Monthly Archives: January 2012

Menu, Week of 1/29

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This was a busy weekend, so I am planning late. I ended up going to my aunt’s house yesterday to pick up the quilting frame my great-uncle built for my grandmother sometime back around 1960–how cool is that?–so I got home late and ended up eating out. I am going out of town on Thursday for a training class for work, coming back Friday night, so I only need to plan three meals!

Sunday: BBQ pulled pork, baked beans, french fries, salad (at Bandana’s)

Monday: sausage and tomato risotto, salad

Tuesday: leftovers

Wednesday: dinner at my dad’s (hamburgers, sliced avocado, onions and tomatoes, sweet potato fries)

Did you see what I did there? How I cleverly disguised the fact that I am only cooking one night this week? I may cook a little something on Tuesday, depending on what the leftover situation looks like, but really, tonight is it, and I am just doing risotto, which is so easy, it is practically not cooking in my book. Yes, I have to stand at the stove, but there will be wine and relaxation, so it is all good!

What are you have this week?

As always, this post will be linked to orgjunkie.com’s Menu Planning Monday–lots more inspiration over there!

Office Lunch Breaks

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This article on the endangered lunch hour on msnbc.com is driving me crazy today. I generally agree with the premise of the article, that taking time out for a healthy lunch is important for both health and productivity, but then I got to this quote:

And it’s women executives who seem most lunch-away-from-the-office adverse. More than half, or 57 percent, of women polled said they brought their lunch from home, compared to 36 percent among their male manager counterparts.

Sure, it looks good if you’re busting your butt to get work done, especially in this tough job market, but not taking time out for a healthy lunch could have far-reaching ramifications.

This is just crazy. Bringing your lunch from home does not necessarily equate to eating at your desk, and the idea that you would have a healthier lunch if you went out to a restaurant is just ludicrous. I mean, yes, it is possible to get healthy food at some restaurants, but it is much more likely that you will eat something full of fat, sugar and too many calories. I bring my lunch from home because I want to have a healthy lunch. That does not stop me from going to the cafeteria to eat with friends, or at least taking a break from work to check out my twitter feed.

I find this article so frustrating because it has both bad data assumptions and bad advice for fixing the problem. I absolutely agree that taking a break to eat a healthy lunch makes you healthier and a more productive employee. Breaks allow us to be more productive, and healthy food fuels our bodies so that we can do better in all areas of our lives. But going from brown bagging it to being a workaholic is a huge leap, and recommending eating out instead of bringing healthy food you made at home (so you know what is in it) is counter productive.

Skipping lunch breaks is a real problem, especially if it is due to pressure in the corporate environment to look busy all the time. Creating an appearance of industry that actually results is less work of lower quality getting done is not what anyone really wants. Demonstrating the actual problem and giving good advice for fixing it would be more helpful than tossing around statistics that don’t mean what they are being reported to mean.

My Cool Find this Weekend

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Is that not gorgeous? The bright colors, the differing textures, the big buckle–all of these make for such a gorgeous purse. I have seen these Lucky brand purses for prices ranging from $150 to over $200 for the leather patchwork styles, so I was thrilled to find this at a local consignment store for $30 this weekend!  Here is a slightly closer view of the great colors:

I have been trying to spend less money, but this was such a great deal, I couldn’t pass it up. And, really, it makes me ridiculously happy to look at it, which I think makes it worth the money.

I got this at a used clothing store for teenagers, Plato’s Closet. My daughter got new jeans and t-shirts, and a purse of her own, too. We also stopped in at the Once Upon a Child next door to get my nine year old some pants. I love these stores for good quality clothes that we might not otherwise be able to afford. They have a lot of name brands that my daughter likes, like Aeropostale, for much less than new, but they are in good shape. I tell my daughter we could buy new stuff, but she can get many more items used, and she is on board with that idea!

Image credit: etsy.com, seller peddlerfinds

I find it harder to find good stuff for me used, since adults don’t grow out of their clothes as often as quick growing kids. However, I have been thinking that it would be a good idea to start hitting the occasional thrift store for other items. This is especially true when I think of things that are hard to find new anyway. For instance, I would really love a set of the brightly colored aluminum glasses my grandmother had when I was a kid. I am also thinking about hitting Habitat for Humanity’s ReStore for home and art projects.

I like buying used things for the money saved, but also because it keeps things out of landfills. I really do hate throwing things away. Don’t get me wrong, I am not a hoarder, not anymore than most people with a storage room in the basement and kids, but I just hate the idea of throwing stuff out to rot (or not rot, as the case may be.) I started composting before I had a garden, because I just couldn’t stand throwing food away, for example.  I recycle a lot, and I am so glad to live in a community that does single stream recycling to make it easy for me. I try to use things until they really are no good, and if I really want to get rid of something with some use in it, I try to donate it, either to someone I know, or to Good Will. I think that checking to see if I can find used things before I buy new is a crucial part of this effort, too.

Do you do a lot of thrift store shopping? I have seen some amazing finds on various blogs out there, but I also know they can be few and far between. Any tips on finding the best deals? My biggest stumbling block is lack of time to search, which I know is the biggest aid in finding the good stuff. Let me know what you do, please!

Menu, Week of 1/22

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I started a day early with my menu this week, on Saturday. I went to Costco and spent a bunch of money, and brought home too many things for the freezer. I needed to do some cooking, both to use up some of the food right away, and because I didn’t want to spend any more money after spending so much at Costco! On the plus side, I shouldn’t need meat for the next two months, I have so much now.

Saturday: Italian Sausage and Potato Roast, fruit salad
The girl started the fruit salad as soon as I came home, with a little of each of the fruits I bought–raspberries, cherries, red grapes, and blueberries. We actually ate it as an appetizer. The house smelled AMAZING as the sausage and veggies were roasting–this was definitely a hit with the whole family.

Sunday: Ground turkey sloppy joes, sweet potato fries, steamed broccoli
Love these, and so easy! I don’t do exactly what the linked recipe says–I use more onions, peppers and garlic, and a 15 ounce can of tomato sauce rather than the 8 ounce can plus ketchup–but this gives the general idea. So flavorful and delicious.

Monday: Feta-olive stuffed chicken thighs with tomato basil sauce, kale and quinoa pilaf, roasted butternut squash
There is still kale growing in my garden! In January! The mind boggles. I had no idea this was an option–picking fresh produce in the winter. The butternut squash came cubed from Costco, and I will roast the whole package and use the rest on Thursday.

Tuesday: Leftovers

Wednesday: Beef stew
I make my own version of this with V8 juice. When I started eating meat again this past spring, I really wanted to make stew, but that seems like a fall/winter dish to me. I forgot all about it when fall came, though! I finally remembered, and we are having it this week.

Thursday: Butternut squash risotto, glazed radishes
This is a good way to use the leftovers from Monday and feel like we are eating something different. Plus, the kids love this stuff, and so do I! Also, I am scheduled to get two root canals on Thursday morning, so I am hoping this will be easy to eat.

Friday: Slow cooked BBQ beans and chicken sausage
To save me from myself and my desire to go out to eat on Friday nights, I am going to try the crockpot.

What are you making this week?

As always, this post will be linked to orgjunkie.com’s Menu Planning Monday–lots more inspiration over there!

Pinterest Inspiration

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Have I mentioned how awesome Pinterest is? I love it for ideas, but hate for sucking time away from my day. Overall, though, I find it actually does inspire me to do more. After a lot of time looking at awesome ideas and exploring fascinating blogs I find by clicking through to any one particular idea, I throw my hands up in the air and exclaim, “Gah! Must Do Something!”

I have a bad habit of dreaming big and not being able to actually choose a project to complete. I keep thinking there is another project out there that I would rather be doing, if only I knew about it, or remembered it. I become convinced that I have seen the most awesome project in the world recently, and I am just forgetting about it momentarily. This makes it hard to settle on a project. I know, it’s silly, but that’s the way I think. Having a virtual pin board to keep track of projects that I want to do is very helpful to me. I can look over all the projects and choose based on supplies I have available, or what I really want to do at any given time. Then, because I know I will still be able to see all the ideas when I choose my next project, I can stop thinking about them and focus on the project I have chosen.

So, I made a board called Crafts I Want to Do and started pinning like crazy. Then I actually started making a few things. I made a hat, and I have since made two more, increasing my crocheting confidence. Now I am making an afghan, which I have wanted to do ever since I was a little girl watching my grandmother make beautiful afghans for everyone in the family. I am only using one color and two types of stitches, but I am still very excited about it!

I have also found that I get a lot more done when I have a few quick projects to add in to the mix. It is easier to keep working at a big afghan when I take a break and make a few complete projects that take a lot less time. The past few months I have made magnets, Christmas ornaments and some cool bathroom tile coasters. Of course, I shouldn’t have left the coasters outside on a windy day to dry after putting on the sealant, but that’s ok, because they were quick. It’s a learning experience, right?

Lately I have started eyeing more and more complicated projects. There are complicated afghans and pillows to make, canvases to paint, and furniture to refinish. I have actually become somewhat fixated on this last item–I want to repaint some furniture, but I am nervous. I have been thinking I should scrounge up some furniture elsewhere before I attack my own furniture. What if I mess it up? I had a thought though–I can start with the old dresser in my son’s room. My mom bought it for me at a garage sale when I was young, and it has definitely seen better days. It needs a bit of repair to make the drawers slide better, then it is ready for a makeover. My son is on board with the idea, and he even wants to help, AND has color suggestions! He thinks we should paint it orange, than then paint on “lines and dots” in red, black and blue. What a creative guy! Plus, this dresser really can’t get much worse, so it is relatively low risk.

I want to do more ambitious carpentry, too. I would love to put a board and batten treatment on the bottom of the walls in my dining room, but I am nervous about installing it on the plaster walls. I would also like to do some built-in shelving and storage space in my family room to add “Office” and “Craft Room” to the official uses of the room (along with “Wii Space” and “For the Love of God, Will You Kids Please Go in the Other Room So the Grownups Can Talk Space”). These tasks are way beyond my current skill level, but it is so inspiring to see other people doing them!

In the meantime, if my efforts with my son’s dresser work out, we can paint the shelving units I currently have in the family room. I got them at an estate sale, and they look outdated, but a nice paint job would do wonders. I am envisioning apple green and lavender, but I don’t know that will go well in my yellow and cranberry family room. Hmm, more painting may be in order. See what I mean about ambitious?

How do you settle on a project when there are so many choices demanding your attention?