Well, I almost can't believe that we didn't eat out more in January! We stuck to the resolution that I made that we could only eat out three times total for the month and those eat out's had to be planned. We did only one fast food meal! My kid's only ate out two meals for the month. This is quite a feat for me as it seems that we were always jumping in line at Mickey D's when I felt stressed, pressed for time, or just plain lazy. I haven't counted up the savings but I know that we have cut our eating out by at LEAST half. I feel great about that and had to share before I posted my menu for the week. But without further ado, here it is:
Monday: Chicken salad on croissants with red grapes on the side Tuesday: Slow Cooker Roast, with potatoes, onions and carrots Wednesday: Teriyaki Chicken and fried rice Thursday: Biscuits with sausage gravy, eggs, and fruit Friday: Reuben Sammy's, roasted potatoes, beans Saturday: Pizza and Salad Sunday: Picking up home made pasta from our church--then I'll probably make some SuperBowl Snacks for later (Go Steelers!)
Need to find your happy place today? Perhaps I have a little funky, soulsy thing that will do the trick! If you're local and you haven't heard of them, you've got to check them out. They are really fun to see live. My cousin's husband is the front man and here he is singing one of the fan favorites at Acousticafe:
His band is currently competing for a spot to open for that Cowboy on a Steel Horse: Bon Jovi! Exciting stuff for these hometown boys. They are one of the top three finalists, and this could be why:
So I just have to do my part...even if it is just to spread the word through my little 'ole blog. The contest will held on Thursday, Feb 3rd at:
Charlie Murdoch's (South Side)
1005 East Carson St
Pittsburgh, Pa 15203
Door open at 6, bands start at 7:30 and there's NO COVER.
Welcome Organizing Junkies! This week I decided to try to tackle my pantry. We only moved in 3 months ago, so at first I didn't think this was an area that needed much work. I had put everything away in (what I thought was) an organized fashion. But three months later I noticed that things were toppling, some shelves were underutilized, and the layout of the items stored wasn't making sense for our lives. Instead of looking organized, clutter was creeping in. So, I made a promise to re-evaluate the space every quarter to keep it looking its best. I still have big plans in here as far as storage goes. And I would like to have a cheery pantry like some that I have seen in the blogging world with some decorative pizazz! So I plan to keep my eye out for some economical but stylish storage solutions and I plan to do some painting in here to take things for stark white to clean, bright, and out of site!
Here's where we were before:
As you can see, there really is no rhyme or reason for what goes where, hence a shelf of alcohol, baby food and candles. It goes to show you that some planning and forethought needs to go into an organized pantry. My previous goal was just to get everything unpacked and put away! Now I need to put it in a spot that makes sense.
And so, I took things out shelf by shelf and decided what would work better. I knew I wanted to move the snack foods onto a higher shelf so that I could eliminate the sneaky snacking that one (or more) of my girlies would do. They would hide away in the pantry and have easy access to cookies and chips placed on a low shelf right at their eye level. Very smart mommy they have. Another thing I knew I wanted to do was reduce the eye clutter of all the plastic bags that hold diapers and wipes and paper products. If I had a bigger budget (ahem, A budget) for the project then I would invest in containers to store all of my dry goods so I could get everything looking more uniform. So now that I know what I want, I can save up for it, or keep an eye out for deals on containers that will work!
Here's what we ended up with:
I took out the large metal garbage can and replaced it with a small plastic one that was in the laundry room. I cleared the baby food from the boxes on the bottom shelf and relocated it to a place it will be used. And I tried to put like items on the same shelf.
I moved the alcohol to a higher shelf. I moved the easy bake ovens upstairs (technically it's a toy, right?). I moved the snacks to a higher shelf. I dedicated a shelf to the baby's food, and I put cereal and bread on the same shelf--my potato bin is there too. That bottom shelf that you can't see has my crock pot, other kitchen tools, and there's a little section for the dog with his treats and a bin for his food.
These are my favorite parts of the project:
When I emptied the baby food, I used the empty boxes to store diapers, pull ups and wipes. I just covered the boxes with paper and took the diapers out of their package and put them into their new home. I also removed the plastic from the cups and plates. Doing those two little things makes this shelf look much tidier!
I tried to stack the baby food neatly but after I was 75% finished I experienced a cascading avalanche of little jars. Ouch, my toes! Besides realizing that we have way too many jars of baby food I learned that stacking them was not a good idea/ So I found these pink bins that are actually wash basins from the hospital (when Ava was in) and used them to corral the baby food. I also moved the snack "up high" so now the girls are forced to ask for something instead of just helping themselves to a secret binge fest!
There's still some work to be done here but I am happy with the finished result and I'm more motivated to put things in their place! That's the point of organizing! Thanks for visiting!
You don't. When I got up on Tuesday I thought I was going to have no problem getting to my daughter's school to help out for Lunch and Recess duty. For two months Jordan had been waiting for this day. When I waved her off at the bus stop, I gave her a kiss, smiled and said "I'll see you today at lunch!" Her excitement was so precious! My 6 almost 7 year old was still excited to see her old mom at school. I'm sure as the moments ticked down to lunch her happiness grew...
Meanwhile, fifty minutes before it was time to be there I headed out to warm up the van. Back inside, I bundled everyone up and we headed out. I planned to drop off the little kids at my mom's house so that my sister could keep an eye on them and I could volunteer with both hands, eyes, and ears free to focus on the tasks at hand. We didn't get far though. I backed the van to turn around and head straight out the driveway and when I put it in drive we began to slide. Maybe if I reverse a little and try again. Nope. Still sliding. Maybe if I get out and put the floor mats in front of the tires (I thought that was a pretty GREAT idea). No. Still sliding. Try again. Slide. And Again. Slide. And Again. Slide. I called Jim. Try this. Slide. Try That. Slide. And now I had slid into a worse spot. (I'm not sure why I called Jim--45 minutes away and no idea how or where I was stuck). I guess I just wanted to commiserate a little. I even looked in the garage for something that might help. I scattered salt, but it was too little, too late. Defeated, I called the school and tromped back inside to make lunch for the gang.
It hasn't snowed in days. The problem is that our driveway stone and we aren't really able to shovel and salt it very well (Jim HAS tried). There was a tiny bit of melt yesterday and the packed snow on the drive got a little slick and as the tires spun, it made it worse.
When Jordan got off the bus I could immediately see the disappointment on her face. I gave her big hug. She said that when she saw that I wasn't at lunch she started to cry.
In the wee hours of Monday morning, I was ripped from sleep by the sound of our smoke detectors going off. We have the kind that are wired together so that when one goes off, they all do. It was loud, ear piercing, and alarming (which I suppose is the point!). My first thought was "Oh, S#!T! Jim has left for work already!" He wasn't in bed next to me. I didn't smell smoke, feel heat, or see flames. What should I do? How do I turn these alarms off? Where are my kids? What should I do first? All of this ran through my head in the split second it took me to leap from my bed and out towards the girls' rooms. Instantaneously, Jordan appeared from her bedroom with Ava close behind. Both were covering their ears. I could see a look in Ava's eyes that said "Mommy, my worst nightmare is coming true!" and Jordan was shouting "Everyone get up! There's a fire!"
Jim was there in a flash. There was no fire, but one of the detectors was malfunctioning and he had to figure out which one. For about 30 seconds the girls and I stood there, adrenaline pumping, while Jim ran from place to place trying to find the culprit. The basement smoke detector had gone bad. He ripped it out and the sound was gone as quickly as it had started. I looked into the babies' room. I was standing outside the door. Livi was still in bed, awake and looking at me. Chloe was sleeping! Jim and I herded the older girls back to their room telling them that there was nothing to be scared of, that it was a false alarm but that they had done the right thing by getting out of bed and coming to wake us.
I went back to bed. But I couldn't go back to sleep. Blood was still quickly pulsing through my veins and my mind could not shut down. What if this had been an actual fire? What if Jim had been off to work already? What if my front door was engulfed in flames? How would we escape this house? My older girls had woken up right away, left their room to come and find me, but the little ones did not know what was going on, had not moved from their beds. The baby had not even woken up at all! They would be dependent on me to get them and get them out of here and how would I do it?
We all sleep on the second floor. There are no overhangs to jump onto. If we had to jump, I guess we would jump from Jordan and Ava's room because that's the highest point in our yard, the lowest jumping point, and we would be jumping out onto grass. It was three degrees last night! Would I grab blankets? Shoes? Or throw my children from the window in thin nightgowns and bare feet? Would they jump? Would I jump first and try to catch them? Would we all jump together? And what about Kingston? I hadn't even given our beloved pet a thought! He is crated at night and would be trapped on the first floor.
We are unprepared. Plain and simple. Jim got all new smoke detectors today and hooked them up after work. He bought a small fire extinguisher for the kitchen. I am going to find those ladders that attach to the windows and buy them.
I have thought about what might happen if our house caught fire. I have never made a plan. This is a mistake. I am grateful for a malfunctioning smoke detector.
Shopping is done! I LOVE when I don't have that hanging over my head on a Monday night! I had a good shopping trip this week...I was happy to be under my $140 weekly budget by $7 and that included a splurge on a Starbucks Chai Tea Latte that I sipped as I maneuvered through the store.
I'm late to the link up over at I'm An Organizing Junkie but if you'd like to get some more menu ideas or link up your own menu plan, stop over there and see what's cooking!
I had a couple of pushed meals this week. One day my husband went to the Pens game and I didn't feel like cooking so the girls and I were satisfied with cereal for dinner! EASY! I'm just happy that I didn't give in and order pizza or go for fast food. The second pushed meal was because my husband surprised me with a last minute date night on Friday. So we went out to eat (our last of three "restaurant meals" per month) and then went to Home Depot, bought a few things for a project in the living room, and then browsed around the store for inspiration on upcoming home improvement projects. It was very nice walking around a home improvement store withOUT the girls for once. I know it doesn't sound romantic, but it really was fun dreaming about the plans we have for our home!
On to the MENU! What you all came for:
Monday: Crockpot Mexican beef soft tacos, corn, and spanish rice
Tuesday: Pasta with sausage, spinach, tomatoes, bread, salad
Wednesday: Cheeseburgers, tater tots, and green beans
Thursday: Chicken and cheese quesadillas, roasted potatoes with smoked paprika, Pepper Medley
I used to have a basement laundry room. Yes, it was cold down there and I had to fend off the occasional centipede or other basement bug, but I was able to sprawl out. My laundry mountain was less of a mountain and more like rolling hills of laundry. I had piles here and piles there and plenty of room to maneuver. When we moved I traded my basement laundry for a first floor laundry room right off of my kitchen. I can see the usefulness of a first floor laundry. The convenience of having the laundry room nearer to our living space allows me to get things done and still keep an eye or ear on what the girls are up to. The convenience is nice. But the conundrum that quickly presented itself could not be ignored--what do I do about my rolling hills of laundry?
It is no longer feasible to store dirty laundry in the laundry room. First of all, in a family of six, where five of the six are females, I'm sure you can imagine that the laundry situation can quickly get out of control. Between potty accidents, and multiple outfit changes (some necessary and some unnecessary) there is no where in the new laundry room to "stage" the laundry process. Secondly, I certainly don't need my guests viewing my dirty laundry--literally.
What to do? First I thought about placing a dirty clothes hamper in each of the bedrooms, but the idea of digging through four hampers to gather up a like-colored load of laundry seemed like too much work for me. Then I began eyeing up a closet in the master bedroom to use as the dirty laundry station. Thankfully, there is plenty of closet space in the master. This closet is in the main part of the room, so it is easily accessible and I couldn't think of what we would need it for since there is already a his and a hers closet right outside of the master bathroom. So, I began to pile up the laundry in there.
There are a couple of problems with this set up. Because baskets must be stacked on one another it is difficult to expect the little ones to sort clothes into the proper baskets. It was even proving difficult for my husband. And it was really irking me to find one of his gray work t-shirts in with the whites or a pair of jeans in with the towels. Plus, this picture doesn't really illustrate the depth of the disaster when the laundry would begin to take over. If I skipped a day of laundry and or the girls each had more than their usual outfit changes (like the days when they play "dress-up" with their "real" clothes instead of "dress-up" clothes and I have no idea what has been worn for the majority of a day versus what has been worn for ten minutes) the laundry would begin to spill out of the hampers and into my bedroom and the closet door wouldn't close. I would begin to feel claustrophobic, sloppy, and irritable.
So I got the bright idea to change out my laundry baskets so that everything was of similar size and would fit into the closet space. I added (actually Jim added at my request) an additional linen shelf and I created a map of sorts so that the family could help me sort the laundry when they came to toss it in the closet. Here's what we ended up with:
I'm excited about this project! The baskets are the perfect "load" size. So when I see that one is full I can easily carry it down to the laundry room and wash it. We used up some of the dead space in the closet by putting the baskets on the shelf. Also, now everyone can see what goes where and put it there (hopefully?). There's enough room in the closet that we could add another shelf if we need the space for laundry related supplies or linens or anything else.
I plan to keep up my habit of doing one load of laundry per day from start to finish so that the closet doesn't become overrun. Here's the side by side:
I feel less stressed about my laundry situation. Dare I say, I'm looking forward to doing laundry?
It's that time of week again. I don't think I'm going to get to the grocery store today. My kids are home from school so the usual Monday routine is thrown off a little bit. Not to mention, we have lunch plans with friends (YAY!) and it is a dine to donate for the school where my kiddos go, so I don't have to worry about ANY meals today. (YAY! YAY!)
Happily, I'm reporting that we did not eat out at all last week! Now, if I could just get my husband to do less eating out at work! Maybe if I got up at 4am and packed him a lunch...not gonna happen!
This is a phrase that I say quite frequently. I'm a reader. Magazines. Books. Instructions. Board Game Directions. I always have been this way, but even more so, I like to share what I read.
Just last night, I was leafing through my latest issue of Real Simple and I came across the article "Weird Symptoms, Explained". The article begs us to "find out what's behind those freaky twitches, tics, and body pains (and how to get rid of them)." So, I'm reading the article, which I find fascinating because I'm into self diagnosis, and I get to the part where the article is explaining why your body jerks as you fall asleep and I have to stop and explain to my husband that this is caused by "nerves misfiring as your brain and body down-shift into sleep mode." "Heh?" Jim replied. I repeated myself. He nodded with raised eyebrows and turned his attention back to the show he was watching about gang activity in Anchorage. And I went back to my article and opened up my mental trivia file and tucked this baby inside.
You never know when this mental trivia file will come in handy. At my faith sharing group two weeks ago we were reading a poetic prayer from our books and came across this phrase: God grant us Your Sophia. Huh? Sophia? What does that mean? I dug into my mental trivia file and said, "I think it means 'wisdom". I think Sophia is a Greek word for wisdom--a goddess of wisdom maybe? Let me google it." So I pull out my phone and Google: What does Sophia mean? And the very first thing that pops up is the web definition and it says "Sophia- Greek for wisdom". Ah, LOVE that mental trivia file! I think I filed that one away when I was reading a baby name book, oh so long ago.
Mostly the mental trivia file is useful when playing Jeopardy and Trivial Pursuit. For some reason, and I'm not sure exactly why, I can usually run categories (or come close to running them) on "the Bible" "Shakespeare" and "Science." It's also good for conversations with my brother who has been dubbed by my family "King of Random Facts". How many conversations with him have started "Did you know...."? I've lost count.
The thing is, I know this a little annoying. I mean pulling out the trivial facts is fine when you're missing a key piece of info, like the example at faith sharing group. But sharing interesting tidbits at random is often met with that expression my husband gave me: eyebrows raise, head nod, and then back to what you were doing before. I guess when I find something that is interesting, enlightening, or otherwise fascinating to me, I just can't fight the urge to share it. Out of context, the tid bit might not mean as much to someone else as it might have had they come across it on their own. I still feel the need to share because I do buy into the theory that you learn what you teach. So just by sharing the fact I myself write it in bold and file it away for later.
Secretly, I'm a biology geek. Random facts about the human body, the plant kingdom and animal kingdom, those are my specialty. This is an odd thing to me because I never really considered myself to be a math or science person...I always gravitated to the arts: Music, Literature, Drawing, Writing etc. I guess it just means that I am well-rounded but part of me wonders if there is a deeper reason behind it. I'm sure there is a random fact to explain it. I'll just have to keep reading to find it!
I'm a little late to the party today. We had a busy day. I was able to complete my shopping this morning but had to take Ava to a doctor appointment this afternoon. I left Chloe and Livi with my sister, groceries half unpacked and house in disarray so that we could make it to the appointment on time.
I was pleasantly surprised to find that BOTH little ones took naps while I was gone (but why won't Livi nap for me?? I think she might be coming down with a cold or something) and my sister had straightened up a bit. I was so tempted to scrap everything when I got home and order something, but I fought the urge...I chose something simple from the weekly menu and stayed on track!
So here's the plan for the week!
Monday: Sausage and Tortellini Soup, Roasted Garlic Bread, Tossed Salad.
This soup is excellent! It is really hearty and tasty--it was the go to meal today because I had made a huge batch two weeks ago and had half frozen. All I had to do was throw the ice block in a pot and warm it up!
Tuesday: Frozen Pizza, Cheesy Cauliflower, and Cantaloupe
I know it's a weird combo, but it will be another easy meal. I am headed out to eat with some girlfriends (YAY!) and Jim will be fending for all.
Wednesday: Chicken Salad, Crescent Rolls (This got pushed to this week's menu because we ended up grabbing something and bringing it home.)
Thursday: Mexican Melt Style Fish, Corn, Rice
Friday: Cranberry Chicken Wreath, Broccoli, Apple Slices
Saturday: Meat Pies, Orzo with veggies, and Snow Peas
Sunday: Chicken Enchilada, Cornbread, Guac and Chips
We are chicken heavy this week...but chicken was on sale!
Can't wait to see what others are cooking up! Need some inspiration? Check out the link-up over at I'm An Organizing Junkie
Some years I make resolutions. Some years I do not. Other years I make resolutions but I call them something else. This is one of those years. This year I'm calling my resolutions list a "re-focusing". It's a list of things that I was doing that I want to get back to, and a list of things that I want to do better, and a list of things I want to try.
I broke my list down into a bunch of categories and I have multiple goals for each category: Family, Couple, Personal, Home, Finances, and Writing. The categories are pretty self explanatory. I'm only going to share a few of my goals, one because the list is long, two because some of the goals are private, and three because I don't want to bore anyone.
As an aside, I compiled the list while I was tromping on the treadmill. I hate multi-tasking, well not multi-tasking per say, because I would be a failure of a mom if I couldn't multi-task...but I just hate the word. It was such a buzz word after I graduated from college and it seemed like every resume highlighted the fact that you could multi-task and every job was expecting you to really be great at doing a million things at once. But do we really need to be doing a million things at one time? And how could one person seriously be great at EVERYTHING when their full focus isn't really on ANYTHING? When I am multi-tasking at home (read: running the washing machine, while dinner is cooking, and I'm feeding the baby, and Jordan is at the table asking questions about homework, and my cell phone rings, and the television is on, and Livi is singing at the top of her lungs, and Ava is rough housing with the dog) sometimes I feel like my head is going to explode!
Today was one of those days too...My alarm didn't go off this morning for the second day in a row, so I had 10 minutes at best to get Jordan up, dressed, fed, and bundled for the bus. Then I turned around and woke Ava, got her fed, picked out her clothes, pumped for the baby, fed the baby, got Livi up, drove Ava to school, came home, organized myself for Daisies later this afternoon, showered (with Livi), got dressed, packed 3 different bags, fed the dog and let him out, put the dog away, picked up Ava from preschool, headed to my mom's, fed the baby, fed myself, went to JoAnn' to pick up supplies for Daisies while my mom fed the girls, came back to my mom's, took the girls to Olivia's dance class, breathed for one minute. Then we went to the school for the Daisy meeting, came home, let the dog out, fed the baby, pumped, got Jordan started on homework, started dinner. I talked to Jim on the cell, ate dinner (fed the baby again). I straightened up. I threw a load of laundry in. I helped Jordan finish Homework. Straightened some more. Danced around the kitchen for a minute. Sent Jordan to the shower. Got everyone in PJ's. Got everyone a bedtime snack. Fed the baby. Sent everyone to bed (teeth brushed, prayers, and tucked). Let the Dog out. Folded Laundry. And Now I'm sitting down to blog...randomly blog apparently.
Head spinning yet? This isn't a typical day, but it is my typical every other Wednesday. Every other Wednesday is exhausting!!! So pardon me, while I unwind in a rambling blog post that was supposed to be about Resolutions and has turned into a little breather for me...as writing my blog should be!
Oh, and for the curious, I'll throw in a couple of my re-focusings for the New Year:
Plan a family fun day 1-2 times per month.
Plan a date night 2 times per month.
Pray morning, night, and whenever I think of it throughout the day.
Exercise 5 times per week.
Pay for home projects with cash, which means saving up for them before they start.
Keep house tidy with the help of Flylady techniques.
Blog 3-4 times per week.
Have you made resolutions this year? Have you taken a minute to re-focus? Do share!
I usually plan a weekly menu (and try to stick to it)! I always like to see what others are making and I definitely see the benefits of sharing weekly menus with others. If nothing else, it's fun to see what (and how) other families eat. So, today, like many others, I'm linking up to I'm An Organizing Junkie's Menu Plan Monday.
Here's what we are eating this week:
Monday: Citrus Tilapia, Mac and Cheese, Broccoli
Tuesday: Spaghetti, Meatballs, and tossed Salad
Wednesday: Sweet Italian Sausage Sub, Roasted Potatoes, Corn
Thursday: Chicken Caesar Salad, Crescent Rolls
Friday: Eggs, Sausage, Tater Tots, Blueberries
Saturday: Steak, Baked Potato, Mixed Veggies
Sunday: Peachy Pork Chops, Baked Home Made Fries, Corn (or some other veggie)
The shopping is done for the week...It makes me SOOO happy to be off on the right foot this year!