Friday, November 27, 2009

2010 ‘bucket’ list

so i have a few friends who did this sort of thing last year and i like the idea. so i’ve been thinking about doing one of my own. it’s different from new years’ resolutions in that it’s not stuff like, “work out 3 times a week” or “clean out the garage”… not that those are bad things to be doing. this is more like a bucket list. stuff i want to do before the year ‘dies’. i don’t have a lot so far, but i figure i’ll keep adding to it as i think of things and hopefully have something by the time this year dies.

  1. spin my own yarn
  2. spend more time in nature.
  3. read all of jane austen’s books.
  4. can my own veggies/fruits
  5. acquire a sewing machine
  6. re-learn to play the piano

Monday, November 23, 2009

meal plan monday!

two weeks in a row and here we go!

  • monday: beef-barley soup; sourdough
  • tuesday: chicken; beans and rice; salad
  • wednesday: tater tot casserole
  • thursday: thanksgiving!!!
  • friday: pizza; green beans (duh)
  • saturday: leftovers
  • sunday: scrambles; toast

there you have it. i’m using the left-over yummy pot roast from last week for my soup tonight. OMG, it was SO good. i made the best gravy EVER with it too. some of that might find it’s way into the soup as well… okay, i’ll stop. i know everyone (myself included) is gaining weight just reading this!

i mentioned last week about husbands being super helpful in the inspiration department… well, mine came through for me this week. NOT. when i asked him if there was anything in particular he was craving this week, he responded with, “turkey.”

yeah… what a turkey.

Friday, November 20, 2009

habits

we all have habits. some good, some bad, some indifferent. a lot of the time i will be frustrated with myself, blaming the things i am displeased about on ‘personality traits’, but really, it’s just bad habits. i am not naturally a ‘clean freak’ kind of person, and it takes a LOT of motivation to cause me to WANT to clean. this is not to say that i enjoy living in a mess! i guess you could say that i’m a clean freak trapped in a slob’s body. this is an endless source of frustration for me. over the years i’ve tried several ways to ‘fix’ this problem, some with great success, others with minimal, but nothing seems to stick. i’ve read countless books, subscribed to websites, made to-do lists, bought or created tools with which to organize my cleaning… as if somehow that process would cause the house to be clean.

my best effort came from a system described in the book sidetracked home executives by pam young and peggy jones, aka the ‘slob sisters’. these were women like me, homemakers that missed the boat on the whole cleaning and organizational thing. i loved this book and could SO relate to their woes. their system involves a card file in which you store 3x5 index cards which have your chores written on them. you organize these by jobs which must be done daily, weekly, monthly, yearly, etc. the cards are then distributed throughout the week, month, etc. and rotated through as you complete the chores. this worked great for me. i had a lot of fun creating this (there’s that aspect of my personality that likes to get distracted by the lesser details of projects like this) and for awhile, the system worked well for me. it was while we were still living in ohio. shane was in kindergarten, layla was just shy of a year old, i was finishing up my BA, and frequently watching my 1 year old niece during the day. yet i made this work. the house was clean, the clutter was under control (for the most part), we ate real meals every night, the laundry was caught up (and this was when i was hanging everything out to dry) we were able to have drop-in company and overnight guests w/out a major production, freak-out, break-down or frantic stashing of stuff in closets behind closed doors.

and then we moved.

i never got in the habit again.

they say it takes 21 days to create a habit. i have to say that it’s pretty unfair that it takes that long to create one, but only one day to completely derail it.

i have all sorts of excuses. i found the system a little patronizing. it seemed to me that you shouldn’t need a card for every little step of cleaning the bathroom (clean toilet; scrub sink; wipe counter; polish faucet; wipe mirror; scrub tub; empty garbage; sweep floor; mop floor; change towels; etc.). i figured that if i just put in a card that said ‘clean bathroom’ that should be enough. i think i kind of sabotaged myself with that, and in other ways too. i tend to be a perfectionist and an extremist. if i can’t do something all the way, i would rather not bother at all. therefore, if i didn’t get something done, i would feel bad about it, i would figure there was no point in trying, if i wasn’t able to do it all. another aspect of the system is delegating jobs. kind of like giving your husband and kids their own chores. but then i didn’t know what to do if they didn’t do it. i felt bad, or even resentful, if i kept having to cycle their cards through, undone. it drove me nuts actually, but then i didn’t want to be a nag either. at any rate, i had all sorts of excuses for why this wasn’t working, and so i quit. my cardfile is still sitting on the shelf right next to me right now… hmmm…

the thing i’ve learned from all of this (and my many other attempts as well), is that there’s nothing out there that will work unless i actually DO it. the thing i’ve been searching for, the ever-elusive pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, is the book, website, tool, system that will cause me to WANT to get off my butt and keep my house clean.

let me assure you, this DOES NOT EXIST.

somehow, this i’ve allowed this lack of motivation, this tendency toward laziness or distraction (ahem, knitting? reading? facebook? blogging?) to become a legitimate excuse. somehow, the fact that i don’t WANT to clean out the microwave or wipe the windows, and the world won’t end if i don’t is enough for me to justify NOT doing it. i hate that. then i’d get all depressed about not doing it, which is a real motivation killer. what a great cycle. so helpful.

it’s time for me to create some new habits. i know it’s not impossible. i have made new ones over the last few years, that i’ve been keeping really well. bed making, for instance. i make the beds (mine, layla’s and micah’s) just about every day – weekdays, at least. dishes, i run the dishwasher every night and try to make sure i unload it every morning. i HATE when dishes get piled up on the counter or in the sink, and it’s just so much easier to dump them immediately into an empty dishwasher. meal planning… as my last post would indicate, this has become a GOOD, necessary habit. the one i’m the most pleased about is my daily bible reading. this is something i’ve always known i SHOULD do, but never have been able to make it a habit. i’ve not been perfect about it, but more often than not, i do it. oh, and since we’ve had sophie back with us, i vacuum EVERYTHING every night. this also causes the floor to have to be tidied up (this has become one of shane’s chores), which is always a HUGE improvement. when you have little kids in the house, it’s a never-ending battle, but life is so much better when you’re not tripping over the same toys for days. okay, that’s not exactly realistic. we do trip over the same toys, but that’s just because they got strewn back out on the floor, NOT because we left them there! ;)

i kind of wish i had someone who is in the same position as me, who would be willing to be my ‘accountability’ partner on this. kind of like how people do better about going to the gym or working out if they have someone they go with… hmmm.. any other slobby people out there want to do this with me? i’m serious. help!

Monday, November 16, 2009

meal plan monday

yup! it’s back. i have no idea why i quit doing these, but i think it was a bad idea. i like getting ideas from other people about what their families eat for dinner, so i guess i figure they might enjoy seeing what we eat.

so, without further ado, here we go this week!

  • monday: meatloaf; peas; mashed potatoes
  • tuesday: loaded baked potatoes; salad
  • wednesday: chicken noodle soup; cheese & crackers
  • thursday: pot roast; potatoes; carrots
  • friday: pizza; green beans (duh)
  • saturday: leftovers
  • sunday: waffles; sausages

so there you go. sadly, i have yet to do my shopping. UGH! ::dislike dislike dislike:: i figure i’ll do it tomorrow afternoon when shane’s at his science class, since i have the stuff for dinner tonight (and he’s the catalyst for making a truly hellish shopping trip). i think i’ll get what i can at costco, since i have to go there to pick up a few things on the list anyway… may as well see if i can get as many things as i can there.

people are frequently surprised when i mention that i plan menus every week. honestly, i can’t imagine NOT doing it. okay, i can, because there have been times (hellish, disorganized times where ate a lot of mac and cheese or made multiple trips to the store – you can guess how well i liked that!) that i didn’t plan our meals. but pretty much, since dave and i have been married, i’ve planned meals. it makes things SO much easier. the thought of NOT doing it now is just bizarre to me. i guess i kind of depend on it. for one thing, i’m not the kind of person who has the sort of cooking repertoire that i can open a cupboard and throw things together. for another, if i go to the store without a list, i wander aimlessly and attempt to come up with good ideas, but can never remember recipes well enough to get everything, or i’ll buy something we already have at home, or not buy something i thought we did have at home. in other words, not planning is just a big ole mess!

if you’re not in the habit of doing this, let me give you a couple tips. if someone as domestically and organizationally challenged as me can make this work, so can you.

  • print off a blank calendar page and stick it on the fridge or other OBVIOUS surface in the kitchen. i use these ones: http://www.thehouseholdplanner.com/products/calendars/ i used to use the ones that were totally blank, but i’ve decided that it’s nice to have the dates and holidays already listed since it reminds me if there’s something obvious, like thanksgiving, coming up.
  • look at your regular calendar before you plan. this way you know what nights are ‘normal’ nights and which ones will have family members absent, or if you won’t be home at all, etc. i know that mondays and wednesdays right now need to be meals that are a little lighter and less involved, since dave and shane both scoot off to soccer practice at 5:30. we also eat earlier those nights so whatever i’m making has to be done sooner than usual.
  • make your shopping list at the same time you make your menu plan. look in your cupboards/pantry, fridge and freezer as you’re doing this. use stuff you already have, especially if it’s something that will go bad. make sure you look at your recipes to see if there’s some obscure ingredient you forgot about that you need to buy.
  • think about having weekly staples. we have pizza on fridays and we have breakfast for dinner every sunday. this gives you a few ‘no-brainer’ nights, because it is seriously hard to come up with 7 yummy and creative meals every week. you WILL burn out, and those staples can be a lifesaver.
  • consider making double or triple batches of things like casseroles and soups. if you’re already cooking one, it’s not that much harder to make two and then freeze one. the library has loads of books on ‘freezer cooking’ or ‘once a month’ cooking that have tips for stuff like this and recipes that lend themselves well to freezing. i haven’t gotten that far into it, but it’s just common sense to make extra and have a freezer full of meals you can pull out in a pinch or when you’re having one of those burn-out weeks where you can’t think of anything that sounds good. i wish i’d made this a habit earlier. i would have loved having a freezer full of stuff when i was newly pregnant and the thought of everything made me turn green.
  • if you get stuck, ask your family if there’s anything they’re craving lately. although, if your husband is like mine, you might get the answer ‘food’ more often than you’d like.
  • finally, keep your menus. i have a stack of them on my fridge, behind the current month, going all the way back to january of last year. this also, can be a lifesaver when you can’t seem to think of anything. you can also make notes on them if you try a new recipe. sometimes a new recipe will totally bomb – either no one liked it or it was too hard to make or whatever. you can make a note to NEVER make it again, so you won’t find yourself flipping through the same cook book and thinking, again, that that recipe might sound good. NO! on the other hand, there might be a new recipe that went over really well, and you can put stars or smiley faces or whatever cheesy notation you want on it so you remember to put it into your family’s rotation of favorites.

i hope that’s helpful. feel free to comment with questions or advice of things that have worked for you! happy meal planning!

Saturday, November 14, 2009

no aggression issues here!

fyi: don’t mess with this little girl.

Friday, November 13, 2009

hello again

my mom actually complained the other day about my lack of posts lately. REALLY. i told her that i’d had nothing to write about. at any rate, here’s my update for now, in relation to recent things.

we did decide to trick or treat. it was fun. shane’s mario costume actually came together pretty well, thanks to a little help from my friends. layla’s flower costume also happened, barely, also with a little help from my friends. (are you detecting a theme here?) micah’s monkey costume was borrowed from a friend. (for some reason, i have a beatles song wandering through my head right now, do you?)

here they are:

h001 

as i’m writing this, it’s reminding me of just how blessed i am to be a part of this community, family, neighborhood, etc. let me expound that part about a little help from my friends:

we’ll start with shane. he got the idea to dress up as mario after his friend, sean, mentioned that he was going to be luigi. so i chatted w/ trudy about what she’d gathered so far. she mentioned a green shirt she found at target, a link for the overalls and a hat she’d found on amazon. i grabbed the shirt (red, of course), and she ordered a red hat at the same time as sean’s green one. her husband found some mustaches and picked up two. i mentioned on facebook that i was having trouble finding overalls and my friend, tina, mentioned she had some he could borrow. PERFECT! they were a little big, which is fine because mario is a bit on the chubby side, so we stuffed a pillow in, and he was pleasantly plump. viola!

h002

layla had decided she wanted to be a flower. i have to say this costume got the most attention while out trick or treating. she wanted her head to be the flower and her body to be the stem. i came up with the idea of the pot. our neighbor, susie, does a little gardening (that’s an understatement), so i figured she might have a pot we could use. she gave us an old, lightweight, plastic pot, big enough for layla to fit in. dave cut out the bottom, but we needed a way to keep it up. i remembered my friend, angie had mentioned that her daughter used to wear suspenders to keep her pants up. perfect! i sent a quick email and secured the suspenders. i got layla a green hoodie to be the stem and made the petals out of felt, glued around a headband. we had a little trouble keeping them from drooping, but borrowed some safety pins from susie and my mom and fixed the problem.h005 layla and her friend robin, the black cat.

i didn’t know what to do about micah. i hate spending money on a costume that will only get worn once, and with him being the littlest, there’s no one behind him to wear it in a few years. :( so i sent out a mass email to my MOMS club to see if someone had a costume he could borrow. i got so many responses and wound up with a bagful from my friend, summer, to choose from. he wound up being a monkey and was SO cute i could hardly stand it. his costume had a tail – i think that was the kicker for me. later in the evening (after trick or treating) he discovered the tail and thought it was really hilarious. as did i.

 h012 discovering his tail.

i have great friends and i’m so thankful for everyone who helped me pull this off! we had a blast and i’m glad we went.

h010   mario and luigi after their mustaches got too itchy!

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