Menu, Week of 1/19

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mpm-chalkboard

January is always a bit of a downtime for me. Maybe it is because I run around like a crazy person before Christmas. Gee, you think? Hopefully I will do better this year, starting projects early, but it always seems there are plenty of projects coming up throughout the year.

This past week I have been busy with work and the kids, but we mostly ate at home. On Wednesday, I got home to find that there was a school program for my youngest starting at 6:00 and lasting until 7:30. It was 5:45 at the time, so we ended up picking something up after the event. Other than that, though, I cooked, so it worked out pretty well.

This week I am planning on getting more done besides work and dinner. I am cooking some extra food for a friend who had surgery last week. I want to do one Christmas project (yet to be determined, but probably something small). I want to finish the Creeper blanket I am crocheting for one of my son’s friends. I would like to do more, but I had better stop if I want to actually make my goals, ;).

Sunday: Cheeseburgers

Monday: Fathead pizza

Tuesday: Sauteed scallops and langostinos, sauteed cabbage (both sauteed in butter)

Wednesday: Paleo chicken taco bowls – the kids may eat the food separately, but I will enjoy it all together!

Thursday: Morroccan egg tagine, buttered broccoli

Friday: Spinach and goat cheese stuffed chicken, green beans sauteed with bacon, sauteed artichoke hearts

Saturday: Steak, cauli-rice, roasted asparagus and cherry tomatoes

As always, lots more menu ideas can be found on orgjunkie.com

Menu, Week of 1/12

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I know, it isn't Monday anymore--the cold must have slowed me down!

I know, it isn’t Monday anymore–the cold must have slowed me down!

January is such a depressing time, budget-wise. Even though I really try not to spend too much at Christmas time, I always go a bit overboard. I don’t go totally crazy, loading up the credit cards, but I do spend enough to make January a bit tight, money-wise. I’ve been pretty good about cooking at home and not eating out, though, so I am feeling pretty good, so far.

At times like this, I am so glad that I bought that deep freeze last summer. We are still eating pretty well even though I don’t want to go to the grocery store, because I have lots of food on hand.

Also, I just have to add that I know it is Tuesday now. I had this menu plan completed yesterday, but somehow I wandered away from the computer before it got posted. I try to stay off the computer on Monday evenings, so that I am not on it ALL. THE. TIME. So, better late than never, right?

Sunday: Peanut Coconut Curry Chicken (I know, we have this a lot–what can I say, it is easy and I love it, 😉 )

Monday: Corned beef and cabbage, sauteed green beans and bacon ( added for the kids, who don’t like cabbage)

Tuesday: Sauteed shrimp with feta and lemon butter sauce

Wednesday: Chili Verde, low carb corn bread

Thursday: Pizza with almond flour crust

Friday: Crockpot Balsamic Chicken, sauteed green beans with bacon

Saturday: Bacon and eggs

As always, lots more menu ideas can be found on orgjunkie.com

Buy Nothing New Christmas: Final Report for 2013

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Today is the day I start planning and making Christmas presents for next year.When I started making gifts in June last year, I thought I was totally on top of things, but I did not give myself enough time. I found myself at the end of the season frantically buying supplies and completing projects (and adding last minute projects!) and I ran out of time to come up with good ideas that didn’t use anything new.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I didn’t do a terrible job. I made several gifts out of my stash of supplies. I made a large blanket for my brother that did require yarn purchases, but still met my rules because I started with stash yarn and only had to buy some additional yarn to complete the project. But I could certainly do better.

First, here is the list of projects that did fit my rules:

  • A scarf for my dad made with stash yarn entirely (I didn’t get a picture of this one)
  • My brother’s blanket–all colors started with stash yarn, but I did have to supplement that a bit. However, I did say buying supplies to finish a project would count for my purposesBlanket for David
  • A set of 10 coasters for my mother made entirely out of stash yarncoasters
  • The Christmas tree collage for my aunt, made with supplies I had on hand when I started the challengecollage
  • A set of ceramic plates for my cousin using the plates I finished up from my pottery class last fall (didn’t get a picture of these, either)
  • An ebook for each of my kids to read on their Nooks

And here are the things that didn’t quite meet the challenge:

  • Makeup and nail polish for my daughter
  • Magic cards for my son
  • Munchkin game as a family present
  • Scarves for a couple of my friends–I had my daughter sew them, but I did buy new material rather than upcycling old tshirts as originally intended (again with the no pictures–it was a busy time at the end of the holidays, finishing gifts just in time to give them)

Overall, I think I did pretty well. The majority of the gifts I gave were handmade, and I don’t feel too bad about the ones that were new. Makeup is even sort of meeting the rules, because it is consumable. The games are something I should have made an exception for, in retrospect. Anything that encourages the children to spend time NOT watching TV is a good thing, in my book. And at least the scarves were made by me (because I made the girl that made the scarves, 😉 ).

I do think I could do better next year, though, if I start planning now. If I had started with a better plan for the gifts, I wouldn’t have been adding things at the last minute. I am still at the beginning stages of planning, but I will definitely need to have a plan in place soon. I hesitate to say that it will be a complete plan, because things always change, but I want to have at least a framework by the end of this month.

Am I the only one crazy enough to start thinking about this now?

Goals for 2014

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Goals

This year I am planning to be way more intentional. Less mindless TV and facebook gaming, more making, learning, and blogging. It is so easy to fall into a habit of coming home from work, doing something about dinner and settling in on the couch for some mindless relaxation. I am not entirely opposed to mindless relaxation–sometimes that is so healing–I just don’t want it to be the default mode.

With that in mind, here are some goals for the year. This is sort of a first pass on the goals. I would like to develop a longer, more detailed list, like the 52 Things in 52 weeks at Kincavel Korner, but I am not ready to dive directly into that list.  I am trying to put something quantifiable on each goal, because leaving things too open-ended is just a setup for procrastination, and then I can flesh it out into 52 items.

Learn to use the sewing machine. My mother gave me a basic sewing machine for Christmas in 2012, at my request. Since that time, I went out and bought lots of supplies for sewing and did about 6 inches of stitches just to get a start on learning to use it, but I have not even started making an actual project. Luckily, my daughter knows how to use the machine, and this year she is going to teach it to me. I am going to make at least one thing each month.

Crochet (at least) 10 blankets. This is an easy one–I love making blankets! I completed 12 blankets last year, and I have several that are close to being done just waiting for the last bit of work to complete them. I want to include it in the goals list, though, because it is not totally implausible that I will get distracted by other things and let this slip. For the purpose of this goal, finishing a blanket counts, even if the blanket was started before the year began.

Play more games with my kids. They love playing games, but I often feel too busy to sit down and play. I have been working on this the past month or so, but I want to make sure we keep it up. I’d like to play at least one game per week.

Do more upcycling. I make a lot of things, but I tend to go out and buy new supplies–new yarn, new fabric, new art supplies, etc. I wouldn’t say that I never reuse things, but it is more rare than I would like. I would like to do at least one project per month that reuses something that had another use–making tshirt yarn and crocheting something, making a blanket with old blue jeans, doing something with all those jars and wine bottles that I’ve saved in my basement.

Start an art journal. Technically, I have already started one, but I haven’t done very much at all–maybe 4 entries over the last year. I’d like to do at least one art journal entry per week.

Blog more regularly. I am aiming for three posts per week. This will actually help me with my other goals, as I need to have something to post about!

Get my finances under control. I don’t do bad here, but I spend more than I should, and I have a few debts I would like to get rid of, mostly related to my house and college loans. I pay my bills on time, and I don’t have creditors calling, but I would like to save more and be a bit more careful about what I spend. I don’t have a concrete goal for this one yet, but I want to have a plan by the end of January.

I am deliberately using the term goals rather than resolutions here. I don’t think that resolutions are really serious things. If I were substituting a synonym for resolutions, I would use wishes rather than plans. Goals are a bit more concrete–not quite plans, but a good basis for plans.

Menu, Week of 1/5

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I know, it isn't Monday anymore--the cold must have slowed me down!

I know, it isn’t Monday anymore–the cold must have slowed me down!

I didn’t plan for meals very well over the Christmas break. I did two nice meals on the two nights before Christmas, and then I ate leftovers for most of the rest of the week, since the kids were at their dad’s. I do cook sometimes when the kids

Monday, we had friends over and made a dinner of prime rib, mashed cauliflower and broccoli salad. I had never cooked a prime rib before, but it was so easy–I just threw it in a 300 degree oven for 2 ½ hours or so, then let it rest for 30 minutes and served. We had a meat and cheese tray for snacking before the meal, since I wasn’t certain when it would be ready, and I made some horseradish sour cream to serve with the steaks. Everyone loved it!

On Christmas Eve, we had my family over for dinner and the present exchange. For an appetizer I made bacon and avocado deviled eggs, and then we had pork roast, green beans sauteed with bacon and pickled beets.

This week I am getting back into my formal menu planning. Goodness knows, my budget can’t stand any eating out for awhile. Christmas time is fun, but expensive! Luckily, I stocked up at Costco and we should be good on food for a couple of weeks.

Sunday: Peanutty Coconut Curry Chickenpork with paprika

Monday: Pork with Paprika, Mushrooms and Sour Cream, gnocchi for the kids

Tuesday: Hamburgers

Wednesday: Bratwurst, cole slaw, buttered broccoli

Thursday: Corned beef and cabbage

Friday: Langostinos sauteed in butter over sauteed cabbage

Saturday: Leftovers

Can I just add that it is freezing here? We got about 9 or 10 inches of snow and passed around 35 hours with subzero temperatures. My furnace couldn’t keep this old drafty house warm enough! It is not a bad furnace, it usually works fine, but it was struggling with the extreme cold. Now that we are back up into the balmy 20s, it is doing fine, so I suspect it isn’t the furnace breaking. I think I need some more thermal curtains, maybe some plastic around the windows, a space heater and some kind of insulation if it is going to get that cold again!

As always, lots more menu ideas can be found on orgjunkie.com

Making Some Changes

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Things have been busy around here, what with the last minute Christmas projects, entertaining family and friends, and increased responsibilities at work. That’s not the main reason I have been neglecting my blog though, at least not directly.

I have been thinking a lot about what I want to do with this blog, and I decided to change the name and be a bit more focused about what I post here. I spent the last 2 or 3 weeks thinking about how I wanted to do this, and whether I should change the domain, use a different blogging tool, keep the posts I have here or start from scratch and everything else that comes with a new blog focus. I spent so much time thinking about it, I wasn’t posting anything and I began to fear that I would spend the next two months just thinking and not post anything ever. So, I decided I need to dive right into posting again and start making changes gradually.

You may have noticed I started by changing the name of the blog to Making a Life. Anyone who has been here probably knows I am somewhat obsessed with making things, so it seemed like the perfect choice. I am planning on changing the categories a bit, changing the theme,  and maybe even changing the domain name. I don’t know, I haven’t figured it all out yet, 😉 .

Have any of you done a big blog change like this? How did you make the transition?

Menu, Week of 12/15

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Remember last week when I said that I needed to make fast meals? That is even more true this week, but it totally went out the window last night, when I came across the most delicious looking recipe for broccoli-cheese stuffed pork tenderloins wrapped in bacon. That was a time-consuming meal to put together, but once I saw it, I knew it HAD to happen, right away. It was worth every minute, too–the whole family agreed.

I did need that time, though, because the yarn I have been waiting for finally came in yesterday! I probably have about 20 hours left to finish my brother’s blanket, and I still need to finish the collage for my aunt and make some cool braided scarves with my daughter. I’d like to make some jewelry, too. See, even though I started early, I am scrambling at the end, just as I knew I would be. Oh, I want to finish some pottery stuff too! And I need to clean my house and plan the Christmas Eve dinner. And our tree isn’t even up yet!

So, the rest of this week will be as easy as possible. We need food that is fast, but not fast food, ;). I have been more strict on eating low carb this past week, and I have felt great and lost three pounds, so I am keeping that up this week, too. Also, I know that this is Tuesday rather than Monday–I started this on Monday, it has just been a very busy week!

Sunday: Chicken fingers, green beans sauteed with bacon

Monday: Bacon-wrapped, broccoli/cheese-stuffed pork tenderloin, sauteed zucchini and yellow squash with marinara sauce, cauliflower rice

Tuesday: Bacon and eggs

Wednesday: Bacon cheeseburger casserole

Thursday: Green chili made with pork roast, almond flour biscuits

Friday: Pizza, salad

Saturday: Kefta, tomato and egg tagine

As always, lots more ideas can be found at orgjunkie.com.