Category Archives: organization

Sunday at IKEA

If the subject line doesn’t give you a proper indication of my weekend, I’ll say it again. After receiving this baby in the mail this week, I decided to spend my Sunday at IKEA.

IKEA summer catalog simply social blog

And when I say I spent my Sunday there I mean it. If you’ve ever been to an IKEA you know that it’s an all-day affair. They put a cafeteria on the second floor for goodness sake. You may be thinking, who needs to stop and eat when shopping for furniture and accessories? Believe me I laughed at it, too. And then you realize you’ve been on the 3rd floor for 2.5 hours and there’s two more floors to go.

Must. Fuel. Need. Energy.

So I spent my Sunday at IKEA. The best (and worst) day to spend there. The best because Sundays are the only day of the week you can justify spending that much time shopping at one location. Especially considering the slightly cooler, yet gorgeous temps we’ve been having here in Chicago. The worst because every one else knows your secret plan of spending the majority of your day at IKEA. And they are coming too.

If you’ve never experienced IKEA, then you might know that you start on the top floor and work your way down.

Now arriving at Level 3, the show room.

ikea kitchen and dining room simply social blog

a girl can dream, right?

Level 3. Where you begin your journey of building your dream kitchen with apron sinks, dark cabinets and backsplashes, oh my! You snap photos and smile for selfies to avoid the fact that you don’t have a house to put this make-believe kitchen in nor do you have any means to build it yet. (sigh).

ikea schaumburg kitchen

Two hours and two bathroom stops later you make the final turn to complete level 3. You think about the two hours you spent running the day before and actually have to weigh which one made you more exhausted. There’s no time for contemplation. Next stop, level 2.

I know I spent a lot of time on level 2, but I must have blacked out because I have no photos to show for it. But I did manage to document this find:

IKEA dog butt wall hook simply social blog

What’s that you say? Only the coolest dog butt hook you’ll probably ever hang on you wall! Needless to say after I found this gem I was re-energized for the remainder of the visit . And just a short 4 hours later, we were back home and ready to put together everything we bought. Did I mention that part of the joy of IKEA is putting everything together yourself? Aw, yeah.

ikea bookshelf build simply social blog

Fortunately, I had someone who equates putting together IKEA furniture to a warm up lap around a track. I know because I timed him. He had bookshelf number one assembled in less than 12 minutes. Record time in bookshelf assembly, but I’m sure he’d want me to clarify he could probably run 8 laps in that time.

I wish I had better before and after photos to share with you but 1) I almost forgot to take a before at all and 2) my place is small so it’s sort of difficult to get a good shot of the scale without actually being there. So come on over and I’ll introduce you to my new bookshelves.

ikea bookshelf before and after simply social blog

I’m still working on the decor but am happy to have more height to bring the pieces together. Still to come is a shelf above the TV and new frames. I’m an amateur when it comes to bookshelf styling so suggestions are welcome. For the time being I just recycled what I already had plus a few accessories I found in my 4 hour tour of IKEA. More than anything, I’m just happy to have somewhere to put my cookbooks. Nerd alert!

bookshelf styling ikea simply social blog

While the bookshelves perhaps made the biggest impact in the room, I am test-driving some new pillows for my couch as well. I’ve been looking for new pillows for my couch for years now with no success. Apparently the pillows that came with it are such a unique size that no cover or pillow form exist to replace them. Enter IKEA. Where the pillows come in just about every size (just kidding only 2 sizes) but the covers are not as substantial as you would like. One day I’ll have room for a sewing machine and make the damn things myself. Until then, here’s what we have:

couch redo ikea pillows simply social blog

Believe it or not I managed to make a real meal Sunday night too. I know, it’s crazy right? For all you know I haven’t cooked in weeks thanks to my recipe hiatus.

whole wheat spaghetti vegetables turkey meat sauce simply social blog

I’ll have a recipe for you later this week, but welcome your comments or suggestions on the decor (as long as you don’t completely hate my taste) anytime. Have a great week!

Spring Cleaning with a side of Rhubarb Cake

I had grand intentions this weekend. With an extra day off, I intended to make a to-do list and actually do the things on it. That’s right folks, spring was coming and I was feeling the itch.

Capture

Unfortunately in order to do spring cleaning you actually have to have weather that indicates some sign of spring. It’s no fun to dust with the door shut or to store away those bulky sweaters when temps are still in the twenties. Trust me. I tried.

I know I keep talking about April showers but they really hit us hard here in Chicago last week. April showers followed by April flooding and capped off with more April snow showers.

flood

what’s that you say? oh just your average manhole turned geyser in the middle of the city. NBD.

But the difference between April and January is that  in April the sun eventually shines and the cold weather doesn’t last as long. So as the city dried itself off, I set out to tackle my to-do list again.

I tried to get Finn involved. Telling him that if I was going to do a purge and donate a bunch of my clothes, that he had to pick one toy to get rid of, too.

greater swiss mountain dog

time-stamp: 11:25 a.m.

Clearly, he was game.

greater swiss mountain dog

timestamp: 11:27 a.m.

I think I mentioned last week in my post about Jake’s Captain America Party that my sister is much better at purging things than I am. And even though she was in town this weekend, I still managed to part with my abundance of t-shirts that I haven’t touched in years all by myself. Many, many years.

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if I told you I used to have 3 drawers full would you believe me?

Why? Because you never know when you might need that sleeveless basketball t-shirt from 7th grade you spent hours wearing while doing suicides in an 80 degree gymnasium. Or that the memory of the co-ed flag football championship that you and your fellow Tampax Runstoppers won might not be enough without the long-sleeved uniform that went with it. Because those shirts are attached to life, folks. And that’s hard to let go of.

Well it was hard. Until you’re living in a one-bedroom condo and you literally run out of space for your hoarding problem and then turn into the purging sister you never thought you’d become.

IMG_3088

this empty basket’s for you Anne

I managed to make a decent dent in my closet and actually felt better about myself once it was all over. I’d like to thank you for helping me let go through this post as well. After all, I think some of the parting process comes from documenting the encounter. Who am I kidding, of course it does. And I can only hope that a teenage boy in the city will learn something about the female reproductive system after he wears that shirt to school one day. And that makes me giggle.

After the cleaning was done I set out to completely reverse it by messing up my kitchen. I hit up the grocery store yesterday and bought a plethora of rhubarb. And when I say plethora I mean both in amount and size. My produce market is like the Gold’s Gym of produce markets. Everything there is on steroids. And I’m ok with that.

rhubarb

After the blueberry cake last week, I couldn’t stop thinking about my grandma’s rhubarb cake. And since it was a co-worker’s birthday the next day, it was the perfect excuse to kick off the season. If you haven’t tried rhubarb cake, you’re missing out. I can’t take credit for this one beyond throwing everything together. Credit goes to my Grandma Bosch. Hers puts mine to shame.

rhubarb cake

Remember what I said about recipes with stains? Well this one takes the cake. Not only do I have one stained recipe, but right above it I have another. That’s right. Two of the exact same recipe written down in the same cookbook on the same page. Clearly a trusted recipe. 

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Grandma’s Rhubarb Cake

  • 2 C Sugar
  • 1/2 C Shortening (other recipe calls for butter-makes sense now)
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 1/2 C flour
  • 1 C buttermilk (mixed with 1 tsp baking soda)
  • 4 C Rhubarb, chopped

Topping

  • 1/2 Sugar (there’s always extra)
  • 1 1/2 tsp cinnamon

Preheat oven to 350.

Chop rhubarb into 1 inch pieces. Set aside.

rhubarb

In a large bowl, mix flour and salt.

Mix 1 tsp baking soda into buttermilk.

Cream shortening or butter with sugar. Add egg and vanilla. Alternate adding dry ingredients and buttermilk until combined. Fold in rhubarb.

Spread into greased and floured 9×13 pan. Dust cinnamon sugar mixture over the top. Bake for 45-50 minutes or until knife comes out clean. NOTE: I have a gas oven and mine was done in less than 40.

rhubarb cake

Now eat your cake and forget about all of the memories you just threw away. Happy spring!

What Finn Ate Wednesday

In light of recent events, I decided to dedicate this What I ate Wednesday to my pup. After all, he’s ingested more interesting stuff than I have this week. Except maybe that delicious antipasto at Coco Pazzo, or the leftover roasted beet salad and quinoa from my Sunday post. Oh, and snickerdoodle dip. But more on that later.

I used to think Mondays were rough. Coming off a relaxing weekend away or at home to the impending workweek ahead. Trading the freedom of leisurely activities for cost centers, conference calls and a cold commute. But as much as I think we have a hard time transitioning into Mondays, I’d imagine our pets have it even worse. Unless you have a cat then they are just excited to get you out of the house.

5-plus walks and 3 park visits per day. Ok, this is cool! A spontaneous car ride to visit Nana and Papooch where I can eat acorns and meaty things and run in the backyard until I puke? Don’t mind if I do! Weekends are AWESOME!

But then Monday hits. And just as you come back from your early morning walk and finish your continental breakfast, suddenly you’re faced with the dreaded baby gate of doom which can only mean one thing: She’s leaving.

Ok don’t panic, Finn. Let’s evaluate the situation. She’s not going to that ‘Jim’ she talks about because she’s clearly not wearing stretchy pants. Is it time to eat again? Darn, she’s just refilling that round thing that holds my water. Oh yes! Here comes that soft and fluffy pad I sleep on in my crate. It’s so cozy I could just lay down right…no Finn! Focus! Oh look! Toys! She’s throwing all of my favorite toys in the kitchen. Not anorexic big bird. I love anorexic big bird!

finn_bird

It’s official. She’s going to work and she won’t be back for a very long time.

A few hours pass.

Stupid bird. quit looking at me. You’re no fun. You don’t even squeak. Silly pillow. You’re not THAT soft. Oh great, I’m out of water. What the heck do I do now? Where the heck is my mom? I’m annoyed. What can I do to show her how bored I am? She likes to cook. I know that. Sometimes rarely she uses those paper things on the shelf. Maybe if I chew off this outside cover thing she’ll get the hint. After all, I do love the taste of paper.

finn_mess_1

It’s probably my own fault that this behavior transitioned into Tuesday as well. After all, I had a work function and a social event Monday night so I warned Finn it would be a long day. I think my exact words were ‘Look, I know it’s Monday and this one is going to be tough, but I promise to make it up to you.’ We tried to squeeze in as much play time as possible in the time I was home but it just wasn’t enough.

So as I open the door Tuesday afternoon I was greeted with another surprise.

You know that rug I pulled a string out of yesterday, lady? Yeah, well that was your warning. And you left it out for me anyways. Silly Mom. And since the cookbooks didn’t do the trick either, I chewed that rug to pieces just about 10 minutes before you got here. I notice how meticulously you put it back in place every time I move it. Maybe you’ll get the hint now? PS you know it was time for a new one anyway.

finn_mess_2

Guilty as charged, Finn. After cleaning up mess #2 for the week, I bundled myself in as many layers as possible (sub-zero temps have joined us again here in Chicago) and spent the next few hours walking, playing, standing in the dog park so Finn could let out some of the energy he was obviously storing up this week. And when we were too cold to play outside anymore, we headed home and played some more.

So what does a guilty mom give her puppy after a few ‘alternative meals’ the past few days? Dessert of course! As I pulled out a jar of peanut butter I was reminded of a recipe I made a few months back. And so we cooked. (NOTE: no cross-contamination of dog peanut butter vs. human peanut butter occurred during the making of this recipe)

I kept stumbling upon the same recipe on Pinterest. Over and over a photo of something called ‘Cookie Dough Dip’ kept popping up and sparking my interest. First and foremost I love cookie dough. I’ve always been one more in favor to eat the dough than the cookies themselves and this recipe was egg-less so you don’t get that awesome weird taste in your mouth afterwards. Shout out to my Aunt Barb who let my cousins and I make a batch of cookie dough and (gasp) just eat the dough on our visit to California several years back.

So I finally got around to actually clicking on the recipe and was even more intrigued to read that the main ingredient was, wait for it…chickpeas. Say what? No chance this tastes like cookie dough. I had to attempt it. And while it tasted a little more like chocolate chip peanut butter cookie dough, it was good. Too good.

Several spoonfuls later, I decided to try an alternative version from the same web site. This time Snickerdoodle. Same basic ingredients with the addition of cinnamon and substitution of chocolate chips. Once again, too good!

snickerdoodle_dip

Snickerdoodle Dip

  • 15 oz. White beans or chickpeas
  • 3 TBL nut butter-I used homemade almond (recipe posted soon)
  • 2 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1/8 tsp baking soda
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • up to 3/4 C brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup ground flaxmeal
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • Garnish with raisins

In a colander, drain and rinse beans. Add all ingredients to your food processor and blend until smooth. Add raisins if you like them. I happen to love them. So much so that I should rename the blog simply raisins. Raisins rule.

Trust me on this one. I know it sounds weird, but this stuff tastes like cookie dough. Grab a spoon and dig in!

Prefer the original? Try both versions from Chocolate Covered Katie.

The good news is it’s Wednesday. And we have just a few short days before more walks and a long vacation with Nana and Papooch. I haven’t told Finn yet but I’m hoping that keeps him from destroying anything else. At least until Monday.

Finding Balance

Do you ever feel like you are juggling things just fine until all of a sudden someone throws a bonus ball in your court causing you to lose focus and have them all crash down on your head? Me too. Except the bonus thrower is usually myself. Bet you wondered how someone already juggling could throw in a bonus ball? I surprise myself too sometimes.

loved me some Harlem Globetrotters growing up

Sometimes I overcommit myself. I am a self-admitted over-doer. And I don’t necessarily mean that I go above and beyond (although sometimes I try) I simply mean that some(often)times I try to do too many things at once, try to shove too many things into too short a time slot, try to add just one more dish to the menu. I notice that it’s affecting my sentence structure lately as well. But I digress.

Fortunately or not, once I do put my mind to something, I usually end up finishing it regardless of energy level or clock time. What does this mean in real life? Frantic last-minute errands the morning of a party, loss of sleep and physical flexibility due to excessive hours spent hunched over icing cookies while standing on my concrete floor and messes; Big messes everywhere as I attempt to organize the bathroom, the closet and the baking cabinet all simultaneously on a Saturday afternoon. Not that I’m speaking from recent experience or anything. Sometimes things have to get messy before they get organized, right?

I must also admit that I enjoy the stress of a looming deadline. If I’ve got something coming up, I tend to implement self-imposed deadlines to light that fire that allows me to get things done in record time. Like deciding to brush my teeth while drying my hair. Because that’s not efficient.

My name is Sarah and I’m a multi-tasking procrastinator.

Hi Sarah.

But I’m trying to get better. I write this post on my phone as I wait for 40 soon-to-be conversation heart sugar cookies to cool enough to ice, while attempting two new salad recipes and stopping briefly for a pre-grammy workout.

I’m trying.

In addition to several other resolutions that I made last month, I’m really attempting to find balance this year. And since things like un-iced cookies and salad-making weigh heavily on me, you may be wondering what I am doing to counteract this craziness and reach my goal?

Yoga.

I’ve tried yoga in the past and it just hasn’t worked for me. After years of sweat-filled high-intensity workouts, stretching and slow movements with a side of zen just never felt like a ‘real’ workout to me. But because I’ve always struggled with a very tight back, I knew I needed something like yoga to ‘balance’ the running and lifting. Unfortunately after giving it a few college tries, my interest always seemed to fizzle.

My friend and I were recently discussing the requirements for a successful fitness session and I was reminded how I approach my workouts the same way as I do my hobbies. I’m picky but once I find something I like, I’m very loyal to it. To stick to a workout, I have to find it engaging, challenging and see it as a means toward and end goal. Oh, and it would be nice if it fit into my schedule as well.

For years I only really had to worry about adjusting exercise around work, friends and family. When my furry little friend came into my life, my focus shifted a bit. I felt incredibly guilty working all day and then leaving him again so I could go workout in the evening. Running was acceptable but only because warm up and cool downs could be spent walking my pup around the neighborhood rather than spending the better part of an evening fighting loop traffic to get to the gym. But then winter hit. And then winter really hit and my above 30 degrees and dry conditions rule forced my workouts inside.

Fortunately, walks though the neighborhood included a stroll past Barefeet Power Yoga, a new studio nearby. And by nearby I mean practically outside my garage door.

So when the weather turned and Finn gave me puppy eyes, I gave it another college try. After all, this place has the convenience factor and according to the name ‘power’ yoga has to be better than regular yoga right?

finn_yoga

After about a month or so I am happy to say I’m a believer. Not only does the class hit on all requirements on my workout list, but the instructors are really cool. Did I mention it’s around the corner!?!

And while I’m finding the workout itself enjoyable, it’s the things I thought I disliked most about yoga previously that I’m getting the most out of now. I’m learning to focus more. To accept the fact that some days you’re strong and balanced and some days you just aren’t. And that’s ok. To breathe deeply. To push myself. And to realize that sometimes things are beyond your control.

Life is about finding balance and each day is a new attempt at doing just that.

Note: If you don’t have a studio close by or simply want something to try at home, I like the Body by Bethenny instant video from Amazon. It’s a good, quick workout, you can play it on your iPad and Bethenny says all the things you think but never say out loud in yoga. An inexpensive way to get started or keep up on the road. I may or may not have squeezed it in before finishing this post.

cookies

Now back to those cookies.

>Create Cute Cards…

>If you’re anything like me you have a million printed out recipes on folded pieces of paper and shoved inside cook books throughout your kitchen. While my mother insists that the best recipes are the ones with the drips and stains from years of use and I tend to agree, keeping your go-to recipes in an organized (and protected) cook book is a great way to find them in a flash. Enter Skip to my Lou and their fun do-it-yourself recipe card maker. Now you can put all your favorite recipes on uniquely designed cards and print them yourself. Use them to keep your recipes consistent or print your favorite recipe and include it in your next shower or hostess gift.

>The Organized Pantry…

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In my future, I see an overly organized pantry filled with these amazing Oxo Pop up containers.
I’m in love!

 Photo from Crate and Barrel