HATE A CHORE? GIVE IT 5 MINUTES

As I’ve mentioned before, my least favorite task is folding and putting away clean laundry.  I’ve been really busy lately, focused on my diet, exercise, and studying – but I’ve managed to keep the house in good-enough-for-company shape…except (no surprise here) the master bedroom.  Though I refuse to let the bed go unmade, piles of laundry, both clean and dirty, have formed.   I blame my lack of a dryer for the dirty piles, because I haven’t had time to go to the Laundromat to dry towels…so I don’t want to wash them.

I need a spare hour and a half to tackle this…but with all my time and energy focused elsewhere, I don’t feel like I have that amount of time to devote to it.

This morning, pushed to my limit with the mess, I got the bright idea that maybe it doesn’t have to be 90 consecutive minutes.  Maybe I can just spend 5 minutes here and there and get our room back into shape.

So, how much can you really get done in 5 minutes?

Surprisingly, quite a bit.  I tried it out this morning.   I needed to cool off for a few minutes after blow-drying my hair (does this make anyone else extremely hot?) so instead of just sitting down and drinking my coffee, I tackled half of the can-be-worn-again pile that had formed on my side of the bed.  Tonight, before I get into bed, I’ll spend 5 more minutes and hopefully we’ll have one less pile.  Maybe I can talk the husband into donating 5 minutes for the cause too.

Once we get the room back in order, 5 minutes a day would be enough to keep it in order.  It takes about 2 minutes to make the bed (which I don’t count right now), one minute to hang up the days rewearables or put the dirties into the hamper and put away shoes.  That leaves 2 minutes to spare!  That could include dusting one day,  vacuuming another, folding laundry one day, and putting away the next.  Okay, some of those may take more than 2 minutes…but it wouldn’t take more than 10.

I actually adopted this idea from my mother-in-law.  I’ve heard her mention that when she doesn’t want to clean, she’ll set the kitchen timer for 30 minutes and clean until it goes off.  Sometimes, she’ll continue until the room is clean, and others, she’ll just work the 30 minutes.  I don’t feel I have 30 minutes at a time to spare (yes, I am keeping myself that busy)…or at least not to spare on my least favorite task…but I can spare 5 minutes, twice a day.

I’ll report how many 5-minutes it takes to tame our room…and then I’m going to do everything I can to keep it that way…so long as it doesn’t take time away from studying – ha!

What can you achieve in 5 minutes?

Repurposing Leftovers: Chicken Tacos into Chicken Tortilla Soup

I love my Crockpot.  In fact, I love the slow cooker so much that I wore out my first one (but it WAS just a cheap one from Big Lots).  We got a nicer one as a wedding gift  – bigger and with a timer. But here’s what I really like about it:  dinner is ready when I get home from work.

Last week, I made one of my favorite Crockpot recipes:  Martha Stewart’s Slow Cooker Chicken Tacos.  I use a few chicken breasts rather than the thighs that she suggests, and we always have lots of leftover meat – more than we need for lunch the next day.  So what to do with the leftover cooked chicken?

Well, last night, I turned the leftover chicken into Chicken Tortilla Soup, using the Pioneer Woman’s recipe.  We topped it with sour cream, avocado, and black olives (and cheddar cheese on the huband’s).  YUM!

Now we have leftover soup to eat for a few meals.

I love repurposing leftovers almost as much as I love my Crockpot.  I dream of creating a cookbook that incorporates how to use the leftovers, among other things.

Mushroom Stuffed Turkey Breast Recipe

This recipe is from the Weight Watchers New Complete Cookbook, 2007.  It’s one of my favorites, but takes so long to cook that I don’t make it very often.  In fact, I hadn’t made it in years until I decided to Sunday for dinner.

Picture from The Weight Watchers New Complete Cookbook, 2007.

Picture from The Weight Watchers New Complete Cookbook, 2007.

While mine never comes out as beautiful as the picture in the book, it does look lovely enough to present for entertaining.

Mushroom Stuffed Turkey Breast

2 Tbsp Butter

2 Onions, chopped

2 C sliced Mushrooms

2 Carrots, shredded

10 oz frozen Spinach, thawed and squeezed dry

2 Tbsp chopped fresh Parsley

1 Tbsp grated Parmesan Cheese

1 Tbsp finely chopped fresh Basil (or ½ tsp dried)

1 slice bread, finely chopped

1 cup Chicken Stock

1Tbsp grated Lemon Zest

1 (3 lb) skinless boneless Turkey Breast

My notes:  I use fresh spinach, and I do not add the slice of bread.  I also can never find one turkey breast that is 3 pounds, so I usually buy two and make this into two rolls.

Directions:

In a large nonstick skillet over medium heat, melt the butter.

Sauté the onions 4 minutes.

Add the mushrooms and carrots; sauté until the vegetables are tender- 4-5 minutes.

Stir in the spinach, parsley, cheese, and basil; cook until spinach is wilted (if using fresh spinach; about 2 minutes if using frozen).

Remove from heat and stir in lemon zest, 2 Tbsp stock, and bread (if desired).

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.

Spray a 9×13” baking dish with nonstick spray.

Place the turkey breast between two sheets of plastic wrap; with a meat mallet, pound turkey breast to even thickness.

Remove and discard plastic wrap.

Spread the spinach-mushroom mixture onto the flattened turkey breast, leaving a 2” border on all sides.

Starting with the short side, roll up the turkey breast and tie at 2” intervals with kitchen string.

Place the roll in the baking dish, seam side down.

Pour remaining chicken broth over turkey and loosely cover with foil.

Bake, basting frequently, until turkey reaches 180 degrees F (about 1 – 1.5 hours).

Transfer turkey to cutting board; let stand 10 minutes then remove string and carve into 12 slices.

Pairs well with roasted chestnuts, pearl onions, and Brussels sprouts.

More notes:  Usually takes 1.5 hours.  I pounded my turkey breast a little thin Sunday though and it did only take 1.

What I’m looking forward to this week…

This week is going to be a busy one.  Some friends have invited us out for Fat Tuesday – which is only notable because this group of friends is not known for planning in advance.  We typically get a text message saying “We’re going out, meet us in an hour”.  The husband and I don’t function that way; we’re TOO BUSY to function that way.

So there are drinks on Fat Tuesday, church on Ash Wednesday, Valentine’s Day Thursday, and a couple’s wedding shower Saturday (which means shopping for a gift Friday).  On top of all that, there is still studying, keeping up with the chores, and cooking.

Out of all that, the one thing that I am most looking forward to is Valentine’s Day – of which I’ve never really been a huge fan.  But here’s why I’m looking forward to it:  my husband cooks an amazing dinner for the two of us.  When we first started dating, we agreed to not make a big deal out of Valentine’s Day, and all I asked was that he cook me a meal.  He’s a great cook, but honestly, I do most of the cooking unless it’s on the grill.  I’m okay with this most of the time because I do like to cook – but there are times when I don’t want to, and I was pretty busy at that time – training for a half marathon in March.  So on Valentine’s day, I ran the 2 miles from my house to his apartment, where I walk in to him making Shrimp Creole – roux and shrimp stock and all.  It was delicious – so delicious, in fact, that he only cooks it once a year – on Valentine’s Day.

That’s where I’m at:  Monday morning, already dreaming about dinner Thursday.

Studying vs Cleaning

Just a quick post for accountability…since it’s been a while.

I’ve been working more on Resolution #1 (finishing my Architectural Registration Exams) more than Resolution #2 (cleaning and organizing) lately.  I find it hard to pull myself away from my study guide to wash dishes and hang up clothes every night, but the house is still is good condition.  Saturday, my parents unexpectedly came to town to shop for a computer, so I took a break from studying for a hour to tidy up what needed to be before they arrived.  I love the fact that it only took an hour, not a few like it probably would have in previous years, and even then, that usually included just throwing my clean laundry on the closet floor rather than hanging it up.

Then yesterday, I unexpectedly deep cleaned the kitchen before I went to work.  We had a little mishap with the coffee maker – someone forgot to put all the parts back in after washing it and coffee leaked all over the counter and floor.  Since that someone was me, I started cleaning it up…which lead to mopping the floor and washing the cabinets…and while I was at it, why not clean the stove again and go through the refrigerator…and might as well do the upper cabinets as well.  No caffeine to thank for that burst of effort.

I missed my “deadline” for the first item on my project list – create a filing system by January 31.  I blame studying, but I’m hoping to tackle that one this weekend.

Life is busy, as always.  Balance can be hard to find, but I’m working on it.