Home Organization Project 8

Home Organization Weekly Project from Go Gingham

Shoes, glorious, shoes – oh, how I love shoes! How many pairs does one person actually need? How about an active family? This week’s home organization project is – you guessed it – shoes!

When every activity seems to require a different pair of shoes, we certainly own our share. Remember when we just went outside and exercised and we didn’t have a shoe for every activity? That’s a topic for another day. Stay focused, girl!

Home Organization Project 8

  1. This week’s project. Shoes.
  2. Combine and sort. After going through shoes in closets, we rounded up all the other shoes – from strategic hiding spots and the basket on our side porch – then we put them in the entryway and sorted.
  3. Bag it, baby! Each of us picked out our must keeps and then a pair of running shoes – and a spare. It rains in Portland and we all run, so you need a back-up pair. All the rest went into bags to go to various destinations. Good ones to a clothing closet, running shoes to a recycling bin, and a few my daughter wants to try and sell. Tip: tie laces together or rubber-band matching pairs so that they don’t get separated.
  4. Clean sweep. With the shoes off our side porch, I used the opportunity to clean it. Yes, one home organization project leads to another. My husband was so annoyed (he helps with all of these messes projects), he told me he’s not sure he can handle 52-weeks of this – remember his filing project? – or – the kitchen pantry which is still fresh in his mind. Look for the next few projects to focus on my stuff only!
  5. Less is more. Once again, this is proving to be true. I got rid of several pairs of shoes that were similar. We all agreed that we needed to donate a pair of running shoes every time we get a new pair.

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Costa Rica Travel: Places

Costa Rica Travel with Go Gingham

This is a guest post from my husband. He loves to travel as much as I do.

Knowing little about Central America – aside from foggy memories of the “Contra” scandal during the Reagan years – Costa Rica’s tropical, jungle mystique has made it a destination we’ve always wanted to visit. When we were contacted about a #GiftofHappiness week-long tour of the country, we literally jumped at the chance.

Costa Rica was incredible. While we’re not used to being driven from place to place, the driver of our van navigated unmarked roads and knew of interesting places along the way, for us to stop. By driving, we were able to experience the countryside, geography, and climate en route to our destinations, in a much more immersive way, than if  we had flown (or even driven ourselves). Because our trip was an arranged tour, we were able to see a good deal of the Northwest half of the country and we made mental notes about areas we’d  love to visit – on our next trip to this amazing place.

Costa Rica Travel: Tamarindo

We began our tour by flying into Daniel Oduber International Airport – Liberia, in Guanacaste Province and were driven the approximately 1.5 hours to our first stop, the surfing centric town of Tamarindo on the Northwest Pacific Coast.

Costa Rica Travel with Go Gingham

In Tamarindo, we stayed at the beautiful Hotel Capitan Suizo, which is located directly on the beach. The food was simply prepared, yet was fresh and delicious. The resort was tucked away at the end of a cove and was picturesque as well as accessible. Town is a short walk away but with great surfing, warm water, and good food, what else do you need?

Our next stop was a 3.5-hour drive from Tamarindo Beach. We left behind the relatively dry Guanacaste interior to enter the cloud forest/rain forest area of the Arenal Volcano.

Costa Rica Travel: Arenal Volcano

Heading to Arenal Volcano area was a pleasant and scenic drive from the northwest through the relatively dry Guanacaste interior to the cloud forest/rain forest area of the Arenal Volcano. We were driven through dairy farms and villages that gave us the flavor of local life. School children in uniforms, with watchful mothers nearby, walked to and from at every village we passed through.

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Healthier Mac and Cheese

Healthier Mac & Cheese from Go Gingham

Who doesn’t love mac & cheese? My family does! Pasta and cheese together? Yum! This healthier mac & cheese has a secret ingredient – not that I’m advocating hiding foods and tricking your family – but no one needs to know about the beans! This recipe tastes great and without lots of butter, cream or half-and-half.

While you can add bacon, ground beef, caramelized onions, sliced tomatoes, bread crumbs – or whatever else you’d like – and these all taste great in it – this is the basic recipe we start with.

Having homemade chicken broth, cooked white beans, and chipotle peppers in adobo sauce all on-hand and thawed – I keep all of those ingredients in the freezer – makes this meal come together in 45 minutes – or less. We love it for lunch on Saturdays.

Red pepper flakes and hot sauce go really well on top if you like even more spice.

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Home Organization Project 7

Home Organization Project from Go Gingham
Finished! This project was messy and took all day – blah!

This week’s home organization project took much longer than anticipated. The kitchen pantry got tackled and it took 6+hours. To save time, cookbooks should have been sorted and baskets, bowls should have been rounded up before starting – rather than during the project.

After almost 19-years in our home, the kitchen pantry needed attention. The pantry has lots of shelves – which is good because we have a small kitchen.

Home Organization Project from Go Gingham
These are from Instagram – if you follow me there, you saw these already. If you don’t follow me there, why not?

My goal was to not buy any new storage containers to make the pantry more functional – and pretty. With plenty around our home already, it was easy. Baskets, bowls, and bucket type items are plentiful at second-hand stores and garage sales. Look around and don’t be afraid of a little elbow grease and spray down with the garden hose if they’re dirty!

Home Organization Project from Go Gingham
Keeping it real – behind the scenes at the Go Gingham test kitchen – blah!

Continue reading “Home Organization Project 7”

Where to Recycle Electronics

Go Gingham: Computer recycling

Electronics seem like they need to be upgraded before they’re barely out of the box. If you’re looking for ways to keep your electronics out of the landfill and recycle them, check out these organizations and companies. There are several options for recycling – and you can even mail items.

Where to recycle electronics

Free Geek

Living in Portland, Oregon, we’re lucky because we have “Free Geek,” which is a non-profit, community organization that recycles and re-uses donated electronics. They provide computers, education, and job training in exchange for volunteering, as well. Still working electronics can get re-purposed – and put back into working order.


Goodwill accepts various types of electronics. They have relationships with many salvage companies and their donated items don’t end up in landfills. Don’t forget to ask for a tax donation receipt. Check out their recycling services here.

Best Buy

Here’s what Best Buy does…

If there are any old or unused appliances or electronics collecting dust on a shelf or if it’s time to upgrade, bring them in and we’ll evaluate them for trade-in value or recycle them properly.

Best Buy will take almost all electronics and large appliances. Check out their recycling services here.


Here’s what Apple does…

The Apple Recycling Program offers free and environmentally friendly disposal of your iPod and any manufacturer’s mobile phone.

Apple also has links for different states in the U.S. as well as international locations. Check out their recycling services here.

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

This U.S.E.P.A. government website will direct you based on make and model of your electronic to where it can be dropped off and recycled. Check out their recycling services here.

Sell it – as vintage!

My son sold a Zaurus – think early generation laptop/Palm Pilot type thing – on eBay and it was to a collector of “old” or “vintage” electronics. I’m not advocating keeping stuff around until it becomes an antique but a quick view of Craig’s List or eBay may be worth your time.

While these steps require more work and effort than tossing outdated electronics in the landfill, we all need to do our part to recycle more when buying new. Since electronics have become such a large part of our lives, more states need to step up (like Oregon) and require recycling.

Where do you recycle electronics? Does your state require recycling or offer drop-off sites?

Go Gingham related links:

Technology free Sundays – it keeps us off our screens for the day –
Meet Internet Girl she likes shiny objects and is easily distracted!
Please don’t make me text – my fingers are too big to do it!

Looking for more readers’ questions? Check HERE. The answers are there, too. Do you want to ask a question? Check HERE. Do you have something you’d like to share? Check HERE.

Disclosure: I have not received any compensation for writing this post and have no connection to these companies.

Split Pea Soup with Carrots

Split pea soup with carrots from Go Gingham

On snowy days, we love to have a hearty soup for dinner. Well, I love to have a hearty soup for dinner. The rest of my family would prefer something else but split pea soup is one of my favorite meals. It’s so good for you and unlike cooking with dried beans, split peas don’t have to soak before you use them in a recipe.

Split pea soup can have a reputation for being flavorless so I’ve added some kick because spice is nice, isn’t it? Don’t worry, there’s not too much kick but just the right amount.

Split pea soup with carrots from Go Gingham

If you eat ham, hold onto your next ham bone and make broth with it – follow the steps here for making homemade chicken broth. Be sure and add 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar to your ham bone broth. The vinegar won’t leave an after taste and you’ll be adding nutrients to the broth. You need 12-cups of broth for this recipe so make plenty.

If you want to make this soup vegetarian, skip the ham bone and use vegetable broth instead. It is so easy to make your own vegetable broth – and is such a cost saver! Hold onto your vegetable scraps (a bag in the freezer), toss into a large pot, add plenty of water and some herbs and salt, bring to a boil, and simmer for an hour or so. Done.

Split pea soup with carrots from Go Gingham

Scraps you would have normally tossed out or composted are now a delicious part of your dinner.

Split Pea Soup with Carrots
Recipe Type: Main
Cuisine: American
Author: Sara Tetreault
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
Serves: 8-10
This soup tastes even better the second night and can easily be frozen. We have it for dinner two nights in a row and then freeze the rest in an airtight container. Dinner in the freezer is like money in the bank – a night off from cooking!
  • 2-3 Tablespoons olive oil or canola oil
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 4 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 Tablespoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon curry
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 2 teaspoons Kosher salt
  • 4 cups carrots, shredded
  • 2 pounds split peas (about 4 cups)
  • 12 cups broth or water
  1. In a large stock pot, warm oil and add chopped onions.
  2. Cook onions until tender, about 5-7 minutes.
  3. Add garlic to onions and stir for about a minute.
  4. After adding garlic to onions, add all spices and stir.
  5. Next, add split peas and stir until thoroughly combined.
  6. Add liquid, cover and bring to a boil.
  7. Add shredded carrots and bring to a boil again.
  8. Keep lid on pot and simmer for 45-55 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  9. Once split peas and carrots have broken down and soup is creamy, adjust seasoning.
  10. Serve and enjoy.
When serving this the second night, you’ll need to add more liquid. The split peas continue to absorb liquid as they cool. Your soup will multiply overnight!

You can also buy broth – you’ll need 3 each 1-quart packages – (12 cups) for a total of 96 ounces (3 liters).

Thankfully the snow has finally melted and the sun is shining – today. We’ll be having split pea soup regardless of the weather!

What do you like to eat when it’s snowy outside? Do you like split pea soup?

Go Gingham related links:

Pumpkin and squash soup – it’s easy and delicious!
Lentils and pork – lentils are similar to beans but there’s no soaking
Why I cook with dried beans – complete with money saving chart!
How to cook with dried beans – easy and you can use a slow-cooker
Why the “can” is bad in canned beans
Corn and black bean salad – made with dried beans
Spicy hummus – yes, spicy and made from dried beans!


Remaking a Belt

How to make a belt longer by Go Gingham

Dear 25-year-old Self,

Buy bigger belts! You will not be the same size around the middle – despite all of your best intentions and hard work. Child birth, fashion, and gravity will all conspire against you, and your beautiful belts won’t fit any longer.

With love, from your 45+-year-old Self

ps buy Apple stock.

If only I had read this back then. Drats! As part of my compensation when I worked for Polo/Ralph Lauren, I received a clothing allowance and spent it on cashmere (of course!) and leather goods. Hanging onto belts that will never fit again is pointless but what about reusing the buckle? Now we’re onto something!

Remaking a Belt

  • Head straight to Oregon Leather – or check online.
  • Look in the “scrap” area for leather first. It’s less expensive than the finished goods. My piece of leather cost $15 and they cut it for me.
  • You can buy leather “straps” to use for belts but when fitting a particular buckle, what they have may not work.
  • Reuse as many of the parts as possible. The screws are “Chicago screws” and are easy to unscrew and reuse. The old belt tab (not sure that’s what it’s called) got reused on the new belt.
  • Use a pencil to mark the leather where you want the holes. By tracing the finished edge, I used a fabric rotary cutter.
  • Using a drill, to make the holes, worked out quite well. Make sure drill bit is slightly smaller than size you need.
  • Don’t buy leather dye. It’s expensive.  The color of the leather will darken naturally – or you can help it along by rubbing with olive oil.
  • Use very fine sandpaper on edges of leather (not on smooth front) to get rid of little pieces left from cutting.

Here’s a tutorial for you. It’s so easy to do and took about an hour. If you’re near Oregon Leather, it will take you longer to look around the store!

How to make a belt longer by Go Gingham

We’re not making leather belts grow – and we’re not fighting gravity or fashion. Remaking this belt was easier than I thought and now I’m going to reuse the old leather belt as a handle – on something.

Have you ever remade a belt? Have you ever been to Oregon Leather?

Go Gingham related links:

iPod slipcovers – small and cute, you can easily sew these
How to take apart a skirt – use your seam ripper on this project!
Sew your own homemade lunch sack
How to sew a Harry Potter cape complete with wand pocket
A “new” briefcase for a blogger – me!