My husband is scared right now.
happy. but scared.
Happy because of all the stuff I’m getting rid of. And I’m getting rid of a LOT of stuff. a LOT of stuff.
Scared because of the honey-do list that goes along with ordering my environment.
I’m so thankful to God for him. He is my density.
In the middle (and at the bottom) of stirring this mess in my head, he said: “You really need to work through this. I don’t recognize you. It’s like you’ve given up. I don’t know whether to encourage you or give you a swift kick in the butt. You’ve lost your mojo.”
mojo. is that another word for faith?
It was bad. I couldn’t even pray.
What does faith look like when you can’t even pray?
it’s not pretty.
I needed to think. I need to think.
And so I clean my house. I paint my house. I purge my house. of books even. over 100 so far. I want every superfluous thing in my house gone. GONE.
GONE I tell you!
physically and metaphorically.
But in the middle of all the thinking I’m reading two books right now.
I know. But yes. These two are thick.
and not in a benchpress them kind of way.
FirstHusband suggested I re-read these books. Smart guy.
I’ve read both of them before. But I was younger then. Not that much younger. But still.
They were both responsible for pivot points in my faith.
In all my thinking and purging, I need to go back to bones of what I believe and why.
Messy deep digging blog posts ahead.
Even so, if you know me IRL (in real life), don’t weird out when you see me in person. If you’re at a loss about what to say, we can talk about the little blond girl’s face at the end of this commercial. cracks me up every time.
If you put your kids Christmas gifts in unmarked boxes, you can get them to wrap their own presents.
This post proves that I will do anything to distract myself while trying to get through the last half mile of a 5 mile catch-up walk on the treadmill at a 6.5 incline…
As usual, I don’t have time to devote a full day (or 7) to concentrated cleaning, so I’m once again applying my long time practice of microactions to tackle deep cleaning my kitchen.
The recent “worms in the fridge” episode has me focused on cleaning my refrigerator. You’d think that the shelf with the worms on it would get my attention, but no. The drawer that was so stuffed it wouldn’t open gets first dibs. I had 5 minutes, so I completely emptied and cleaned it out.
Includes emptying out the drawer (including the loose, petrified croutons) cleaning the drawer bottom, searching for science experiments and tossing them out, combining the contents of multiple open packages of the same items and reloading the drawer – leaving out the food that shouldn’t have been in there in the first place.
Here’s the photo documentary of this exciting event:
And my theory is that nobody really wants to see the science experiments that were discovered and discarded, but if I’m wrong, HERE THEY ARE.
What can you clean in 5 minutes?
oh, you get to see the ugly now. My last few 5 minute posts have been in line with my goal to spring/deep clean my kitchen, but today’s post is about a DAILY struggle.
I have to believe that my kitchen counter is not the only one with magical magnetic properties. Magical in that it attracts all materials, not just metal.
We’ve got paper, plastic, wood, glass, medicine, vitamins, food items, cleaning supplies, a doorknob (don’t ask), even flat out GARBAGE. Maybe if I put the garbage can ON the counter…
But I digress.
I decided to find out if I could clear it in 5 minutes. If so, maybe it won’t seem like such a daunting task in the future. Maybe if I SEE that I can do it in 5 minutes, I’ll be more likely to do it every day.
Bwahahaha! (in our house, that would be referred to the Zack and Cody laugh. a statement, followed by a brief pause, and then a burst of mocking laughter.)
Did I make it within 5 minutes?
I’ll admit right now that this was challenging, simply due to the distance I had to travel to put some of this stuff where it actually goes. Which is probably WHY it got dumped on the counter in the first place.
Nobody wanted to go the distance.
I did cheat a little bit and put the items that were supposed to go upstairs ON the stairs to carry up the next time I go.
You watch, the next 5 minute post will start with a picture of my cluttered staircase.
What can YOU clean in 5 minutes?
And I just want to state right now, that I am confident that I can not clear my minivan of CARbage in 5 minutes.
UPDATE @ 2:34pm: Right now, there’s only one thing on my kitchen counter. A crock pot full of Cream Cheese Chicken
Works for Me Wednesday posts prior to February 2009 are archived at Rocks In My Dryer.
Still applying my long time practice of microactions to tackle deep cleaning my kitchen. Today, I had 5 minutes, so I completely emptied and cleaned out the knife drawer.
If THAT photo doesn’t show how bad it really was, THIS one surely does:
I followed the same steps as yesterday’s 5 minute drawer cleanup: emptied the drawer, cleaned the bottom, scrubbed and dried the drawer organizers and put everything back. This time, I didn’t get rid of anything. It may have been dirty, but it’s stayed organized like this since we had the kitchen redone in November of 2000.
2000. I wonder if that’s when I last cleaned the bottom of this drawer. no . . . NO. I’ve definitely cleaned it since then. That’s my story and I’m stickin to it.
What can YOU clean in 5 minutes?
But that was only the knife DRAWER. My favorite knives live in my Kapoosh (Amazon link) And I know I clean THAT multiple times per year. because it’s fun. and easy. and it takes less than FIVE MINUTES to clean it.
As usual, I don’t have time to devote a full day (or 7) to concentrated spring cleaning, so I’m applying my long time practice of microactions to tackle deep cleaning my kitchen. Today, I had 5 minutes, so I completely emptied and cleaned out the flatware drawer. I forgot to include a clock in the picture to prove that it only took 5 minutes, so you’re just gonna have to trust me.
Includes emptying out the drawer, cleaning the drawer bottom, scrubbing and drying the drawer organizers and reloading the drawer – leaving out the flatware we don’t really use anymore.
What can you clean in 5 minutes?
Me, to PinkGirl: “Hey, take a look at this silverware drawer. See anything different?”
PinkGirl, crinkling brow, silently stares at the drawer.
Me: “It’s totally clean.”
Me: “So. I have a question. Why was the bottom of this drawer full of chocolate sprinkles?
PinkGirl, grinning: “Funny story….”
(I had already gotten some of the sprinkles out before I remembered to take the photo.)
“We can always find all kinds of small, dead-end projects to work on, but getting a lot done is not the same as getting the most important things done. If you start work by jumping right into the hardest task for the day, you’ll get bigger and better results and feel better, too. Often things we’ve dreaded, dodged and evaded forever take less than half an hour when we finally face up to them.”
We’ve adopted a saying in our house: “eat the frog.”
What does that mean? If the hardest and worst thing on your to-do list is to eat a live frog, just get it over with. With that nagging burden gone, you’ll feel re-energized and the momentum will carry over into everything else you do. Because after eating a live frog, your day has nowhere else to go but up. (http://www.eatthatfrogmovie.com)
I need to work on invoices today. HATE doing it. But it’s my frog.
What’s your frog?
“Whoever works his land will have plenty of bread, but he who follows worthless pursuits lacks sense.”
Just last month, I wrote a “therefore I quote” blog post about foregoing what’s “good” to make room for what’s “best.”
I never listen to me.
And do I listen to God? Thankfully he’s patient. But He got my attention yesterday. With an iron. ouch.
For years, I’ve tinkered with ebay and consignment. Gathering up unneeded stuff and listing it on ebay, taking a load of stuff to the consignment shop for resale. Watching ebay snipers at the end of one of my auctions, spending consignment store credit instead of money. It’s fun. It’s work, but it’s fun. And in return, I get a little (and mean a LITTLE) extra cash for my effort.
Unfortunately, for about two years, I hadn’t physically been able to do it so much. I was thankful I could keep up with daily life, forget dealing with purging or spring cleaning for ebay and consignment or any type of home project. Struggling with chronic anemia for 18 months or so, along with the escalating and life-intruding problems associated with the fibroid tumors I had for decades, then the hysterectomy that knocked out both the anemia and the fibroid tumors, but required months of recovering from major surgery . . . by the fall of last year, I was finally starting to feel “normal” again. I enjoyed becoming more active, spending time DOING things with my family instead of . . . not.
Then, in November and December of last year, one of my clients upgraded and I got a LOT of work. A LOT of work.
And I had an epiphany.
I was organizing stuff we no longer needed, spending hours cleaning and prepping and listing it/taking it to the thrift shop for sale and making a pittance. I mean a PITTANCE. When I had the courage and intention to factor in the hours spent – my “hourly wage” turned out to average less than I made babysitting in middle school. In the 1970s. Let’s face it. There are a lot of people who can do this and make it worth the effort.
I am not one of them.
And then, out of the blue, God provided a tremendous blessing through a client project. A financial and professional and personal blessing I could NEVER begin to match in my efforts to sell on ebay or consignment.
So my epiphany? God’s prompting? I need to LET IT GO. I need to GIVE IT AWAY. I need to write off the donations using It’s Deductible. I need to GIVE to charities who provide affordable clothing and household items to low-income families – and frugal shoppers trying to stretch their income, like me. By the grace of God, my family can survive without making money on our excess. And I obviously don’t love this activity enough to do it well or I would be making a lot more money! By spending my time selling this stuff, I’m being short-sighted and leaving myself no time and no room in my life for what’s “best.”
If I give up this particular activity, I will gain HOURS to spend on other work – work that could bring a lot more personal and professional and financial rewards than these distracting, time consuming, focus breaking tangents do. If I’m serious about diversifying my business and beginning a vocational ministry in faith-based speaking, singing and writing, I’ve got OTHER THINGS I NEED TO BE DOING.
Okay. I had the epiphany. And I had the Red Cross pick up two huge loads of stuff in the last few months.
I was packing up for another Red Cross pickup on Friday morning and I came across some nearly new, name brand, outgrown clothes of PinkGirls.
“hmmm. I could sell these and get some “new” clothes for PinkGirl.”
But they need ironed. And right in the middle of ironing these clothes we DON’T NEED (I don’t iron the clothes we WEAR!!!!) . . .
I burned my arm with the iron. (See? Obviously a home appliance I’m not comfortable with)
And although I don’t believe God reached down and attacked me with the iron, I distinctly heard this message:
“I THOUGHT I TOLD YOU TO GIVE THIS CRAP AWAY!!!!”
So, does God say the word “crap?”
Probably not. That was me, because I just got burned with an iron. (shhh. Nobody tell PinkGirl I said crap.) And the clothes I was ironing? Definitely not crap. (shhh again.)
But the message came through loud and clear:
“This isn’t about stuff and it isn’t about wasted time or ebay or consignment or fun or work or any of those things.
It’s about FAITH.”
It’s about me trying to control things. Doing what I can, in my feeble attempts, to provide extra money for my family, instead of trusting God to do it.
And I know He can do a better job than I can.
Stupid iron. I should give the it to the Red Cross. But I won’t. FirstHusband uses it.
Works for Me Wednesday posts prior to February 2009 are archived at Rocks In My Dryer.
I read, therefore I quote Gordon MacDonald and C.S. Lewis:
“Years ago, my father wisely shared with me that one of the great tests of human character is found in making critical choices of selection and rejection amidst all of the opportunities that lurk in life’s path. ‘Your challenge,’ he told me, ‘will not be in separating out the good from the bad, but in grabbing the best out of all the possible good.’ He was absolutely correct. I did indeed have to learn, sometimes the hard way, that I had to say no to things I really wanted to do in order to say yes to the very best things . . .
If we are to command our time, we will have to bite the bullet and say a firm but courteous no to opportunities that are good but not the best.
Once again that demands, as it did in the ministry of our Lord, a sense of our mission . . . What do we do best with our time? What are the necessities without which we cannot get along? Everything else has to be considered negotiable: discretionary, not necessary.
I love the words C.S. Lewis wrote in Letters to an American Lady about the importance of these choices:
‘Don’t be too easily convinced that God really wants you to do all sorts of work you needn’t do. Each must do his duty ‘in that state of life to which God has called him’ . . . there can be intemperance in work just as in drink. What feels like zeal may be only fidgets or even the flattering of one’s self-importance . . . By doing what ‘one’s station and its duties’ does not demand, one can make oneself less fit for the duties it does demand and so commit some injustice. Just you give Mary a little chance as well as Martha.’”
Ordering Your Private World
What C.S. Lewis refers to as “that state of life to which God has called him’ I frequently refer to as a “season” of life. There are seasons for things, as I mentioned at the end of my last therefore I quote post. I want to do everything I want to do, if you know what I mean, but I CAN’T.
I see friends working themselves to the point of sickness and stressing their minds and bodies to the point of exhaustion and poor health and ineffectiveness and I get it. I’ve been there. I’ve done that. I reacted to the demands of life and other people in my life and I just moved forward, taking action without contemplating whether I should. Without evaluating my capabilities and time limitations and without realizing the impact of adding responsibilities without letting go of others.
As a result, I failed. I failed in many ways. I failed friends, family, employers and clients. I did many things – none of them very well, in my opinion. I gained weight. My body got weaker. I got pneumonia three times and bronchitis so many times I lost count. I was cranky and irritable from a lack of both sleep and solitude. Overwhelmed with responsibilities, some of which resulted from poor, unthoughtful choices on my part.
Then, one by one, I began making hard and intentional choices. Saying no to things that were good, but not best. When I gave up a responsibility, someone else filled my shoes. In some cases, the jobs got done just as well and sometimes better than I did them. A blow the ego, yes. But the time I’ve found has been it’s own reward. More time with my family in this tiny season of life before my kids grow up. Time for solitude and a personal, daily time with God. Time to exercise and make healthy food choices for both myself and my family.
There are not enough hours in the day to do everything I want to do right now. I don’t have the energy or stamina or skills or knowledge . . . I have to DECIDE what’s important in THIS season of my life and focus on those things. Other things will have to wait. The hard part is, some things may have to wait forever.
“. . . therefore I quote” Thursday: If you have a quote to share from something you’ve read recently, feel free to comment and/or include a link to your own “quote” post.
Need help making your link look pretty in the comment? Copy and use this code.
I’ve decided to make some changes here at Pragmatic Compendium. I’m going to make it more of a compendium. Here are the changes:
1. I’m going to be republishing existing content from my other blogs into Compendium, so that this will be a one stop shop for all my posts. I’m doing this for a few reasons. First, I frequently can’t find my own posts because I can’t remember where I put them. Secondly, the stats from the other blogs don’t show much traffic from Compendium, so my readers are missing my posts. Compendium is only part of who I am. There’s more!
2. I’m going to keep the other blogs too and continue to publish in them. Every time I post in one of my other blogs, I will publish the exact same content in Compendium too.
Why not just put everything in Compendium and do away with the other blogs?
- The other blogs do get traffic, just not much from Compendium. Most traffic comes from subscription services/readers and search strings.
- Pragmatic Communion is JUST for devotions. By still publishing in Communion, readers who only want to read the devotions don’t have to wade through everything else to find them.
- Pragmatic Commotion is JUST for family stuff. Kid stories and quotes, photos, stuff like that. By still publishing in Commotion, friends and family who want to keep up with my family life don’t have to wade through everything else to find things only related to my family. I might not publish all the kid/family photos on Compendium. I’m not sure yet.
- Pragmatic Communication is JUST about communication: talking, writing, reading, and listening. I’m revamping my business website and will be linking to communication “articles” in Pragmatic Communication. My communication clients want to read about communication tips without wading through recipes, my favorite youtube clips and everything else unrelated to communication.
- Pragmatic Computing (my first blog, by the way) is JUST for computer tips and troubleshooting. It is also linked from my business website and my computer clients like to find computer tips without (again) wading through everything else.
3. I’ll be changing the sidebar widgets to remove the links to the last three posts on each of my other blogs. Since the content will already be within Compendium, readers don’t need to see the last three entries on those blogs. I will instead have a single link to each of the other blogs in the sidebar, in case readers want to JUST see devotions, or family stuff, or communication articles, or computer tips.
4. I think I will be removing links TO Compendium which currently appear in my other blogs. That means there will be no clear path BACK to Compendium when someone clicks over to one of the other blogs from here. However, ALL links from Compendium to the other blogs will open in a new window or tab, leaving the Compendium page open. My reasoning for this one?
- Communication and Computing? Clients don’t need to read such personal stuff about me. It makes things awkward for them. When I get to know a client better, I tell them about Compendium. I got a new client last week. A 64 year old man. He really doesn’t want to stumble upon my hysterectomy woes. Neither do I want him to. Talk about awkward.
- Communion – I haven’t decided whether to link back to Compendium yet. I think I’ll leave that two way clicking path available.
- Commotion? I will set all comments on Commotion to be approved before they appear.
5. I’m beefing up the categories and tags on all the blogs to, hopefully, make it easier for
me readers to find posts about certain topics.
6. I haven’t decided how my menu bar at the top will change, but it will. (I’m open to suggestions.)
I LOVE my template, so it will NOT change.
So here’s a call for feedback! What else should I consider? What other changes should I make? What changes should I NOT make?
Check out my recent purchase! $29.99 for both the desktop and mobile platform! And the license allows me to load the desktop software on both my laptop and desktop computer.
I’m a LONG time Palm girl, so the mobile version, on my Centro, looks like this:
There’s also a Windows mobile version.
It even has an interactive shopping list and menu planner! My favorite part? Adjustable serving sizes that modify ingredient amounts! I can edit ingredients, add photos, assign and filter by multiple food categories and search by up to three ingredients.
It comes with over 1200 recipes. Most look pretty good (and easy), but I’ve already deleted 60+ I knew I would NEVER make. Like “Potted Tongue.” This software has everything I can think of, in an intuitive and clean interface. I’m already loving it! Check out some more reviews
I get most of my PDA software from http://www.handango.com and they almost always have an active promo code. If the ones below are expired, search for “handango promotion” and you’ll probably find one.
“APPSWELIKE” expires tonight at midnight and saves you 15%
“SAVE20NOW” saves you 20%, but I’m not sure when it expires.
It’s January, time to shred 2001. At the advice of my accountant, I keep documents 7 years. As I rotate 2008 into storage, I’m reminded of a three part series I wrote entitled “Don’t File Paper at Home Anymore.”
If you are SICK of managing the paper in your house, check it out.
We’ve made one modification to the process this year.
We now throw away all the receipts we don’t need. Why were we keeping grocery store and restaurant receipts? Why were we keeping receipts for household cleaning products and stuff we weren’t going to return?
Many of the expenses we need to track are on our bank statement. We now only keep business receipts. We don’t even need to shred many of them because they don’t show our account numbers.
ahhh. I love getting rid of paper.
About three years ago, I mentioned to a few people that I needed some good kitchen knives. The next Christmas was . . . very sharp. I got knives from my dad, my in-laws and FirstHusband.
Great knives – every one. Especially my favorite – the ceramic knife FirstHusband got me. (second from the left). The problem was that they didn’t match.
Then, walking through Bed, Bath & Beyond one day, FirstHusband found THIS:
Looks like a plain old knife block. Look closer.
It’s called a “Kapoosh ” (amazon product link) and it holds any knife, no matter the size.
To clean it, you just remove all the knives, turn it upside down and the plastic part comes completely out. I just wipe it down, fan it out and pop it back in. Kapoosh!
So why am I NESTING? I’ve had this massive surge of momentum and have been clearing out and re-organizing for weeks. I’ve even been . . . decorating.
I don’t decorate so much.
Not in the traditional sense of the word. My method of decorating is seriously pragmatic and often involves shelving and containers (square, of course).
Merchandising a shelf? I don’t think so. I would have to later dust the “merchandise.”
Here’s a little sampling of what I’ve been up to:
Clearing Land. I can’t say weeding because I believe when the “weeds” completely obscure the ground and have grown higher than my waist, it constitutes land clearing. The word “weeding” just doesn’t cover it. I haven’t actually tackled these cornstalks yet. They grew from the droppings of my neighbor’s bird feeder, which was attached to our shared fence.
I wish I had taken pictures of this area before, but here’s a mid point:
This is a strip of . . . flowerbed? that runs along the back of our porch. I moved the grill and the smoker from the patio to this area because the basketball hoop is on the patio and the grill has been taking the brunt of all missed shots and rebounds for years. Notice the broken handle on the grill?
This flowerbed strip connects to a handmade paved area which, for years has been the home of a big red, crab sandbox. That picture above? This is the “before” shot.
We convinced PinkGirl to allow the pitiful, hole in the bottom, bent in half, faded sandbox to find a new home at the county dump – in exchange for a fire pit. FirstHusband found one he liked and it just so happened to be on clearance at Target for $55.00. He hasn’t put it together yet.
While I was clearing land, FirstHusband, FavoriteSon and PinkGirl built a “clubhouse” atop her swing set:
I’ve also begun purging the back porch of stuff and trash. This area was HORRIBLE. You know that tagline above? “I breathe, therefore I organize?” Yeh. Well, it appears I haven’t been breathing on the back porch for months. I didn’t take a picture of the before, but here’s the work in progress:
Pay no attention the pile of junk behind the dried out, $5, garage sale teak screen that I should oil up. Definitely do not step behind the screen, lest you perish in a freak junk avalanche.
I bought the furniture at a local thrift store about 10 years ago have have been through a number of foam pieces, covered with a bunch of different materials, including bedsheets. The foam just completely deteriorates in the Florida sun (even though it’s on a covered, screen porch). It’s never been all that comfortable either. And the cats have ruined a few pieces as well. For some reason, they prefer foam to cat litter.
The new cushions are a salvage. At the end of the Whale of a Sale this year, there were a few couches that didn’t sell and the charity pickup didn’t take. I stuffed my van with all the cushions before they were sacrificed to the dumpster gods. I took the denim covers off of the couch cushions to wash them and sliced off an extra curved, corner type piece from the foam cushion with an electric knife. I couldn’t figure what to do with the extra fabric on the cover, but in the end, I just tucked it around to the side. Now I have to figure out what to do about the chair cushions. I bought some slipcovers at Target a few years ago and I’m hoping to use the material to make covers for the chairs. I’m also hoping the cats don’t ruin the sofa cushions. I covered them with a tarp and found cat urine on the tarp the next day. The litter box had also been used, so maybe there’s hope. I’m going to be safe and either keep the cushions covered up or store them in a box when not in use.
There’s also a rocker, but my dad took it home to paint it. He’s going to paint all the pieces for me. I’ll post photos when the rocker comes home.
I’ve also been painting my bedroom. A few years ago (okay, four years ago), we had the ceilings repaired after Hurricaine Charlie. We supplemented the insurance money and switched from popcorn ceilings to an orange peel texture. That left the top of the walls white. I picked a paint color and started painting. Never finished.
Then, the next year, we had to get the house re-piped. Holes had to be cut, patched and re-textured. That left big white patches on the walls. I tried to color match the paint from the year before – THREE times. No luck. The manufacturer had changed the base color. So my room has been 5 different colors with a white “border” at the top for THREE years. A giant ladder has served as a towel rack in my master bedroom for three years. Not kidding. Last summer, I finally picked a new manufacturer (Behr – I LOVE Behr) and a new color. By December, I still hadn’t started painting.
One night after Christmas, around 7 p.m., I pulled a box out from under the bed and it got stuck. I took a look and discovered all the supports had collapsed. FirstHusband tried to straighted them, but in the end we had to take the bed apart. That’s when it turned into a scene from “If you Give a Mouse a Cookie.” I said, “You know, since we have the bed apart, we really should paint.” By 10:00 p.m., my room looked like this:
Even though FirstHusband tripped and fell carrying an open can of paint, we were able to put the bed back together by 1:00 a.m. He decided to sacrifice his body and not the carpet – and he did a pretty good job. He only spilled a little bit, but gashed his knee. PinkGirl was very brave and bandaged him up like a little nurse, while I kept painting. Then he did a great job cleaning the paint spatters off the carpet, followed by cleaning up the blood that soaked through the bandage while cleaning paint splatters.
The area below is where the wall was cut open and patched the most. A beautiful sweater chest is supposed to go here. This started as the “purge” waiting pile. Over the last year, I put everything from upstairs that is to be given to charity HERE. In my room. Then, I just started throwing other things on the pile, like luggage from a trip, boxes, towels.
The sweater chest? It was next to my bed, suffering the same fate.
Now, the sweater chest is back where it’s supposed to be and stuff is either put away or boxed up and lining the hallway for a trip downstairs.
I’m almost done. I doubt I’ll finish this weekend. Friday night our family is going to a Magic game, Saturday, FavoriteSon has two basketball games, Saturday evening, FirstHusband and I are going out with friends. Sunday, we hope to take down the Christmas tree.
Oh, and just before I started all this? I made an appointment with my doctor to have my blood tested because I was exhausted. Sure enough. Iron stores down again, back on a supplement. And if you’ll notice – in the post that link goes to – back in February, I wrote:
“I took my first iron pill yesterday. Why don’t I feel better yet? How long is this going to take? I need to finish painting the bedroom and the lawn needs mowed.”
paint the bedroom. lawn. February. see? WAY over due.
I’ve been up to much more – but if I wait to post this before I finish listing everything, it will be ANOTHER week.
So . . .Happy New Year!
FirstHusband is the head chef in this house on Christmas Day. He genuinely enjoys it! And he has a plan. It’s a serious plan. We all follow it. Wanna see last year’s plan? Click the link.
Did I mention he’s an engineer? We all just follow directions and the meal is always WONDERFUL and NOTHING is cold when it’s supposed to be warm or warm when it’s supposed to be cold. HE says the spreadsheet was necessitated after the year everything needed to be “plated” at the exact same time and we couldn’t pull it off. (I know he just wanted to build a spreadsheet.)
He literally FILLS the smoker with meat on Wednesday and gets up every 4 hours to tend to it Wednesday night. He comes back to bed smelling like mesquite and I could care less. It is SO worth it. He always smokes a turkey, but in past years he has also smoked pork loin, ribs, beef, lobster, prawns and brisket. This year, there’s a ham and a lamb shank in the freezer waiting their turn. It is going to be very, very good. He refers to it as “A Feast.” And he is correct.
So my contribution to Kitchen Tip Tuesday and Tempt My Tummy Tuesday? FirstHusband’s plan. And my contribution for Works for me Wednesday? Being married to a man who enjoys cooking. yep. That DEFINITELY works for me.
I’m back! And I’m ramping up to meet the holiday scheduling “challenges” in our lives. It’s December 3rd!!!! There are currently only two advent calendars taunting me as they count down the days till Christmas in my house – with at least one more to be unpacked as we decorate for Christmas.
I mentioned a few weeks ago that my color coded calendar looked like a rainbow and I’m seriously focused on keeping things “normal” (whatever that means). We traveled to visit family in Georgia last week and I had to work Monday and Tuesday, so this is my first blog moment in nearly a week. I’ll be catching up on my blog visits in spurts. Oh. And while in Georgia, my windshield got whacked by a rock and now needs replaced because the crack is smack dab in front of the driver’s seat. I’m told that it will only take an hour and can be fixed in my own driveway. I REALLY hope that’s true.
But now it’s time for a little stress relieving stream of consciousness. oops. cold coffee. need to nuke (for the second time this morning and it’s only 9:13 a.m.)
Okay. Here goes.
Kitchen Tip Tuesday – LATE
If I’m not careful, we will eat out or grab takeout for the rest of the month. Monday, I had to work (thankfully, on Go To Meeting, and not on client site) and then I rushed to pick up PinkGirl from school at 3:00 p.m. (late) and then waited for FavoriteSon to saunter on over to the van at 3:36 – 6 minutes after 2nd grade bowling began (His punishment for being late was to ride past all his friends in my festive holiday “carstumed” van.)
I fed them snacks in the car to avoid buying food at the bowling alley, dropped PinkGirl off at bowling, took FavoriteSon home as he did homework in the car, changed from shorts and sleeveless because it was getting cold, put on some make up because I looked . . . asleep, took FavoriteSon – still doing homework in the car, back up to the bowling alley to pick up PinkGirl, drove to pick up FirstHusband at a nearby parking lot where he left his truck while we picked up dinner at Wendy’s (dropping my driver’s side Rudolph antler in the drive-thru) on the way to FavoriteSon’s first basketball game – across town – an hour before the game started because they had to hand out uniforms at the last minute. Got in the van to come home at 8:30 or so, drove 45 minutes home stopping for McDonalds for PinkGirl and at Checkers for FavoriteSon because they were “starving,” (again dropping my driver’s side Rudolph antler in the drive through) arrived home with PinkGirl asleep in the back seat . . . it’s December. See what I mean? And we only allow one extra curricular activity per kid at a time. I can’t imagine life with kids involved in multiple activities.
Oh, and it seems I stepped off the bleachers a little too vigorously after the game. I felt my neck “jar” as my foot hit the ground, so, while I’ve not suffered a complete setback, I did take a few steps backward on the road to ruptured disk recovery. I’m going to schedule another massage for Friday afternoon after a few more traction and inversion sessions. We are taking PinkGirl and three friends to Magic Kingdom on Saturday for her birthday and I’ll have to be standing on hard surfaces all day, so I’m going to be a little proactive. I’m also going to be good and NOT ride any roller coasters either. Bummer.
So . . . those are a few of our recent scheduling challenges. I said this was stream of consciousness.
I need some serious meal planning, which is what I’m doing today. Yesterday I went for a tried and true favorite, Cream Cheese Chicken. Today, we have leftovers and for tomorrow, I’ve already pulled out my “easy” cookbook.
I know Cambell’s soups aren’t the healthiest ingredients in a meal, but they’re a whole lot better than Wendy’s. Or McDonalds. Or Checkers. So, here’s the crinkliest page in this book:
Chicken-Broccoli Divan (click here for a printable PDF version)
4 cups cooked broccoli florets
1 1/2 cups cubed cooked chicken
1 can (10 3/4 ounces) Campbell’s® Condensed Cream of Chicken Soup (Regular or 98% Fat Free)
1/3 cup milk
1/2 cup shredded Cheddar cheese
2 tbsp. dry bread crumbs
1 tbsp. butter, melted
Place the broccoli and chicken into a 9-inch pie plate. (I use an oval Corningware casserole dish.)
Stir the soup and milk in a small bowl. Pour the soup mixture over the broccoli and chicken. Sprinkle with the cheese. Stir the bread crumbs and butter in a small bowl. Sprinkle the bread crumbs over the cheese.
Bake at 450°F. for 20 minutes or until the chicken mixture is hot and bubbling.
It’s fast, it’s easy, and the kids like it too! In a bind, I can use frozen broccoli florets and a large can of cooked chicken breast. I use lowfat or low sodium soup, skim milk, lowfat cheese, and Smart Balance margarine. So . . . not SO bad for us.
This morning, I forgot to eat breakfast, so three hours later I just made:
5 minute Oatmeal.
One cup water, 1/2 cup old fashioned oats (not quick or 1 minute oats).
Nuke on 50% power for 5 minutes (I put a paper plate underneath because there can be boil over).
Fast and easy.
Okay – I stepped away from the computer for just a minute – and it’s 4:40 p.m. Again. It’s December.
I saw a termite swarm in the back yard and our “termite guy” stopped by to check it out. There’s nothing near the house, thank goodness and while he was telling me how many termite colonies there are per acre in Florida and how the ones who fly are just looking for a girlfriend and not eating anything important, I got a client call and had to work for a while.
And if anyone remembers reading “With layers, I can choose to blow my hair out straight if I want, but I still have the option of wave or curls.” I’ll just tell you now. I did NOT blow my hair out straight today. I needed the 10 or so minutes for something else. I just don’t remember what the something else is right now. I’m going to have wavy hair for most of the rest of the year.
In other news, our new shower is almost done. I understand the only thing left to do is buff the floor. Check out our “broken” shower photos HERE. And now, our new shower:
Next, I paint.
But first, I take PinkGirl to children’s Christmas choir practice (we broke the one activity rule for this one), walk for an hour with a friend, attend my own Christmas choir rehearsal and then come home.
At the moment, there’s nothing on my calendar tomorrow. Maybe it’s a catch up day? I love catch up days.
I read, therefore I quote. It’s what I do.
I’ve been quoting books, but this gem from Memarie Lane was just too good to pass over just because it didn’t come bound or with an ISBN number:
“A day for me is like a Rubix Cube. Several patterns in several dimensions that have to be solved in tandem. Lining up one pattern may discombobulate another, so I have to keep it all in balance. Hopefully, by the end of the day I’ll have it all sorted out, though the next morning all that work will be undone again.”
Marie Du Jour
by Memarie Lane
Thinking about my main job these days – not my consulting, but my main job as a Family Manager, I have Kathy Peel to thank for the way I view it and the consistent awareness that what I do has value. My quote today is the crux of Kathy’s (and subsequently my) philosophy on the role of Family Manager.
Although there are days when I miserably fail to meet my goals (and I mean MISERABLY), I start over again the next day with a clean slate. Every little change adds up. It was much more difficult to consistently pair my goals with action when my kids were toddlers and preschoolers. There’s so much “reaction” parenting sometimes. You have to react to something you didn’t expect, like a golf ball through the fish tank. (That’s another post.) Now that my kids are taking more ownership of their own lives, washing their own hair and wiping their own . . . It’s easier.
So, although I don’t always meet them, these words have been the cornerstone for my goals for many, many years:
“I wrote down all of my chores and responsibilities – whether they had to do with our house, clothing, children, relatives, bank accounts, pantry, schools, vacations, furniture, holidays, etc., (the list was very long) – and studied them. Then I tried to place each item on the list into a general department, similar to those of a business. I wanted to see if any patterns emerged. The did. As a matter of fact, seven distinct departments emerged that made a lot of sense to me as a Family Manager.
Time – managing time and schedules – getting the right people to the right places at the right time – so that our household can run smoothly. (UPDATED VERSION INCLUDES: with the right equipment.)
- Goals: To see each day, each hour, each minute as a gift, not to be irresponsibly “spent,” but “used” in a purposeful way. Learn to use small blocks of time to accomplish big tasks. To stop wasting time with meaningless activities. To think and plan ahead so as to eliminate as much chaos and stress as possible from our daily life.
Food: efficiently, economically and creatively meeting the daily food and nutritional needs of my family.
- Goals: To provide tasty, nutritious meals for our family. And even if the food isn’t gourmet, to make mealtimes especially enjoyable times when we share laughter, tears, dreams, ideas – our worlds, as a family.
Home & Property: overseeing the maintenance and care of all our tangible assets, including personal belongings, the house, and its surroundings.
- Goals: To appreciate and take care of all of our belongings in such a way that we can enjoy them as much as possible and they will last as long as possible. To create, through the decor and furnishings of our home, a warm and welcoming atmosphere for family and friends.
Finances – managing budgets, bill-paying and a host of other money issues.
- Goals: To be alert for practical ways every day to live by the motto “Make as much as you can, save as much as you can, give as much as you can.” To live within our budget and spend less than we make.
Special Projects – coordinating large and small projects—birthdays, holidays, vacations, garage sales, family reunions—that fall outside the normal family routine.
- Goals: To plan occasions and events to celebrate the special moments of life, and create and carry on family traditions. To put making memories high on our priority list. To make sure I (and others) aren’t so overwhelmed with trying to do it right we don’t have any fun.
Family Members and Friends – dealing with family life and relationships, and acting as a teacher, nurse, counselor, mediator, and social chairman. (UPDATED VERSION INCLUDES: child rearing, education, marriage, friends, neighbors, and aging parents.)
- Goals: To always remember that relationships are the most important thing in life, that people are more important than projects. To help those closest to me develop their full potential by providing opportunities for their growth and valuing them as individuals. To be, to the best of my ability, a good wife, mother, daughter, sister, relative, friend, and neighbor.
Personal Management – growing and caring for myself physically, emotionally, intellectually, and spiritually. (I figured that if I’m going to manage everything else, I’ve got to manage myself.)
- Goals: To strive to develop my full potential as a woman. To be an avid reader and a lifelong learner, to exercise regularly and eat wisely, to schedule times for personal recreation and refreshment, to grow in my knowledge of God. To take good care of myself and remind myself regularly of my value as a human being.”
The Family Manager
by Kathy Peel
“. . . therefore I quote” Thursday: If you have a quote to share from something you’ve read recently, feel free to comment and/or include a link to your own “quote” post.
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Shannon, over at Rocks in My Dryer is hosting a themed edition of Works for Me Wednesday. Today is all about kitchen organization! Since it’s Whale of a Sale time and I’m sorting hundreds of books and alphabetizing by author until I literally can’t remember how to spell, I’m maximizing my time (cheating) and highlighting previous posts about my kitchen.
My favorites are:
the good, the bad and the ugly (kitchen cabinets)
veggie box (our key to 5 minute meal preps)
five minute sink (two of my biggest strategies for getting things DONE.)
lunchbox flatware (no more missing place settings)
Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their work: If one falls down, his friend can help him up. But pity the man who falls and has no one to help him up! Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken. Ecclesiastes 4:9-10, 12
In November of last year, I wrote a devotional on this verse and what it meant to me. Over the last year, as I supported my friend who is battling stage IV breast cancer, this verse has come to mean so much more. Here’s an excerpt from the November devotional over at Pragmatic Communion, entitled, “i am not alone.“
“I’m the book lady. Every year, my church has a HUGE rummage sale. Two full weeks, weekends included, are spent unloading storage units, picking up and accepting donations, sorting, pricing and basically setting up an entire gymnasium for the annual “Whale of a Sale” held the first weekend of October.
I’m the book lady.
I take two weeks off from clients and work the Whale, every day. In that two week span, I literally touch thousands of books. They are categorized by topic and fiction is alphabetized by author’s last name. They sit on three rows of 6 or 7 folding tables (the big ones), in boxes, spine up, facing the shopper. Each box has a sign sticking up from it with my handwriting on it, indicating the contents of the box: Cookbooks, Physical Health, Emotional Health, Parenting, Travel, Military History, American History, World History, Gardening, etc. In each box, you can see the name of nearly every book without having to touch a single one. If you are looking for a particular book, just ask me. I”ll tell you if we have it and, if so, exactly where it is. The comments from people who see it range from, “Wow. This is amazing.” to “Who did all this?” (in a “that person is insane” tone of voice.) In the first few years, I did much of it myself, but now there are actually a handful of people who “get” me and can help sort without messing up the system.
The added benefit is that I get first pickings. At a $1.00 per hardback and $.50 for paperbacks and children’s books, I bring home a bookcase worth every year. My I.O.U grows ominously for two weeks as I sneak boxes of books into my house. Some women buy clothes, secretly hang them in the closet and when their husband comments the first time the clothing is worn, the women say, “This? I’ve had this for years.” Not me. I bring home books, quickly pull off the price tag and shelve them. I don’t say a word. I read so many books at one time, I never get asked, “Is that a new book?” My husband can’t keep up. This year was more difficult. I ran out of shelving space and had to reorganize the playroom. A six foot shelf that used to house toys, games and puzzles now houses fitness, diet and health books. (The shelf is right next to the treadmill after all.) . . . “
Click HERE to continue reading and to see photos of the freakishness.