Sunday, March 08, 2009

Life Simplified

This weekend I've been focusing mostly on homekeeping activities that, in the end, make the rest of my week run smoothly. Things such as menu planning, grocery shopping, laundry, mending, ironing and such.

I know that these things may sound boring to some, but for me, they are lifesavers. It's funny because each of these small tasks on their own are helpful, but when combined, they become a powerhouse that allow me greatly simplify my work-a-day life.

About three years ago or so, I discovered the secret of planning our menu for a two-week period. While initially something of a challenge, once it became a habit, I could see how invaluable this one simple homekeeping tool is in the long run. There are times when things come up and we don't follow the menu to a T, but having it there to follow most of the time saves so much time in the kitchen - and money in the grocery store - that I can't imagine not creating my two-week menu plan. The menus I commit to writing are dinner meals; breakfast and lunch are easy enough and don't require a menu. Breakfasts typically consist of either cold cereal, which we both love, or oatmeal cooked on the weekends and doled out to storage bags in individual servings, or leftovers from larger 'weekend breakfasts'. For instance, this morning I made French toast and there were lots of leftovers. I took the leftovers and sliced them into French toast sticks, divided them up and put them in baggies. In the morning, we need only pour a small amount of syrup into a plastic container and grab a bag of French toast sticks for breakfast on the go. Since I was on a roll, I went ahead and made up a pan of oatmeal and divided the portions into baggies. We also put the 'goodies' (brown sugar, cinnamon, pecans) in a snack sized bag so those are ready to go as well. In the morning, whether we're eating at home or at work, we need only grab one of each bag and breakfast is ready to go. Lunches consist of either sandwiches and fruit, leftovers from the night before, or a Lean Cuisine meal (purchased on sale of course!) paired with a green salad from the cafeteria (our cafeteria manager, bless her, always allows me to help myself - for free!).

Aren't these grocery shopping baskets adorable!? My friend Lee gave me one for Christmas. The pattern is a bit different from this one, but it's adorable, too, and I just love it! It's handy for so many things - not just grocery shopping. It's particularly useful when we venture out to the weekly Farmer's Market.

Grocery shopping is one of those tasks I thoroughly enjoy. I'm not nearly as fond of putting everything away once I get it home, but there you have it - the yin and yang of the grocery shopping experience. I'll admit, it does take me a bit to get prepared for grocery shopping; what with reviewing our menu, going through the store flyers, and pulling coupons -- who wouldn't spend a bit of time on this project? But it's well worth it. On an average grocery store outing, I've gotten everything on my list/menu (from time to time I may miss something, but that's more the exception and not the rule), and with use of the grocery store loyalty card and a great selection of coupons, I've saved anywhere from 47 - 65% on my total bill. That's the part I love the most - watching the $$ fly off the total! I admit it, I'm a coupon junkie.

Like most people, mending is not one of those things I do very often. I guess that's why I find it particularly satisfying when I actually do it! Having recently lost 20 pounds, there were a few things in my closet that required a bit of taking in. I'm the first one to tell you that I'm no professional when it comes to sewing matters, but I can certainly hold my own with small hand sewing projects. Such was the case this weekend. I managed to successfully alter a few blouses to my new (smaller - yay!) size, sufficiently enough so that they may be added to my daily wardrobe. I'm very pleased about this since both of these blouses were new as of the fall - and I loved the color and pattern of both of them!

Do you hate ironing? I used to, too. In fact, I pretty much avoided it at all costs. Until ... our old iron broke and we had to buy a new one. This one little episode taught me a very valuable lesson: you may need to spend a bit more on the proper equipment, but having the right tool for the job makes the job both faster and more enjoyable. Okay, so ironing still is not at the top of my 'Fun Things to Do' list, but it certainly isn't at the bottom of the 'Dirty Jobs' list either. In fact, I dare say that on a cold, rainy Sunday afternoon, I actually now find ironing quite an enjoyable task. While today isn't a rainy day - in fact, it's beautiful outside! - I know that spending 30 minutes ironing today will save me far more than that during a busy weekday morning when I haven't time to iron.

So there you have it - more or less a full weekend of homekeeping. Honestly, I'm such a home body that I love weekends like this! But, shhhhh! Let's keep that our little secret!

1 comment:

Joyce said...

I just wanted you to know that it's Monday and I'm having lunch at my desk at work really enjoying your blog! You really do have a way with words and I just love the peak into your life! I would love to start a blog, and I even "signed up", but I don't see where to find the fun back grounds that you use. Maybe I need a "blog class". I'll keep trying to figure it out and maybe one of these days it will be up and running. Give Kevin my love, and thanks for the lunchtime entertainment.