy home cooked supper during the week when I’m running late or have something after work.

This weekend I opted to make a new favorite – chicken chorizo tomato soup.

Ingredients:

2 tablespoons olive oil

3 large chicken breasts cut into bite size chunks

3 links chicken chorizo sausage removed from the skin

1 large onion chopped

1 red bell pepper chopped

2 quarts chicken stock

1 large can diced tomatoes

1 large can diced fire-roasted tomatoes

3 cloves minced garlic cloves

cilantro, salt and pepper to taste

In a large Dutch oven over medium heat, sauté for five minutes or until the sausage cooked done and the chicken is cooked to a light brown, the olive oil, chicken, chorizo, onion, pepper, and garlic.  Add the salt, pepper, and cilantro and sauté for an additional two minutes.  Add the tomatoes and stir into the pot.  Let cook about two minutes.  Finally, add the chicken stock and cook on low heat for four hours.

Yum!

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Books · Uncategorized

Books, Books, and More Books!

I love curling up on the lounge on the patio or under a beach or pool umbrella with a good book.  This summer I’ve put a large dent in the books I downloaded to my Kindle and/or the audiobooks I downloaded to my iPod.  One of my first blog posts was on my beach reading list.  Now, several flights and weekends later, I’ve more to add to my summer reading recommendations.

On a side note, someone asked me about my reviews, each book I write about I’ve read (or, if it’s an audiobook, listened to) and enjoyed enough to share with you!

 

As a child I couldn’t wait to get my hands on the next Nancy Drew, Cherry Ames, Dana Girls, Vicki Barr, or Hardy Boys book.  There is just something about the next adventure, the next chapter in the life’s of a favorite character that I can’t wait to enjoy.  In library speak, these books are referred to as series books.  The modern equivalent is the Harry Potter series – yet another I devoured – this time as an adult!

Recently, I discovered two new series that I love.  Both are mystery series with an intrepid female lead playing the part of detective.  Shades of Nancy?  I’ll have to consider further the impact Carolyn Keene has had on my lifetime reading habits.  But I digress, the two new favorite series are Jacqueline Winspear’s Maisie  Dobbs and Rhys Bowen’s Royal Spyness.  Both also have a historical fiction element in common as both are set in the period between WWI and WWII.

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The Maisie Dobbs series is a bit bleaker in that it tackles the hard truths associated with WWI. The initial book in the series is the story of Marie’s childhood, including her time as a nurse in France and the horrors of the battlefield.  Later titles tackle the associated horrors of war in a post war environment.  The most recent title is set in the lead up to WWII.  They are delightful books that hold your attention and yet have an educational side.  Also deftly folded into the story is the story of the women’s movement in England and the corresponding societial changes prodded along by the First World War.

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Rhys Bowen’s Her Royal Spyness series is simply a delight.  I love them.  They are like chocolate covered Oreos.  One is simply not sufficient.  Let’s be simple, this series is just FUN!  The lead character, Georgianna Rannoch, is Queen Victoria’s great granddaughter and thirty-fourth in line to the English throne.  Just to make things interesting, she is on the poor relations side of the royal family and is constantly seeking a solution to her money challenges.  While she is financially challenged, she has a warm relationship with Queen Mary and her children and grandchildren that include a very young Elizabeth.   Georgie is also charmed by a delicious and dashing noble, heir to an Irish title – Darcy O’Mara, also monetarily challenged, Catholic, and whose occupation is something of a secret agent man kind of thing.  But, oh my,  is he delish!

Georgie constantly finds herself on an adventure and in the middle of a murder investigation in varying parts of the British Empire (Scotland, Ireland, Balmoral), Europe (think Transylvania and the south of France), and even California.  Along the way she encounters historical figures like Wallace Simpson and Coco Chanel!   Light, and completely entertaining, the books also offer a commentary on the changes in society post WWI and the obstacles  for the modern woman in the 1930s.  The series is a must read!

Post script – both series are available as audiobooks from audible and are well done.

Food

My summer Greek salad

Vine ripened tomatoes are the best.  I can eat them morning, noon, and night, and do when they are in season.  There are so many options – tomato sandwiches, tomato pie, baked tomatoes, tomatoes in a green salad – well you get the picture.  Unfortunately, some of my absolute favorite ways to eat tomatoes also rank rather high on the calorie count. My recipe for tomato pie includes a delicious crust in addition to a ton of cheddar cheese and mayo.  I love it but my hips say no!  So what’s a gal to do when there are all those wonderful, ripe, delicious, tomatoes just waiting to be eaten?

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Last summer a good friend who’d spend a week in Santorini shared her answer to this dilemma.  She calls this a Mediterranean salad or a Greek salad.  It is so simple and yet so filling!

One medium cucumber skinned and cut into bite sized pieces

One large, lucious, vine ripened tomato cut into bite sized pieces

Fresh basil chopped and sprinkled over the top

Sprinkle with Italian seasoning – I use Penzey’s

Feta cheese crumbled over the top

Drizzle with EVOO (extra virgin olive oil) or oil and vinegar – your preference!

It is light and filling and perfect for those hot summer evenings.

P.S.  A glass of Valpolicella is a perfect companion to this meal.

 

Business

Back to school equals time to organize!

I have not been a student for decades but I love back to school.  There is something sad about the end of long lazy summer days and a sense of an anticipation of a new beginning with the start of a new school year.  With the start of a new school year there is the sense of learning something new, meeting new people, reuniting with friends you’ve not seen over the summer,  and anticipation of fall with the changing of the leaves, tailgates and football season.  Yet what I love most about back to school is the school supplies, or in my case, the chance to organize my life!

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I clean up my office.  Shred all the papers that I no longer need.  File away the finished projects, review to do lists, and figure out what still remains relevant.  The clean out takes the longest amount of time and then I get to organize what is left over.

Have you heard of Levenger?  If not, check out their webpage at levenger.com.    I am addicted to that company and their Circa system in particular.    The circa system uses a series of discs and covers to create notebooks where you can easily move pages in and out to where you need them.  This is one of my favorite travel tips. When I travel I create a notebook with my flight and hotel information as well as information and recommendations on any local places I might want to visit.  That way, if wifi fails me, I have everything in one place in print!  The circa system also lets you add features like a zip pouch for receipts or a sleeve for brochures or other things you might collect.  I use the circa notebooks for business as well as personal.  I have a notebook for each major project so that everything related to that project is in one place and at my fingertips.  That makes it easy when someone calls or pops in with a question.

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Next I’m off to Amazon, or Staples, or Target for folders, clips, and pencils and, well you get the picture.  When September comes along I have everything in place, at least for a few months!

In addition to the circa notebooks, I also use three Ulysses notebooks and a Neely and Chloe/Inslee planner to organize my life.  I have one small Ulysses notebook, a PM, that I use for nothing but life critical information.  A larger Ulysses notebook, the GM,  goes with me to every meeting for notes which I can then transfer into the topic specific notebooks with the rest of the information relating to that project.

I also use my mac calendar and the reminder feature on the iPhone to organize my life.  The reminder app is great as it carries across all my devices and permits me to schedule tasks.  I’ve learned to add a reminder or make a calendar entry when I respond to any email or as I work on a project.  That way I get the satisfaction of clicking completed when the task is done!

So what are your tips on how you organize your life?