Monday, January 24, 2011

Meal Planning - January 24

I am seriously dragging this morning. It is my personal belief that, sometime during the night, a mac truck ran over my head. So now, here I am, waiting for my tea to cool enough that I don't scald my tongue, waiting for the cable guy to arrive, and working out what I'll be doing on my unexpected morning off. In the meantime, I figured it was a good idea to review the meal plan my dear husband came up with last night for us.

Here's what we'll be eating this week:


Lunch - School Hot Lunch (I woke up late this morning :-<)

Dinner - Sweet & Sour Chicken and Fried Rice


Lunch - PB&J on Wheat Bread, Grapes, String Cheese

Dinner - Lasagna, Garlic Bread and Salad


Lunch - Leftover Lasagna and Salad

Dinner - Mexican Chicken Soup (premade and frozen)


Lunch - Turkey Sandwich, Apple Slices, Yogurt

Dinner - n/a (bowling league night)


Lunch - Enchiladas (premade and frozen), apple slices

Dinner - Slow Cooker BBQ Chicken (premade and frozen)

I'm excited to get on I'm an Organizing Junkie's Meal Plan Monday post this morning and find some yummy recipes to try on my next freeze-ahead cooking day!

Friday, January 21, 2011


Remember those new school year goals I wrote way back in August? Yeah, me neither, clearly, which is why the combination of stress and medical issues means I have ballooned up another 35 pounds. Sooo not cool. So in an attempt to get my body under control here, I'm going to try going old school. Like old, when I was in elementary school. I'm talking mini trampolines, people.

I don't have a problem going to dance class and working out hard. I love the social aspect, I love dancing, the whole experience is awesome. But that's only one day a week for a couple hours and my body is stubborn. If I really want it to maintain or even (gasp!) reduce its size, that requires at least 30 minutes of cardio a day. That's if I'm eating a healthy, balanced diet. If I get all sugar-crazy, then it's more like 60 minutes a day. Like I said, my body is stubborn. Anyhow, 3 - 6 hours of exercise outside of dance class per week gets a little time consuming when you factor in driving to the gym, working out, driving home and showering before getting on with the day.
And let's be honest, when I get home after a long day of wrassling children, the last thing I want to do is go to the gym. Sometimes I practice dance at home, but our hard subflooring (another joy of apartment living) isn't all that great for my knees and ankles. So what's a girl to do? Bring the workout home, make it fun and make it easy. Easier said that done, I know.

I used to LOVE my mini trampoline growing up! This was in the days before the massive outdoor variety, so 3' across seemed like more than enough space to bounce to my heart's content. Did you know that many health experts also tout the mini trampoline (or "rebounder") as a great form of exercise? One of the greatest health benefits seems to be stimulating the lymphastic system into greater efficiency in clearing out the waste materials in the body. This in turn boosts the immune system. Rebounding is said to be 68% more oxygen efficient than other forms of exercise, which means that you can exercise harder without it feeling harder. Rebounding is also gentler on the joints that running or walking on pavement or a treadmill. Dr. Morton Walker, in his book Jumping for Health (Avery Publishing Group Inc.) states that rebounding can help combat depression and stress. Yes, PLEASE!
Okay, so there's all my pre-new routine hype. I've found a brand new mini trampoline being offered on Craig's List for $20, which I feel is a decent price for trying something new. I'll keep y'all posted on my progress. In the meantime, what are you doing these days to increase your health and manage stress?

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Weekends & Callings

Just for the record, I should not be blogging right now. I should be getting together my and Monkey Boy's dance bags so we can leave for class & rehearsals as soon as the menfolk get home from their pancake breakfast. But, oh well. It's Saturday morning and our apartment is a mess. Surprise, surprise, I know. It is nice to think, though, that we have a 3-ish day weekend to get things together. All three of our school districts have Monday off for MLK Jr. Day, and my district has a teacher work day on Tuesday, so while I will be going in to get some paperwork done, I also plan to get household errands done that day. I want to have a freeze-ahead cooking day at some point this weekend. I'm not entirely sure on the menu, other than the fact that I have been craving enchiladas for a couple weeks. Mmmm, enchiladas that I don't have to prepare the night that I eat them....yum!

Now, let me start this musing by saying: I love my day job. Being a music therapist combines so many of my skills and interests and I can't imagine a better Real Adult Job. However, I had an interesting conversation with my husband last week about my activities in Highland Dancing. He is still new to the art form, and is learning more at every dance competition and performance he attends, but I will admit that the poor man is subject to HOURS of one-sided ramblings a week about the various aspects of teaching classes and dancing myself. We are currently working on developing a competitive program in addition to the strong recreational program, and that in itself can engross me for a spell of a good 2-3 days. The question he posed to me was this: If I am most happy when I am teaching Highland Dancing, why have I not figured out how to turn that into my primary professional commitment? In other words, how can I parlay this 20+ year love and dedication into an activity that brings in a percentage of our gross income reasonably equal to the amount of hours I put into it per week? I don't have the answers, at this point, but I sure appreciate him asking the questions. It's certainly got me thinking.

Now, off to dance class! :-)

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Handmade Ideas

I am cranky crabby today. It was a great day at work, all of my kids had great sessions and worked really hard, and I still came home cheesed off. I'm choosing to chalk this up to hormones and the anti-depressants/anxiety medication that doesn't seem to really be working. In an attempt to make myself feel (or at least sound) more content, I wanted to share the homemade chain that's going around Facebook right now. I got it from my friend Kathy in California. Her status update read:

"Pay it Forward 2011: I will send something handmade to the first 5 people who leave a comment to this post. They must in turn post this and send something they make to the first 5 people who comment on their status. The rules are that it must be
handmade by you and it must be sent to your 5 people sometime... in 2011."

Love it! I managed to squeak in at comment #5, and so sometime in 2011 I will be receiving handmade body scrub from Kathy. Sweet! I reposted, of course, although I did make one slight alteration, following up with this comment:

"I'm making mine 4, though, I think, because the handmade dresse
s I sent to my nieces last week were received in 2011."

Although one of my friends cried loophole (although she still wants her something handmade, LOL!), I think it's fair. A woman with her plate full can only do so much, right? Here are the dresses I upcycled for my nieces:

Dresses from the front...

...from the back...

...and on the girls!

Now I have four more people to make something for, and none of them seem to be able to decide what they want. They all want surprises! What's a girl to do but troll the internet for something gift-appropriate and also a new, fun challenge to make?

Idea #1 - Chocolate Chip Cookie Mix in a Jar

My Spin - Why not make a sampler pack, with various types of cookies like chocolate chip, sugar, snickerdoodle, gingerbread, brownies, etc? You get the ease of using a prepared mix, but still know you're making homemade treats. It's the sugary gift that keeps on giving!

Idea #2 - Cute Little Handmade Dresses (yes, I know I already did this one!)

My Spin - Two of my friends who responded have sons, not daughters. I'm thinking some handmade pajamas may be in their future. Knits are so fun to work with!

Idea #3 - Knit a Scarf

My Spin - Make a scarf out of upcycled clothing, using various colors and textures. Cut into squares or triangle, piece together, stuff lightly and quilt. This might be perfect for my friend who lives in New York...

What other ideas do you have for handmade gifts? Are you going to participate in Pay it Forward 2011?

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Faith & Empty Frames

It all started with a framed print my husband received from one of his coworkers for Christmas 2009. I liked the sentiment ("Faith: to hope for things which are not seen"). I liked the cross. I like the matte. I was not really feeling the gold frame. Then there was the size. It's pretty teeny. Look how small it looked by itself on our bedroom wall!

But, as I said, I liked the sentiment. So there it sad, all by its lonesome, for all of 2010. Every morning, when I woke up, it was the first thing I saw. Every morning, when I woke up, I thought, my goodness I need to do something with that! I looked around a few stores when I was there on other errands, but never found anything that quite fit to go with it. Plus that gold frame was still bothering me. Then life and laundry and work and wifery and decluttering and dance shows all seem to get in the way and my little faith print was pushed to the bottom of the to-do list.

Then, one day early in January 2011, I was struck with a thought. If faith is about things not seen, why not surround the print with things not seen? Why not frame those things? Empty frames. I put a Wanted post up on Freecycle, and within a few hours had picked up five picture frames. Two were gold (one with matting), one was black, one was glass with attached glass, and the last was green with the inscription, "good times". It certainly is good times when I have a project to do!

I laid out the frames with my print, to see if I could make it work. Not bad, right? But a great big UGH to the original colors!

So there was only one solution: paint! Luckily, I happened to have some black spray paint on hand (left over from another project), but I couldn't find any rubber gloves. I didn't take a picture, but please believe me when I say that my hands (especially the left one) were *black* for a couple days. I scrubbed, I rinsed, I used nail polish remover, I used alcohol...I gave up and decided to embrace my newly colored hands :-) I did remember to paint in a well-ventilated place (our patio), though, and put plastic bags under my frames so my project table didn't end up as black as my hands.

I love painting. I hate waiting for paint to dry. Eventually, though, it did, and I was very excited to hang the final results on the wall. What do you think?

My view from the bed has certainly improved, in my opinion! Monkey Boy walked in, took a look and asked, "When are you putting in the pictures, Mommy?"

Looking for some other ideas on how to decorate with empty frames? Here are some starting points:

Decorate Walls With Hanging Empty Picture Frames @ Mom Blog Network

Decorating with empty picture frames @ Your Home, Only Better

Finished: Foyer Wall @ Classicly Amber

Our "I Don't Get It" Guest Room @ All Things G&D

Product Trend: Empty Frames @ Dwellings and Decor

Reusing Your Empty Picture Frames to Decorate Your Walls @ Oh My Apartment

Stairwell Inspiration: A design consultation @ The Shabby Nest

Friday, January 7, 2011

My Favorite Recipes

I added a new page to my blog this morning. If you go here, you can view a list of some of my family's favorite dishes, as well as links to the complete recipes. Several of them are on Facebook, so you will need to enter your username and password to view them. I am home from work today with some sort of stomach virus and, despite feeling yucky, have been hit by the cleaning/organizing bug hard. Yay! My big projects currently include laundry, kitchen, and home office, including getting some scanning done from the seemingly never empty To Be Scanned box. All this is being done to the background of a World War II documentary playing in the living room (yes, I'm a history nerd). Who knows how tidy things may be by the time the boys get home tonight!

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Free Goals & Priorities Diary

I have to say another thank you to Laura over at I'm An Organizing Junkie. At the very end of December, she shared a link to Get Organized Wizard. Michelle from Get Organized Wizard is running a very cool deal right now: If you "like" her Facebook page, you will received a coupon code for a FREE copy of her new 2011 Goals & Priorities Diary, a digital download worth $29! I downloaded mine a couple days ago and am in LOVE with the format! Since I am (relatively) low tech (no smart phone), I have been simply updating the diary each evening and printing out the current day each morning to place in my planner. I'm only a few days in, but so far work has been much more productive and far less stressful trying to remember everything that needs to get done. What is it about a typed list that feels so much more organized than a hand-written one? The diary includes interactive .pdf Yearly Goal Planners, Monthly Goal Planners, Daily Priorities Planners (the part that I'm printing out each day), and a list of Goals Achieved & Rewards. So what are you waiting for? Get organized!