April 25, 2013

Spring Cleaning {Closet Cleaning Tips}

and closet purging.  Do it now before the sultry allure of summer summons you to the outdoors for a few months.

I've recently finished my own closet and hope to tackle husband and kids this weekend. 

I took everything out and made piles:


For Friends/Family/Co-Workers




It was simpler than I thought.  7 bags to Goodwill, 2 bags to friends, 2 bags to list and sell on eBay and 2 bags of garbage.  Into the garbage went anything that was compromised with tiny tears or stains.  Friends et al, got stuff I love, but sadly don't fit into anymore be it too large or small.  

With a more organized closet, I was able to organize swim suits, scarves & belts and even sweatshirts.

Before the clothes went back in, the closet was cleaned deeply and cedar accessories were added to keep it fresh.  All wire hangers were switched out for wood, metal or plastic.

eBay got the brand name stuff that I could make a decent profit on.  I'm happy to say that I've already made over $200 and sales keep coming.  Can you say replenish?!

I also worked on my costume/fashion jewelry.  I've had this Pottery Barn accordian hook rack for ages.  Hung it on a bare wall in my closet, hung the costume-y stuff.  I can see it and make better use of it now and it allows my good/heirloom jewelry to rest less cluttered and cramped in my jewelry box.  I did NOT get rid of any jewelry!

Winter shoes and boots cleaned and stored away til' next year.  Winter coats and sweaters are at the cleaners now and will be stored for the summer.  

Basic Closet Cleaning Tips

Create your piles
Make a shopping list for basics you will need to replenish
Be honest.  It may be sentimental, but will you (or can you) wear it again?
Upgrade your hangers
Organize by color or type of clothing (work/play/outerwear/camisoles, etc.)
Keep it neat!

Thanks for visiting!

April 22, 2013

Hutton Happenings

A plethora of parties...this one had Mr. Scott, our favorite local children's entertainer

Anniversary reflections and a night out

A jackpot, albeit a small one {penny slots!}

A total yard makeover.  Long overdue.  New sprinklers, sod, beds and plantings.  

Can't wait to show off the after pics & enjoy a more maintenance-free summer.  We've chosen leyland cypress, white pines, inkberrys, pampas grasses, red maple, southern magnolias, pee gee hydrangea...just to name a few.

Little monkeys tree climbing

Clean eating.  I am down 10lbs. since January....now if I can only get back to the gym.

Why can't cooking, cleaning, taking care of kids, gardening + plus a full-time job be enough?!

I purged my closets this past weekend and got control of the chaos.  7 bags to goodwill and donations and 2 piles to sell on Ebay.  Have to replenish a little bit!

It's still chilly here on the Jersey Shore, everyone is starting to get crabby about it.  How long before we are all complaining that it is too hot...

Hope you are doing well lately ~ Thanks for visiting!

April 12, 2013

Us {5 years}

Through the years...

Happy 5th Anniversary to the best husband and father anyone could be blessed with...

...and this is what it's all about xoxo

April 10, 2013

Skinny Chicken Enchilada Lasagna {Recipe Swap}

Layers, before cooking

Skinny Chicken Enchilada Lasagna

3 Chicken Breasts (marinated 24 hours with marinade of your choice), baked and shredded
3- 4 Cups of reduced or fat free Mexican cheese blend
1 Can of fat free Cream of Celery soup
1 Can of fat free Cream of Mushroom soup
1 Cup of fat free plain Greek yogurt
6-8 Small corn tortillas, dipped in water to moisten, before you layer
1 Can of Rotel, drained
1 Tsp. Cumin
S and P, to taste
Sprinkling of Paprika

Preheat oven to 425*.

Mix soups, yogurt, drained Rotel, cumin, S and P and ½ cup of cheese together to create a cream mixture.

Moisten corn tortillas

Prepare your layers: ½ cup of cream mixture on bottom of baking dish, then layer a row of tortillas followed with cream mixture, chicken and cheese. You should be able to make 3 layers. Eyeball your ingredients, saving enough cheese for the top layer.

Sprinkle with paprika, baking for 20 minutes.  I broiled the last 3-4 minutes to get it nice and golden brown.

You can add or subtract from this dish, making is as spicy or subdued as you like.  I added a few drops of hot sauce to the rims of the plate for an extra kick.  It is just as delicious leftover. Enjoy!

Thanks for visiting!

Miz Helen’s Country Cottage


April 5, 2013

What I'm Pinning Lately {tgif}

Great use for old belts; loving the texture.  I think daisies would look really sweet as well...

How many times have you propped your I-products up to reference directions or a recipe and down they go?  Me, almost daily.  Here is a sweet way to relieve that problem.

My family room (aka the boys room) is boring me to death lately.  You can see it HERE.  I'm digging this design board from Laura. I may do a Spring spruce-up using some ideas from this board.  My room is chocolate brown and pale blue and I've dying to add some splashes of orange; and I need some pattern as well.

A FAB vignette from one of my favorites. Check out Mary Ann. Everything she does, I just love(sigh).  This little set-up is making me want to change my color scheme in our foyer.

Brilliant idea....especially with a spacious yard.  Paint & stick an old mailbox in your yard to hold garden tools, so they can be grabbed quick.  I am never without my gardening gloves, although I still manage to get dirt under my nails.  Worth it though...gardening is the best form of sweat equity.

Always looking for fresh new ideas for lunch.  I bring it to work 5 days a week; after awhile sammies, soups and lean cuisines get boring.  I'm digging the whole bento box thing and plan to post a week of my own bentos shortly.

Check out a plethora of unique lunch ideas for you or the kiddies here.

What have ya'll been pinning lately?

Thanks for visiting ~ have a great weekend!

April 3, 2013

Tomato Cream Sauce {Recipe Swap}

Sounds elegant right?  It's not. It's just ridiculously easy and will feed a family of four QUICKLY during the week. 

Tomato Cream Sauce

2 Cans Campbells Tomato Soup
1 Pint of Heavy Cream
Cooked Pasta

Heat the soup in a saucepan over medium high heat.  Add heavy cream slowly, stirring as you go.  You must taste as you go along, you want the cream to add to the soup, but you don't want to lose that tomatoey-tang.  I used just shy of a pint for our family.  You want to cook this for 5-10 minutes on medium heat (stirring) and then add your cooked pasta.  Cook on low for another ten minutes (stirring) to let the pasta absorb the sauce.  I used rotini, but a rigatoni or a penne would work nicely.  I served with a side of chicken meatballs, arugula salad and a nice semolina.

Disclaimer:  This is not what I'd prepare on a weekend!  I'm slightly more complex than that and I love recipes that take hours, but on a Tuesday when I have karate, soccer, laundry & bills to pay - this is PERFECT!

 Original recipe found here.  Sarah's blog is one of my faves...funny, informative and once in awhile, even I, can pull off one of her recipes.  This one here was super groovy...

Thanks for visiting!

Miz Helen’s Country Cottage

April 2, 2013

OverRUN with Candy & Swim 2013

Oh...the irony.  Hope everyone had a fantastic Easter holiday.  Of course, we still have Halloween & Christmas candy leftover, now we are inundated with Easter candy.  Right before swim season. Awesome.

We took it easy with the candy this year, opting for outdoor toys & games, cash/coin and Six Flags season passes.  My husbands Aunt put a tube of toothpaste in the boys baskets at her house...too funny!

This was our only photo from Easter.  It was rainy, cool and damp, but I was hellbent on wearing a dress and sandals.  The dress by Banana Republic is so comfortable and can be found here, for 30% off.  My favorite, most versatile sandals {on my second pair in as many years} can be found here, often with a promo code for a percentage off.

Continuing on a shopping note....

Swim 2013.  Admittedly, I still am struggling with baby weight, 3 years later.  It's my own fault, I eat well and am constantly on the go, but I need to get back in to the gym.  Last year I purchased one cute, but sturdy, bathing suit.  The sturdy suit would be worn out in public i.e. parties, swim parks, beach.  Around our pool I'd be in a hot mess of a pre-preg bikini. Here are a few I've picked for this upcoming season that will be worn home & away

J.Crew's Banded Hem Halter Top & Scalloped Swim Skirt

Also, J.Crew.  Tulle Underwire Top & Tulle Retro Hipster

LaBlanca Skirted Hipster & Coiled Bandaeu Top available at Saks

Marc Jacobs Blouson Tankini Top.  Available at Nordstrom. I didn't purchase the bottoms with this one...for $67, I can get a ton of navy bottoms anywhere else.  But I love this top....fun print, colors and trim and will hide a little tummy jiggle.

The JC banded hem bikini top is seriously amazing.  It's the most comfortable, supportive and flattering of them all (VS has a version very similar, but the girls peek out the sides, and that's never good), worth the extra $$$ and sales and promo codes can help.

As far as coverups go, I loaded up at Old Navy on tube top maxi/mini dresses and rompers.  $15 and $19.94 and right now save 15% with the code: ONSAVENOW.  SHOP EARLY >>> They tend to sell out of colors and sizes quickly.

How about you...have you started your summer shopping? Would love to hear what ya'll are planning for Summer '13...lord knows we've waited long enough for it to get here!

Thanks for visiting!