Sunday, September 26, 2010

Meal Planning - September 27

Man, it's been a challenging week. The honeymoon is definitely over for Monkey Boy and his Kindergarten teacher. On the positive side, his reading and writing is "blowing me [the teacher] away." On the negative side, he can't seem to get through the day without disrupting the class during group instruction, being unsafe in his tiny chair, and/or misusing school supplies. My personal favorite incident was last Monday - "Mommy, I was just trying to eat a pencil. I wanted to see if it felt the same way in my tummy that it does in my hand when I write." Heaven help us!

In other news, my students are all amazing this year and my husband hasn't had a nervous breakdown over his students this year yet, so...perhaps it all straightens out in the grand educational wash?

Monkey and I were supposed to perform with our dance group at the Texas State Fair on Saturday, but both performances were sadly rained out. One of my friends asked at church today why we weren't as brave as the country line dancers (who she saw on the news last night). Pretty sure their outfits are machine washable. Wool kilts, wool hose and velvet vests aren't! Scottish Highland Dancers are not as waterproof as we sometimes need to be :-/

Anyhow, on to the food! This week we've decided to only plan the weekday meals, and then reconvene Thursday or Friday evening to discuss weekend options. I'm enjoying these mini-food conferences with my man ;-)

Monday Lunch - Leftover spaghetti, carrots, apple slices

Monday Dinner - Beef tacos

Tuesday Lunch - BLT sandwiches, chips, applesauce

Tuesday Dinner - Salsa chicken & rice (made ahead & frozen), vegetables of some sort

Wednesday Lunch - Tamales & queso from Central Market, carrots, apple slices

Wednesday Dinner - Baby burgers, french fries

Thursday Lunch - Chicken enchiladas from Market Street, broccoli, apple slices

Thursday Dinner - Eat Out (bowling league)

Friday Lunch - Turkey sandwiches, carrots, string cheese

Friday Dinner - Chicken spaghetti (made ahead & frozen), vegetables of some sort

Man, it makes me hungry just typing all that! If you have the munchies, too, head on over to I'm an Organizing Junkie and check out Laura's Meal Plan Monday section, where literally hundreds of other bloggers link up their menus and recipes. Yum!

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Meal Planning - September 20

I forgot to meal plan last week. Well, okay, I didn't really forget so much as threw a tiny hissy fit and refused to do it. My husband handled meals. It was a good week :-)

Now, back to business, though! Here is what we will be eating this week:

Monday Lunch - Pulled pork sandwiches, applesauce, steamed broccoli

Monday Dinner - Ravioli, garlic bread, some sort of vegetable

Tuesday Lunch - PB & J, apple slices, carrot chips

Tuesday Dinner - Chicken spaghetti (made ahead & frozen), some sort of vegetable

Wednesday Lunch - Turkey sandwiches, mango slices, carrot chips

Wednesday Dinner - Spaghetti with meat sauce, garlic bread

Thursday Lunch - Leftover spaghetti, string cheese, steamed broccoli

Thursday Dinner - Eat Out (bowling league)

Friday Lunch - Turkey sandwiches, applesauce, carrot chips

Friday Dinner - Potato Soup (made ahead & frozen), french bread, green salad w/dressing of choice

Saturday Dinner - Salsa Chicken (made ahead & frozen)

Sunday Dinner - Pot Roast

In other (funny, I think) news, I finally found out why Monkey Boy is always begging to buy his lunch at school, rather than bringing it: "Mommy, it's so awesome! I get to use a CREDIT CARD!!! And then...they GIVE me FOOD!!!" Man, it must be nice to be five ;-)

Need more menu ideas? Visit I'm an Organizing Junkie's Meal Plan Monday section, where hundreds of other bloggers link their menus for the week!

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Everyday Cheapskate's Greatest Tips

I recently finished reading Everyday Cheapskate's Greatest Tips: 500 Simple Strategies for Smart Living (2005). The book's cover boasts that it is "bringing dignity to the art of living below your means." Mary Hunt, the author of this book, is the syndicated columnist of Everyday Cheapskate and publisher of The Cheapskate Monthly newsletter. You can visit her online here. Now that I have finished reading the book and recording some new ideas to try, I'll be listing the book on paperbackswap, where I'll be able to get a new-to-me book in exchange for mailing this one to someone else!

Here are seven of my favorite tips from the book:

Place an old bath towel, bath mat, pillowcase, or table cloth under your baby's car seat. Now when your precious little one tosses food or a bottle onto the seat, the spread will protect the upholstery. Just throw it into the laundry for a quick and easy cleanup.

There is a web site where you can recycle your clutter. Freecycle is giving away your clutter to someone else who wants it. Freecycle Yahoo Groups have sprung up all around the world. If there isn't one in your local area, you can start a group. It's easy. If you've got something to give away, you post it on your local Freecycle board. If a member wants it, he or she contacts you and the two of you make arrangements for pickup. Find out more about freecycling at [Read about my Freecycle experiences here]

With the relatively low cost of computers, scanners, and CD burners, you can take personal record maintenance to a new level. Scan your personal documents into the computer as jpeg files [personally, I like to scan them as .pdf files]. Then burn two copies onto CDs. Keep one at home and the other as a back-up in a safe or deposit box. You can also do this for tax return documentation. You will save on space and also gain peace of mind from the knowledge that all of your important papers are safe and "filed" neatly.

Fine hotels everywhere feature all white linens. You should, too. When everything is white, you don't worry about fading, about matching up sets or if the linens match the room's decor. Every top sheet goes with every fitted sheet, so you don't have laundry hassles. Everything launders the same. White linens are classic and they're cheaper, too.

Need a cheap but effective way to clamp shut your chip bags, etc.? Buy bags of clothespins at the dollar store. They make great chip clips!

Wash your clothes inside out to keep them looking newer longer. The inside takes all of the abuse and fading cause by the agitation instead of the outside. Clothes get just as clean when washed inside out.

To keep your possessions from overtaking your life and your space, declare a new personal dictum: For every new thing that comes in, something old must go out. You must obey The Law. It'll work. In fact there will be times that you'll really want to bring home something new, but the thought of getting rid of something of equal size or value will help you distinguish between a true need and a passing desire.

What are some of your favorite time/money savers?

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Organizing School Clothes

You may remember the last time I re-systemed Monkey Boy's closet (is re-systemed a word? Well, it is now...). As we approached the beginning of Kindergarten last month, I starting thinking about upgrades that needed to be made to our morning routine. First, my husband and I both agreed we needed Monkey using his own bathroom in the morning. After all, if you're lucky enough to HAVE two bathrooms, doesn't it make sense to use them both, not to cram all three family members around one sink? If one more person spits toothpaste on my sleeve 2 minutes before we're supposed to walk out the door...oy! Second, I wanted to make sure that Monkey's clothes were laid out the night before by him. This was successful about 50% of the time during our second year of preschool, but we didn't have a good bin system in place (the older my child gets, the more I realize our home will eventually consist entirely of bins!). It does seem important for Monkey Boy to take full responsibility choosing and preparing his school outfits this year, now that he is in elementary school.

So, where to start? Different systems work for different families, of course. My mother, for example, a single, working mother of two, solved the clothing issue with me at this age by having me put on my school clothes the night before. Seriously. Then, in the morning, she just had to roll me out of bed, make sure my teeth got brushed, and hand me a bowl of cereal to eat in the car. Ah, the wrinkly, unwashed mess you can get away with being when you grow up in Oregon! I enjoy reminding my husband of this story when he gets frustrated by Monkey's less-than-perfect hygiene work. "Hey, at least he's brushing his hair..." ;-)

Clearly, wrinkled and sleep-stinky is not an option for us. Did I mention one sweats quite a bit living in 100+ Texas? I still had most of the old bins from Monkey's closet stacked neatly by his door (several of them traveled to Daddy's classroom, where they are now happily collecting papers). When I realized I had five bins, one lid, and a set of wheels, I thought this would be a great system to try to help Monkey organize his school clothes. Looking aro
und Monkey's room , though, I realized there wasn't space for a bin tower, what with the bunk beds, desk, keyboard and train table already taking up the limited real estate. Think outside the room...aha! It seems that the answer to both of our morning routine issues were located in the least-used room in our apartment: Bathroom #2.

After setting up the bin tower, I labeled each bin with a day of th
e week, then reinforced the labels with packing tape. With a five-year-old boy, everything needs an extra layer of tape! Monkey was overjoyed when I revealed the system to him and immediately wanted to pick his clothes for the first week of school.

Following a successful first week of school, things got a little more complicated than just shorts, t-shirt, undies, socks, shoes. During the past two weeks, and this co
ming week, Monkey's class was studying a different color every day, so his teacher requested the class wear a particular color each day (ex: Monday - Red, Tuesday - Blue, Wednesday - Yellow, etc.). Then there's PE twice a week, which means Monkey has to wear sneakers those days. So for these weeks, on Friday afternoon I make a short list outlining color themes and shoe requirements, present them to Monkey, who then fills his bins and calls me to double-check when he is finished.

Does my son color-coordinate most days? No.

Are his clothes always seasonally appropriate? No. For some reason, he enjoys wearing sweatpants, even when it is 105+ in Dallas. Go figure!

Am I absolutely thrilled with this bin system? Yes. We spend approximately 20 minutes each Friday evening dealing with clothes for the coming week, and I don't have to worry about last-minute laundry loads during the work week. The only way these bins could be better is if they dragged Monkey out of bed and dressed him!

Want some more ideas for organizing your child's school clothes?

Beth, guest-posting at, keeps her kids color-coordinated, straight out of the dryer!

Debbye concentrates on clothing not impeding good health or safety...and relieving school morning stress.

Jen has a bin for each of her three boys, and they pick out their clothes for the next day each evening.

Thursday, September 9, 2010


I burned my hand making Monkey Boy's lunch this morning (he wanted a hamburger & I was trying to make it extra-hot, since he can't heat anything up at school), so now I am unexpectedly at home for the day, feeling cranky and useless. I always forget how hard it is to get things done with one hand. Did I mention I'm cranky? :-P

Monday, September 6, 2010

Meal Planning - September 6

This week's menu plan is a little different than usual. Husband is in a grilling/cooking mood this week, and who am I to say no to that? ;-)

Monday Lunch - Weekend leftovers (including the yummy Salsa Chicken we had Sunday night!)

Monday Dinner - Barbeque (Daddy cooks)

Tuesday Lunch - Barbeque leftovers, string cheese, applesauce

Tuesday Dinner - English muffin pizzas (Daddy & Monkey Boy cook)

Wednesday Lunch - Chicken salad on croissants (courtesy of Daddy), apple slices, baby carrots

Wednesday Dinner - Papa Murphy's pizza (I have band practice and possibly dance rehearsal this night, so this is what the boys wanted!)

Thursday Lunch - Chicken salad on croissants, string cheese, applesauce

Thursday Dinner - Eat out (bowling league)

Friday Lunch - PB & J on wheat bread, apple slices, baby carrots

Friday Dinner - Skillet Lasagna (Daddy cooks)

Saturday Dinner - Slow cooker taco soup, tortilla chips, salad

Sunday Dinner - Spaghetti with meat sauce, garlic bread, broccoli

I was planning on this being a nice long post, but Monkey Boy just woke up and is rearing to go on his homework for this weekend, an "All About Me" poster. If you need some more inspiration for meal planning in the meantime, visit I'm An Organizing Junkie's Meal Plan Monday section. Happy Labor Day, y'all!