Tips for a Productive Weekend

Hello and happy Thursday! With the week coming to an end, I thought today would be the perfect time to share a few tips that help me keep my house in order over the weekend. A couple months ago, my schedule changed and I have been super busy. Between work itself and my commute to the city, I honestly don’t have much time at home. Keeping the house in order, a graduate degree and an energetic puppy, in addition to a professional career have really been keeping me on my toes {shout out to all the mamas out there taking care of kiddos too – I am having an extra glass of wine for you tonight}.

Limited time at home during the week makes taking care of the house and cooking dinner every night difficult almost impossible. This doesn’t fair well for someone who is a self-proclaimed need freak that cannot handle dirt, mess or clutter. But, during the times in my life where I have not had much free time, I have learned that it is possible to do more with less. I am pretty amazed with all that I have trained myself to do in the last few months. Truth be told, six months ago I had way more time on my hands and looking back now, I’m not sure how I didn’t solve the world peace problem ;). Like, what the heck was I doing with all of that time?!

The rest of this post by no means includes my full cleaning routine. These are just the minimal things I do to help keep me on track, so if it is a jam packed weekend and I don’t get to clean the house from top to bottom {while walking the dog, blow drying my hair, cooking dinner and doing homework all simultaneously}, these things help me feel like I kind of have it together.

Friday night

Throw in a load of laundry. Pick an easier load of laundry like towels or sheets. You can throw them in the dryer and forget about them and not worry about them shrinking. Right after putting that laundry in, vacuum! Pick up all that junk that made its way to the floor during the work week. If I have extra time or energy I will also stream mop the bathroom floor. I try to vacuum a few times a week before or after work as well.

Saturday Morning

Start laundry as soon as you get up then pick an area to immediately straighten up. You can enjoy your coffee and your morning routine while getting a few loads of laundry done. I’ve noticed that when I start my laundry earlier in the day, I get through it faster. I generally try to go to bed with a clean kitchen, but if I don’t then I will straighten up the kitchen then put away laundry clean. Before I know it, a couple loads of laundry are out of the way.

Saturday Midmorning/Early Afternoon:

Change your sheets and straighten up the bedroom. I don’t really mind doing laundry, but I feel like changing the sheets is a huge pain. I almost always change my sheets weekly. Sheets get much dirtier than most people may think. I have very sensitive skin, so keeping my sheets fresh helps to avoid unwanted breakouts. I have found changing my sheets on Saturday makes a huge difference for me. I use to put it off until Sundays, and before I knew it, I was battling the Sunday night scaries with no sheets on my bed to boot!

Clean the bathroom before and/or after your shower. This will probably sound silly, but I like to start cleaning the bathroom before I shower. I will clean the toilet then dust my bathroom shelves, baseboard and window first. After my shower I will spray down and clean the shower then clean the vanity after I get ready. If I didn’t vacuum and clean the bathroom floor Friday night, I will do that to finish up the bathroom.

Sunday Morning

Yep, you guessed it, laundry! If I didn’t finished up our laundry, I throw in another load as soon as I wake up. Next, I will plan out our meals for the week and make our food shopping list. Fortunately, my husband does the food shopping and sometimes Costco runs too…I generally cannot be trusted at Costco because #CostcoDoesItAgain.

Sunday Afternoon

Depending on my husband’s work schedule, I have been trying to devote a few hours on Sunday to meal prep. I will try to prep at least 4 dinners for the week. Any small bit helps, even if it’s just cleaning chicken and making a taco seasoning. I also try to make enough that I will have a few days of leftovers for lunch. Meal prep is still a work in progress for me, but I am working on it! My goal is to get meal prepping done earlier in the day.

Would you like to see more blogs like this? Let me know in the comments.

If you aren’t following me already, be sure to follow me on Instagram to see what I am cooking up in my kitchen this weekend.

My Top 5 Reasons to Buy a Le Creuset Dutch Oven

Last year when I created my bridal registry I went back and forth on adding a Le Creuset Dutch Oven. The little dream-chef voice in the back of my head kept saying, “add it, add it!” I was hesitant because I knew it was a total splurge item and I already had a pretty full list. I wasn’t sure if I would receive it or if it would take the place of a many smaller items that I really needed. In the end, I decided to add the 5.5 qt Le Creuset Dutch Oven anyway. I knew there was a good chance that I would receive gift cards at my bridal shower and I could use them to buy this dutch oven. The month of our wedding my co-works threw me a bridal shower and bought me my dream shower gift!

Before adding this dutch oven to my registry I did do a good amount of research on it. I wondered if it would be worth the money and what size I should get. I also noticed that most of my favorite chefs on The Food Network and The Cooking Channel used them. It was this article that ultimately lead me to the 5.5 quart round dutch oven. Now that I have been using this Dutch oven for a while, I would say that it is a good size. We are currently a family of two and most of the meals I make in this Dutch oven yield enough for left overs.  It’s not too small or too big. It seems like just the right size for me, but I don’t think this size would be big enough for “one pot meal” for a family of 5.

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My #1 reason to buy a Le Creuset Dutch Oven is because it is so versatile. I have used it to make soupchili, chicken pot pie, all different types of sauce and pasta. I’ve also used it to sautee large batches of veggies to put in casserole type dishes. There are still so many dishes I want to try to. I would love to make bread or roast a chicken in it as well. It has really become my go-to pot to cook with.

I am a huge fan of oven safe cookware. It really gives you a lot more options when you’re preparing a meal. The Le Creuset Dutch oven is no exception; it’s totally oven safe. It transfers from stove top to oven with no problems (including the lid). I always start my chicken pot pie in on the stove and transfer it to the oven. I have also made really tasty bolognese sauce (blog in the works) which I put in the oven and was stunned with how well it turned out.

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I love how easy to clean my Dutch oven is! I always let my Le Creuset {and all of my cookware} cool completely before I clean it. Although the website says it is dishwasher safe, I always hand wash it with soap and a soft sponge. On days that there is some stubborn, stuck on food, I will let it soak in soapy water for a while. With any new {and pricy} cookware, it’s a good idea to read the manufacture warranty before trying any cleaners other than dish soap and a sponge.

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My Dutch oven has got quite a bit of use in the last five months. Although it has some minor scratching inside {you shouldn’t use metal spoons} it still looks great. I’ve burned sauce and chili in it, but it has cleaned well and left no signs of damage. It’s super heavy duty, heats evenly, so I feel a great quality of this product helps to justify the price tag. If this dutch oven isn’t gifted to you, then it’s definitely an investment, but I am confident I will be using this pot for many years to come.

Although I went with the 5.5 quart Dutch oven there are so many sizes and shapes to choose from. There are smaller options for smaller or single house holds and large size for bigger families.  If I were to get a second Dutch oven I think I would go for a larger, oval shape to better fit chicken or roasts. I feel like there is a size {and color} for everyone!

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Galentine’s Brunch & Entertaining Tips

Valentine’s Day is the perfect occasion to celebrate the lovely ladies in your life.  Now that we are settled into our house, I regularly find myself looking for ways to have people over. I would love for our friends and family to think of our house as a home filled with their special memories. If you don’t have a house or aren’t a huge fan of entertaining, organize a girl’s brunch at your favorite restaurant. My family has done that in the past and had so much fun.

Over the last year I have slowly become more comfortable entertaining guests at our house. There’s nothing worse then feeling overwhelmed before, during or after guests arriving. I have a lot to learn, but I’ve definitely picked up a few helpful tips so far. Today, I am sharing three tips that help me to prepare myself to be a good host, along with three Instagram accounts I’ve followed recently. These ladies have been sharing some awesome recipes perfect for a Galentine’s Day Brunch!

Hosting Tips

#1 Plan and Organize: If I am planning a get-together in advance, it’s always a good idea to start planning as soon the date is set. Plan a simple menu and make a grocery list. When planning your menu be sure to consider your guest’s preferences, along with appetizers, main dishes and dessert. I will arrange to have extra tables and chairs {if needed} and of course, fun decor if I’m hosting a special event. I’ll save tips for impromptu entertaining for a separate blog post.

#2 House Prep: I am a neat freak {just ask my husband} and I’m very meticulous about our house. I clean our house regularly, but I like to make sure the house is at its cleanest for guests.  I  can straighten up the day of or night before, but I don’t want to be scrubbing every inch of the shower the morning of my party. The morning of a party, I will do some light cleaning, quickly clean the bathroom and setup anything needed for my friends.

 

#3 Food Prep: I try to plan out meals that I can put together in advance. I also try to serve dishes that won’t force me to stand in front of the stove all night. Fruits and veggies can be cut, meats and poultry can be marinated and casseroles can be prepared in advance. Soups and chili can be made early and can simmer on the stove until your guests arrive.

Don’t forget to follow me on Pinterest for some more Valentine’s Day inspiration!

The perfect Galentine’s brunch would definitely include pink mimosas and cute decor. I recently bought this inexpensive ‘be mine’ banner to hang on my fireplace mantel. It’s cute and I love that it will barely take up any room to store. It would also be cute to setup a photo back drop and use these cute Galentine’s Day props for pictures.

Instagram Galentine’s

I love following Christina Lane from Dessert for Two. All of her recipes make two servings {perfect for newlyweds}. Everything she makes looks delicious whether it’s dessert, dinner or a snack. Her food photography is beyond beautiful and she has published a few cookbooks. Talk about blogger goals!

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My Mom said my Frosted Sugar Cookie Bars are some of the best she's ever had. SO, every few months I make them in a new seasonal way. Tonight, it's with #ValentinesDay M&Ms, because they put TWO colors of pink in the bag this year–hooray! Grab the recipe link in my profile, check your email for my new recipes tonight, and stay tuned for my easiest 5-minute chocolate mousse coming up tomorrow! This is the time of year when I crank out allllll of the desserts for two because it's almost Love Day! What are you doing for Valentine's Day since it falls on a week day this year? I need to know! Are you cooking at home? Please say you're cooking at home…you're my kind of people. ❤ #feedfeed #mandms #vday #sugarcookie #cookiebars #frosted #smallbatch #foodblogfeed

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Julie Resnikc’s Feedfeed Gluten-Free account is awesome. This account makes it easy to find both gluten-free recipes and new bloggers. If you post a photo and tag #feedfeed you also have a chance of being featured on one of her accounts. This parfait that was posted recently is Valentine’s Day perfection.

Lexi’s Clean Kitchen is one of my favorite accounts to follow. Lexi shares so many gluten-free and paleo recipes. She has a great website and recently publish a cookbook too.  I think it is so cool to see bloggers grow and succeed. Lexi’s gluten-free pancake recipe along with these chocolate strawberry cups would be perfect for a Galentine’s brunch.

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They are UP!!! 🍫🍓❤️ These Paleo Chocolate Strawberry Cups are the perfect paleo and vegan Valentine’s Day treat. Made with an easy, 2-ingredient chocolate ganache and my favorite chia seed jam, everybody will love this decadent treat that is easy to make and require’s no baking! 👇🏼👇🏼 Link is in my profile for the recipe! • • • #lexiscleankitchen #eeeeeats #glutenfree #eatclean #justeatrealfood #huffposttaste #thefeedfeed #cleaneating #bhgfood #cleaneating #bonappetit #foodandwine #foodblogfeed #f52grams #mywilliamssonoma #eatingfortheinsta #realfood #beautifulhealth #foodblogeats #foods4thought #beautifulcuisines @beautifulcuisines @thefeedfeed @purewow #chocolatelovers #valentinegift

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