January 2019 - New Year, New Decor!

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For many people, myself included, dismantling our cozy, holiday homes can leave us feeling a bit sad and our homes a bit bare. On the other hand, I love starting the new year with a clean slate for decorating! I have so much fun moving furniture pieces around, rummaging through the house to find accessories to display, creating new stacks of books, and switching out pillow covers and throws.

When decorating your home post-holidays, you want to make reference to the winter season still ahead without appearing as though you just haven’t taken down your holiday decorations yet.

This transition from Christmas to winter can be tough (and not just for decorating) but I’m going to give you some tips on how to achieve a warm, cozy sanctuary you’ll love snuggling up in until Spring!

Keep your wreath – If your holiday wreath doesn’t scream “Christmas”, then leave it out! If it’s made up of holly berries or red and green ribbon, then switch it out for another beautiful wreath. Wreaths can be used for décor year-round. Whether it’s a floral wreath, a yarn strung wreath, or a twig wreath, just find one that reminds you of the season and it will easily add style wherever you hang it!

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Layer textiles – Fabric is such a versatile material because it can add pops of color, pattern, and texture to a room. In your home, you probably have several materials you can build around already.  Some examples include upholstered furniture, throw pillows, blankets, poufs, rugs, curtains, and fabric wall art. Layering your room with a variety of these different fabrics will make it feel warm and comfortable while adding interest and dimension!

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Bring Nature In - In those winter months when the trees outside are brown and bare, having living plants in your home brings the beauty of nature inside and helps you look forward to the new life that lies ahead in the spring. Vibrant, fresh flowers in a vase or a green, leafy plant will instantly uplift your home and your mood! Nurturing an indoor garden or just some potted herbs also allows you to foster your green thumb even in the winter.

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Accessorize with wood - In addition to having other natural elements such as plants and flowers in your home, incorporating wood gives a space warmth, texture, and an organic touch. Wood can be introduced in a variety of ways from the structure of the home such as beams and flooring to the furnishing and accessories. If you don’t have much wood in the architecture of your home, you can add wood elements with furniture, bread boards, bowls, and photo frames, to name a few.

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Use fairy lights – One of my favorite things about decorating my home for Christmas is the warm, cozy ambience of all the twinkling lights. Just because Christmas is over, doesn’t mean you need to ditch all the lights. Battery operated fairy lights are a great option for creating this ambience. These pretty, little wires with tiny lights can be used in so many ways to create a cozy atmosphere. You can string them across a fireplace mantel, illuminate a glass hurricane, add them to a decorative bowl, run them along your dining table centerpiece- the options are endless!

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For more tips and ideas, contact Stacie Langan of Pretty Simple Decorating & Organizing Quad Cities, or find her page at www.iowaprofessionalorganizers.com. Happy Decorating!







                   







January 2019 Feature! Stacie Langan

It’s January. Time to take a big, deep breath!

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The weather may still be frightful, but the craziness of the holidays is behind us. January not only marks the start of a New Year, but it’s also a time of new beginnings. For many people, this is a time to reflect on the past year and to set new ambitions for the year ahead.  No matter what your New Year’s Resolutions are, following through can be a daunting task. I encourage you to take baby steps and to keep on walking until you have reached your goal! For example, if your goal is to have a more organized house, tackle one area at a time. You might simply start with one cabinet, then a closet and then a room.

Although everyone is at different places in life, the premise remains the same. Getting Organized saves time, saves money and reduces stress. In this season of life, my organizing systems revolve around the needs of my family, including elementary aged children, so I completely understand that one of the common goals in households with children is to get a handle on paper clutter. Specifically, how to organize all the papers and crafts they bring home from school. Often, these papers don’t hold any value and just need to make their way into the recycling bin. However, the big question is how to store all the things you DO want to keep in an organized way?

You may also have a few stacks of Christmas cards or Holiday crafts your kids made that you’d like to keep, but if you don’t have a system for storing them, they will probably just sit in a pile and clutter up your counter tops until the 4th of July! If paper clutter happens to be a sore spot in your home, remember again, to take baby steps. Start by separating the items you want to save and weeding out the items you don’t. Then, utilize a storage system such as the one below to keep everything organized.

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In my home, I keep a plastic file box for each family member, which I call “keepsake boxes.” The children’s boxes have individual file folders for pre-school through grade twelve. Obviously, those higher grades will not be getting filled for quit some time, but it’s nice to just have the box ready to go. In my boxes, I like to keep things such as report cards, school work that my kid’s put a lot of effort into, special art work, and cards that my kids get for their birthday or other holidays. Organizing all your keepsakes by grade level saves from having to label everything.

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I also have keepsake boxes for my husband and me, but they are organized a bit differently. We are often getting cards and art work from our kids or from each other, so our boxes have a separate file folder for each one of our children and our spouse. When I get a Mother’s Day card from my son, I put it in my box in his folder and when I get a birthday card from my husband, I put it in his folder. Similar to the grade level system in the kid’s boxes, dividing up my box by family member allows me to know who the item came from without having to label everything.

You can find the plastic file boxes that I have pictured at Walmart or purchased at Walmart.com by following this link: https://www.walmart.com/ip/Sterilite-File-Box/19400063

Pretty Simple Decorating and Organizing serves the Quad Cities area. Fore more organizing and storage ideas, check out my business at: facebook.com/prettysimpledecorating.organizing. Live outside of the Quad Cities area? You can also find all the help you need with home and office organizing projects across our great state by checking out our amazing Organizers and Efficiency Consulting Professionals at: www.iowaprofessionalorganizers.com.

May you find peace, joy and a life of Organization in 2019 and beyond. Happy New Year From IPO!

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December 2018 - 5 Gentle Reminders for the Holiday Season

5 Gentle Reminders for the Holiday Season

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There’s no doubt about it, the holidays can be a stressful time for most people. From shopping to cleaning to cooking, it may seem like you simply can’t keep up with the demands others put on you (not to mention the demands you’re likely putting on yourself). December should be a month of reflection, celebration, and enjoyment! It’s time to do yourself a favor - take a 5-minute break to read through my “gentle reminders” and consider how following them could bring you peace and joy in the coming weeks.

1. Write it down

If you’re at all like me, you have a hundred thoughts and ideas popping into your head throughout the days. People are probably counting on you to follow through on commitments. Don’t be the one to drop the ball! Write everything down in a single list that you can consult to check your progress. I like using the Notes app on my phone since I know I’ll always have my phone with me.

2. Make time for yourself

When was the last time you scheduled time for yourself? I often find if I just wait for some free time to find its way into my day, it will never come. Be proactive and plan ahead! Even setting aside just 20 minutes to read a book, work on a craft, or sit quietly without distractions can make a world of difference for your peace of mind.

3. Stay active

We all know it’s easy to be “too busy” to care for our physical bodies. Believe me, I know ALL the excuses (because I’ve used them). With all the stresses and sweets that come with the holiday season, we owe it to ourselves to try and stay ahead of those lethargic feelings that make us just want to lay on the couch or crawl into bed at 5pm. Don’t worry if it’s too cold outside to go for a walk or you can’t find the motivation to change into your exercise attire for a workout at the gym – there are other options! Search for a quick workout video on YouTube, go to the mall (just be careful not to let the activity become window shopping), or turn on the radio and dance around your living room!

4. Be grateful

I can’t count the number of times I’ve had a “Practice Gratitude” article pop up on my social media news feeds. Research boasts that the act of intentionally being grateful can reap great benefits. We are often reminded to be grateful around Thanksgiving, but I don’t think anyone would argue with my recommendation to incorporate into your lifestyle year-round. With the technology we have at our fingertips today, it’s easier than ever before. It only takes a few seconds to shoot off an email, text, or tweet to express your gratefulness for a friend or family member. If you’re really into it, you could keep a gratitude journal to make notes of what you are thankful for each day. I find that I’m most grateful during the holiday season, and I like to express my gratitude with gifts. Disclaimer: As a self-proclaimed “minimalist”, I am very careful to ensure my gifts are not adding undue clutter to anyone’s space. To each their own.

5. Embrace your space

You should treasure the space you spend your time in. Whether that’s your home, your office, your car – you deserve for that space to bring you a sense of calm. Make sure your space is clean and clear of clutter. If you’re expecting to receive gifts at the end of the month, this might be a good time to go through your current things and consider which items you could discard or donate. Out with the old, and in with the new. Iowa Professional Organizers is here to help – find an organizer near you!




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September 2018 - Hearty Fall Recipes

Ready for some killer fall recipes?  It time to break out the crock pot for some hearty fall soups, stews and chili's.  A huge thank you goes out to this month's IPO Featured Organizer, Laura Lord for sharing some of her favorite recipes with us! I can't wait to try the white chili with home made beer bread and whiskey butter! Enjoy! And, as always don't hesitate to let us know if you have questions or comments.  Happy Fall from Iowa Professional Organizers!

Skiers' Sweet and Sour Stew

3 TBSP vegetable oil  2 lbs round steak, cut into 1-inch cubes  15-oz can tomato sause  2 tsp chili powder  2 tsp paprika  ¼ cup packed light brown sugar  1 tsp salt  ½ cup cider vinegar  ½ cup light corn syrup  2 cups peeled and sliced carrots  2 cups chopped onions  1 large green bell pepper, cut into 1-inch squares  1 4-oz can pineapple chunks, drained  6 small round loaves of sourdough bread (optional)  Makes 6 servings. Heat oil in skillet and brown round steak. Transfer to crock pot or large kettle. Stir in tomato sauce, chili powder, paprika, brown sugar, salt, vinegar, corn syrup, carrots, onions, green pepper and pineapple. Cover and simmer for 6 hours or until meat is tender. Serve in individual bowls or hollowed-out rounds of bread.

3 TBSP vegetable oil

2 lbs round steak, cut into 1-inch cubes

15-oz can tomato sause

2 tsp chili powder

2 tsp paprika

¼ cup packed light brown sugar

1 tsp salt

½ cup cider vinegar

½ cup light corn syrup

2 cups peeled and sliced carrots

2 cups chopped onions

1 large green bell pepper, cut into 1-inch squares

1 4-oz can pineapple chunks, drained

6 small round loaves of sourdough bread (optional)

Makes 6 servings. Heat oil in skillet and brown round steak. Transfer to crock pot or large kettle. Stir in tomato sauce, chili powder, paprika, brown sugar, salt, vinegar, corn syrup, carrots, onions, green pepper and pineapple. Cover and simmer for 6 hours or until meat is tender. Serve in individual bowls or hollowed-out rounds of bread.

Johnsonville Chiliville Chili

1 lb Johnsonville Italian Ground Mild, Sweet or Hot Italian Sausage  1 lb ground beef  1 medium onion, chopped  3 celery ribs, chopped  3 garlic cloves, minced  3 cans (14.5oz each) diced tomatoes with green pepper and onions  2 cans (16oz each) kidney beans, rinsed and drained  1 can (14.5oz) beef broth  1 can (6oz) tomato paste  2 Tbsp brown sugar  1 Tbsp chili powder  2 tsp ground cumin  1 Tbsp Worchestershire sauce  ½ tsp crushed red pepper flakes  Shredded cheddar cheese optional  In a large saucepan, cook sausage and ground beef over medium heat until no longer pink; drain. Add the onions, celery and garlic. Cook and stir for 5 minutes or until tender. Stir in the tomatoes, beans, broth, tomato paste, brown sugar, chili powder, Worchestershire sauce, cumin and red pepper flakes. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; cover and simmer for 20 minutes. Sprinkle with cheese.

1 lb Johnsonville Italian Ground Mild, Sweet or Hot Italian Sausage

1 lb ground beef

1 medium onion, chopped

3 celery ribs, chopped

3 garlic cloves, minced

3 cans (14.5oz each) diced tomatoes with green pepper and onions

2 cans (16oz each) kidney beans, rinsed and drained

1 can (14.5oz) beef broth

1 can (6oz) tomato paste

2 Tbsp brown sugar

1 Tbsp chili powder

2 tsp ground cumin

1 Tbsp Worchestershire sauce

½ tsp crushed red pepper flakes

Shredded cheddar cheese optional

In a large saucepan, cook sausage and ground beef over medium heat until no longer pink; drain. Add the onions, celery and garlic. Cook and stir for 5 minutes or until tender. Stir in the tomatoes, beans, broth, tomato paste, brown sugar, chili powder, Worchestershire sauce, cumin and red pepper flakes. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; cover and simmer for 20 minutes. Sprinkle with cheese.

Creamy White Chili

2 cans great northern beans  2 16-oz cans chicken broth  2 lbs cooked chicken, cut into 1-inch cubes  1 14-oz jar medium salsa  1 can cream of chicken soup  4oz shredded Cheddar or Colby jack cheese  Serves 6. Simmer beans, broth and chicken for 5 minutes. Add soup and stir well. Add salsa and simmer for 1 hour, stirring occasionally. Add cheese before serving.

2 cans great northern beans

2 16-oz cans chicken broth

2 lbs cooked chicken, cut into 1-inch cubes

1 14-oz jar medium salsa

1 can cream of chicken soup

4oz shredded Cheddar or Colby jack cheese

Serves 6. Simmer beans, broth and chicken for 5 minutes. Add soup and stir well. Add salsa and simmer for 1 hour, stirring occasionally. Add cheese before serving.

Whiskey Butter

On medium speed, beat 1 cup salter butter, at room temperature until light and fluffy. Add 4 tsp whiskey, 2 Tbsp chopped parsley and 1 clove minced garlic, mixing well. Spoon into a small crock or roll into a log and wrap in parchment paper; freeze until set (about 30 minutes) and chill until ready to serve.

On medium speed, beat 1 cup salter butter, at room temperature until light and fluffy. Add 4 tsp whiskey, 2 Tbsp chopped parsley and 1 clove minced garlic, mixing well. Spoon into a small crock or roll into a log and wrap in parchment paper; freeze until set (about 30 minutes) and chill until ready to serve.

Beer Bread

3 Cups flour – sifted!  3 tsp baking powder (omit if using Self-Rising flour)  1 tsp salt (omit if using Self-Rising flour)  ¼ cup sugar  1(12oz) can of beer  ½ cup melted butter  Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Mix dry ingredients and beer. Pour into a greased loaf pan. Bake 1 hour, remove from pan and cool for at least 15 minutes.  Notes: This recipe makes a very hearty bread with crunchy, buttery crust. If you prefer softer crust, mix the butter into the batter instead of pouring it over the top.  If using non-alcoholic beer, add a packet of Dry Active Yeast or 2 tsp bread machine yeast for proper rise.

3 Cups flour – sifted!

3 tsp baking powder (omit if using Self-Rising flour)

1 tsp salt (omit if using Self-Rising flour)

¼ cup sugar

1(12oz) can of beer

½ cup melted butter

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Mix dry ingredients and beer. Pour into a greased loaf pan. Bake 1 hour, remove from pan and cool for at least 15 minutes.

Notes: This recipe makes a very hearty bread with crunchy, buttery crust. If you prefer softer crust, mix the butter into the batter instead of pouring it over the top.

If using non-alcoholic beer, add a packet of Dry Active Yeast or 2 tsp bread machine yeast for proper rise.