I'm just a wife and mother who earnestly desires to grow in my faith and it's demonstration. DISCLAIMER! I have absolutely no problem with women in the clergy. As a matter of fact, I have several female pastors who I consider friends. In my home, the pastor is a male so the pronouns I use to refer to a pastor tend to be male. This is not a statement of any kind. Just a reflection of my every day life!

Archive for the ‘Organization’ Category

New Year

I don’t really do resolutions. At least not in the traditional ” tell everyone what my resolutions are” kind of way. I tend to write goals down somewhere private and date the list. Then I can pull it out in December and see how I did.

Without getting into the details, I will say that two of the areas I’ve set goals in are my use of and planning for “discretionary” time (aka time I’m not at work) an the summer theater program I work with.  There are others of a more personal nature and I’m guessing some of that will show up here!

For now, I’ll simply wish you all a blessed 2013!

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Laboring on Labor Day!

The house is nearly silent.  Well, it was till my youngest daughter walked in the door and the dog felt the need to run and see who was in “her” home.

I realized earlier today that I was having a great day and that was surprising.  Don’t get me wrong, I wasn’t expecting to have a bad day.  But I had a massive list of things to do around the house that I needed to make a good-sized dent in and I wasn’t sure how successful I’d be!  That kind of day usually ends with me being disappointed in how little I got done, how easily I got distracted and feeling just generally wiped out.

I finished up a couple more freezer meals (one yet to put together), did some cleaning, did some purging of “stuff” (more on this later), took care of some organizational things, chatted about an “upcycling” idea with hubby that I’m pretty stoked about.  In general, I got ALOT done today.  Started the day with a to do list that I knew was too long for one day but I’m pleased at how much has been crossed off!

Hubby stepped in and helped with some of the tasks, daughter number 2 stepped in and offered to help with dinner prep (fresh veggies to be peeled and cut) and I didn’t ever battle “foggy brain” which always happens on these days when I have lots to get done!  What is foggy brain?  Well, it’s this weird issue I have with staying on track during those days when I want to get lots done in the house.  I start off well, but then I get a room cleaned or a major project done and my brain can’t quite figure out where to go next.  I usually end up doing random jobs here and there that don’t really allow me to make any progress in any room.  That didn’t happen today!

I have to give hubby some of the credit because his willingness to step in and work right along side me was definitely motivation to keep going!  And kids who were quick to respond when I asked for help – or who even volunteered to help! – was an extra push.

I said I purged some stuff today.  The nice thing is, I’m not done yet!

For as long as I can remember, Fall has felt like a time to “start over”.  The kind of cleaning most people do in the Spring?  I start tackling late summer and into the fall.  And this time around I have been consumed with a desire to clean out stuff!  Just a couple of weeks ago I filled several trash bags with clothes to donate.  Today it was cookbooks.  I had more than any one person – who is not a professional chef! – should need.  The sad thing was, I was holding on to some of them for one or two recipes. So I pulled the entire collection out of my cupboard.  There are one or two I’m keeping for sentimental reasons.  My youngest daughter and her classmates compiled a book of favorite recipes in 2nd grade.  That one stays.  I inherited a cookbook with popular recipes from the camp I grew up going to.  Not giving that up!

Several years ago, I put together a “Heritage Cookbook” as a Christmas gift for my sisters and mom. A few years later, my baby sister updated the book with some new recipes and a few brand new categories of recipes.  Many of the recipes from my cookbooks have made the jump to the heritage cookbook which made it easy to make the decision to get rid of some.  Others were in magazine form (I love Taste of Home!) so it was easy to tear pages out.

But what do I do with the loose sheets that I have containing recipes?!  How do I keep track of what I’ve done/haven’t done/want to do for a special occasion?!  Slowly but surely, I”m starting to type them all into my online recipe box on Cozi.  (BTW – for my Pinterest friends, I discovered that I can simply copy the link to a recipe website and put that in the virtual recipe box! Hmmm.  Maybe I can purge some of Pinterest boards?  Am I getting too carried away?) I have also set up a spreadsheet that lists the recipe, if it’s online, a loose sheet of paper, or in the heritage cookbook  and whether or not I’ve ever made it.  I have different tabs for different “food categories” (entrees, side dishes, etc.).

I’ve also started making notes (on that same spread sheet) for recipes I intend to try during the upcoming Holiday season.  Not only do I have to consider Thanksgiving and Christmas – especially since we don’t know if we’re travelling for either of them yet! – I also need to plan food for the Open House that hubby and I throw for the church each December.  I haven’t even gotten close to finishing the project yet but I already feel like the system makes sense and will make my life as a menu planner and grocery list maker so much easier!  Here’s hoping!

Sheer Willpower = More Freezer Meals

Hubby’s pay day was yesterday which meant another round of grocery shopping today followed by another round prepping some freezer meals.  I didn’t want to just duplicate everything I did the last go round so I changed it up some.  Unfortunately, today didn’t run nearly as smoothly as last time around and it took every ounce of willpower I possessed to keep going!  Last time around I used all of the recipes but one from the same blog and her step-by-step directions were incredibly helpful!  (Side note – check out that particular blog entry here – The Test Kitchen of Melissa Fallis.  I didn’t do the BBQ recipe but made all the rest!  Believe me, I will repeat those recipes again!)

Every time I got close to saying “chuck it”, I remembered the complete lack of stress when it came to meal time this past week and I kept going.  As I type this, I have a batch of sloppy joe meat all cooked up – it’s my mom’s homemade concoction – that will get defrosted and reheated on Friday night since there is a home football game which means marching band responsibilities for my son and uniform responsibilities for mom!

I also have a double batch (translated: two casseroles) of cheeseburger and fries casserole frozen and ready.  The steak marinade from the Melissa Fallis blog was a HUGE hit last time around so I did that one again.

I have four more recipes that I will take a go at tomorrow, all of them new.  One of them will make individual servings of calzones, another will make a double batch of  Baked Penne with Chicken and Sun-dried Tomatoes casserole, then there is Sausage and Spinach Pasta Bake as well as Upside Down Fettuccini Bake.  With the holiday on Monday, we are grilling out – burgers – and we are doing “breakfast for dinner” one night this week.  Still have two Chicken Pot Pies in my freezer and one of those will get pulled for supper on Wednesday.  Tomorrow’s dinner is a Marinated and Baked Pork Chop recipe from the blog I mentioned above.

I wasn’t planning to do any more twice baked potatoes but there was a sale at the store we couldn’t resist – $2.99 for a 15 lb. bag of potatoes.  No, that’s not a typo.  So I did two or three more meals worth of twice-baked potatoes (still had one of those in the freezer that we’re using for dinner tomorrow).  We’ll throw some fried potatoes on the menu with the burgers on Labor Day to use up another significant portion of the tatoes.

The butcher counter at our local grocery store does “meat bundles” and we purchased one of them this week – 100 servings of various meats for 100 dollars.  The box included pre-done burger patties (Labor Day cookout!), brats, pork chops, boneless pork chops, steaks, cube steaks, ribs, . . . lots of tasty stuff!  Between my freezer cooking and the meat bundle, we are well on our way to having most of the entrees for the month of September taken care of!

I’m absolutely exhausted and my feet hurt.  But I’m soooo glad I accomplished at least half of my freezer cooking today, especially since I didn’t get the grocery shopping started until after lunch!  Feeling very blessed that the freezer cooking thing (and the deal on potatoes and the meat bundle from the store) have stretched our grocery budget to crazy lengths!

The Joy of Freezer Cooking!

I have fallen in love with freezer cooking!  Whether it’s a quick recipe that means mixing together a sauce and freezing it in a bag with a particular cut/type of meat or a more complex recipe that has me chopping veggies, boiling sauce, browning ground beef, etc. it’s all worth it.  I spend one really busy day and have numerous entrees to show for it!

I started today with 4 entrees in my freezer (I have a “standing” freezer so I can afford to freeze quite a few entrees!) and added 11 more entrees today.  I also put together another recipe that was supposed to be a freezer meal but we plan on making it for Sunday dinner after church tomorrow so it’s currently marinating in the fridge. I also put up two meals worth of twice baked potatoes – they were baked once, the insides scooped out to make the filling, the filling put back in and the tatoes frozen, waiting their second baking.

The link below contains most of the meals I cooked today – I used recipes from a couple of other sources as well.  The ONLY one I didn’t use from the blog was the BBQ.  The chicken pot pie recipe is time-consuming but so worth it – I have three full-sized homemade chicken pot pies in my freezer!

Let’s face it – anything that makes life easier is worth investing our time in.  I put in a total of six hours today and got 11 entrees plus two side dishes put up.  From here, it’s a simple matter of taking something out of the freezer in the evening and either getting in the crockpot the next day, grilling it, or baking it.  In other words, I have dinner already started for the next two weeks!  Believe me, life just got a whole lot easier!

The Test Kitchen of Melissa Fallis: Freezer Cooking #2.

Too busy?

“I’m just too busy.”

I’m a little ashamed to admit how often I use this excuse for times when busy-ness is not really the issue.  I’m so good at using that phrase that I’ve even used variations on the “too busy” excuse.

“I know I should exercise but I just don’t know when I would find the time.” (In reality, I just didn’t want to make the time.)

“I wish I had the time to volunteer with . . . ” (But I always manage to find the time for that book I want to read, the e-mail I want to send, those Pins I want to check out.)

“Lunch?  I’d love to, but I’m really busy for the next couple of weeks so I don’t really have the time.”  (This one just means I’m being a selfish friend!)

Disclaimer – there are times that we can over commit ourselves if we don’t keep a careful eye on our schedules.  But I would bet I’m not the only person who has been guilty of using the “too busy” excuse to get away with laziness or selfishness or just not wanting to think creatively.  Some people – we call them “frustrated perfectionists” in our family – will use the “too busy” excuse to avoid the possibility that something they do will not be perfect.

If I need to exercise I can certainly get my sneakers on and walk around the block.  No, I won’t be ready for a marathon next week, but it’s more than I was doing and a step in the right direction.  Who knows?  I may feel so good after exercising that it becomes something I actually WANT to do?

If I am truly passionate and committed to a volunteer cause, I can contact someone about giving time just once in the next month.  I don’t have to jump in to a “three-times-a-week” kind of commitment if it’s unrealistic.

If a friend wants to go out to a meal and it legitimately does not work in my schedule, I can offer a coffee get-together instead.  Most of my friends would be content to meet at McDonald’s and grab sodas if the issue is budgetary!

Truth be told, I do suffer from that “frustrated perfectionist” attitude every so often.  It almost kept me from checking out a Zumba class in the area on Wednesday morning.  I didn’t want to look foolish doing a dance-based exercise program especially since I know the instructor!  But I went – thanks to the encouragement of my 17 year old daughter – and I’m so glad I did!  Not only is the first class you attend free, it was a great way to start my day and I don’t remember the last time I felt so energized!

So with a careful eye on my calendar, I will try to save the phrase “I’m too busy” for those times when that is indeed the case.

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