Monday, January 21, 2013

Goals for the week of January 20, 2013

Last week was a week that was both quiet and frantic.  My Dad started chemo, our schedule and routine went out the window, I realized just how much my energy level was just not back up to snuff and my children had Friday off for the end of their quarter.   Add to that frantically trying to finish Buddy's car for the Pinewood Derby, a million phone calls back and forth with my parents, the box I mailed my parents getting lost in the mail somehow, it taking just about a miracle to get my office moved at work and I didn't really know if I was coming or going.  

We had a blast at the Minnesota Children's Museum on Friday with our friends and ended up spending the entire day there (we'd planned to end with lunch).  We had two kids who fell asleep about 3 seconds after they crawled into bed that night and I'm betting our friends children did too!  Saturday was successful with Buddy coming home with a 3rd place trophy (you should have seen his smile!) and Missy and I finding material for not just our Easter dresses but probably another dress for each of us too!  We also bought fleece on 50% off for two pairs of pants for Buddy and two fleece pullovers, one for Missy and one for Buddy. 

In the midst of everything else, I did manage to finish one chapter in my dissertation done and send it off for review, check my paperwork, and schedule an appointment with my adviser for this week.

I didn't get everything done but, considering how crazy last week felt, I think we did pretty good!

* Finalize first unit for classes this spring.
* Move my office (all scheduled, I just have show up and 'direct traffic'!)  This is a work in progress.
* Meet with my adviser Appointment scheduled!
* Finish drafts of 2 chapters (almost done this past week) and send off for initial review  Got one done and out for review!
* Check to make sure my paperwork is up to date, file anything that isn't.  Working on filing.
* Piano Lessons x2
* Dance Lessons Thursday
* Dance Lessons Saturday
* Pinewood Derby (John and Buddy) Saturday
* Fabric Shopping - for Easter Dresses (me and Missy) Saturday
* More intensive classes for John this week
* Family Night Friday Night: Confession of Peter
* Date Night Saturday: Puzzle, Hot Drinks, Rhubarb Crisp
* Buddy - Sleepover Saturday night This was postponed to this week due to sickness in the family where he would be staying.
* Children's Museum of Minnesota with friends Friday
* Finish reading Prince Caspian by CS Lewis to the children  We had a couple more chapters to go, so we'll finish this this week.
* Teach 2 classes
* Put together 1 new set
* Learn 2 new routines
* Inventory upstairs cupboards
* Catch up the ironing  Make more progress but not quite caught up yet - soooo close!
* Inventory pantry
* Inventory chest freezer
* Daily Chores for me and the children
* Clean out 15 minutes per day
* LWR Quilt top finished and returned
* Find items for church photo albums, evaluate what needs to be done
* Begin memorizing Romans
* Pray for our home congregation
* Get my hair cut - Tuesday  I just decided on a trim until I figure out what I really want to do.
* Polish my shoes 

Here's what's on tap this week:

* Continue revising my first unit for class.
* Finish moving my office
* Meet with my department chair

* Meet with someone else on my committee
* Meet with my adviser
* Schedule another meeting with the Statistician
* Revise my Literature Review

* Piano Lessons X 2
* Dance Lessons Thursday
* Dance Lessons Saturday
* Family Night on Friday: Titus, Timothy, & Silas, Missionaries; Lydia, Dorcas & Phoebe, Witnesses to the Faith: Make Thank You notes for our Pastors
* Sleepover Saturday Night for Buddy
* Date Night on Saturday: At Home: Play a Game, Apple Crisp
* Finish Reading Prince Caspian to the children; start Voyage of the Dawn Trader by C.S. Lewis
* Prep all items for homemade Valentine's this week (several things require cutting skills beyond my children - using templates and the like)

* Teach 2 classes this week
* Attend at least 1 other class this week
* Learn 3 new routines
* Put together 2 new sets

* 15 minutes of cleaning out each day
* Finish up that ironing already
* Inventory the deep freeze
* Inventory the pantry
* Daily Chores for me and the children (we've got a pretty good system going, just need to make it a habit now!)
* Clean out and organize the storage bins

* Return the LWR quilt top
* Write our Compassion International Child
* Work on the Church Photo Albums
* Continue working on memorizing Romans
* Continue praying for our home congregation

* Polish my shoes
* Evaluate my wardrobe for the spring - list any gaps

What are you up to this week? Visit Money Saving Mom to share and be inspired!

Menu Plan Monday: Week of January 20, 2013, Pantry Challenge Week #3

One of our camping meals this past summer - I just reserved our site for this summer, so I have camping on the brain!  Here we have strawberries, grapes, and grilled zucchini, potatoes, and some very well done steak!
This is our 3rd week of our pantry challenge.  I totally didn't get to posting the shopping trip from this week but we have just enough money left to purchase some fruit next week.  Other than that, I bought basically fruit (oranges and melon), 2 gallons of milk (coupon) and 2 tubs of Smart Balance (sale w/coupons).  I ordered TP using Swagbucks or we'd have been in trouble - we have 2 rolls left right now from the package we had at the beginning of the month and no way will that get us to the end of the month!  We were so blessed to be given 2 bunches of bananas, 6 muffins, 3 dozen cookies and a half a gallon of apple juice after the Scout's Pinewood Derby on Saturday.  So we have loads of bananas and have eaten waaaay too many cookies since Saturday. 

Anyway, we have $4 and change left from our original $50 for the month.  We'll just squeak in.   We seem to do really well with $80 for the month but $50 is a tight squeeze, especially now that the children are bigger and eating more.

Anyway, here's what we're eating this week:

Sunday, January 20:
  Breakfast: Muffins and Milk
  Lunch: Breakfast Tacos
  Snack: Popcorn
  Dinner:  Butternut Squash Soup, Homemade French Bread, Orange and Grapefruit Wedges

Monday, January 21, Martin Luther King Jr. Day and Inauguration Day:
  Breakfast: Muffins or Yogurt
  Lunch: Leftovers
  Snack: Yogurt
  Dinner: Spaghetti with Meat Sauce (Ground Turkey), Broccoli, Melon-Apple-Banana Salad

Tuesday, January 22:
   Breakfast: Oatmeal with Cinnamon and Almonds
   Lunch: Hot Lunch for the Children, Leftovers for the Adults
   Snack: Yogurt
   Dinner: Fried White Fish, Green Beans, Rice, Apple-Banana-Pear Salad

Wednesday, January 23:
  Breakfast:  Toast with Peanut Butter, Yogurt
  Lunch: Peanut Butter and Jelly Sandwiches, Applesauce, Carrots or Tomatoes, Cookie
  Snack: Wasabi Peas and Raisins
  Dinner: Venison Stew in the Crock Pot, Homemade French Bread, Grapefruit and Orange Wedges

Thursday, January 24:
   Breakfast: Pancakes with Walnuts and Bananas
   Lunch: Hot Lunch for the Children, Leftovers for Adults
  Snack: Yogurt
   Dinner: Turkey Pot Pie, Orange and Grapefruit Wedges

Friday, January 25:
  Breakfast: Oatmeal with Craisins and Almonds
  Lunch: Hot Lunch for the Children, Leftovers for Adults
  Snack: Yogurt
  Dinner: Chili in the Crock Pot, Cornbread, Apple Slices
  Family Night Treat: Hot Cocoa and Hot Vanilla

Saturday, January 26:
  Breakfast: Oatmeal Muffins with Bananas
  Lunch: Leftover Chili, Baking Powder Biscuits, Apple Slices
  Snack: Popcorn
  Dinner:  Homemade Pizza and Bread sticks, Orange and Grapefruit Wedges
  Date Night Desert: Apple Crisp

What are you eating this week?  Visit I'm an Organizing Junkie! to share.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Healthy Habits in 2013 - Habit #2: Drink More Water!

Ahh, water.

We all know our bodies are made up mostly of water.  And yes, it's salt water as someone pointed out in a conversation I had recently.  The salt is drawn from what we eat.  The water, from what we drink and from wet things we eat.  Those wet things include fruits, vegetables, soups, and anything else that has a runny consistency.  So what do we do with that?

Habit #2: Drink More Water

We've all heard the advice to drink 8 8oz glasses a day.  This is a general guideline and a good starting point and/or general rule to follow.   We do get liquid from what we eat and anything else that we drink so it's nice to think of this as a guideline.

The upshot of all this is that most of us don't drink as much water as we need to.  Some estimates even say that 80% or better of the population are walking around each day in a state of mild dehydration.  Who knew?

We don't like the taste of it.  Or coffee, tea, soda pop, or whatever are more readily available (in the break room at work for example).  Or we just aren't in the habit.  Or we don't like running to the rest room that often.  Or....

In any case we talk ourselves out of it or we just don't get in the habit.

Not drinking enough water can lead to dry skin, brain fog, headaches, sore muscles, bladder infections, and our bodies not having the reserve they need, among other things.  So drinking enough water is very important. 

Here are some easy ways to make drinking water more of a habit:

* Set times to drink a glass of water.  Drink a glass of water when you first get up in the morning (this also is better at waking you up than drinking coffee or another caffeinated beverage).  Drink a glass with each meal.  Do just those two things and you're halfway to that 8 glass quota!  Drink a glass on your morning and afternoon break or during snack time or whatever you want to call it and you're up to 6 glasses!

Flavor it up.  Drinking those flavored store-bought waters don't count in my opinion because they usually use sweeteners of some kind.  That adds calories and your body starts to process it differently than water.  So what do you do if you don't like the taste of water?  Add lemon or lime slices, add mint or other fruit (raspberries, strawberries, mango, etc.).  Freeze in an ice cube or just add to the water in a pitcher.  Believe me, it does help!  If you like herbal teas, they are also a great way to get your water in.  Just steer clear of the caffeine and creamers and sugar.  My favorites are peppermint (if I need a pick-me-up) and chamomile (if I need to relax). 

* Make it handy.  Carry a water bottle. Keep a water bottle in your locker or desk at work.  Keep a pitcher of water in the fridge.  Keep a glass handy by the kitchen sink.  I usually carry a water bottle/travel mug around with me all day.  If I feel like cold water, I'll fill it up whenever I walk by the drinking fountain.  If I want hot, I'll fill it up from my electric kettle.  I prefer to carry a travel mug due to the spill-proof-ness (is that a word?) and no straw.  My husband and my parents all prefer water bottles.  Do what works for you.

*  Keep it cold (or hot).  In the summer nothing is better than a big glass of cold water (with ice of course).  In the winter, not so much!  I live in Minnesota and winters get mighty gold here (our high on Sunday was 5F - just sayin').  I keep an electric tea kettle on my desk at work and drink hot water in the winter.  Sometimes I'll add an herbal tea bag, but most of the time it's just hot water.

 * Drink when you exercise.  When we exercise we typically sweat.  That sweat is water being removed from our bodies in an attempt to cool us down so we need to make sure we replace it.  The guideline I use is 1 8oz glass of water for every hour of activity under normal temperatures.  Excessive temperatures change things (either hot or cold temperatures) and I would suggest talking to your doctor about those times.  I also drink some water before and some during my activity so that I don't feel like I have a belly full of water while I'm exercising.  Since I tend to exercise inside, I stick with the 8oz for one workout.  If I'm thirsty, I drink more but not all at once.

Also, just a quick note to let you know that you can drink too much water.  Most people never get to that point, but keep that in mind too.   My personal opinion is that sticking with the 8 8oz glasses per day plus fluids from food and when exercising is quite safe.  Check with your medical provider to be sure as each person has their own needs. 

Please note that these are just ideas that work for me and others I have known over the years and are not intended to take the place of the advice of a licensed medical professional.

How do you make sure you drink enough water?  I'd love to hear!

Monday, January 14, 2013

Goals - Week of January 13, 2013

Last week was a difficult one in many ways. 
I had totally forgotten how emotional writing can be and I had a moment were I was literally ready to give up after looking at all I had to do.  Then I took a step back, took a deep breath and put together a very do-able schedule for getting everything done and got back on a roll.  It felt a little scattered as I wrote a little in several different areas of my dissertation rather than just finishing something but I didn't have all my materials with me and I had a few other things to attend to this week too.
My medications were done for the pneumonia this week and I was back to my "normal" level of illness, medications, etc. Something went wrong and I spent Friday, Saturday and most of Sunday curled up in a ball in pain and very, very sleepy since the pain was keeping me from sleeping at night.  Very hard to work on things when you can't stand up, sit for any length of time or think straight.
Then on Wednesday my Dad got his pathology reports back for the surgery he had the week before Christmas.  The cancer they found was completely removed but they termed it stage 3 because they are afraid the cells spread throughout his body.   This is not what we wanted to hear and it took several days to wrap my head around it - in fact, I'm not sure I've really wrapped my head around it yet.  He starts Chemo on Tuesday and they are rather confident he will come through just fine. It's hard to watch my big strong Dad go through all of this and it's even harder on my Mom, since she needs help to physically care for him (she's tiny compared to him and has arthritis too).  It's especially hard since they live on the other side of the country from us and we have to rely on phone and internet to keep in touch right now.
All in all, I did make progress last week and I'm pleased with the progress I made in spite of all the upheaval.
Here's what I did:
* Finalize syllabus for spring 
* Finish up anything that still needs to be finished from last semester.
* Schedule moving my office
* Outline what I need to do still for my dissertation
* Piano Lessons x2 on Monday
* Dance Lessons on Thursday
* Dance Lessons on Saturday
* John at Intensive Classes this week
* Mail box of Christmas presents to my parents
* Date Night at Home
* Family Night
* Teach class 2x
* Learn 5 new routines  I learned 4 new routines this week
* Put together 1 new set
* 15 minutes of cleaning out each day
* Finish catching up ironing
* Inventory the upstairs freezer
* Inventory the upstairs cupboards
* Bake cookies
* Daily chores for me and the children
* Clean out and re-organize storage bins
* Gather all items to finish church photo albums
* Evaluate what still needs to be done to finish church photo albums - start if able
* Sew LWR Quilt top  I got started on this but didn't finish it.
*  Take one load of items to donate
* Pray for our home congregation
* Hair cut  My hair stylist was out of town so I made an appointment for Tuesday this week.
* Toes Painted
* Clean out underclothes and socks

So what's on tap for this week?  The kids have a 4-day week this week and we're going to the Children's Museum of Minnesota with friends on Friday as part of the day off. This is something we've talked about doing for months - especially over the summer - and never did so we're very excited to actually have it on the calendar!  Buddy has his first ever sleepover at a friend's house plus the Pinewood Derby for Scouts this weekend.  Missy and I have a goal of finding the perfect material for Easter dresses this weekend too. 

I'm also trying to ease my way back into work routines and make sure that I get something done around the house too.  I have a tiny amount of time left before classes start and I want to make sure I use my time intentionally and wisely.

So here's my list for this week:

* Finalize first unit for classes this spring.
* Move my office (all scheduled, I just have show up and 'direct traffic'!)
* Meet with my adviser
* Finish drafts of 2 chapters (almost done this past week) and send off for initial review
* Check to make sure my paperwork is up to date, file anything that isn't.
* Piano Lessons x2
* Dance Lessons Thursday
* Dance Lessons Saturday
* Pinewood Derby (John and Buddy) Saturday
* Fabric Shopping - for Easter Dresses (me and Missy) Saturday
* More intensive classes for John this week
* Family Night Friday Night: Confession of Peter
* Date Night Saturday: Puzzle, Hot Drinks, Rhubarb Crisp
* Buddy - Sleepover Saturday night
* Children's Museum of Minnesota with friends Friday
* Finish reading Prince Caspian by CS Lewis to the children
* Teach 2 classes
* Put together 1 new set
* Learn 2 new routines
* Inventory upstairs cupboards
* Catch up the ironing
* Inventory pantry
* Inventory chest freezer
* Daily Chores for me and the children
* Clean out 15 minutes per day
* LWR Quilt top finished and returned
* Find items for church photo albums, evaluate what needs to be done
* Begin memorizing Romans
* Pray for our home congregation
* Get my hair cut - Tuesday
* Polish my shoes

 What are you up to this week?  Visit Money Saving Mom to share.


Menu Plan Monday - Week of January 13, 2013, Pantry Challenge Week #2

Salmon, salad, and couscous.  Salmon is one of our favorite meals - and healthy too!

We're eating from the pantry this week again. Of course, there are lots of good sales this week when I don't have the money allocated to stock up. What's a girl to do?  Do what she can, of course!  We still have tons in our freezer, fridge and pantry so we're still eating good. I feel so blessed to have so much really good food in our house right now!

Here's what's on the menu this week:

Sunday, January 13:
   Breakfast: Cereal and Milk
   Lunch:  Baked Eggs, Cinnamon Biscuit Twists, Apple-Banana-Melon Salad
   Snack: Popcorn
   Dinner: Roasted Chicken, Tossed Salad, Apple-Melon-Pear Salad

Monday, January 14:
  Breakfast: Oatmeal with Almonds and Craisins
  Lunch: Hot lunch for the Children, Leftovers for Mom and Dad
  Snack: Yogurt
  Dinner:  Baked Salmon, Green Beans, Rice, Grapefruit and Melon

Tuesday, January 15:
   Breakfast: Yogurt and Bananas
   Lunch: Hot Lunch for the Children, Leftovers for Mom and Dad
   Snack:  Yogurt
   Dinner:  Ground Turkey Tacos, Apple-Melon-Pear Salad

Wednesday, January 16:
  Breakfast:Pancakes with Applesauce
  Lunch: PB&J, Carrots or Tomatoes, Yogurt, Cookie
  Snack: Applesauce
  Dinner:  Butternut Squash Soup, Homemade Bread, Tossed Salad, Grapefruit

Thursday, January 17:
   Breakfast: Toast with Peanut Butter, Bananas
   Lunch: Hot Lunch for Children, Leftovers for Mom and Dad
   Snack: Yogurt
   Dinner: Chicken Noodle Soup, Homemade Bread, Apple and Pear Slices

Friday, January 18:
  Breakfast:  Oatmeal Muffins, Apple Slices
  Lunch: "Picnic" out with friends - bring pasta salad, fruit salad and cookies
  Snack: Yogurt
  Dinner:  Fried White Fish, Roasted Potatoes, Carrots, Apple-Pear-Banana Salad

Saturday, January 19:
  Breakfast: Blueberry Buckle (using frozen blueberries)
  Lunch: Ham Sandwiches, Cut Veggies, Grapefruit
  Snack: Popcorn
  Dinner: Homemade Pizza and Bread sticks, Sliced Apples and Pears

What are you eating this week?  Check out I'm an Organizing Junkie! to share and be inspired.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

These are a Few of My Favorite Things - Rainbows


I love rainbows.

I love rainbows - not the just in the sky rainbows but the colors that are in a rainbow.

My daughter has a hoodie in the colors of a rainbow and has had several dresses over the last few years that are rainbow striped.

I have 3 pairs of rainbow striped socks and each of my children have a pair too (hubby wouldn't jump on board with that one).

And the rainbow in the sky.
That's the most special one of all.

That's the one that reminds us of God's covenant with us. 
That he keeps his promise - always.

I love that one best of all.

What is your favorite thing this week?

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Super Savings Saturday - Pantry Challenge Shopping Trip #2

* I'm having issues with photos so I will upload the photo of today's shopping trip as soon as I can. Thanks for understanding!

So John did the shopping today because I've been fighting side effects from my medication and spent most of the day in bed or curled up in pain on the couch.  I really don't like being sick.

Anyway, John did a great job buying a few things today.  We are using quite a bit of our budget but I'm okay with that for right now.  I might not be as we get to the end of the end of the month.  Honestly, it's been a tough month so far and we haven't done as well as we'd like with our budget or a few other things too.  But we can do it and we will do it.  And if we get really stuck I have  $5 Target gift card that I'm willing to use for some produce or toilet paper, whichever we need more - I don't want to but if it's absolutely necessary I'll cry defeat and use it.

Here's what John bought:

Store #1:
2.68lbs Braeburn apples at $0.98/lb = $2.63
3.03lbs D'Anjou Pears at $1.28/lb = $3.88
Used $1 off produce Catalina from previous trip
Total Spent: $5.51

Store #2:
2 Boxes Honey Bunches of Oats Cereal @ $1.99 used 2 $1.25/1 coupons = $1.49
6 cans Progresso Soup @ $0.99 each, used $1/4 coupon and $1/2 coupon both doubled = $1.94
All Laundry Detergent $3.99 used $1/1 coupon doubled = $1.99
5lbs Red Grapefruit $3.99
2.39lbs Bananas @ $0.59/lb = $1.41
Store Brand All Purpose Flour 5lbs $1.29
Total Spent: $12.36 including tax on the detergent

Total Spent today: $17.87

Total left to spend for the month: $15.88

We have a full gallon of milk left over from last week, so I didn't buy milk this week.  I also have a cantaloupe leftover and a few oranges.  I'd really like to have more fruit - especially with John taking his lunch every day too we're going through fruit more quickly than we had planned.  I'll post more later this week (Lord willing) of the difficulties we've been having that made this last week challenging.  We should be just fine for the rest of the month in any case. 

How did you do with your shopping this week?  Care to share? 

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Healthy Habits 2013 - Habit #1: Sleep

So this year, 2013, I thought I'd use the Healthy Habits posts to highlight one healthy habit each week.  Each of these things are things that I am going to be working on myself as we go through the year, and I thought I'd share them with you as we go along. Enjoy!

So here we are:

Habit #1: Sleep

There have been several studies out recently (and not so recently) about the importance of sleep in our life. 

Lack of sleep contributes to overeating and weight gain, heart disease, high cholesterol and blood pressure, decrease in mental ability, and a whole host of other things as well.  Sleepy driving is actually worse than distracted driving for causing accidents and fatalities, with some estimates putting that number as twice as high. 

How many times do we skimp on sleep because it doesn't seem as essential?  Or we have a new baby in the house or sick children and are up all night or most of the night?  So we medicate ourselves on caffeine or exercise or food to get through the day.  And often creating a cycle that perpetuates itself.

How do we give sleep the importance it needs?  By making it a priority.

Most of us need 7-9 hours of sleep a night.

How can we get that? 

That's the tough part isn't it.  On an ideal night I need 7-8 hours.  That's when I'm healthy and things are going well.  When I'm sick it's 9 or 10 hours. 

Here are some things that help us make that sleep the priority it needs to be:

* Figure out what time you need to go to bed.  I get up at 530am so I need to be in bed sleeping by 1030pm to get 7 hours of sleep.  I target my sleep time to 10pm so I get 7 1/2 most nights.  If I'm tired or sick I go to bed by 9 or 930pm.  On rare occasion I even follow the kids to bed at 830pm (only when I'm really sick). Tuck yourself in earlier if you were up late the night before or take a short nap during the day.  And give yourself some grace when things get left undone.

* Keep your bedroom free of distractions.  Remove the TV, the computer, etc. if possible or put them in a cabinet with a door you can close.  If your spouse "needs" the TV, computer, etc. invest in some eye shades or convince them to move the TV into another room and watch it in there instead.   Invest in some blackout curtains if you have a lot of light coming in and a white noise machine or fan or even earplugs if you have a lot of excess noise around.  Remove the clutter and "stuff" so that you can relax and get to sleep without the million distractions.

* Turn off your electronics!   At least 1 hour before bedtime. Yep, you read that right and if you're like me, this is the hard one.  I want to check that email right before bed one more time. However, the light from most electronics mimics sunlight and triggers our bodies' wake-up response.  Turn off the electronics at least 1 hour before bedtime and allow your body to slow down.

* Keep it a comfortable temperature.  Our body temperature drops at night.  Many of us like to be "toasty warm" but that can actually interfere with sleep.  Find the right temperature for you and maintain that.  If your spouse likes it warm and you like it cold, buy them some warm pajamas and put an extra blanket on their side of the bed only or vice versa.  Turn down your thermostat if you need to - we keep ours at 60F overnight in the winter and 80F in the summer.  We have  down comforter for winter and a lighter cotton blanket for summer.  Our sleepwear changes with the seasons too - fleece or flannel for winter, light cotton for summer.

* Don't eat or drink right before bedtime.  Either of these can cause you to wake in the middle of the night with bladder or digestive track needs that must be attended to.  Leave off the food and drink early enough in the evening so that your body can process without waking you up in the middle of the night.

I'm hoping to practice all of these good sleep practices this month, the month of January, so that by the time February rolls around and the rush of the spring semester is in full swing these things are a habit.

What are you planning on doing to make sleep a priority in your life?  I'd love to hear!

Monday, January 7, 2013

Menu Plan Monday - Week of January 6, 2013, Pantry Chellenge Week #2

Fried white fish, corn on the cob, fruit salad, and rice. Yum!

Our first full week of the new year!   We're in our pantry challenge month, and I have to admit that it hasn't been hard at all yet.  Does that make me crazy?  I hope it just means that we have a ton of food in our house and we are so very, very blessed!

Buddy actually said to me the other day that he liked all the meals this past week!  I'm not sure he really did but he liked the one that night and it was a really nice thing to say.

Here's what we eating for week two of our pantry challenge:

Sunday, January 6, Epiphany:
   Breakfast:  Cereal and Milk
   Lunch:  Waffles, Bacon, Blueberry-Banana-Pineapple Salad
   Snack:  Popcorn
   Dinner:  Hard Shell Ground Turkey Tacos, Tossed Salad, Pineapple-Banana-Orange Salad
   Baking:  White Bread (2 loaves),  Cranberry Cookie Bars

Monday, January 7:
   Breakfast: Oatmeal with Almonds and Cinnamon
   Lunch: Leftovers for Adults, Hot Lunch for Children
   Snack: Yogurt, Cranberry Cookie Bars
   Dinner:  Beef Stew in the Crockpot, Homemade Bread, Orange and Grapefruit Wedges

Tuesday, January 8:
   Breakfast: Pancakes with Blueberries
   Lunch: Leftovers for Adults, Hot Lunch for Children
   Snack: Yogurt, Cranberry Cookie Bars
   Dinner:  Butternut Squash Soup, Homemade Bread, Tossed Salad, Banana-Blueberry-Apple Salad

Wednesday, January 9:
  Breakfast: Toast with Peanut Butter, Bananas
  Lunch:  Chicken Noodle Soup, Bread with Butter, Carrots, Orange Wedges, Cookie
  Snack: Yogurt, Cranberry Cookie Bars
  Dinner: Shrimp Fried Rice, Orange and Grapefruit Wedges

Thursday, January 10:
   Breakfast:  Oatmeal with Almonds and Cinnamon
   Lunch:  Leftovers for Adults, Hot Lunch for Children
   Snack: Yogurt, Cranberry Cookie Bars
   Dinner: Pork Chops, Roasted Potatoes, Apple-Melon-Banana Salad

Friday, January 11:
   Breakfast: Oatmeal Muffins, Yogurt
   Lunch: Leftovers for Adults, Hot Lunch for Children
   Snack: Yogurt
   Dinner: Easy Black Bean Soup, Cornbread, Tossed Salad, Orange and Grapefruit Wedges

Saturday, January 12:
  Breakfast: Cinnamon Breakfast Biscuits, Orange Wedges
  Lunch: Chicken Sandwiches, Carrots and Celery, Melon
  Snack: Popcorn
  Dinner: Homemade Pizza and Bread Sticks, Fruit
  Date Night Dinner:  Apple Crisp

Other Baking This Week: Illinois Soft Sugar Cookies, Krumkaka

What are you eating this week?  Check out I'm an Organizing Junkie! to share and be inspired.

Goals for the Week of January 6, 2013

So, a new year with a new start!  My hope for 2013 is to be intentional about what I'm doing so I wrote my weekly goals list accordingly.

I have an opportunity to take some time to do some writing on both my dissertation and another paper this week, so that's my primary goal.  The dissertation will come first with a few breaks to work on the paper along the way.  I'll do a little work making sure all my i's are dotted and my t's are crossed from last semester and finalize my syllabus for next semester as well as schedule moving things like my computer and my phone to my new office and that will be it for work.

I'm also back to teaching Jazzercise this week (yay!) and we had new routines and new music come out while I was sick so I'm going to learn several routines this week and start getting myself caught up - no worries, the routines I'm working on are at the lighter intensity or strength training parts of the set so I'm not going to push myself too much here.  

Since I'm not going to be grading papers and such in the evenings, I am going to work on cleaning out at home.  I've been doing good so far and I want to keep the momentum going so that by the end of the month it's a habit.  I'm almost caught up on my ironing and I have a couple projects for our home congregation and I need to get done and back to them before this whole mess there blows up.

I've been putting off getting my hair cut, partly because I have no idea what I want to do with it and partly because I've been too tired to go.  This week is the week! I'm also going to let Missy paint my toe nails. :)

So here's the run-down:

* Finalize syllabus for spring
*Finish up anything that still needs to be finished from last semester
* Schedule moving my office
*Outline what I need to do still for my dissertation
*Piano Lessons x2 on Monday
* Dance Lessons on Thursday
* Dance Lessons on Saturday
* John at Intensive Classes Week this week
* Mail box of Christmas presents to my parents (we want to bake cookies to add and haven't done that yet)
* Date Night at Home: Play a game, Apple Crisp, Hot Drinks
* Family Night: Presentation of our Lord, Make a King’s Cake (Yes, I realize this is a week late. We had something else already planned for this last week before I got my head screwed back on straight and realized that, yes, Epiphany is this week too. Sigh.)
* Teach class 2x
* Learn 5 new routines
* Put together 1 new set
* 15 minutes of cleaning out each day
* Finish catching up ironing
* Inventory the upstairs freezer
* Inventory the upstairs cupboards
* Bake cookies
* Daily Chores for me and the children
* Clean out and re-organize storage bins
* Gather all items to finish church photo albums
* Evaluate what still needs to be done to finish the church photo albums - start if able
* Sew LWR Quilt top
* Take one load of items to donate
* Pray for our home congregation - things are really 'coming to a head' there and we're very concerned
* Hair Cut
* Paint toe nails
* Clean out underclothes and socks

What are you up to this week?
Visit Crystal at Money Saving Mom for more inspiration and to share your weekly goals.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

These are a Few of My Favorite Things - Dreaming

Fresh as a daisy!

One of the things I love about a fresh start is the dreaming that comes with it.

The beginning of the year in January, the beginning of summer and the beginning of the school year are all 'fresh start' times for me.  I love coming up with plans, and ideas, and wishes, and dreams.

The best part of all that is the dreams.

What are my hopes and dreams for the future?
How do I make those dreams a reality?
How do those dreams change each year?
What dreams are now invalid, outdated or inappropriate?
What dreams are brand new at this time?

Sometimes my dreams are pipe dreams.
But most of the time their very reasonable.

A calmer schedule...
More time with my family....
Finishing my dissertation....
A trip to visit family...
Our summer camping trip...

The older I get the more I realize that sometimes the simplest dreams are the best.

A pretty bouquet of flowers on my kitchen table....
A nice meal with my family....
Less clutter so we have more time....

What are you dreaming of this year?

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Super Savings Saturday - January 2013 Pantry Challenge Shopping Trip #1

Soooo..... I went to the store, bought my groceries, came home and put everything away.
And then realized that I didn't take a picture.  **Smack forehead!**

 So, you'll have to deal with a no-picture pantry challenge shopping trip!

Sorry about that....I'm making myself a big note for next week.  Because you know these posts are a lot more fun if I have pictures!  Just sayin'. 

So our pantry challenge is $50 for the month of January for groceries, toiletries and paper products.   Today we shopped at 2 stores.  Here's what we bought:

Store #1:
Fresh Express Lettuce 2 bags B1G1  $2.79  w/store coupon
4lb Navel Oranges $1.69 w/store coupon
Large Cantaloupe $2.50

Total Spent:  $6.98   Total Saved (from store receipt): $4.10

Store #2:
3.06 lbs Bananas @ $0.49/lb   $1.50
5lbs Russet Potatoes 2 bags B1G1 $2.79
1 pint Grape Tomatoes 2 pints B1G1 $2.49
1 Gallon Skim Milk $2.49  w/store coupon

Total Spent: $9.27   Total Saved (from store receipt): $6.39

Total Spent:  $16.25     Total Saved: $10.49 (from store receipts)

Total Left for January Pantry Challenge:  $33.75

The potatoes will last for a few weeks, the tomatoes for two weeks and the salad will probably last us into next week too, so we're good with all of those for a while.  I'd like more fresh fruit but we have pineapple, grapefruit, blueberries and a few apples left over from last week so we should be good for a while yet anyway. 

How did you do with frugal shopping this week? 

Friday, January 4, 2013

Frugal Friday - Homemade Birthdays in 2013

I like being frugal.

Don't we all?

Saving a little money here and there is always a good thing.  And being able to be generous is always nice too.

Over the years I've had grand plans for making homemade, mostly inexpensive gifts.  I have items that were purchased and never used, things that were started and never finished, and gifts that were thought of but never got further than that.

That amounts to a household of "stuff" that isn't being used and a lot of money wasted when I had to go out and buy yet another gift since I didn't finish the one I had thought of/started.   It got so bad that the last couple of years I pretty much gave up.  I'd have ideas in my head and then decided that it just wasn't worth it - either due to time constraints or my being sick or something.

One of my intentional things for 2013 is to use up what I have, finish making projects that we started and just in general be a better steward of all we have been blessed with.  To that end, one of my hopes for 2013 is to make almost all of our Birthday gifts. 

Since we have almost all the supplies I need already, this doesn't get much more frugal than "FREE" does it?

So as part of Frugal Friday, each month I'm hoping to do a post of what I made for Birthday gifts each month.  This month we have two birthdays and next month we have one.  Summer is the busy time for birthdays for our families so I'm planning on making those three gifts this month and then using next month to work ahead so I won't be swamped when summer comes.  Hopefully I can get a few "extras" done this month too, but this is my goal, which I think is very do-able.

So for this month, January, my homemade birthday gifts include:

John:  10/10 Journals and questions (I'm hoping to have a post all ready to go on this for Work Home and Family next week)
John's 29-year-old Brother:  Glasses/Contacts Care Kit
Our 1-year-old Nephew:  Name Pillows (each letter of his name a pillow)

And as I said, it doesn't get much more frugal than free!  Check back later for progress.

For more Frugal Friday, check out Life as Mom!

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Work, Home and Family - New Years Traditions

A very bad photo of our "traditional" New Years Day brunch.  Those are apples, oranges and grapefruit on the fruit plate, just in case you were wondering.
When I was a child, we had "traditional" things we did every year. Things like baking certain cookies at Christmas, particular meals for holidays and birthdays, and other things that just be better described as habits.  I looked forward to these every year.  John, on the other hand, did not have this (except for one Christmas 'tradition') and thought all of that sounded like a lot of 'extra work'. 

As we established our own household together, he agreed with me that having a rhythm to life and having things to look forward to was a great idea.  One of the things that John and I have been trying to do, especially since the children were born, is to establish some "traditional" things that our family does every year or for certain milestone events.

Our New Year's Day tradition has been watching the Rose Parade on TV with Buttermilk Coffee Cake, fruit and sparkling grape juice.  About 6 years ago I bought a "Happy New Year" banner on clearance and we hang that on New Year's Eve and we have "Happy New Year" crowns and wands as well.  The decorations don't have a year on them so we can use them year after year.  The wands have jingle bells, which the children loved when they were younger and now make enough a little "happy noise" for ringing in the New Year.

Last year, we started letting the children stay up with us and ring in the New Year by watching the ball drop in Times Square, also on TV.  We tried chocolate fondue with fruit and angel food cake but decided that homemade pizza was a better option this year.  We play boardgames until about 1130pm and then "snuggle in" together to watch the actual drop.  Then we say "Happy New Year!", John and I share a kiss and we all head off to sleep! :)

 It's nothing fancy, lavish, expensive or overly time-consuming.  It's something that we and our children look forward to every year.

Just for fun, here's the Buttermilk Coffee Cake recipe I use to make our New Year's Day 'brunch':

Buttermilk Coffee Cake
Adapted from The New Better Homes and Gardens New Cookbook  (1996)

2 1/2 c flour
1 1/2 c packed light brown sugar
1/2 t salt
2/3 c butter-flavored shortening
2 t baking powder
1/2 t baking soda
1 t ground cinnamon
1/2 t ground nutmeg
1 t vanilla
2 beaten whole eggs
1 1/3 buttermilk or sour milk

Grease bottom and sides of a 13"x9"x2" baking pan and set aside (I prefer glass).

Combine flour, brown sugar and salt.  Cut in shortening until mixture resembles course crumbs.
Remove 1/2 c crumb mixture and set aside to use for topping later.
Add baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon and nutmeg to remaining crumb mixture.  Mix well.

In a separate container, mix eggs, buttermilk and vanilla.  Add all at once to crumb mixture and mix well.

Pour batter into prepared pan and spread evenly on the bottom.
Sprinkle reserved crumb mixture evenly on top.

Bake at 350F for 35-40 minutes or until a wooden toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean.

Best served warm.

Makes 18 generous servings at 214 calories each. 

What do you do for New Years?  

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Hope List for 2013

I'm not quite sure where I stumbled across the term "Hope List" but I'm really liking it.  Instead of making a list of iron-clad resolutions or goals, it's a list of things I hope to do or hope to have done or that we hope for the future.  To me it just seems much more flexible and one thing I learned in 2012, is that I need to be more flexible with myself and my expectations.

If you've read here for a while, you know that we have pretty demanding schedules and lots of both internal and external obligations.  We've been sick a lot in 2012 and a lot of things that we usually do and want to do and hope to and need to do slid by the wayside. Having flexibility is something I need to train myself in as well as giving myself grace in my journey here on earth (my, how hard that is!) and I'm hoping this is the way to do it!

Everything on this list is based on the word "Intention".

What I hope for in 2013?
1. Deeper, more intentional relationships with my children, my husband and my extended family.
2. More intentional time and attention to my relationship with the Lord and thankfulness for all He has done and given us.
3. More intentional use of our finances with the goal of being completely debt free when John finishes Seminary in 2015.
4. Intentional work toward finishing my dissertation in 2013.
5. Intentional work toward making my classes (both University and Jazzercise) the best they can be for my students.
6.  Intentional work on being as healthy as I can be, rather than focusing on losing weight, etc.

How do I hope to accomplish these things?
1.  Relationships: John and I have both acknowledged that we need to set time aside in our busy schedules for each other and our families and took steps toward that in 2012.  We also acknowledged that we're fairly lazy compared to what we'd like to be with this.  So my personal intention with this to be really present when I interact with my husband and my children, to purposefully make time to interact with my extended family and do little things during the week to bless my family.

2. Quiet Time: Spending time with the Lord and being thankful are so very important and I feel the impact when I don't so deeply.  My intention for this is to make my daily Quiet/Devotional time a huge priority and to write out a list of things I'm thankful for every day.  I do this most of the time, but I noticed in 2012 that when I'm tired or sick or rushed, I do either a cursory job at this or drop it all together.  I want to be intentional about making this a habit that permanently sticks in 2013.

3. Finances: John and I made huge strides with this in 2013 and we are currently on track to meet our goals if we keep moving forward the way we have been.  We have several little things that we need to do early in 2013 and we need to make sure we're intentional about doing them.  Being intentional and mindful of our finances is something that is very new to John and it has been a struggle to get us on the same page, so my personal intention for this is to do everything I can to keep us on the same page and be as intentional as I can be about my own financial behavior.

4. Dissertation: My dissertation is hanging over my head like a giant weight and it needs to be on the "done" list soon!  This has been the thing that keeps getting dropped in favor of "more important" things, so my intention in 2013 is to make time to work on this.  My schedule this semester has me teaching only 3 days a week (three busy days a week!) so my intention is to spend the other two working on this.

5. Teaching:  Due to illness this year, I spent a good deal of my teaching time just doing what I needed to do to get through the semester without being detrimental to my student's education.  I made it, but it left me feeling like I didn't do everything I could do or should do.  I have individual things I'd like to be intentional about with both my University teaching and my Jazzercise teaching and my plan is to be intentional about taking time for both of those things this year, even if it's only a few minutes a week.

6. Health:  When I get pressed for things, I skimp on eating healthy and try to push back on sleep.  My intentions in 2013 are to get 7-8 hours  of sleep each night, work toward eating healthier and getting exercise 6 days a week.  While I teach Jazzercise, I need to make sure I'm getting activity when I'm not working on preparing for class or teaching a class.  I'm breaking this down into chunks - food first and exercise second with sleep being the constant through the whole thing.

I've broken all these up into specific tasks and will be including them in my weekly goals starting next week.  This week, I'm laying low, recovering from my latest bout with pneumonia and doing a lot of reflecting, planning and dreaming.

What are your plans for 2013 and what will you be putting on your Hope List?