What To Do With Dip and Salad Dressing Packets

dip mixesI love dip mixes. I keep mine in a plastic box in my pantry. I tend to use a lot of them but even I tend to get an overload of them once in awhile. That’s when I look for ways to use them up.

One thing to remember is dip and salad dressing mixes are simply a collection of seasonings and seasonings can be used in lots of things.

My favorite way to use dip and salad dressing mixes is to season meat with them. These are great when making beef roast or pork roast. Just sprinkle a few packets over the meat and cook as usual. My favorites for this is onion soup mix, ranch dressing mix and Italian dressing mix.

A great way to use for fried chicken is to mix a packet of ranch dressing mix into your bread crumbs before coating your chicken. Even better is to go ahead and make the ranch dressing, coat you chicken with it and let it marinate overnight. When you are ready to fry it up, re-coat the chicken and then coat with bread crumbs. Your chicken will be super tender and taste really great.

Another yummy way to use the packets is to mix the dip mix with mayonnaise and then use it to make your tuna salad, egg salad, pasta salad or chicken salad.

A quick easy way to make turkey wrap ups is to mix softened cream cheese with the dip mix. Then spread the cream cheese mix on a tortilla and top with turkey slices. Microwave for about 10 seconds so it’s really soft and will roll easily. You can top with some chopped veggies like celery, onion or whatever. Then roll it up. If you want to cut them into pin wheels, put back into the fridge to cool for about an hour. Otherwise your turkey roll ups are ready to eat.

Mix dip mix with a carton of sour cream to make a yummy topping for baked potatoes.

I mentioned this before but one of my favorite ways in the summer to make a quick, cool meal is to mix a dip or salad dressing mix packet with mayo and mix it with some cooked pasta. Add chopped veggies, sliced green olives, chopped ham, shrimp or chicken and other chopped veggies for a yummy pasta salad for dinner or lunch.

Think outside the box and think of your packets as seasoning packets. What else can you use them on? I’d love to hear your ideas!


Home Orgaizing Tips from my Best Friend

storage basketsNote from Cathy: This post is actually from my best friend. Donna is the most organized person I know so I asked her for some tips for an article I was writing. Her organizing tips were so good, I decided they needed to be in a post all their own.

Organizing Tips

Have a place to put everything! Spend a day organizing. Don’t stop until everything is stored somewhere.

Store your items in the room in which you most use them. For example, if you paint your nails in the kitchen (it could happen!), then store your nail items somewhere in or near the kitchen, not across the house in your bedroom. When it’s easy and faster for us to clean up, we’re more likely to do so.

In order to accomplish the previous tips – have shelves, baskets, and/or drawers in every room of your house. I even purchased living room side tables that have drawers for easy storage. If you don’t have drawers, you can purchase inexpensive, decorative baskets. In other rooms, I mounted cheap shelves on the walls to hold items and more storage baskets.

If you need to put up cheap shelving but don’t want the room to look like a warehouse, cover the front of the shelving with a pretty fabric that coordinates with your room. Fabric sold on remnant tables at fabric stores is CHEAP. I have installed it in front of shelves by folding it into pleats and staple gunning it to the wood, or by folding over the top inch of the fabric, sewing it, and inserting a 99 cent tension rod from Wal-Mart through the top. Each end of the tension rod sits against the inner sides of the shelving unit.

At the end of the day, do not go to bed until you have walked around and returned all items that are sitting out to their proper place (see tip #1). I do this no matter how exhausted I am! It will cause you to go to sleep feeling calm and organized and when you wake up to an attractive home, it will motivate you to continue keeping it that way.

Chaos does not promote inner peace! Comfort, warmth, and order do.

How to Keep a House Organized and Clean

woman doing housekeeping

If you read my post yesterday, then you have learned how to get you house in order. If you have not read it yet, you can find it here: Controlling Clutter and Getting your House Organized.

Now, the bigger problem (at least for me) is how to keep your house organized.  It is so easy to slip back into old habits and before you know it, your house is a pig sty again.

I have found some tips over the years to help me stay on “the straight and narrow” and I want to share my infinite wisdom with you (just joking, I’m not that wise but I do have a few tricks up my sleeve).

One thing I need to tell you. In order to make this work is you need to keep doing these things until they become a habit and feel like second nature. Usually that takes about a month. Just keep at it. It well definitely make your life easier.

First of all, we are going to assume you did the steps in my previous article and your house is now clean and organized. Now you want to keep it that way. Below are some of my best tips.

  • Schedule monthly, bi-weekly and weekly jobs onto your calender. I put them on my google calender, which sends me an email reminder but you can put it on any calender you check regularly. An example of the jobs is,  the first week of every month I wash my comforter, clean out the frog habitat, and give the fridge and freezer a good cleaning. Every week, I wash the sheets on my bed and mop the kitchen floor. Every other week I give the dogs a bath.
  • Get in the habit of doing things on the same day. For example, laundry on Monday, deep cleaning on Tuesday, gardening on Wednesday, grocery shopping on Thursday.
  • Clean up spills and messes as they happen if possible. It will save you time in the long run because the longer a spill sits, it “sets” and hardens which makes it harder to clean.
  • Have several times through out the day when you go through the rooms you use the most and just de-clutter. This is especially important to do if you have kids or a messy hubby. Ideally, they have been trained to pick up after themselves but either way, stuff seems to manifest in the  rooms you use the most. So just pick it up and put away or throw away. I do these “straighten ups” at the same times through out the day. When I come downstairs (because others get up before me and have already left for work). I also do it after I put the baby down for a nap. Lately though, I have been doing it before I put her down for a nap and I get her to help me. I’m training her early. I also do it after I have finished the dinner dishes and before I go to bed. You don’t have to do it as much as I do. Adjust it according to your family’s lifestyle.
  • Multitask. I know multitasking has fallen out of favor but I find it works well, particularly if one of the things you are doing requires very little concentration. For example, I may clean out a desk drawer while chatting on the phone, or fold laundry while watching television.
  • Chunk your time. If you are putting off a job because it seems too daunting, just make yourself do it for 10 minutes. Set a timer. I bet when the timer goes off, you will continue with chore.
  • Use boring housework time as learning time or fun time. I use my ipod while I’m cleaning and listen to an audio book, a podcast or just some energizing music. By the way, when I listen to the music, I usually clean faster. If  you have your kids or someone else helping you, turn up the stereo so the music can pump all of you up while cleaning.
  • Get kids in the habit of picking up after themselves. If you start them young, you will save yourself years of grief. I’m the voice of experience here. I am training my grand daughter that every time she pulls a toy out to play with, she needs to put  the one she was playing with before away. It’s what I call, the one toy in, one toy out rule.

So I hope these tips will help you keep that house nice and clean. Please leave me a comment if you found anything helpful here. And also tell me any of your own tips that help you keep your house organized and clean.


Controlling Clutter and Getting your House Organized

Clutter seems to be one of those things that gets out of hand if you don’t constantly keep on top of it. I hear people often complaining that they feel overwhelmed and just don’t know where to start to get their house and life under control.  You can sometimes feel like you are on the TV show “Hoarders” when every where you turn, there is junk and clutter.

I know, I have been there. I hate clutter but I live in a house with other people who are natural hoarders. They feel sentimental about every object, even if it’s no longer usable and are fine living with trash and junk around them. It’s a constant battle and occasionally, I am just too tired to fight it. That’s when things can get out of hand here very quickly and I have to jump back in before things get too out of control.

I hope after reading this article, you will feel better about getting your house in order and will know where to start.  First of all, realize, you will probably not get the house finished all in one sitting. It may take days or even weeks, depending on how much there is to do and how much time you have to devote to it.

Start with one room at a time and don’t move on to another room until the first room is finished. Doing one room at a time allows you to complete it so if you are interrupted or just get too tired to go on to the next room, at least you will have one room clean. That alone will give you a sense of accomplishment and give you the motivation to keep on your organizing and cleaning journey.

It’s best to start with the room that gets the most traffic or is closest to the front door. That way, if you have unexpected company, at least that room will be presentable.

Start at the door and work your way around the room, and go on to the middle of the room. Work on one drawer at a time, one cabinet at a time, and then go on to the next.

You will create 4 piles. You can use laundry baskets for those piles or cardboard boxes or trash bags.

The 4 piles are:

  • Giveaway-to a charity or a friend or family member who cold use it
  • Trash-I’d use a trash bag for this one. Put in anything that is obviously garbage or items that are broken or worn out and can no longer be used.
  • Somewhere Else– you want to keep these items, but they belong in another room or need to be stored elsewhere, such as the attic, basement or garage.
  • Keep-These are things that belong in the room you are working on.

If you have trouble deciding what to do with things and which pile they should go in, then ask yourself these questions:

  • Is it broken, or worn out or is still usable? If it’s broken, then throw it away. If it’s usable then go on to the next question.
  • If it’s still usable, do you still use it? If it has not been used in the past year, it’s time to give it away.
  • If it is something that you only use once or twice a year, can it be stored elsewhere? Like the attic?
  • If it’s something decorative, do you love it or is it just something else you have to dust? If you don’t love it, it’s time to give it away.
  • If the decorative item is something given to you as a gift and you feel guilty giving it away, think of it this way. You are giving it more honor by giving it to someone who will appreciate it rather than with you who is just keeping it out of guilt.

After you have de-cluttered everything in the room, take care of your 4 piles. First put away anything that belongs in that room. Put the things that belong in other rooms away where they belong. Put the things that are to be given away in your car to be taken to the charity or friend.  Throw away your trash.

Now it’s time to clean. Start at the top and work down. Use an extended duster, clean any cob webs on the ceiling or corners and dust your hanging fans. Wash windows and mirrors. Polish furniture. Dust baseboards and vacuum or mop your floors last.

After you finish this room, it’s time to take a break before going on to the next room. Get yourself a cold drink and  pat yourself on the back for a job well done.  Now go on to the next room.

Remember, it may take quite awhile to do this the first time but after it’s done, all you have to do is maintain it. And I realize, that’s the harder part. Look for tomorrow’s post on how to keep your house clean and organized.