Friday’s Halloween Clean Sweep Field Trip—The Simpson’s Treehouse Of Horror

•October 29, 2010 • Leave a Comment

The Simpsons Halloween Treehouse of Horror 2010

Today’s Halloween Clean Sweep Trick or Treat, depending on how you see it, is a Field Trip — I could stand to get away! So let’s take a break and have some Halloween fun at

The Simpson’s Treehouse Of Horror

Here’s an insiders look at some of Marge Simpson’s tricks for keeping household sanity.

marge simpson

The Simpsons Movie star gives Rachael Ray a peek inside the family fridge.
By Rachael Ray | Image Courtesy of Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation

Marge Simpson

RACHAEL RAY: Hi, Marge! Thanks for showing us your fridge. The freezer looks like Reykjavik. Do you ever defrost it?

MARGE SIMPSON: I tried to defrost it once. I used an ice chisel and hair dryer, but I finally gave up. I’m hoping global warming will eventually take care of it.

RR: Well, that’s understandable—you’re a mother of three! What’s your favorite supper to make as a busy mom?

MS: Macaroni and cheese, boiled in its own box. It’s fast, and the cardboard adds fiber.

RR: I like how you think. If your kids ever made you breakfast in bed, what would you like?

MS: French toast, English muffins and Belgian waffles. While we’re in fantasyland, I may as well experience Europe.

RR: Is Lisa still a vegetarian? is it a challenge feeding meat-eaters and meat-freers at the same time?

MS: It’s challenging feeding anybody and Homer at the same time. The man’s got more suction than a Dyson vacuum!

RR: So, your big movie’s out this summer. What’s your favorite movie theater snack?

MS: Raisinets are good because they’re both candy and fruit. You get the fun of chocolate with all the seriousness of grapes.

RR: And popcorn—with or without butter?

MS: With butter! As Homer always says: “The popcorn is just the delivery system.” I wish we could talk about other things sometimes.

RR: I know the Duffs in the fridge are Homer’s, but after a long day do you ever swipe a coldie and knock one back?

MS: After and, increasingly, before a long day.

RR: The Swear Jar is looking mighty low. You might want to put a hidden video cam up to see if Bart has been taking out more than he has been putting in.

MS: We had a hidden video cam. Bart stole it.

RR: Are you hoping Maggie will eat more vegetables if you keep her in the produce drawer?

MS: Hmm. If Maggie’s in the produce drawer, then what did I just put in the crib?

RR: I should let you go. But one last question: if you could have any three stars, past or present, over for supper, who would get an invite and what would be on the menu?

MS: Britney Spears, Jessica Simpson and Paris Hilton. I’d feed them a piece of my mind about proper behavior for young ladies! Plus, my famous meatloaf.


1. The Simpsons’ favorite fast-food joint is:
A. Carl’s and Lenny’s Jr.
B. Moe Town
C. Krusty Burger

2. If Marge could have anyone over to dinner, who would it be?
A. Britney Spears
B. Jessica Simpson
C. Paris Hilton

3.Which trademark dish did Marge enter in the Ovenfresh Bakeoff?
A. Dessert Dogs
B. Moon Waffles
C. Meatloaf Men

Answers: 1. C 2. A,B and C 3. A

Have some Friday Halloween Fun today and do something to reward yourself for all of your hard work. More to come — only 2 more days until Halloween!!!

In good sweeping, ~vie

Halloween Clean Sweep Trick-&-Treat—Surprising Uses for Your Dishwasher!

•October 28, 2010 • Leave a Comment

Dishwasher SalmonHonestly, I couldn’t believe some of this…

Surprising Uses for Your Dishwasher

By Sarah Stebbins

22 items you can put in a dishwasher, plus how to cook salmon in it!!!

Things You Can Put in the Dishwasher

Baseball caps can get bent in the washing machine but hold their shape in the dishwasher, especially inside a contraption like the Ball Cap Washer ($5, Don’t wash with dishes; food can get trapped in the cloth.

Action figures and other small toys can ride in a mesh lingerie bag on the top rack (but don’t wash Barbie or she’ll have a horrible hair day).

Rain boots should have the liners removed and lie horizontally. Hook flip-flops on tines in the top rack. (FYI, Crocs are not dishwasher-safe.)

Tools with metal or plastic handles will be fine. Towel-dry afterward to prevent rusting.

Ceramic cabinet knobs do well in the silverware basket, so if you feel like embarking on the process (remove, wash, replace), go for it.

Hairbrushes and combs made of plastic can take a spin, but not wood or natural boar-bristle brushes. Be sure to remove all the hair first to protect the drain.

Fan grilles, switch plates, and vent covers are in if they’re plastic, aluminum, or steel. Enameled, painted, or plated should stay out.

Shin guards, knee pads, and mouth guards―toss them all into the top rack.

Garden tools may have come in contact with pesticides or animals, so don’t mix them with a load of dishes. (And don’t wash those with wood handles.)

Light-fixture covers are fine in the top rack, as long as they’re not antique, enameled, or painted.

Potatoes can get nice and clean in the top rack with a rinse-only cycle (no detergent). Sound crazy? It makes mashed potatoes for 20 a lot quicker.

Questionable Dishwasher JunkTechnically Acceptable for the Dishwasher…But Too Questionable for Us to Endorse

Computer Keyboards
Why you would: Because you spilled coffee on it. A crazy, last-resort attempt to save something that may be ruined, but some techies swear by it. Terry Jarrard, a computer programmer in Collinsville, Oklahoma, has washed his keyboards “at least a half-dozen times and never had a problem.”
Why we wouldn’t: We don’t believe in Santa Claus or unicorns, either.
If you’re so inclined: Place the keyboard facedown on the top rack, don’t use detergent, and skip the drying cycle. Afterward, unscrew the back, if possible, or pop off the keys (take a picture beforehand so you remember where they go). Air-dry two to five days. Pray the Computer Fairy is looking down on you, then reassemble.

Broom Ends (and Dust Pans, Scrub Brushes, and Vacuum Attachments)
Why you would: It’s the only way to get them clean.
Why we wouldn’t: Ick.
If you’re so inclined: Shake loose dust into the trash first, says Shannon Lowe, the Tulsa-based author of the blog Stick brushes and attachments in the silverware basket and broom ends and dust pans on top.

Why you would: Because it’s an Internet cliché that happens to work. Impress friends! Make kids laugh!
Why we wouldn’t:Real Simple Magazine’s food editors tested this “recipe,” and though the fish did cook, the dishwasher reeked afterward (shocker). Plus, you’re actually cooking the salmon with your crusty dishes and coffee-stained mugs.
If you’re so inclined: You can actually cook salmon in your dishwasher. Here, directions from a Los Angeles chef and cookbook author.

Dishwasher Roasted Salmon in FoilBob Blumer’s Dishwasher Salmon Recipe

1 tablespoon olive oil
4 6-ounce pieces salmon fillet
¼ cup fresh lime juice
kosher salt and black pepper
1 lemon, cut into wedges
heavy-duty foil


  1. Grease the shiny side of two 12-inch squares of heavy-duty foil with the oil. Place 2 pieces of fish side by side on each square. Fold up the outer edges of the foil (to contain any liquid) and drizzle the fish with the lime juice. Season with salt and pepper.
  2. Fold the foil closed to form 2 airtight packets. (To test the seal, press down on a packet gently with your hand. If air escapes easily, rewrap.)
  3. Place the packets in the top rack of the dishwasher. Run a normal cycle. Remove the fish from the foil and serve with the lemon wedges.  Serves 4

A take-the-risk-out-of-making-dinner-in-the-dishwasher tip: Richard Vergili, a food-safety instructor at the Culinary Institute of America, in New York City, says that as long as a thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the fish reads 145° F, it’s safe to eat―and probably pretty moist.

Dishwasher Loading Tricks

Glasses should go on the top rack between the tines, not over them, so they don’t rattle or come out with tine marks.

Plates get cleanest when they face the center rather than all in one direction.

Bowls go on the top rack. Those in the rear should face for-ward; those in front should face the back, so water can get in.

Butter knives are safest (for loader and emptier) blade-side down.

Spoons and forks should be varied (some placed business-end up, some down) to keep them from nesting.

Cookie sheets and platters go along the outer edges of the bottom rack, so they don’t block water and detergent from other pieces.

Long-handled utensils that are too tall for the silverware basket can lay horizontally across the top rack. Put serving spoons facedown so they don’t collect water.

Casseroles, serving bowls, and large pots should be placed on the bottom rack at a slight angle, rather than upside down, so they don’t block the flow of water.

Plastic containers and sippy cups belong on the top rack. Plastics marked “7” or “PC,” like some flimsy takeout containers, can’t be used for food after going through a dishwasher. They contain the chemical BPA, which may leach out when heated.

Still curious? Learn more about The Secret Life of Your Dishwasher. Or check out 14 Who-Knew? Uses for Your Microwave!

Wow!!! that’s all I can say…

~ vie

Thursday’s Halloween Clean Sweep Treat—October 2010 Keep-It-Together Checklist

•October 28, 2010 • Leave a Comment

Today’s Halloween Clean Sweep Treat is for all my Caped Crusader Heroines, cleaning, sweeping, and banishing clutter throughout the rest of the Fall and on into Winter —

Velvet Gloves and Iron Fists!!!

Should we include dishpan hands with this?!

Check back for the next Halloween Treat—Surprising Uses for Your Dishwasher!!!

The October 2010 Keep-It-Together Checklist

Stay calm and in control with this easy-to-follow to-do list for Fall.

Save on Halloween supplies. Steer clear of the costume aisle at your nearby big-box store and the risk of showing up as yet another witch at the neighborhood party and try a homegrown option instead. (One idea: Dress up as “Iron Chef” and wear a chef’s hat while carrying an iron.) Buy sweets from or, which offer lesser-known (but just as tasty) brands, like Wonka’s Laffy Taffy, at about half the cost of drugstore prices. And for your centerpiece, head to a local farm to buy gourds instead of picking them up at the grocery store; you could save $5 or more on each one.

Start composting. Don’t bag the fallen leaves in your yard; throw them, along with kitchen scraps, into a backyard compost bin. Make sure you have a ratio of three “browns” (that’s wood chips, straw, branches, and leaves) to one “green” (grass clippings and kitchen scraps). Mix the pile every time you add new waste and, in as little as a few months, you’ll have rich compost to add to your backyard.

Pick up some pears and apples. You’ll probably have to ripen these fall favorites at home, so store them at room temperature. When they’re ready to be eaten, the flesh on the neck will give a little when pressed. Then make Pear-Apple Sauce: Simmer equal parts chopped pears and apples with a bit of maple sugar and cinnamon until the fruit breaks down and the sauce thickens.

Savory Roasted Pears: Toss quartered firm pears with red onion wedges, fresh thyme, olive oil, salt, and pepper. Roast at 400° F until the pears are tender. Serve with roasted chicken or pork loin.

Gingery Pear and Cabbage Slaw: Toss shredded cabbage with thinly sliced pears, sliced scallions, grated fresh ginger, and fresh lemon juice. Serve with broiled fish, spicy seared tofu, or sautéed shrimp.

Baked Pears with Pecans: Halve and core pears. Top with Sucanat and chopped pecans and bake at 375° F until the pears are tender. Serve with Vanilla Rice Dream.

Spruce up your wardrobe. Your closet needs a pick-me-up, but who has time for a trip to the mall? Make fall shopping easier by checking out mix-and-match separates from each of some of my favorite stores: Ann Taylor Loft, Ann Taylor, Banana Republic, Club Monaco, and H&M. Also check out discount department stores such as Marshall’s, Ross, TJ Maxx, and SteinMart. You may be able to find some goodies at The Gap and Old Navy, but their quality isn’t as good as it used to be.

Best Clothing and Accessories Shopping Websites:,, (exactly what the name says),,, (search for a good tailor),,, and calculates your body type from measurements you take, then directs you to the clothing made to flatter your shape. Genius!

Protect your hands. Prepare your skin for the colder months—keep them looking healthy and youthful with the help of the right products. All those who Dior perfumed lotions, raise ’em! PM me your address.

Take care of your hands in cold weather: cleanse, smooth rough skin with a homemade olive oil and sugar scrub, use a hand cream with at least SPF 25, rub Aquaphor Advanced Therapy Healing Ointment into nails and cuticles during the day to prevent dark spots or melanoma, and use Roc Multi-Correxion Night Treatment at night (the gold standard for line-smoothing and pigmentation-reducing ingredients).

For Very Dry Hands, look for the same ingredients you use for your complexion, rich in lactic acid, hydrating urea, and exfoliating alpha hydroxy acids, such as Eucerin Plus Intensive Repair Hand Creme.

Buy jeans. The rush for back-to-school clothes has ended, so retailers are cutting prices on leftover inventory, which includes a lot of denim. Check out department stores and Loehmann’s and Marshall’s for marked-down designer jeans left over and you could save 30 to 60 percent below retail.

Visit to find The Best Jeans for Every Body Type.

Shop the frozen-foods aisle. Frozen vegetables and fruits can actually be more nutritious than fresh, since they’re packaged right after harvesting and the nutrients stay at their peak. Plus, when you opt for frozen, you can get out-of-season foods (say, peaches) all year round. Vegetables and fruits typically last for about eight months unopened in the freezer.

Look for: Plain, 100 percent vegetables (they should be the only things on the ingredient list). There’s no nutritional difference among the boxed, bagged, or steam-in-bag plain varieties, so go with whatever you like. Make sure the vegetables haven’t frozen into a lump―a sign that they have been thawed and refrozen. This means they retain fewer vitamins. The same with fruit, pure and simple fruit is the best option. The bags will stay good for about two months after they’ve been opened. Look for resealable bags to help prevent ice crystals, which can signal the fruit has become dehydrated and possibly lost some of its flavor or nutrients.

Avoid: Anything mixed with cheese, topped with sauce (such as garlic), or accompanied by pasta or rice. A cup of plain frozen broccoli, for example, has 30 calories, no fat, and 20 milligrams of sodium. Package that same vegetable in a cheese sauce and the calories more than double and the sodium soars to about 600 milligrams. Avoid any fruits packaged with sugar. Frozen strawberries in syrup, for instance, can contain up to 11 times as much sugar (about 17 teaspoons) as natural, unsweetened ones.

Tip: Speed up meal prep during the week and amp up nutritional content by adding frozen vegetables (thawed in the microwave or a bowl of cool water) to casseroles, stews, and soups. You can also blend them into dips and use them to top fresh salads. Frozen fruits can be delicious straight from the freezer. Mango chunks, cherries, and blackberries are particularly tasty when eaten ice-cold. You can also blend them into smoothies, or top pancakes, waffles, and yogurt with them for an antioxidant boost.

Hope this little “get-things-going” list for Fall helps you budget and organize your time more effectively. I’m always looking for the good deals out there, especially before a big holiday season when things are typically more hectic, and easy ways to stay warm and healthy as the weather gets colder.

Please feel free to ask me for any samples you might need for winterizing your skin care or makeup, and I’m sure to have some good tips and tricks as well on the fashion front!

Happy Sweeping!
~ vie

Today’s Halloween Clean Sweep Trick―How to Fake a Clean House

•October 27, 2010 • Leave a Comment

Grave SituationToday I’d like to fill you in on a little “trick” for hiding the horrifying hot messes we’ve been cleaning, organizing, and sweeping away… cleaning things is definitely more fun when you do it in the spirit of Halloween! No capes or gloves today, unless you’re purely dressing up for a Halloween Party.

For those of you that will be hosting Halloween Parties, welcoming Trick-or-Treaters on All Hallows Eve, or anything else this weekend, here are some helpful hints for faking a clean house in anticipation of the afore mentioned events.

How to Fake a Clean House

When you’re short on time, here’s how to give your living spaces the illusion of cleanliness.

The Living Room

  • Reserve one side of sofa cushions to be shown to guests. Before company arrives, flip over the cushions to reveal good-as-new fabric. When guests are gone, flip them back.
  • Mona LisaRid the sofa of pet hair by wetting the fingertips of rubber gloves and gliding your hand over the sofa. The hair will stick to the rubber.
  • Stack books, catalogs, and magazines in neat piles on the floor or arrange them in a deep decorative basket.
  • To disguise windows in need of washing, pull curtain panels closed.
  • Fold a clean blanket neatly and drape it over a stained sofa. Strategically placed throw pillows can also camouflage soiled upholstery.

The Kitchen

  • When the dishwasher is full and the sink is overflowing, stow dirty dishes and silverware in a stockpot and pull them out later to be cleaned.
  • Eye CandyCover up the lingering aroma of last night’s supper by boiling nutmeg, cloves, or cinnamon and orange peels in a sauce-pan on the stove.
  • Declutter the refrigerator by taking down notes, drawings, and magnets and throwing them in a plastic bag. Sort through it later.
  • Fold hand towels to hide stains. Two tips: Hang the clean side over the oven handle (with the stains in the back), or roll towels in neat spirals and stack them pyramid-style next to the sink.

The Home Office

  • Stash stray office supplies, like pencils and pens, in decorative stationery boxes or filing containers on your desk.
  • Punching Bag, Made with an Office Hole Punch Take down calendars and notes from bulletin boards and file them in folders. Or align them so that the tops are all in horizontal lines.
  • Rearrange crooked books so that all spines are facing the same direction and the titles all read from top to bottom.
  • Stow the keyboard and the mouse in a drawer so only the computer monitor tops the desk.
  • Temporarily hide wayward Post-it notes and to-do lists underneath the keyboard.

The Bathroom

  • Glide a sticky lint roller over the bath mat to pick up hair.
  • Light a candle. Everything looks better (and cleaner) by candlelight.
  • Clean SlateHang a fluffy bathrobe on top of damp towels dangling from the hooks on the back of the door.
  • Store a rattan or canvas basket on top of the toilet and throw in stray cosmetic brushes.
  • Hang fresh guest towels. The humidity in this room makes textiles look droopy, even after a recent machine washing.
  • Mound cosmetics and hairstyling products in a container underneath the sink. In a pinch, pile them in the tub and close the shower curtain. Cross your fingers that guests don’t snoop.

The Kids’ Rooms

  • Stash scattered puzzle pieces in a drawer; stack the boards on a shelf.
  • Stow pajamas under the pillow. This way, they’re off the floor and ready for later.
  • Can't WaitPut blocks in a handled shopping bag and hang it on a hanger or a doorknob inside the closet.
  • Put homeless stuffed animals in extra pillowcases. Or prop them up behind shams.
  • If your kids have a play tent, hide toys and clothes inside it.
  • Pile books neatly on the floor, largest to smallest, next to a chair or a desk.
  • Spritz a deodorizer spray around the diaper pail to eliminate odors.

The Laundry Room

  • Fold clean towels neatly on the drying rack. Rope lingerie items on hangers, then place them in the bedroom closet, away from prying eyes.
  • Ghost RiderDrape a scorched ironing board with a clean white sheet, tuck in the edges to fashion a make-shift cover, and place the board in the far corner of the room or behind the door.
  • Pile any laundry that needs to be folded in baskets or storage containers and lay them on the washing machine to be sorted through later.
  • As for dirty clothes awaiting washing, simply toss them in the washer.


Check in for tomorrow’s Halloween Clean Sweep Treat!!! and Happy Sweeping!
~ vie

Halloween Clean Sweep 2010: Banish Clutter―No Spells Necessary!!!

•October 26, 2010 • Leave a Comment

Are you haunted by the clutter that overwhelms your house? I know I am! But cleaning house doesn’t have to be scary. So may I introduce to you, the one and only…

Halloween Clean Sweep 2010
{ screams }

Oh the horror…

Don’t worry, it will be virtually painless! Just join in each day for new tips on clutter, cleanliness, organization, and time management, and this week will go by so fast you might even miss it!

Banishing Everything You Don’t Need to Make Room for What You Want

Witches don’t fly on brooms; Witches use brooms to sweep away bad energy … sweeping the threshold of a house both for protection and to prepare the way for the new spirit to enter.

Composer and Singer Jimi Hendrix quotes “like a broom is drearily sweeping, up the broken pieces of yesterdays life…”

Traditions behind the Broom
Broom (Besom): The besom is a long-handled tool with a bundle at one end that was once made from the broom plant, which grows on European heaths and pastures. Broom is characterized by yellow flowers and angular branches ideal for bundling. Thus, the instrument made of this plant came to be known as a broom.

Since Roman times, the broom has been associated with feminine power. Prior to childbirth, women used a broom to sweep the threshold of a house both for protection and to prepare the way for the new spirit to enter. In some circles, people use the phrase “jumping the broom” interchangeably with “tying the knot” as slang for getting married. The broom appears in the folklore of various countries and cultures, such as these:

  • In some parts of the Western world, when a sports team is on a sweep, fans will wave little brooms in the stands.
  • In Madagascar, women danced with brooms while their men were at war in order to sweep away the enemy.
  • In China, the broom represents wisdom and insight because it brushes away worries.
  • In Japan, brooms are used during spring rituals to purify the ceremonial space.
  • In Victorian-age America, a new broom would never be bought in May, “lest you sweep the family away.”Witches don’t fly on brooms—that’s just a colorful misconception. Instead, they use them to sweep away unwanted energies from sacred space.

How to Banish Clutter (no spells necessary)

To Banish~
Pronunciation: \ˈba-nish\
Function: transitive verb
Etymology: Middle English, from Anglo-French baniss-, stem of banir, of Germanic origin; akin to Old High German bannan to command
Date: 14th century
1 : to require by authority to leave a country
2 : to drive out or remove from a home or place of usual resort or continuance
3 : to clear away : DISPEL <his discovery banishes anxiety — Stringfellow Barr>
— ban•ish•er noun
— ban•ish•ment \-nish-mənt\ noun

Take a hard look at the reasons for your mounting clutter.
1. Do you get frustrated daily because you can’t find things?
2. Do you regularly misplace your keys, glasses or wallet?
3. Does it take you as long to find a tool as it does to do the job?
4. Is your garage used for storage instead of for your car?
5. Are you embarrassed to let others see inside your home?
6. When guests arrive unexpectedly, do you run around closing doors?
7. Has it been a while since you’ve seen the floor of your storage areas?
8. Have you lost count of how many junk drawers you have?
10. Do you feel obligated to keep family “heirlooms” that you never use and don’t love?
11. Do things fall out of cupboards and closets when you open them?
12. Have you kept every piece of artwork and homework that your kids have ever done?
13. Do you buy things and then discover you already have them?
14. Do you have a growing mountain of unopened mail and newspapers?
15. Do you consistently argue with your spouse or kids because of the piles of belongings littering your home?

Hopefully some of these organization strategies for banishing clutter from every corner of your home will help you sweep away some bad habits.

Dump the junk!
Mountains of junk mail and overstuffed closets aren’t just eyesores; they can also increase anxiety. Clutter makes it impossible to get anything done on time. As a result, we miss deadlines, forget appointments, and annoy our friends and work associates—all of which causes stress that makes it even harder to get organized. It’s a vicious cycle. And messes often hide problems in our lives we don’t want to confront. Recognizing this root cause is the first step to staying organized and getting rid of junk.

You’re avoiding something. Bills and statements, for example, may be piling up because you don’t want to confront money woes. I usually think, if I get organized, I’m going to find out my finances are in horrible shape. Then I’m going to have to change my spending habits. Just do it!

You fear failure. How many times have you said, ‘If only I were organized, I’d go back to college or finish a book proposal,’ etc. But the mess lets you put off taking a shot at your dream. If you fail, you have no one to blame but yourself. Blaming a mess is easier.

You’ve changed—and aren’t prepared for it. Possessions let us hold on to a part of ourselves we aren’t ready to give up (I’m learning this myself clearing my own clutter). Clothing is often the culprit: Keeping “skinny” clothes you hope you’ll squeeze into again shows you’re unhappy with the extra pounds you’ve put on. And holding on to “fat” clothes is a sign you’re sick of your workout regimen or diet. But old apparel can subtly undermine your identity. The sight of your ‘skinny clothes’ will quietly convince you you’re fat, and the sight of ‘fat clothes’ after you’ve lost weight may cause you to relapse into your old eating habits. So banish them!

You want to retreat. Can’t throw a dinner party because your house is a pig-sty? Deep down, you may want to withdraw from friends and family—even from people in your own home. But such passive tactics rarely solve problems.

You’re holding on to someone. While it’s natural to save mementos of a loved one who’s recently died or moved out, keeping too much can keep you from moving forward, whether that’s finding new friends or a new career path. I heard Mark and Neecy tell a client this on and episode of “Clean House” on the Style Network: “What you don’t realize is their memories aren’t in these objects, it’s in them and they live in your heart.”

Files and papers
Eighty percent of what you file is never looked at again. But how do you know which papers to keep and which to recycle? Eileen Roth, author of Organizing for Dummies, has a pretty good rule of thumb for papers without obvious significance: “If it doesn’t affect your taxes, you probably don’t need it.”

  • Keep only the most recent paycheck stub, utility bill, mortgage payment, mutual-fund prospectus, insurance policy. As you file the latest, throw out the last.
  • Hold for seven years: bank statements, cancelled checks and credit-card statements.
  • Keep long-term: one copy of each successive version of your résumé; diplomas and certificates; school transcripts; receipts for car repairs and large purchases; mortgage and real estate documents; home-improvement records; annual statements (keep the quarterly until you receive the year-end summary) of stocks, bonds, mutual funds, RRSPs; and legal documents (leases, trust papers, etc.). Keep tax returns at least seven years.

No filing system? Here are ideas (for use after you decide what to keep, not before):

  • Buy straight-cut manila folders without tabs. If you put two identical labels on each folder—on both the front top-right corner and back top-left—you’ll find what you need right away.
  • Use white 1” by 3” removable labels on your folders rather than typical labels, which are too small to write on and lose their adhesive with age. Fill out all your labels with a black, fine-tipped marker.
  • Avoid color-coding—such systems are hard to remember and difficult to keep supplied—or using a variety of pens, which gives files a jumbled, messy look.

Closets and cabinets

  • To maximize space, buy six-tiered hangers for skirts, and hang pants upside down from the cuff, so bulkier waistbands fall below shirt level.
  • Use a hanging shoe bag with clear plastic pockets to store pantyhose and socks. Also great for storing mittens in a coat closet or for organizing small toys in kids’ rooms.
  • Place rubber-coated wire racks on cabinet shelves to make best use of the vertical space.
  • Kids’ stuff
  • If toys are taking over your home, hold a “toy garage sale” and let your kids keep the proceeds from everything they choose to sell. You might have a budding entrepreneur in your midst.
  • One surefire way to cut down on kids’ clutter is to work on building “memories, not possessions.”

Consider taking children to the zoo, a museum, or the theatre instead of buying them the latest video game.

Garage, basement and attic

  • Most garages and attics are dimly lit, shadowy or downright dark, making the impulse to just add to the clutter pile and run almost irresistible. Install extra fixtures or keeping battery-powered lights on hand.
  • “If you bought a new one, you’re not going to fix the old one,” says Matt from “Clean House” of the broken electronic devices, toasters, and other appliances you’ve got stashed in various places. Donate them or throw them out.

Don’t run in fear yet! We’ll break it down and make it simple for you throughout the week. Let’s discuss where we are all starting and would like to finish in the process of Clean Sweep Week, and each day we can add things to the list that I might have missed on this list. Of course, this is just an outline for getting started. You can simplify or adjust as needed during the week.

Let us know what is really scaring you about cleaning house, and we will bond together to make the upoming holidays more relaxed and fun for everyone.

Halloween is only a week away, so get out your brooms ladies, and let’s sweep away the things that may be holding us back for a healthy, happy holiday season ahead!

In good sweeping,
~ vie

Just in time for Father’s Day, a Vegetarian Dagwood Sandwich

•June 19, 2010 • 3 Comments

Dagwood Bumstead of the Blondie comic strip loves his mile-high, multi-layered sandwiches topped with an olive on a toothpick. For anyone with a Dagwood-sized appetite, a towering sandwich makes a very satisfying meal. However, the traditional Dagwood sandwich includes mass amounts of deli meat. By using your creativity and the leftovers in your fridge, it’s quite easy to concoct your own vegetarian take on the comic classic and serve it to your “Dagwood” Dad for Father’s Day while he watches the US Open PGA Tournament on ESPN.

Use a bread of substance, such as a sourdough, and be sure to use slices from the center of the loaf so the slices are of uniform size, and, of course, use whichever combinations and in whatever amounts of ingredients you wish—these recipes are only suggestions. In fact, you can come up with other ingredients, and that would work as well. Possible accompaniments include tomato soup and all-American ice cream sundaes, and some Classic Lays Potato Chips, coleslaw and potato salad, or even simple green salad. And always garnish with a dill pickle.

Just have fun with it and enjoy the look on his face when he sits down to a multi-tiered sandwich full of veggie goodness… of course my extremely “set-in-his-ways” Dad  just might kill me if I don’t include any meat on his Dagwood, but it’s worth a try. I love him, and want him to live well into his 80’s, so making him food that he might not be accustomed to is honestly trying to show how much I love him. And an old-fashioned bottle of Dad’s Root Beer on the side will warm him up to the idea.

Blondie has survived for seven decades through war and peace, boom and bust, sexual revolution and social upheaval. Why? Eating. Sleeping. Making a living. Raising a family. Loving and laughing. With these simple but universal themes, Blondie transcended its origins as a pretty-girl romance to become the most widely read strip in comic art history. And “The Dagwood Sandwich” has become part of our language, described by Webster’s Dictionary as “a thick sandwich with a variety of fillings, often of apparently incompatible foods” such as peanut butter, horseradish and a fish!

Let Father’s Day be your way to spread the message of love. Fathers, in most families, are our special unsung heroes. They rarely ever get their fair share of adulation. Love your dad and show him you care. Here are just a few recipe variations to feed try.

Mini Dagwood Sandwich

Vegetarian Times Issue: March 1, 2004   p.24
Serves 2 (or 1 as the case may be…)

This vegetarian take on the Dagwood is shorter but with a plentiful filling.

  • 5 slices sourdough bread
  • 5 very thin slices red pepper
  • 1/2 cup mesclun, rinsed
  • 4 very thin slices red onion
  • 4 very thin slices tomatoes
  • 4 slices sandwich-cut dill pickles
  • 6 very thin slices cucumbers, skin on
  • 4 tsp. nonfat or vegan mayonnaise, or more as desired
  • 2 slices vegan American-style cheese
  • 2 tsp. Dijon mustard, or more as desired
  • 2 slices vegan “bologna”
  • 2 tsp. relish, or more as desired
  • 2 slices vegan “ham”
  • 8 slices vegan “pepperoni”

Put bread slices on flat surface. Arrange pepper, mesclun, red onion, tomatoes, pickles and cucumbers in readied piles. Starting with the bottom layer, spread mayonnaise on top side of bread, and layer with cucumbers, 1 cheese slice at an angle and strips of pickles lengthwise on bread.

Place second slice of bread on filling, spread top side with mustard and layer with sliced red onion and “bologna.”

Place third slice of bread on filling, and spread top side with mayonnaise and relish and layer with red pepper slices, lettuce and 2 slices “ham.”

Place fourth slice of bread on filling, and spread top side with mustard and layer with tomato slices, 1 slice cheese at an angle and 8 slices “pepperoni.”

Spread underside of fifth slice of bread with mayonnaise, and place on top of stack. Skewer sandwich layers together with a 12-inch-long bamboo skewer or metal skewer, and serve.

Grilled Vegetable Dagwood Sandwich

From Food Network Kitchens
Serves 4 to 6 (or maybe just 1… who knows?)

  • 2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
  • 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt plus more
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons finely chopped rosemary leaves
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 yellow bell pepper, seeded and quartered
  • 1 red bell pepper, seeded and quartered
  • 1 pound zucchini, cut into long 1/4-inch thick slices
  • 1 pound eggplant, cut into long 1/4-inch thick
  • 3 medium portobello mushrooms, stemmed, dark gills removed, sliced 1/4-inch thick
  • 1 medium red onion, cut into 1/4-inch thick slices
  • 1 large vine-ripened tomato, cut into 1/4 inch slices
  • 1 cup arugula or basil leaves, washed and dried
  • 1/2 pound fresh or smoked mozzarella, cut into 1/8 inch thick slices, or 4 ounces fresh goat cheese cut into 8 pieces
  • One 9-inch square piece of focaccia bread, about 1 to 1 1/4 pounds

In a small bowl, whisk together the vinegar, 3/4 teaspoon salt, garlic, rosemary, and pepper. Gradually whisk in 1/2 cup of the oil to make a dressing. Set aside.

Preheat a stove top grill pan or out-door grill to medium heat. Brush the peppers, zucchini, eggplant, mushrooms, and onion with the remaining oil. Grill the peppers until lightly browned and tender, about 5 minutes per side. Transfer the peppers to a pan or large platter. Grill the zucchini, until softened and lightly browned and tender, about 3 minutes per side; transfer to the pan with the peppers. Grill the mushrooms, until soft but not flabby, about 2 minutes per side; set aside with the other vegetables. Grill the onions until soft, about 5 minutes per side; set aside with the other vegetables. Drizzle a tablespoon of the dressing over the vegetables and season with salt and pepper to taste.

To make the Dagwood Sandwich: Split the bread in half to make two evenly thick square pieces. Brush the dressing on the cut sides. Make a layer of each of the grilled vegetables that evenly covers one piece of the bread, overlapping the pieces slightly, if necessary. Top with a layer of the tomatoes, season with salt and pepper. Lay the arugula on top and drizzle them with about a tablespoon of the dressing. Finish the sandwich off with the cheese and lay the other piece of bread on top. Wrap the sandwich tightly in plastic wrap. Place the wrapped sandwich on a cutting board or baking sheet and weigh it down with a heavy object, such as a cast-iron skillet, for about 1 hour. When ready to serve cut into 4 to 6 pieces equal pieces.

Cooks Note: This is a great way to use up a variety of leftover grilled vegetables. In keeping with a true Dagwood style, feel free to improvise with the selection of vegetables and cheese.

Tempeh Dagwood Sandwich

Recipe from The South Beach Diet Quick and Easy Cookbook
Makes 1 serving

Stacked up high and filled with smooth avocado, juicy tomato, and creamy cheese, this power-protein sandwich is a South Beach vegetarian favorite. Vegans can use nondairy mayo and soy cheese. If you have extra time, marinate the tempeh for up to an hour.

  • 2 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon plus 1 1/2 teaspoons cider vinegar
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1/2 (8-ounce) package soy tempeh
  • 1 teaspoon mayonnaise
  • 2 slices multigrain bread, lightly toasted
  • 1 ounce shredded reduced-fat cheddar cheese (3 tablespoons)
  • 1/4 avocado, peeled and sliced
  • 2 slices vegan American-style cheese
  • 2 slices tomato

Whisk together soy sauce, vinegar, and garlic in a shallow bowl. Add tempeh and marinate for 10 minutes, turning once halfway through.

Spray a medium nonstick skillet with fat-free cooking spray and heat over medium heat. Add tempeh, reserving marinade, and cook until well browned, 4 minutes per side. Remove from heat, add 2 tablespoons of the marinade to the pan, and flip tempeh once or twice until marinade is absorbed.

Spread mayonnaise on 1 bread slice. Place tempeh on top and cover with cheese, avocado, and tomato. Top with remaining bread, gently press down, slice in half, and serve.

Nutrition at a Glance: 450 calories, 19 g fat, 5 g saturated fat, 37 g protein, 38 g carbohydrate, 16 g dietary fiber, 860 mg sodium

The Dagwood Sandwich for Vegetarians

October 4 • Chicago Vegetarian Examiner • Stephanie Herzog

Stephanie has been a vegetarian for over 15 years and is passionate about vegetables and finding delicious vegetarian dishes that knock the socks off of even her carnivorous friends.

Vegetarian Dagwood Sandwich
Start with several hearty slices of bread (depending on the height you are trying to achieve). Thinner bread will not be able to withstand the piling of veggies and spreads.

Next, choose a type of spread (or several different ones for that matter). The sandwich spread is key because it will act as a “glue” to hold the ingredients and bread slices together. Spread suggestions include cream cheese, mustard, guacamole, pimiento cheese, hummus, or even benedictine.

Finally, slice your veggies thin and layer on top of a bread slice covered in spread and repeat with periodic bread pieces. Stack until the sandwich has reached a “Dagwood-esque” height. And, don’t forget the iconic green olive on a toothpick to crown your masterpiece.

More Options: Don’t think your sandwich stacking skills are quite up to par? Let an expert do it… m.henry | chow for now globally inspired, new american style restaurant and bakery makes a wonderful veggie Dagwood stacked sandwich, piled high with avocado, leaf lettuce, vine ripe tomato, tempeh, red onion, walnut pesto, sweet pea sprouts, wisconsin sharp cheddar, lorraine swiss, pickles, & dijon mustard, on multi-grain, topped with the requisite olive.

Happy Father’s Day!

For my dad, Robert Keith Johnson, who gave me the greatest gift of all — an extraordinary father. He didn’t tell me how to live; he lived, and let me watch him do it.

Shaun T Memorial Day Special

•May 28, 2010 • Leave a Comment

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