Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Reorganizing the Kitchen.

Once again I find myself working until after midnight to complete my homework. At this point I ask myself, why at 30+ am I doing homework. Not to mention this semester it's Nutrition...and I'm not good at it. Maintaining my A average might be difficult this term.

But I did it to myself. Today, I had all day. Yes the kids were home, but that had nothing to do with it. No, I had to rearrange my kitchen. I did however complete a huge task. I found out how to rearrange a kitchen in a most accurate way.

Here's my method of madness:

1. Clear the counter tops and table.
2. Take everything off of the counters and out of the cabinets.
While taking them out make sure to place them together with similar items
3. This is also a good time to clean the cabinets.
4. Work from cabinet to cabinet
4a. Ask yourself, what do I do right here?
If this is where you always make sandwiches, pour the kids drinks, make coffee or use the cutting board, then that cabinet should be used for those items.
5. Clear out what you don't use.
Hint: If you haven't seen it in two months, you more than likely won't miss it and will probably buy another one if you need it, because you forgot you had it.)
By the time you've worked your way around the kitchen you should have everything put away. Anything left, make sure it's not one of those items that shouldn't be tossed. And if you're just opposed at throwing it away, store it.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

I've been busy today, trying to figure out ways to optimize my workspace. It seems when I try to sit down with my school books that I don't have the room I need. Well, It didn't work anyhow. I couldn't focus. At the end of the day I realized I need a break. I forget to schedule myself a little time for me. I hardly even read anymore other than my school work and the Pokey Little Puppy. I miss a good murder mystery book. Oh, and is CSI still on? I wouldn't know. I've seen some reruns while sitting up at the wee hours of the morning, but that's about it.

I think starting tomorrow, I'm going to take thirty minutes of daylight time to devote to me. I'm not sure my children or my husband will understand this. I'll let you know how it works out.

I've found a wonderful new site that I just adore.

Get Organized Now!™http://www.getorganizednow.comFREE Get Organized Now!™ Idea-Pak, E-zine, Articles, SlideShows, Checklists, Tips, Ideas, Discussion Forum and Inspiration to help you organize your home, your office and your life!

It's tips on organization. There's lots of good information here, including how to get out of the house on time. Who couldn't use this, when you have kids. My morning routine normally has an OH MY GOD what is that somewhere in it? So, using some of these tips may help me avoid this statement at some point.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

I've been researching the idea of "once a month cooking" or as it's referred to on the Internet as OAMC. Thinking about, I have class every Monday right now at 8:00 pm. I get home at 5:30, this doesn't make for much time for playtime, homework, dinner, brush teeth, bath, and bed before class. It would be so much easier if I could go ahead and make at least four meals ahead of time, so that on Monday nights, dinner is just a bake away.

Most of the information I've ran across was great, but the meals were a little fancy to me. I don't keep fresh garlic on hand, and I wouldn't know how to clean a bell pepper if I was given one. I like recipes that you mix and throw. What I've been doing is taking the information from the sites and putting together a few of my own ideas. I figured I'd share them.

One, grocery shop once a month if you can. If you can't this trick still works. Buy bulk. I invest $40 a year in a Sams club membership. The closest one to my house if 45 miles, but the trek once a month is worth it, both price wise and time wise. I buy the big packages and then bring them home cut them up into smaller pieces, season them, and then put them into the handy vac bags. A few of the meats I put in dishes in order to cook for my once a month cooking.

I use the Reynolds handyvac and the vacuum bags that they have to store all my meats. It's a lifesaver and it does work. My sister, who lives right next door, had bought one of the expensive vacuum machines and it worked really well. It had capabilities, such as being able to seal juices and such that my little handyvac doesn't have. Well, it broke, so we had to find another method. I bought the handy vac. We now just buy the bags and share the little contraption. For as cheap as it is though, if she gets mad at me, buying a new one won't break her.

One recipe I've found that I like is the Meatloaf:
I make it a little differently as I think everyone does.

2 lbs of hambergur
1/3 cup of ketchup
3 or 5 dashes of Worstershier sauce
2 eggs
3/4 cups of bread crumgs
(I use a coating mixture that is similar to shake and bake that I got in bulk from sams)

Mix and Freeze. I put mine in the freezer bags, because they are easier to store and take up less room. I've seen a lot of recipes use a layer of plastic wrap and two layers of foil. I'm going to see how the freezer bags work with this.

The other websites that I've found actually recommend adding the egg, even though you don't cook it. I had my doubts, we'll see how it works. This is my first time using this recipe.

The day of.... Take out that morning to thaw then put it in the oven at 350 for about an 1 hour to 1 hour 20 minutes. I like to cook mine to an hour, and then pull it out put more ketchup on it, and cook it for about another 20 minutes.

Shephards Pie

This one is completely different from the ones that I've seen.

2 lbs ground beef (cooked and drained)
1 can corn
1 can green beans
2 cans cream of mushroom

Mix and freeze.

When you go to cook it, you have to let it thaw, place cooked mashed potatoes on top and grated cheese. I'd tell you how much potatoes and cheese, but it's more of a "to taste" situation. If you're kids like mashed potatoes and you have trouble getting them to eat their veggies, it might be best to add more. Just make enough to cover the top. The grated cheese, well I used about three cups, but it depends on how much I have on hand.

Bake at 350 for about 20 to 25 minutes.


I also am going to try green bean casarole this week. I'm going to make a big dish of it, and split it into four different containers. That away I have some side dishes that I can just pop in the microwave too. Ziploc has some plastic containers that are freezer safe. I picked up some big enough for main dishes and side dishes. I'll let you know how it works.

When I try more recipes I'll let you know how they come out. I've got one I'm dying to try... We call it Mexican pot pie. This is my plan...

2 lbs ground beef (cooked with the taco seasoning)
2 bags of taco seasoning
1 can veg all
1/2 bag of tortilla chips (crushed) I use doritos.
3 cups of cheese
1 cup mayonnaise
1 cup salsa

Cook the ground beef and the seasoning. Then while on a simmer, mix the rest of the ingridients. Freeze

Day of: Thaw, Put it in a baking dish, put cheese on top and bake for about 30 minutes.

Top this with sour cream, use flour tortillas, and/or the rest of the chips. This is a wonderful dish.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

You won't believe this. I found myself shopping at 1:00 am this morning. I was awake playing on the internet. I needed to get a few things from the store and I thought Why Not? I know I have to get up in the morning, but rarely do I go to bed this late, so I went to the store. It was nice. There's no one there; they were putting out the sale items (Turkey for 88 cents a pound, is that good?); and I went in my comfy pants and no one was there to recognize me. I'm not sure that's such a bad idea now. Hmmm new tip: Shop while no one is there, the kids are asleep so they aren't asking for the extras and you can actually concentrate on the prices of items. Of course this only works with the 24/7 stores, unfortunately I couldn't run down to our other local store and check prices because they close at night. But that's alright, because I did write down the prices of several of my "gotta have" items. That away, when I do go to the other store I can check if the prices are comparable.

Tips to help working moms

Growing up I watched my mother come in from work and begin the housework and dinner. I thought nothing of it as I marched my happy little butt outside to play and on Saturday I mumbled as I had to help with the housework. I'm rethinking my position now.

After 40 hours of work a week, I pick up our two children from daycare. Then comes the fun part. Dinner: cooking and cleaning, Grocery shopping: buying and putting them away, laundry: wash, dry, fold, (how did mom do it with a clothes line?) Gotta worry too about the kids, bath time, brushing teeth, potty, drinks, and stories all before tucking them neatly into bed. Of course I haven't mentioned I'm also doing on-line college courses. All this is done so that tommorrow, I can do it again without being overly swamped with what I didn't do the day before.

The thing is. I know I'm not alone. But I do have a few tips that have helped me a lot lately. Organization, Organization, Organization. My children 3 and 5 have learned. Lunch boxes go in a certain spot, both when at home and in the vehicle. This goes a long way when you're in a rush the next morning. When they come home they have a little while before dinner and sometimes we even go outside where they can play, but after dinner comes a routine, it's time to clean (yes they help), brush their teeth, get a bath, drink, potty, and then bed. Most of the time it goes in this order. Depends on what I'm having for dinner and how quickly it gets made.

I also try to limit my grocery shopping trips. Once a month trips to the big warehouse clubs have been lifesavers. They have also saved me money. I just take everything home and then sort it into smaller portions that are family size. The only bad part, they don't take coupons, but with the amount I save buying bulk it's worth it. So I save the coupons for sale days at the local stores on stuff that I can't buy at the big warehouse or won't buy in bulk.

Another trick I've learned is I give my 5 year old a check list in the morning of things to do and set her alarm clock. She gets up and gets her checklist. As she does each item she gets to mark it off. It makes her feel responsible. You have to be careful with this though, it might not work with all kids. I believe that the kid has to be independent and reward seeking.

Also, I've asked my husband to be supportive of my after dinner clean-up routine. I told him it would be easier if he'd be responsible of helping our 5 year old with her chores as I help our 3 year old. This gets him involved in the routine as well.

Don't get me wrong. This is not a perfect solution and there's nights when it's just completely blown out of the water and we order pizza and eat in the living room. (more nights than I'd like to admit), but those nights that we do this really helps.

Please feel free to offer some advice of your own. I'm looking for tips that will help make life easier, more fun, and give me more free time with my family.