A is for Apple

This is a post where I’m going to give you some recipes using apples!

As much as I love giving over organizing and de-cluttering tips, my WordPress statics say that y’all want more about all things kitchen, including meal planning and recipes.  So, this post is all about cooking with apples.

Firstly, whatever I prepare is kid-friendly.  Secondly, I don’t use crazy or exotic ingredients.  Thirdly, these are my tried-and-true recipes that I use all the time.

Apples: apple sauce, apple kugel, oatmeal apple crisp


Apple Sauce


10-12 apples

1/4 cup of sugar (or less)

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1 teaspoon vanilla (can skip this)



  • Wash, peel, core and slice apples
  • Place all ingredients in a pot and cover apples with 1/2 inch of water
  • cover and cook low-medium heat for 15-20 minutes or until soft
  • remove apples with a slotted spoon an put in blender.  add back some of the liquid to the apples.  the less water you add, the less thick the applesauce will be.

*Notes:  if there is extra liquid you didn’t put in the blender, you have apple juice.  Enjoy.

You can also use pears instead of apples, or cook both together for apple-pear sauce


Apple Kugel


4 apples peeled and sliced

3 eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla

3/4 cup of flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 cup of oil



  • place apples on the bottom of a baking pan
  • sprinkle with cinnamon
  • mix eggs, vanilla, and sugar together with a fork.  add flour baking powder and oil
  • pour over apples
  • bake for 350 F for 30-40 minutes

*Note:  some people claim this should be a dessert and not a side dish


Oatmeal Apple Crisp


10-12 apples

3/4 cup flour

3/4 cup brown sugar

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon ginger

3/4 cup margarine

3/4 cup rolled oats


  • Pre-heat oven to 350 F
  • Grease a baking pan
  • peel, core, and slice apples.  place in the baking pan
  • mix flour, brown sugar, cinnamon, and ginger.  Mix in margarine until coarse crumbs form.
  • stir in oats
  • sprinkle over apples
  • bake 35 minutes until apples are tender and crumb topping is crisp

*Note:  I’ve also made this without the topping for a gluten-free option.


Happy cooking and thanks for reading.


The Klutter Koach

Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and Clutter.

Hello and blessings my dear readers.  In Julius Caesar it warned ‘Beware of the ides of March’.  I am warning you about the ides of December and the resulting clutter that can result from your shopping habits.

The Klutter Koach is very very worried for some of you right now.  I don’t even you who YOU are.

Why am I worried?  I am concerned for you because ‘Tis the Season of ‘let’s spend lots of money we probably don’t have on things we don’t need’.

Is it really worth getting up and going shopping at 5 am to save $5?  Wouldn’t you rather use your day off to sleep in a bit?  Do you really need something because it’s “on sale”?  If you aren’t consumer savvy, I’ll tell you a little secret.  The the clever marketers jack up the prices and then reduce the prices and call it a ‘sale’.

What are you going to do with all this extra stuff you have just bought or intend to buy?

If you bring in two new sweaters, you had better get rid of two old sweaters, unless you simply don’t have any sweaters at all then by all means keep your two new ones.  Send the old sweaters off to the Salvation Army, Goodwill, or any other local thrift store in your area.  Makes you think twice if you really need two new sweaters at all if it’s going to force you to declutter your sweater stash.

If anyone is so motivated to shop, you can buy me an iPhone or Smartphone or whatever phone has internet access so I can take photos and instantly upload them.  With that technology, I would take pictures of all my closets and you can see how little excess I have.  I have an ‘old-fashioned’ digital camera at present and it’s a real pain in the derriere to post pictures because the download/upload process is too much of a headache.  I’d love to share ‘before’ and ‘after’ photos of the clients I help.  Quite motivational to see the process and the end result, IMHO.

I started this blog because I have a knack of decluttering and organizing, I know some of you…well…need some assistance in this area.   If you are determined on buying something new this season just because advertising has brainwashed you or tradition encourages you to, you better know exactly WHERE you are going to put it, HOW you are going to clean or maintain it, and WHY you need to buy it in the first place.

I found some great articles about gifts you can give that don’t create clutter:  gifts of the heart, gifts of homemade goodies, gifts of museum memberships for families, or gifts of enrichment lessons like piano or karate.  The experience will last a lot longer than a material item.

I found a fantastic chart from Getting Organized Magazine chock-full of  72 Clutter-free gift ideas: http://www.gettingorganizedmagazine.com/2014/11/14/72-clutter-free-gift-ideas/

There are tons of gift ideas that won’t take up shelf space.  I especially like the one about massage gift certificates.  (Remember I’m a massage therapist, as well as a teacher).  Those of us in service professions really like when you buy those.  HInt hint.

So happy decluttering, happy shopping once you’ve decluttered, and happy December.

Thanks for reading.

Karen, The Klutter Koach

(Originally titled: Beware the Ides of…December)  Reblogged with new title November 24, 2017

Who’s washing the dishes?

My last post a few mere hours ago was on the topic of planning for a big meal.

As a follow-up, let’s talk about clean up.  Who’s washing the dishes tonight, or any night for that matter?  In my household, it’s usually me, me, and me.  However, The Klutter Koach is training her small army of little Furmans and they are all in various stages of learning these skills.  Even my 3-year old can clear his place and bring his cup, plate, and silverware to the sink.  Yes, he REALLY does this.  Gotta start them young.

Here are my Pearls of Wisdom for avoiding Mt. Dishmore:

  • Start when you are still in the process of cooking.  Keep a hot, soapy dish bin, large large bowl, or pot near your work space.  Deposit the dirty spatulas, spoons, etc. into the soapy water.  Even if you wait a bit before actually washing them, it will be a lot easier if they have soaked because there isn’t dried crud on them.
  • Put on music in the background.  As much as I love to cook, I hate washing big pots and as well as plastic storage containers.  I have a wide range of musical tastes so I make myself a playlist and use the music to motivate me and distract me from the task at hand.  I once had a friend re-frame the chore as “bubble therapy”.  Who doesn’t like to play with bubbles?  Doesn’t that sound so much more fun than “washing dishes”?

So, now you’ve started your meal.  Let’s say you are eating in courses.  Keep that dish bin filled with clean soapy water.

For example, your first course is fish.  Yum.  Enjoy.  Then immediately clear the plates and utensils off the table.  Put them in the dish bin.

Second course:  soup.  Serve the soup.  Ideally,  you have a helper to serve and you can wash the fish plates and silverware.

Third course:  main course and side dishes.  Take the soup bowls and spoons and put them in the soapy water.  If the fish plates haven’t already air-dried, towel dry them and put them back in the cabinet.  Wash the soup bowls.  Enjoy your main course.  When you’ve finished. Now what?

You tell me:   Take the ____and put them in the ________.  Take the soup bowls and spoons and ______.  (Remember, I’m a teacher.  I write fill-in-the-blank exercises like this all the time for my students.)

If you answered: Take the dishes from the main course and put them in the soapy water, you get an A+.

Dessert time!  DeSSert is spelled with the letter S twice.  SS=super sweet.  Treat yourself (no pun intended) and take a break from the dish washing.  Since the dishes are soaking, you won’t be scrubbing.

When dessert is finished you can wash the dishes from the main course, and put the dessert dishes for soaking.  Unless you are completely stuffed from your meal or involved in a watching football game go ahead and wash the dessert items, too.  Get it over and done with.  Yes, procrastinating generally is what comes naturally, but as Nike says ‘Just do it’.  Also, think of all the calories you are burning off while you are doing this.

So, hopefully you can keep Mt. Dishmore at bay and not have piles of dishes staring you in the face.  Now you have more time to enjoy other pursuits other than scrubbing away at dishes.

Thanks for reading.


The Klutter Koach

Planning for a Large Meal

I know many of you in the USA are prepping for your Thanksgiving meal.  Happy Turkey Day to those of you celebrating.  I, on the other hand, am prepping for the weekly holy Sabbath (aka Shabbos or Shabbat).

For those of you overwhelmed with this one day a year tradition, imagine doing it every single week.  That’s Shabbos. In fact, I don’t mind it-I love it. How do I keep my sanity?  By menu planning and keeping thing simple. Keep in mind, THE DAY IS NOT ABOUT THE FOOD!  I repeat THE DAY IS NOT ABOUT THE FOOD!  No need to overdo it and have a zillion side dishes.  Easy and simple is my motto.

I have a magnetized pad of paper keep on the refrigerator.  All week long I add items I need to buy at the grocery store. Train yourself to use it.  Out of cereal?  Honey?  Dish soap?  Write it on THE LIST. Each time you need something from the store, write it on THE LIST.

Soon, you will add your menu items to THE LIST.

So, here are my Pearls of Wisdom for planning for a large meal.  This is how I plan for Shabbos (apply method to Thanksgiving, Christmas, etc.)

PLAN YOUR MENU-decide AHEAD OF TIME what you are going to prepare. The earlier in the week you do this, the better.

Use a new piece of paper for the menu.  After decide what you want to serve, write out the menu and tack it up next to THE LIST on the refrigerator.

MAKE A GROCERY LIST-See what is on your menu and then figure out which ingredients you need to prepare the dishes you intend to make.  Naturally, you will write this on THE LIST you started previously that is already up on the fridge.


COOK-The earlier in the week you start the process, the more time you have to cook.  Some people like to cook and freeze, some like to prepare a day or two in advance, and some like the adrenaline rush of shopping the day before and then power cooking all day.

So, that’s how I do it.  EVERY WEEK.  For those of you stressing over your ONE  yearly meal–chillax.  Think good and it will be good.

So what’s for Shabbos this week?


chicken and potatoes, cous cous, peas, broccoli, and cranberry kugel


cholent (meat and vegetable stew, often with beans or barley made in a crockpot), carrot kugel, cut up vegetables, avocado tomato salad

Seudat Shlishit (3rd meal–the one before sunset on Saturday)

tuna, pita, chummus, potato chips

*Generally, we chose not to serve dessert.  If we do decide to, I would add it to the menu.

The Klutter Koach is going to now give you an added bonus:  My Carrot Kugel and Cranberry Kugel recipes!  Whenever we have guests, they are always asking for these recipes afterward.  I guarantee they will be a big hit.

For those of you who are still scrambling for a cranberry dish for Turkey Day, you have come to the right place!

Recipe:  Carrot Kugel 

From the cookbook ‘The Kosher Palette’

4 large carrots cut into 2-4 inch pieces
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/3 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 cup oil or 1/2 cup applesauce
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Pre-heat oven to 350 F
  • Combine carrots and water to cover in a large sauce pan over high heat.  Boil 25 minutes or until carrots are tender.  Drain carrots.  Mash.
  • To mashed carrots add flour, sugars, baking powder, oil, eggs, and vanilla.
  • Mix
  • Pour into baking dish.
  • Bake 45 minutes (or less depending on your oven–keep an eye on it)
*can be easily doubled
*can be made into muffins
Recipe:  Cranberry Kugel 
2 cups flour
2 Tablespoons baking powder
3/4 cups sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup oil
1 can of jellied cranberry
  • Mush flour, baking powder, sugar, egg, vanilla, and oil together until crumbly
  • spread half of mixture in the bottom of a baking pan or dish
  • spread jellied cranberry on top
  • crumble the rest of the flour mixture on top of the cranberry
  • bake 350 F for 45 minutes uncovered
*Recipe can easily be doubled.  I have been making two at a time and freezing one to use for another week.
*My father-in-law calls this dessert.  I call it a side dish.
Bon appetite. Thanks for reading.
The Klutter Koach

ROUTINE–not a dirty word

Routine is not a dirty word.

Routine is not synonymous with boring.

Routine is predictable.

Having a routine is comforting–you know what comes next.

There are those times you just need to go on auto-pilot and having a routine has trained you to get through a series of steps without having to think about it.  It’s kind of like when you walk or drive the same route everyday and sometimes you don’t know how you got from Point A to Point B.  You did it by not thinking about it. That’s the beauty of a routine.

Then there are those times when the news of the day is so awful, yet you still have to function and go on.  The kids need to be fed, the laundry has to be laundered, and the dog walked (for those of you with kids and dogs, that is), but you get my point.  There isn’t a “pause” button or a “rewind button” or even a “fast forward button” for life.  You need to keep moving forward, no matter what emotions you are feeling, especially when you are the one who is the Captain of the Ship, so to speak.

When the world feels insecure, there is at least some security and comfort in having routines.  There are bedtime routines, morning routines, washing the dishes routines, etc.  If anyone wants me to blog about any of these specific areas to give you a little food for thought, I’d be happy to do so.

In light of the tragic events in Jerusalem today, after having cried buckets of tears and feeling emotionally drained, my dishes still got washed, the laundry done, everyone home-worked, fed, bathed, and put to bed.  Without our household routines firmly in place, chaos could have ensued–but didn’t.

May our routines give us the structure and comfort to get through whatever comes our way.

Thanks for reading.


The Klutter Koach

You’ve Got Mail!

One of my favorite films of all time is You’ve Got Mail starring Meg Ryan and Tom Hanks.  No, this post isn’t a tribute to this classic film.  It’s about what action to take after you have received an e-mail.

How much mail is in YOUR in-box at the moment?

As I type this post, I have 9 messages total in my in-box.  Not 9 unread messages, but simply 9 messages.  I have a note from my dad, a community list-serve digest, three personal correspondences, a message from my health insurance, and three messages I sent to myself with dates I must transfer to my calendar.  That’s it.  I can actually see and enjoy the beautiful background I chose.

How do I keep my in-box so uncluttered?  Here are my secrets:

1.  Delete.  Not everything that comes in my in-box needs to be read.  On Sundays, I may receive 25 list-serve digests from my community.  If I don’t read a few, the world will not come to an end.

2.   Create files.  I have one file called ‘Messages to Keep’. If there is something I have read, but I’m not ready to delete it or don’t have a specific file for it, the message gets moved here.  After awhile I’ll go through those and purge the ones no longer relevant.

To name a few of my files:  Schools (named by school), Messages to Keep, Recipes, Organizing (articles I find on-line and want to keep for reference), Massage, Photos, From Mom and Dad,  ADDitude (magazine for parents of/ or individuals with ADHD/ADD), The Klutter Koach, and Teaching. I have 26 files at present.  The beauty of files is that you can create as many as you want.

3.  Unsubscribe.  Do you have mailing lists you no longer care to receive or can live without?  They all have a very convenient place to click that allows you to remove yourself from the mailing lists.  For example, I was on the mailing list to receive announcements for a school I used to teach at.  I loved working at this school, but four years after I moved, did I really need to know about the next day’s weather-related closing?  Hence, I unsubscribed.

4.  Change your settings.  If you belong to Yahoo Groups, for example, you can adjust your settings to receive a daily digest, a weekly digest, or no mail at all.  Try to alter your settings so that you receive as few messages as possible.  This is not set in stone, so you can experiment with what works best for you. You have the freedom to change your settings as often as you want.

If you have an in-box with hundreds (or thousands?–gulp) of e-mails, start by allotting 15 minutes at a time to tackle this clutter. Delete.  Create folders.  Start chipping away and eventually at the backlog will disappear.

So, these are my pearls of wisdom for managing your in-box.    Some of you have chosen to follow the Klutter Koach.  After you have read this blog post, now what?  You can delete it or keep it.  If you choose to keep it, create a file called The Klutter Koach and go right ahead and file it there.   Now you have one less item in your in-box.   Congratulations.

Thanks for reading.


The Klutter Koach

Unsolicited Pearls of Wisdom for Brides-To-Be

I’ve always wanted to give unsolicited advice to brides-to-be.  Since I don’t know anyone setting married and my oldest daughter is 12, I have these pearls of wisdom I’ve been dying to share with someone.

OK, perhaps you don’t fit into the bride-to-be category, but whether or not you’re already married, you probably have a kitchen, and your kitchen is filled with stuff.  How many of those items do you use?  How much just sits there taking up precious storage space?  How many of your things to you really LOVE and how much of it do you use but have a love-hate relationship with?  I will talk about de-cluttering your kitchen another time.  This post is meant to be preventive medicine for those setting up home and perhaps an inspiration to those of you wanting to update what you have.

This post was inspired by my recent 16th wedding anniversary.   I remember my wedding day very well.  For starters, it snowed.  I remember my Southern husband-to-be asking if it snowed in Chicago in early November.  I told him no, it didn’t; very rarely, anyway.  Well, guess what? It snowed the night before and morning of the wedding and everything was covered in white.  Some things you simply have no control over.  Other things however, you have the power in your hands.

One of these things you have control over is selecting the items for your new home. This rite-of-passage occasion is known as “Registering for the Infamous BRIDAL REGISTRY”.  These, my friends, will be decisions more important than selecting the flavor of your cake.  The cake, will be a distant memory preserved in photographs, but your dishes will be with you for much longer.

Here is where my Pearls of Wisdom after 16 years of marriage come in.  Choose those kitchen items wisely!

The Klutter Koach’s Pearls of Wisdom for Brides-to-be

  • silverware-make sure your forks and spoons will nest nicely together in the drawer.  knives-the flatter the handle, the better they stack.  I hate my butter knives.  The sturdy, thick handle I admired causes my knives to take up too much space in the silverware sorter.  It drives me crazy.
  • dishes-my preference is Corelle or some other lightweight dish over stoneware.  That’s my personal opinion.  Corelle is lighter, easier to stack, taking up less space in the cabinet.  All their bowls nest nicely.  They dry quickly.  They are versatile and easy to add replacements or additional dishes as needed.
  • pots and pans-stainless steel over non-stick.  I have non-stick now and we’ve used them so much that all the non-stick part is coming off the bottom.  Not only does it look unsightly, I am sure there are health issues associated with non-stick things.  In the meantime, I have to make due.  I think buying individual pieces of the pots you will use most is more important than a boxed set of something.
  • bakeware- Pyrex or Corningware is classic. Whether you get one of these or a knock-off, I think it’s best to get the sizes and shapes you are going to actually use. I’m not fond of the 12-piece/16-piece/ whatever number piece size set.  Far too common is having pieces you don’t use that end up cluttering up your cabinet.  If you are the owner of unloved, unused bakeware because it came with a set, pass it on.  To you it is clutter, to someone else, it maybe be exactly what they want.
  • food storage containers aka Tupperware, Gladware, etc.- BE SURE THEY NEST inside each other.  Don’t mix rounds and squares.  The biggest disasters I see are with people’s food storage containers.  I think I’ll dedicate a separate post to this topic, but for now try to stick with one brand and be sure everything can stack inside of each other.  Another thing to keep in mind- I personally hate washing storage containers.  The less corners, ridges and bumps where the lids and containers meet on your storage containers, the easier it is wash them.
  • gadgets-I personally hate gadgets.  So the less you have, the better.  A can opener, a peeler, and a wine bottle opener are all have.  Sort of.. also I have an apple corer only because my kids know I have it and won’t let me get rid of it.  I have measuring cups, measuring spoons, and two spatulas.  Do you really need an egg slicer, or can you make due with a knife?  Do you really need the thingy to make perfectly round burger patties or can you use your hands?  You get my point?
  • kitchen utensils-keep to the basics and don’t have more than two of each.  Nobody needs a million soup ladles.  The more you have, the more opportunity you have to be lazy. The fewer multiples you have, the more you are forced to wash your dishes avoiding pile up after a cooking session.

So, mazel tov and congratulations if you are a bride-to-be setting up home. For the rest of you who faithfully made it to the end of this post, thanks for reading.

Karen  The Klutter Koach


How about a Weekly Meal Plan?

Every week I receive a weekly reminder from one of my groups asking members if they want to try for a weekly meal plan.  It also asks if you have a Shabbos meal plan.  My husband and I have been planning our Shabbos meals for years (Friday supper, Saturday lunch, plus a third meal late Saturday before sundown).  For those of you not familiar with the Jewish Sabbath, all shopping and cooking must be completed by sundown on Friday night.  No exceptions.

The rest of the week meal planning was…well… another story.

Until recently, I used to wing it. My pantry had staples like beans, rice, pasta, buckwheat, tuna, rice cakes, peanut butter, spreads,and baking supplies.  Fresh fruit, veggies, eggs, and bread were in the fridge.  Throwing together an easy, nutritious meal wasn’t a problem. Then something happened.

Some health concerns warranted that half of the family was about to go gluten-free and dairy-free.  I felt that these two commonly allergenic substances were causing unwanted symptoms and I needed to eliminate them.   I knew in the long-run this would be beneficial.  In the short-term, without my standby pasta or pancakes options, I was stressed about what to feed everyone.  Yes, there are plenty of websites and recipes chock full of ideas, but when suddenly the pasta and bread needed to disappear from the menu choices, it made things a bit challenging.

So, it was time to do some meal planning.

I’d seen samples of weekly or bi-weekly meal plans, but the problem with them was the suggestions contained gluten, dairy, non-kosher items, expensive items, or products that I can’t buy locally.  I needed a customized plan.  I had to do this step by step.

The first thing I did was make a list of what everyone liked to eat.  I listed it by categories.  Breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks, soups, and treats/desserts.  It gave me a point of reference to see what my options were.

Next, I began an internet search for some new recipes.  What I did when I found a recipe I liked was to send it to myself as an e-mail.  In the subject line I typed the name of the recipe.  In the body of the e-mail I copied the link, the ingredients, and cooking directions.  After it arrived in my in-box, I moved it to a folder called ‘recipes’.

I am a HUGE fan of FlyLady (www.flylady.net).  At some point I had signed up for a free Cozi calendar through Flylady.  The link is http://www.flylady.net/d/cozi/   It is a fantastic organizational tool.  Check it out!   One of the sections is called MEALS.  Under MEALS is DINNER PLANS.

For a few weeks I charted what I had been serving all day long.  I saw patterns.  I cook mostly from scratch and charted what I was cooking and on which days.  Those patterns are started to emerge.  (This is a pre-planning step. In teaching we use a lot of pre-writing organizers, so this was similar to having a student do a pre-writing exercise before writing an essay).

The final step was to write out a weekly plan.  This plan is really a guide, but nobody calls it “meal guiding”.  Maybe they should…I’ll start a trend.

In meal guiding (formerly called meal planning as of 5 second ago), flexibility is a must.   I have found SOMETHING inevitably happens to mess up my execution of the “perfect plan” after I’ve written it: someone gets sick and doesn’t want to eat,  the kids ate a late lunch and aren’t hungry for supper, someone used up a key ingredient and didn’t tell me, etc. etc. etc.

When it comes to food plans, guides, and meal options, there is always going to be trial and error, especially in the beginning.  All you can do your best and be flexible because things inevitable happen you have no control over.   I have many favorite quotations.  One of them is “Man plans, G-d laughs”  Never-the-less,  meal planning saves money, time, and stress.  When you know what you plan to serve and have the ingredients on-hand you won’t waste money on expensive fast food or pre-made take-out meals.  You can cook in double and triple portions and freeze for another time.  You can avoid the “what’s for supper/lunch/dinner/snack” question and even tell the family to check the menu for a weekly preview.

Good luck and happy planning.


The Klutter Koach

My Journey to Alternative Health and my Crazy Diet to go along with it

Title sounds interesting, doesn’t it?  Bet it got your attention.  Probably should have capitalized more of the words, but what the heck, I just didn’t feel like it. If I have to put up with people’s horrible grammar, spelling, and text abbreviations, a few lowercase letters will do no permanent damage in the grand scheme of things.

Once upon a time I ate peanut butter and jelly sandwiches on white bread and drank Hi-C grape drink everyday.  I ate chocolate chip cookies by the coffee can. (My dear grandmother of blessed memory used to bake them and stored them in coffee cans).  Breakfast generally was generally cereal and milk, toast, or eggs.  We didn’t have “sugar cereals” at home but generally limited to Kix, Cheerios, and Raisin Bran.

I had a lot of colds and sore throats.  I was given a lot of antibiotics.  Are you cringing yet?

When I was in college, I was tired a lot.  I was taught growing up to sleep when tired or take a nap.  I didn’t miss classes to nap and I didn’t pull all-nighters either.  But I was tired.  The doctors at the university health clinic gave more antibiotics for my colds.  I didn’t feel WELL.

After graduation, I made an appointment with the family doctor.  What was his professional medical opinion?  I was tired because I missed my college boyfriend and was probably feeling depressed.  THAT was a medical diagnosis???  To this day I am still incredulous.  No taking into account my full health history, my diet, lifestyle.  Nothing.

Fast forward a few years.  Two things happened simultaneously.  1)  I discovered alternative health and 2) I had began taking on an Orthodox Jewish lifestyle.

One of the changes to go along with my religious observance was learning about the Jewish dietary laws called kashrut.  You may have heard the phrase “keeping kosher”.  Without going into any in-depth explanation the bare bones is:  no milk products to be eaten nor served, nor cooked with meat products.  No pork.  No shellfish.  It’s much more complicated than that.  Here’s a link for those of you who want to learn more what I’m talking about:http://www.chabad.org/generic_cdo/aid/113424/jewish/Kosher.htm

(If you look on many products in your fridge or pantry, you may notice on the box or label the letter U with a circle around it.  That is the symbol of one of many kashrut organizations.  It indicates I can eat this product.  If there is a capital D to the lower right of this U with the circle, the product has a dairy ingredient in it, or could be made on a machine that manufactures products with dairy. ) Let’s continue with my journey…

Anyway, one of the women I met on my journey to becoming religious had a plethora of herbs and vitamins in her kitchen.  She was friendly with another woman in the community who had a similar set up in her kitchen. (*note-this has nothing to do with any religious views.  I am mentioning it because that was my first exposure to people who used alternative health methods as opposed to allopathic medicine only).  These two ladies raved about a woman named Holly who was an iridologist.  “What on earth is that?”  I had asked.

An iridologist is someone who is trained to read the lines and breaks within the iris of the eye.  These marks are a mirror as to what is going on inside the body.  After the iridologist reads the marks, a plan of herbs and dietary changes is put into affect in order to strengthen the internal organs.  Follow up visits are needed to monitor ones progress and to monitor the herbal and dietary regimen.  Well, it sounded really quacky to me, but since I looked up to these women and I had nothing to lose but $60, I made an appointment.

I went to Holly.  She analyzed my eyes.  Her diagnosis:  a condition called candida.   You can read more about candida from this fantastic website:  http://www.thecandidadiet.com/an-introduction-to-candida/  I had never heard of this before.  My addition to sweet stuff fed the candida which is a systematic yeast/fungus/parasite which is why I was always tired and sick and had sinus problems.

The way to recover from this is to get rid your diet of all sugar, sweet stuff, and flour products.  Then there is the regimen of herbs or other dietary supplements and pro-biotics.  I always tell people learning to keep kosher was simple compared to getting rid of sugar.  Sugar is EVERYWHERE.  Even my tried and true Cheerios had sugar.

I was miserable at first.  Sugar is an addiction.  You have to do the candida diet cold turkey, or you will never recover.   I NEEDED sugar.  I WANTED sugar.  I would put pinches of salt on my tongue, as salty is the opposite of sweet. I would climb the walls. I could think about eating was bread or pasta or chocolate or anything else I had to avoid.

What happened?  I stuck to my new diet.  I got started to get better.  I had more energy.  I had less sinus headaches.  I got sick less.  I FELT GOOD.  Even the skeptics who thought that having someone look at my iris was mere quackery noticed the change.

It has been over 20 years since that original candida diagnosis.  (Huh?  You look 25…that can’t be.  Folks, I am older than I look).  I am not on an herbal regimen anymore.  I still have to monitor carefully what I eat.  When I start feeling symptomatic again I have to reassess what I’m putting in my mouth.  But now I know what I’m dealing with.  When I can afford it or can find a practitioner who wants to barter, I get chiropractic adjustments and massage.  I am a big believer in alternative health.  I use it in combination with standard Western medicine-not excursively one or the other.

So, what do I eat?  I’m not vegan, vegetarian, nor paleo.  I eat chicken, fish, beef, eggs, vegetables (but limited white potatoes), fruit (but limited to apples and pears when feeling symptomatic), nuts, seeds, beans, buckwheat, corn, rice, and soup.  I limit myself with gluten products because believe I have non-celiac gluten sensitivity.  I avoid dairy because it gives me symptoms mimicking rheumatoid arthritis.  I do slip up on this one because I love cheese and my taste buds win out.  (I suffer for three days afterward.)  I love chocolate, but need to eat it sparingly.

If you have made it to the bottom of this essay,  I will explain why I wrote this post and what it has to do with decluttering and organizing.  For starters, I love to teach and educate.  This is the first time I have not had a classroom teaching job since 1993 (for those of you still curious to my actual age, you can try to figure this out).  I am loving NOT being in the classroom, but I realize I love to share information and this is one vehicle for me to do so.  Also, because of what I eat or don’t eat with the added degree of the ‘keeping kosher’ aspect, my meal planning abilities need to be top notch.  I have a limited food budget which means sticking to locally grown in-season produce and products I can get at the local grocery store.  I can’t use crazy flour mix substitutes or weird ingredients found only in the health food store because they cost too much.  I’m always looking for new gluten-free and dairy-free recipes to try out.  When I find something good, maybe I’ll share and post like the avocado mousse recipe I mentioned in another post.

My goal is to share my experiences and educate.  For any medical concerns or conditions, consult your local medical practitioner.

Have a great day.  Visit again soon.


The Klutter Koach

Vegan Chocolate Mousse

Part of organizing is meal planning, aka knowing what you are going to eat before each meal instead of the quintessential “What’s for supper?” and be “like, uh…dunno”. Since I’m giving a concerted effort to no gluten-no dairy- low sugar, I had to try this.  I have a family with a sweet tooths (or would that be sweet teeth?  These are life’s grammatical snafus when you are an English teacher).

Not only do my kids like sweet stuff, we avoid artificial colors and flavors at all cost.  Here is where I will give a mention to the Feingold Diet. http://www.feingold.org.  Those pretty colors are eye-catching, but poison.  Read about what all that artificial crap can to do you and how it wrecks havoc on your behavior.  We have seen night and day differences once removing the colors.  But maybe I’ll talk about it another day.  Hey, it’s my blog and I can write about whatever I want, right?  Now back to my regularly scheduled original train of thought.

On a FB page called Raw for Beauty, I found this morning a recipe called Vegan Chocolate Mousse.

I potchked with the ingredients with what I had at home, and this was AMAZING!   I used date paste instead of agave nectar (something I have no desire to buy). I used soy milk instead of almond milk. Skipped the vanilla, as I need to restock. My taste buds are singing and my sweet tooth is happy.

Try it!  My organizing advice is that if you aren’t going to wash your blender immediately, at least fill it with soapy water and let it soak until later.  Otherwise, you’ll be spending more time scrubbing dried on crud than doing more important things in life that you enjoy more, unless you enjoy scrubbing dried crud off your dishes.


The Klutter Koach

Photo: Vegan Chocolate Mousse

10 Easy Steps to Transition a Child’s Wardrobe Between Seasons

For me, the first crisp fall day is the time to reevaluate what clothes to keep in the closets.  Fall and spring are both fickle in daily weather changes, and as we used to say in Chicago, more accurately– the weather changes minute-by-minute.  So after a HOT HOT summer, even a 10 degree drop in temperature gets me excited about my favorite black leather boots and cable-knit sweaters.

Doing a clothing inventory is important for you and everyone else in the home as well.  However this is especially necessary if there are children in the household, as they tend to grow like weeds from one season to the next and the closets are often overstuffed with a hodgepodge of sizes and seasons.

You need the following items to successfully complete this transition:

  •  a clear, flat surface to work on
  • pen and paper
  • 2 laundry baskets(or  boxes or kitchen-size trash bags)

Here is what I suggest:

  1. Choose one child’s wardrobe to start with.  For this example, we will use little Joey’s.
  2.  Take every item of clothing out of Joey’s closets and drawers. Put the items on the flat surface.
  3.  Put in basket #1: items that fit and he likes to wear
  4.  Put in basket #2: items that are too small or too stained or never worn. Don’t worry about seasons yet.
  5.  Remove basket #2 from the area.  Do this immediately.Stick it near the front door or on the porch–somewhere not near where you are working.  We’ll deal with the contents later.
  6. Sort items from basket #1 into piles by category on the table:  socks, underwear, shirts-long sleeve, shirts-short sleeve, school uniform shirts, long pants, shorts, sleepwear, sweaters/sweatshirts, etc.
  7.  Make 5-7 days worth of complete outfits.  Since we are thinking cooler weather, in this example that would be one long-sleeved shirt, one pair of long pants, a pair of socks, and a pair of underpants.  It’s probably not necessary to have as many sets of pajamas or sweatshirts, but be sure there are at least 3 pairs of pajamas and 3 sweatshirts.  As my grandma used to say “one for wash, one for wear, one for spare”.  She had this in reference to bras, but think we can apply that to anything.
  8. Take inventory.  Were the piles complete?  What was missing?  Now whip out your pen and paper.  If you wanted five days of outfits and you were missing 3 shirts, 2 pair of pants, and 4 pairs of socks write it down.  Now you have your shopping list.
  9. Return all the “keepers” to the drawers and closet.  Organizing for efficiency is another task for another day.
  10. Go shopping. Use your list.

So what to do with the bags you moved out of the room?  First, separate the stained, worn, or unsightly items.  These go to the trash or clothing recycling receptacle. Nobody  wants to receive these.  With the items that you want to keep but were the wrong season, store them cautiously so you know what you have in your inventory.  If the items are still good condition but you don’t have need for them you can:

  • drop it off at your local second-hand store or gemach
  • arrange for a thrift store pick up
  • host a clothing swap party with friends
  • pass it on to friends or family who can go through the bag, take what they want, and then have them pass on the leftovers to the next person

My storage solution for items you want to save are see-through lidded plastic boxes.  Store them in an area that doesn’t have mold or dampness issues or your hard work will be for naught because clothes will pick up the smells of dampness or attract critters.

Need a guide on what is donatable to a second-hand establishment?  Here’s An Illustrated Guide to Donating Used Clothing I created.

Questions? Contact me.

Thanks for reading,

Karen, The Klutter Koach

updated November 24, 2019




I’m in Business

I finally took the plunge-I had a goal to set up de-cluttering an organizing business.  I have been wanting to do this officially for years.  Like many dreams, the first step in making it a reality is often the most challenging.

I am technologically challenged, but with a decent comfort zone on Facebook I spent this morning setting up a page.  Then I used the afternoon to start this blog.  While it may not be perfect, it is sufficient.  So far I am happy with the results.  That is my philosophy of my business-take a step forward, start small, and take baby steps toward your goal.

In regards to getting your home to be user-friendly and visually pleasing, it won’t happen overnight, but step by step.  It’s a work in progress.  This is where I come in to the picture.  I can be your Klutter Koach to help you de-clutter and organize your home that it can be the way you have dreamed it to be.

Thanks for listening.  Come back and visit again soon.