Getting Organized: the Kitchen and a Menu Plan

So, the theme for 2014 is going to be less stuff, more efficiency, and more time for family and friends.  I am the keeper of the stuff at my house and I’m tired of having so much to pick up, clean, and take care of.  So, I’m getting rid of it.  If it’s not essential and we don’t love it, then it’s gone.  (It’s also my secret plan to fund a fabulous girls weekend to Boston this summer!)

One of the areas I want to work on is my kitchen and menu planning.

I started by reading this awesome blog which helped me declutter my kitchen.  I now have one section of counter-top that is completely free!!  I even put away 3 appliances (toaster, bread machine, and food processor) by cleaning out my cabinets.  I LOVE it.  I used to think my mom was crazy for not keeping her toaster out, but as it turns out, she is not.

Also, I want a menu plan.  The problem is that I hate to menu plan.  Yep, HATE it.  For some reason it thoroughly stresses me out.  I finally decided that if I was going to have a menu and put in on my (newly cleaned off) fridge then it should at least be cute.  It is.  And I’m going to share it with you.  It’s pretty much the luckiest day of your life.  😉

Fridge with menu plan

Chalkboard Menu – blank  (a pdf that you can print and fill in weekly)

Menu Ideas (a word doc that you can edit to include your family favorites)

I used a white colored pencil to start with, but I think I’m going to need a white/silver marker.  How sad, I guess a trip to the office supply store is in order.  (Said in total sarcasm because a trip to the office supply store sounds like a great day to me.)

Please prepare yourself to be completely annoyed by my upcoming pursuit of less stuff and the fact that I might try to convince you to do the same.  😉

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What are 10 things you could eliminate from your kitchen TODAY???

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To be like Grandma and Grandpa

Call me a hippie or old fashioned or nostalgic, but there is something drawing me to the way things used to be done.  I want to think more like my grandparents did.  You know, when you grew some of your own food, when you shopped local and built lasting relationships with people in your own town, when you bought things that were actually made in America, and when you chose products that would stand the test of time and not made to break in a few months, when you actually planned on keeping your things for the long haul instead for a year or two when a fancier model came out, when you drove your car til it completely fell apart (which took a long time in those days) and lived without car payments and were out of style, but without the stress of debt, when you actually fixed things that broke instead of immediately replacing it.  I’m going to be honest, most of those things go against my consumer desires.  I like bright shiny fancy new things.  I like to throw things away.  I am a product of American consumerism and I kinda like it that way.

So, what started all this change in thinking?  My own Mr. Fix-It-Husband.  You see we own our business (a local American business, ha)  and when Husband buys tools and supplies he needs them to actually be built to last so that he doesn’t have to replace them every 6 months.  You see, even I understand that it’s not very cost effective to be replacing things all the time.  And you know who makes good quality products that they’re proud of?  Americans.  So when he can buy a product that’s made out of more than just plastic and made to last and it’s made by Americans, that’s a done deal in his mind.  He strives to give his customers the longest lasting and best products and work that he can and so he makes choices that will help him achieve those goals.

Now, the shopping world wants you to buy the trends, go in debt, and not care who made it or where it came from.  (I’m gonna be a hater for a minute on The Bank of Edwardsville.  Their bright flashing sign encourages people to take out loans for trips and fun.  I mean, c’mon.  If you don’t have the money for the trip, then you don’t go.  Moving on.)  It’s no wonder we make bad financial decisions.  It’s taking me a while to change my mindset and I still buy and do things without thinking.  But I want to strive to buy more American made products.  It’s both harder and easier than one might think.  It takes some work and thought and sometimes more money up front.

What do you do when there’s not an American made option?  First, be sad that there’s not.  Second, ask Husband what to do.  ha  The other day he was shopping for some tool.  There wasn’t one made in America.  What did he do?  Turned all the options over to see where they were made.  China.  China.  Germany.  German made it is.  If you can’t buy it made in America, then buy anything not made in China.  That’s his rule of thumb.

So there you go.  Buy American made, or at least not made in China.

Anyways, think a little more like your grandma, nana, meemaw, papa, grandpa, or pops.  There are a lot of things that we could learn from their lifestyle.

(The irony does not escape me here that we want to buy American made products, but adopt a non-American made baby.)

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What American made products do you buy?

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Don’t be a Hater.

Don’t hate me for this post…I’m really doing you a favor.  🙂

So, I recently joined Tupperware.  Yep, that’s right, it’s 1946 at the Stuehlmeyer house.  I have always loved loved loved Tupperware.  (Ask my mom, I threaten to take her and my Granny B’s Tupperware quite regularly.)  I mean, c’mon it lasts forever!  I’m talking the real deal here, actual Tupperware, not that fake stuff like Rubbermaid and Ziplock and stuff.  Well, I recently watched Plastic Planet and I had a serious moral dilemma with my love of Tupperware.  In fact, the irony is that the morning after watching Plastic Planet on Netflix I received a big box of Tupperware on my front porch.  Ugh.

I finally decided that I’m not going to quit using plastic wrap, or reusable plastic bottles, or my tv, or my clothes, or the 8 million other plastic components in our lives, and I’m certainly not going to be sending glass containers with my kindergartner for lunch (nor do I want to use 8 million little ziplock baggies).  I do believe in reusing plastic containers, reducing the number of plastic bags that I use, using safe plastic in the kitchen, and keeping my girls safe when they help me prep and cook.  Well, to make a long story short, I believe in Tupperware being one of the safest plastics, I believe it does help me reduce my overall carbon footprint, and since there is no way to completely eliminate plastic from our lives, why start with Tupperware?

Also, I might have shattered a mason jar on my kitchen floor on Tuesday morning and had to spend a ridiculous amount of time cleaning it up (since it magically spread across 3 rooms).  Then I had to re-clean it up, yep that’s right, re-clean it up.  My dogs decided to knock my trash can over later that day in hopes of getting some hot dog leftovers and they spread that dang shattered glass all over the kitchen floor again.  I realized twice in one day that had it been Tupperware I could have just picked it up and been done in like half a second.  Stupid shattered glass.  (That’s a cleaned up version of actually what went through my head.)

Judge me if you want, but I like my Tupperware and I’m keeping it.

All that to say…right now Tupperware has this super cool “The Place for Seals” on sale.  It’s only $11!  But, only til Friday (4/12/2013).

It organizes all your seals (that’s Tupperware speak for lids) in one place.  It makes me so happy I can’t even tell you.  (So, even if you have Pyrex or Glasslock or Ziplock or Rubbermaid, it will still organize your lids!)  Seriously, isn’t that the thing you hate most about food storage containers…the nightmare of the overflowing, lost, and mess of lids?

Can’t believe I’m doing a whole post on “The Place for Seals”.  Yikes.  Don’t.Shoot.Me.  But it’s only on sale til Friday so I couldn’t resist and have you be mad that I knew about this and didn’t tell you.

And if you owned one of these you’d understand.

If you’re smart, and you are, you’ll send me a message (sarahfae@gmail.com) and order one.

Fine print: I need your order by noon on Friday (4/12/2013).  It’s $12.94 including tax & shipping (for the locals only – Salem, Centralia, Mt. Vernon, Edwardsville, Glen Carbon, Maryville, Troy, etc., because I’ll be delivering it to you once I get them in).

And because I love you guys, I’m giving one away!  For every “The Place for Seals” that you order I will put your name in a drawing and one lucky orderer will win one on me!

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What is your favorite way to reduce, reuse, and recylce?

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A Jam Plan

I have a new plan.  A jam plan.  Name that TV show.

Moving on.

I have a new plan.  It has nothing to do with jam, but that episode just keeps rolling through my head.

It’s a cleaning plan.  It’s not new.  I’m sure lots of people have done it.  I’m going to implement it.  I will warn you that this has not been tested or approved.

I have a small house.  Basically just 5 rooms on the main floor.  5 rooms that I actually have to clean on a regular basis.  2 in the basement that I rarely have to clean.  I have decided that each Monday I’m going to take one hour to clean one room (or technically, one type of room).  However, right now my whole house needs cleaned.  So I’m doing a test run to start it out and this week I’m cleaning one room (type of room) every day.  But, normally, I’ll only have to deep clean for one hour a week.  I’ll do it on Monday afternoon and get it out of the way.  And every month my whole house will get cleaned.

I really dread cleaning for an entire day to do my whole house.  One hour, once a week seems much more manageable and I’m totally ok with each room only getting cleaned once a month.  If you think my house should be cleaned more frequently then I will let you know where you can send your donation for my cleaning lady fund.  Anyways, I’m going to pick up, sort out, dust, vacuum, and mop for one hour.  I will just spot clean in between.

Here’s the plan.  No jam.

Week 1 – Living room

Week 2 – Bathroom

Week 3 – Kitchen

Week 4 – Bedrooms

Week 5 – Bathroom – because it probably needs an extra cleaning

There ya go folks.  If you want to come when my living room is the cleanest then I recommend you scheduling your visit on Tuesday of the first week of the month.  Otherwise, you’re coming at your own risk.

As momma (and my aunt) always said, “If you’re coming to see me, come anytime.  If you’re coming to see my house, call and make an appointment.”  She actually said that.  A lot.  It’s one of our family’s favorite quotes.  And we lived by it.  Folks were always welcome, but we lived in our house and not on a magazine cover.  And you know what, we had a lot of people in and out because my mom was hospitable and people knew they were welcome.

I think Jesus would want it that way.  You may not be able to eat off my floors for most days out of the month, but you will be welcome to come and eat at my table.  You might have to watch me clear it off and wipe it down, but then you’ll know it’s clean.

And the story continues…

I seriously cried a lot.  I fought a lot.  And ultimately I obeyed.  And here’s how that conversation went down.

Well, husband, here’s the deal.

You want another baby.  Fine.  We’ll try for 6 months to a year and see what happens.  On three conditions.  1 – Three carseats won’t fit in the Jetta and I’m going to need a new car.  I want a Mazda5.  2 – I want to move home.  I’m going to need help with that many kids.  I sure can’t do it by myself.  3 – I need a new maternity wardrobe.  I’m going to need some money.

His response was pretty much a look of unbelief and excitement at the same time.  And with his usual reasonableness he told me it would be cheaper to just hire a baby-sitter than to move home.  The other 2 were understandable.

We’ll see, I told him.

I also might have warned him that this was going to be the hardest thing that I had ever done, that I was going to need his help, and there was a good chance that we would all be miserable.  But, yes, I was willing to try.  And, shockingly, there was part of me that actually wanted another baby.

We decided that we should probably pray about something like this and make sure this was how God was directing us before I went off all my meds.  You see, I was diagnosed with restless syndrome in college and have a sleep specialist that I see in St. Louis.  The bum thing is that he won’t let me taken any sleep meds if I’m pregnant or trying to get pregnant or nursing.  Dang doctor.  I also love my birth control.  I get a little bit crazy without it.

Chad did finally admit that he didn’t think I’d ever actually agree to this.  And he admitted that it was a little scary now that it was actually an option.  We were getting older afterall.  I completed agreed.  We were off our rockers.  Although if this worked like we thought it would we actually would be in a rocker quite a bit more.

Shameless Plug

So here it is.  A shameless plug.

Trailhead Church is having a women’s breakfast this Saturday (Feb 23).  It starts at 9:00 am.  Free breakfast, home cooked, healthy, fruit, there will be options.  Budgeting is the topic, presented by yours truly.

For those of you that don’t know me, I love budgets.  Yep, I’m a total loser and I’m not ashamed.

Women only.  No kiddos.  No men.

You should come.  Really.  It’ll be a blast.  I promise it won’t be too terribly awkward even if it is a roomful of women.  (Sometimes women get awkward, but that’s another whole post.)

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Truth or Dare:  Do you budget?

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Husbands, You’re Welcome.

Wives, you might just thank me too.

Warning: If you’re related to me, not married, or for whatever other reason you’re not supposed to be thinking about sex you might want to skip this post.  Proceed at your own risk.  Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

Really, I warned you.

Moving on.  In a recent post I talked about making a new rule that Valentine’s gifts to your husband (or wife for the guys out there) relate to the bedroom.  I’m going to expand on that a little.  There are lots of things at any price range and I want to give you a few good ideas.  Some field tested and some not.

Lingerie.  This is a given, right?  But it can be a little pricey, especially if you’re a brand loyal girl like I am.  Trust me on this one.  Victoria’s Secret makes a lot of money for good reason.  If you’ve never bought from them and have the cash…splurge on buying something from VS.  It’ll be worth it.  It will fit well and hold up, pun intended, and it’s made to last a long time.

Silk boxers for him.

Your favorite chocolates.

Astroglide.  If you only take one thing away from this post, please let it be this one.  Throw that nasty KY crap away and go buy Astroglide.  This has been field tested by many army men.  They have a lot of sex, folks and they know what they’re talking about on this one.  Trust me, this comes highly recommended.  If you’re too embarrassed to buy it from the store, Amazon has it.  If not, get yourself on over to “the Wal-mart”.  Less than $7 I think.  There’s even a natural version now.  You have no excuse not to get this before Valentine’s Day.  Go.To.The.Store.Now.

Mentos mints.

Fine wine.  A little dust…  Gets sweeter with time.  Name that song.  Anybody??

Whipped cream.

Good stash of gum, mints, breath strips, and mouthwash.

New condoms if you go that route.  New towels if you don’t.

Satin sheets.

Young children at home…sound machine.  We have this one and this one.

A new candle.  Or ten.

If you don’t like my list you’re on your own.  And maybe you should talk to someone.  Seriously, those are some good ideas.  If you can’t even find one, email me, talk to a friend, you may have something going on.  Process through it so that Valentine’s Day won’t be so awkward.  I heard once that Christians ought to be having the best and most sex out of everybody.  Lets enjoy God’s gift and piss Satan off in the process.  He’s declared war on marriage and I say it’s high time we fight back, by getting naked.

Disclaimer: No store or company paid me to write these statements and opinions.  But I wish they had.  Then I’d have more money than I do now.

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I’m almost afraid to ask, but here goes, what would you add to this list?

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Surgery: Me vs Him

Ever since Leah-bear got here I’ve been terrified at the thought of getting pregnant again.  I was absolutely against it.  I get really bad post-partum depression on top of the exhaustion of having a toddler and a newborn.

Also, you should know that I have always wanted to adopt internationally.  So, I wasn’t opposed to raising more children, I just didn’t feel the need to birth any more.

You should also know that Chad really wanted another baby (from my womb) and would really like to raise a little boy.  Little boys scare me, but that’s another post for another day.

Quite seriously I asked my doctor how many forms of birth control I could use at one time.  ha  I kept “encouraging” Chad to get “the surgery” done.  I told him when I was pregnant that if he wouldn’t let me get my tubes tied, then he had to have “the surgery” because I already had 2 surgeries.  I might have also told him that I was all for it, if he could carry it and birth it.

From time to time we would have the conversation/debate and it was usually quite heated.  I wanted him to have “the surgery” so I could go off birth control and be “normal”.  He wasn’t ready.

It wasn’t that we fought talked about it a lot, but it was just this underlying unresolved thing.  For 2.5 years.  I was terrified and ready to be off the pill and he wasn’t ready.  Ugh.

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What is your biggest unresolved issue?

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Soap and Vaccines

I guess there is always kool-aid to to be drunk (drank?  not an English major here sorry).  The question is which side will you get the kool-aid from?

I am at the beginning of my hippie journey.  I’m asking for your grace and good questions as I seek earnestly to make wise choices for myself and my family.  You may think I’m weird, but as my momma always said, “Everybody’s weird except me and thee and sometimes I wonder about thee.”

Bear with me, here is part of my journey.  I have always had dry skin, basically since I came out of the womb.  I can remember as a little girl itching and scratching til I bled.  My mom used Tide at the time and we finally realized I was allergic.  I haven’t used Tide since then, but have still struggled with dry skin.  I’ve been to the dermatologist since I was in high school for acne and dry skin.  I was diagnosed with Xerosis (dry skin).  I use chap-stick and lotion like a fiend.  I’ve seen several different dermatologists and tried more commercial soaps and lotions and chap-sticks than I can tell you.  I still itched and scratched and basically just kept trying whatever new lotion they suggested.

This past summer my friend was making some soap and I decided to try a bar.  I figured it couldn’t be any worse and at least in the summer I wasn’t quite as dry.  You can imagine my shock when it actually worked.  I was better.  I even managed to stop using lotion on the days that I didn’t shave.  (Shaving still does a number on my skin so I started making lotion to use on those days.)  My husband’s back acne is gone when he uses homemade soaps.

I’ve done some reading and from what I can tell the commercially made soaps have the glycerin removed (to sell separately for more money), but removing the glycerin takes away its skin moisturizing and softening properties.  They use additives and fragrances which also irritate  sensitive skin.  I’m not sure as to the oils and fats they use, I’m going to assume that they are not the high quality skin nourishing kinds because of cost and my own experience.  Whether all that is true or not, I can’t say for sure, but what I do know is that homemade soap has literally done wonders for my skin (and my husbands).

So, I can’t for the life of me figure out why my dermatologist never suggested anything other than the commercially made store bought soaps.  If they are experts in their field and in the corresponding skin related products then why do suggest products that have glycerin removed and other harsh additives included.  It just seems like they maybe don’t know quite as much as we expect them to know.  If they couldn’t help my skin not itch, which was supposed to be their specialty, then what other things do we expect from our doctors that they are not experts in and are not capable of.  I’m pretty sure that they get lotion samples and other medicine samples from pharmaceutical companies wishing to peddle their own products for their own bottom line.  Some of the lotion samples I used simply were horrible, but I continued to see the same samples every time I went.

I guess what I’m saying is that in the end it was my own research and trial and error that gave me the best results.  If I can’t trust my dermatologist to be willing to research and include more than commercially made, mass produced, pharmaceutical pushed products why should other doctors be any different?  Why should I not ask the hard questions about bigger topics, like vaccines?

What if what we’ve been told isn’t correct regarding vaccines?  What if there’s more out there than we know regarding the long-term negative affects of these vaccines?  What makes these doctors and pharmaceutical companies and agencies more trust worthy than my dermatologist?  What if they don’t know best for everyone?  What if?

That’s all I’m asking, what if?  What if we don’t have all the information?  I still have a ton of questions and not a lot of answers.  I know that some vaccines are certainly helpful.  But are all of them necessary?  Do they really need to be given to infants?  I wish there was an easy clear-cut answer.

I also wish that there was no cancer and no other diseases but there are.  We can’t get rid of everything by a shot.  We can’t keep eating the crap that companies want to sell us to make them more money.

I can’t keep using commercially made soap that’s not good for me.  No more itching.  Not for me anyways.  They can keep the kool-aid thank you very much.

Maybe people like me wouldn’t be so mistrusting of vaccines, doctors, companies, agencies, and government if we hadn’t seen more often than not them lying to manipulate people and make more money.  So, whether it’s soap or vaccines, the real problem is that I’ve been manipulated and lied to and now the consequences are that I don’t trust them.

And I certainly don’t want their kool-aid.

Routine Makes Me Happy

Type A.  Oldest child.  ESTJ.  I like routine.  I like order.  I’m just wired that way.

You don’t like routine?  I don’t know what to tell you.  Well, yes I do…you stress me out.

My little banana is now in preschool, everyday.  I have to drop her off and pick her up, on time.  Now, as much as I like order, I hate to get out of bed.  So, I need all the help I can get to get us all up and out the door on time.  I mean, I can’t be late.  She can’t possibly be late to preschool.  It will ruin her record and she’ll never get into the right college and her hopes and dreams will all be ruined.  Ha  I don’t actually believe that for a second, but I do believe that it’s important to have her there on time, even if I go in my workout clothes with my teeth not brushed and smelling like a sweaty mess.  But, we’re on time, by golly.

This chore chart has drastically improved our mornings.  It has helped establish our routine.

We lay clothes out the night before so the girls are responsible for getting themselves dressed, making their bed, getting their own bowl and spoon out, and last, I help them brush teeth.  We save picking up toys for our nighttime routine.  We only do the chart during the week.  I have a selection of prizes/rewards that they can choose from on Friday afternoon.  I tell them they need 20 or whatever stickers (nobody’s perfect) and then they count them up and get super excited to choose their prize.

That helps them tremendously in the mornings and things run much more smoothly than they once ran.

My routine includes exercise.  On Monday, Wednesday, and Friday I do a lovely little at-home workout.

(Oh, and that is not me.  I thought you might be confused.  Don’t worry, my abs will never look like that.  2 c-sections guarantee they won’t.)  Photo Credit: Women’s Health

I modify some of the moves, but I can tell a difference already and have only been doing it 3 – 4 week.  I dare you to try it.  10 minutes and a timer.  DO IT!

On Tuesday and Thursday I get up and run 1.5 – 2 miles before anyone else is up.

So there you go.  Morning routine.  It’s a really good thing.

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What is your favorite morning routine?

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