Friday, October 29, 2010

Make a List, Check it Twice.

I am not a natural list maker.

Many people in my life depend on their daily to-do lists and agendas full of details and check boxes. When I was younger I always thought the running mental tally written in my brain would suffice. As I got older, and my life got busier, I found it became easier to fall behind. When times were really busy I would miss things altogether. I still remember that pit-of-stomach feeling in university when a prof would mention an assignment due next class, and I would think "I was SURE that was due NEXT week!" Not taking the time to write things down, and plan things out had negative consequences not just on my productivity, but in the confidence I had on my own capabilities. It's hard to keep cool, calm, and collected when you've missed things that are important.

I've discovered that forcing myself to commit things to paper, even though it doesn't come naturally, brings much a needed order to my priorities. There's an added satisfaction in CROSSING a chore off a list, rather than just completing it and moving on. At the end of the day I can examine what I accomplished. In the middle of the day I can better focus on what is most urgent. And at the beginning of the day, I get a rough idea on how my time is going to be devoted. There are still days that I skip making a list. Sometimes I make one then lose it in the shuffle of tidying and baby-minding. The days that I don't make a list, I can feel the toll that it's taken on my productivity and prioritizing.

Sometimes taking the time to sit down with your partner and make lists can help focus and prioritize the situations you are dealing with. Whether it be things you want to accomplish over the span of a weekend, or your long term planning in terms of your finances, committing your plans to paper will help ensure that you're aligned in your goals. Making lists together will hopefully help spark conversations of dreams and priorities and give better perspective on what is at the forefront of your spouses' agenda.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Positivity Despite...

I recently told my husband I was discouraged in the face of negative comments on my blog. Really, it was just one comment, but it's still something I think a person never gets used to. It's difficult when a person who obviously knows you somewhat is discouraging behind the veil of anonymity.

My husband sometimes just understands what I need to hear. Not what I want to hear, but what's best for me to hear. He said "the whole point of this blog was to open dialogue that isn't easy to open. It's to have discussions about topics that are personal and that in the past haven't been talked about. That's exactly what you've done here, you've opened discussion, and people are debating both sides."

It was a humbling reminder that I can't expect everyone to agree with me. Whether it's about money, or my family's personal decisions, if I'm putting it out there, I need to be brave enough to deal with differing points of view.
My life would be really boring if everyone around me had the same opinions I did.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Eating Well While Saving

It's not just about saving money, but saving on time too. Depending on where you are in your life, there's a good chance that your time is at a premium, and you're willing to invest a little extra to give yourself more time flexibility. An awesome goal for any household is to find ways to have both-cut spending and cut down on time spent cooking.

A friend introduced me on her blog to the idea of cooking once, eating for a week. I see the wisdom of this on so many levels. Stock up on what's on sale (Ground beef for example) and cook as many pounds of ground beef you need for however many meals you are preparing. Divide some into the base of a Shepperd's pie, add tomatoes and freeze cooked pasta sauce, add beans and vegetables and freeze a chili for a cool winters day. On nights that you're running behind, too tired to cook, or surprise! guests show up, you have a meal that only has to go from the freezer into the oven. You paid bottom dollar for the most expensive ingredient, and you know EXACTLY what went into your food. There's nothing like pulling out a ready made meal out of the oven and getting that faint whiff of preservatives. Nothing more unappetizing anyway.

Because we don't have a deep freeze, we can't quite pull of the "cook once, eat for a week" kind of schedule. In our household, we usually go by the model of "cook once, eat twice." And I don't mean cook, and have the exact same thing the next night for supper (though the eating of leftovers does happen in our house). We do our best in this house to remodel our meals after they've been served, so it's a completely different feeling the next day. One of my favourites is BBQing two extra chicken breasts when we make any kind of chicken dinner. The next day it becomes a big chicken salad, whether greek, southwest or cesear. Any chili in our home gets remade into sloppy joes the next day, because I love them. When ground beef is cooked it can become a hundred different things with different seasonings.

When I make two meals out of one, my kitchen cooking time is cut way down. When I make two meals out of sale items, I get more bang for my buck. The real test would be to invest in a deep freeze (huney??) and see how far cooking and freezing can take our family.