Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Menu planning Monday - Disaster redeemed!

What was going to be my First official Menu Planning Monday post today turned into disaster relief and recovery day instead. Somebody, not to be named publicly, unplugged the freezer (for what reason, I never determined) probably a week ago. How I discovered it in time to save the many items of frozen meat and tons of berries still, was amazing. I pulled out a bag of blueberries and sat them on the counter and then decided to get another bag. Digging deeper this time I discovered that the top layer in my chest freezer was completely thawed, although still very cold. Poking my finger in just about everything else I could I discovered that nearly everything was thawed to a point of being soft, but still cold!

I let out a yelp! Oh no, how can this be? All the meat that I planned for the next month was completely thawed and had to be pulled out and cooked ahead of time and re frozen. Well, I guess that takes care of my menu planning after all. We will have chicken soup, meat loaf, hamburger paddies, and spaghetti and meat balls for the next several weeks. The berries will now be frozen for the third time as this is now the second time this mysterious plug has popped out of the receptacle. (The first time it was my fault. You see our vacuum is the problem in that it blows the circuit about 5 -6 times per vacuuming session. We sometimes have removed the fridge or freezer plug in order to stop the shorting out and all too easily forget to plug it back in again. )
Whether this was the problem this time or not, I do not know, but some how we have got the get this freezer thawing habit under control! Instead of the disastrous day we could have had it turned out to be a blessing in disguise. Both boys jumped into the kitchen and we all cooked and fried and packaged up our cooked meals for the next few weeks.

Hmm, that was nice. I wonder how I can get this to occur again WITHOUT the freezer thaw catastrophe. I like have company in the kitchen and my boys learned a few cooking tips as well!

Next week - another try at a Menu Planning Monday post, Lord willing!!

Last and final assessment!

Today is the last day of my three month goal assessment. The first day was a wonderful encouragement as much has been accomplished. This last section is down at the bottom for a reason- it is not as high a priority so as much of my time was spent in the first category and not much with the last.

Business-I want to open up a few more areas of product sourcing for our online book sales,
I have purchased some materials from a few different sources and so far have done reasonably well with them. I would prefer to say that they all were whopping success stories but I realize I did not get them from a far back enough source so that a week or two after being listed the market was flooded and prices plummeted from $30 - 50.00 down to $5 - 7 dramatically. Basically we broke even and that is bottom line acceptable. Some books are still in inventory and are maintaining value but are longer selling items and so I am still assessing the success of those items.

...and perhaps adding a website to market them as well (not sure) Not in the plans yet and not likely soon either.

Personal Growth-I plan on learning to type. (gasp she can't type?) Nope, I'm the fastest look at your keyboard typist around but it isn't as good as seeing at all your mistakes happening as you make them, so I plan to attack this weak area.
Nothing formal happening here, just practicing doing it right which takes longer and I soon give up and go back to my usual, faster but much more inefficient method. In the summer, I plan on taking more time to improve in this area.

I plan on organizing the files on my computer so I can find things when I need them most. I have started and have not gotten back to this area of dire need. This will be a priority in the next quarter.

Most of all I want to focus on relationships this year; relationships with my two sons, who are still in our home. Time is short and I want to instill a deeper relationship and foster deeper trust. For my husband I want to enter into prayer on his behalf for his job and a few other important issues and to not let discouragements get me down.
I have been seeing success in this area and will continue to be working hard, mostly in prayer. My husbands job continues to be a severe drain emotionally and physically. We really need an answer to prayer on his behalf becuase leaving his job at this point would mean that we would have to go back to Canada almost immediately forfeiting our green card applications. That would be such a disapointment after waiting almost 9 years already and it seems like we have never been closer.

Tomorrow I will be posting my menu plans. Yippee, I am getting better and recovering from a few years in burn out. Recovery can take a long time but it is worth it once you refocus and start seeing some improvement again.

Have a great day.

Goal assessment- continuation

I am continuing on my assessment of my New Years goals to see where I am and if I need to refocus and make some improvements. Yesterday's assessment was real fun because I was surprised to be so far ahead of my goals and that is always encouraging. However today we may be seeing some weak links and that is OK too as long as a reassessment and refocus is done. I am never afraid on aiming high. It is a good motivator and helps me to focus on the next goal as soon as the first is completed. Here we go.

Spiritual growth- I will be including in my reading journal for spiritual growth a book by Hannah Whitehall, The secrets to a Happy Christian. I found this book a little hard to get into, even though it came highly recommended. Instead, I found a book that I have read and practice with my sons called, How to Study the Bible for Yourself It contains some study forms but mostly I liked the different suggested reading schedule. I really don't like the usual, Read the Bible in a Year plan, even though I have done it several times. For me it tends to put Bible reading and study on a "get it done and shut the book" level. Instead I prefer reading through the Bible at whatever pace it ends up happening to be, which allows time for rabbit trails in topical and word studies. "How to study" gives a different reading schedule that will typically take one through the bible in three years. Again, time is not the important factor to me as much as it being a daily habit. One thing that I have started implementing is the habit if reading (quiet time) before you eat breakfast. For my boys, this habit came with a few protests but it is now starting to be a good habit. So, I feel this is a mission accomplished.

I have a prayer goals of certain issues that I need direction on, I will plow on till I receive his will on these issues. I want to reimplemented a daily quiet time focusing in the Lord and his direction in my life.
Here again I feel like for the most part we are on track but since I have been blogging in the morning now instead of in the evening, trying to get to bed on time, I am having to fit three important daily habits into two slots. ( daily quiet time, exercise and blogging which I consider ministry and business.) I haven't been able to balance this out well yet, so I will consider this still on trial. New goals are to work on this and find a better solution so my daily quiet time is protected and not made as a choice between three good things in a two slot spot!

I still want to do a comparative study on David,-an example of the spirit controlled life and the life of Saul, that of the flesh. I am still looking for a good book to lead us in that direction. Anyone know of a good study that compares David and Saul or the flesh and the spirit??

Home Education- I plan on reading 1 book per week of history or classics, etc.
My intention was to read 1 book on my own (silently as opposed to read aloud) per week but so far this has not occurred. Perhaps I need to refocus on something a little more realistic. I hate to say it but perhaps 1 per month is more doable! Sigh.

Parenting- To be more proactive with my children's character training. I have such precious time left and so much more I feel I need to cover and work in them. I will be rereading, Keeping Their Hearts by the Maxwells
I haven't started rereading keeping their hearts but still intend to. It really is a good book. As to character, training this is always a long term plan, especially at my sons age, (teen years) Perhaps I need more prayer for specific direction and then courage and direction to tackle those specifics.

Physical- I do regularly exercise but in the last few months,,,.... OK almost a year good habits have gone the way of the fire engine approach. Do what is urgent first. So again be proactive in my intent. And maybe tighten up a little and loose 5 lbs! (That would be great) I will be continuing with Jane Fonda's complete work outs and walking daily with my sons, I hope.
SO far there has been an improvement but still not consistent as the weather is still not pleasant enough to go out every day, which means I exercise alone in the morning with Jane Fonda. She and I are good friends- mostly. Five pounds are not accomplished either but I think three of four is for sure. (I do not consider the actual weight a sign of failure or success In weight loss since muscle is built though exercise and weighs more than fat. I prefer to measure my clothing size and lower scales as a better measurement of my success. In that light, there has been moderate success, not great- not bad.

So there you have it the good the bad and the undisciplined. Today, I can see some important areas to improve on and the need to set some more concrete and doable goals for the next three months. Obviously, I enjoy homemaking so much that these goals are way ahead and the rest lagging a little. That's OK. That is what these assessments are for. I need to think a little and then may post a few improvements in those areas.

A few more areas to tackle tomorrow and we are done. Have a great day!

Goal Setting-3 month update

For some of you that have followed the progress of my blog these last few months, you will remember that on January I was determined to get organized and focus. A three month milestone has passed and I think it is always good thing to go back and check goals and see how things are coming along. I was surprised to see that I have already accomplished quite few of the backlog annoyances that had been haunting me for so long.

So far I can check off in the homemaking area.

I plan on continuing to serve healthy meals to my family. That takes planning. Books to use are Nourishing Traditions: The Cookbook that Challenges Politically Correct Nutrition and the Diet Dictocratsand Cooking Free.

I scrapped Cooking Free for now in favor of a few more beginning raw books and have added The Raw 50: 10 Amazing Breakfasts, Lunches, Dinners, Snacks, and Drinks for Your Raw Food Lifestyle and Eating in the Raw: A Beginner's Guide to Getting Slimmer, Feeling Healthier, and Looking Younger the Raw-Food Wayalong with a few others.

I have purchased The Raw Gourmet 3-DVD Setand plan on viewing them soon (and selling them again on Amazon-they were a little pricey)

I will try again at meal planning. What seemed so overwhelming to me is now starting to come into focus. Burn out from a few years ago nearly left me paralyzed with dread everytime I had to face the kitchen. I had so many issues to deal with that I think I just crashed and burned.

The first was my daughters minor health crisis when she was 16, and a radical change in her diet, then shortly after my own sensitives discovered that needed healing. Then my husband changed his diet to more of a low carb menu and then my youngest decided he did not like a whole lot of foods. There was just about nothing at all that I could make for all of us and for about 6 months made two and sometimes three separate meals to accommodate everyone's requirements.

I know, I know, a sure way to crash and burn and I did.

Now I’ feel like I am coming out of the fog and into the sunshine again. I am even starting to make up my weekly menu plans I advance and posting them on Organizing junkie. From a lady who whipped up a months menu plans in a half hour for years to a 5:00 pm dreaded dinner hour hangover and washout, I see the start of a return. Being proactive really helps and I’m getting there again. Yeah.

I plan on Reading the following books.Home-Makingby J R Miller
Check. It is an excellent Book! Highly recommended!

and re reading Don Aslat's books on housekeeping. Not done yet but I have made major accomplishments in the order of the home area. To start the year out I went through almost every closet, drawer and room organizing and de cluttering. Now weekly I am still collecting not needed items and have been donating them to Goodwill or Value Village. They see me coming!

I am a messy, and my husband is a neatie. There are times when I feel like the two shall never meet. Furthermore, I have raised 4 messies!

Disclaimer, artsy people can tend to be messies, and I would not want to squash any of my children's creativity. It just needs to be tempered a little with some discipline and respect for those that are neaties in the family-Dad!

I am requiring that our house is completely clean and chores done when we start our school day and cleaned up again at 5:00 pm. So far so good with a minor infraction now and then!

My goal is 1/3 - 1/2 raw, mostly vegetables, sprouts and salads, and an increase of cultured foods, such as daily- Raw yogurt, kefir, sour cream and cream cheese.
So far, I am centering on about 60% + raw with my children trailing behind. My husband really cannot consider any changes right now so I work out one meal that is a compromise for all of us and that is my cooked meal of the day-dinner. Mostly breakfast and lunch for the boys and I are completely raw. I love it and feel great!

I have purchased my Excalibur dehydrator with some eBay money I made last December, and am running it quite steady. I made flax crax (cracker like bread) yesterday- I have found my lack of bread problem solved!

You can do so much still with the round cheaper dehydrators but I thought I'd move up a step and see if I like it. I love it!

I also need to find a source of clean raw milk that is NOT $10.00 a gallon (which is what it is in our local Health Food store)
See what I discovered at my local HFS- ½ price milk the day before expiry! (for raw milk, this is no problem- it will only sour anyway, which is the start of sour cream, cream cheese and whey. Either way fresh or ready to sour in a few days, I'll take it for 1/2 price!

I also plan on including some cultured vegetables.
See my post-the sauerkraut is good but the pineapple chutney needs some taste acquisition.

I want to use my microwave less.
Accomplished! I use it almost never. It is built in so I cannot dispose of it completely!

I plan more and cut down on our grocery budget … Still in the works-

I'll be doing more sprouting....
My favorite sprout is now buckwheat for buckwheat granola. I continue to sprout clover, sunflower seeds, almonds (germinating only so far) and just about any seed in sight. I have returned to my first love in the remembrance of my first stumbling success at alfalfa sprouts- some 25 years ago!

and making some delicious salad dressings. Doing well. - still need some regular written down versions of the my favorites dressings.

I also plan on getting my recipes organized- in one spot and findable when needed. Mission accomplished.

I plan on improving on getting dinner on the table at a more reasonable hour, 6:30pm if possible. Almost consistently accomplished! We now eat no matter what time my husband gets home because it is usually quite inconsistent.

I will be using Don Aslat's clutter free living. Haven’t read again yet. Not sure I have the time. I feel like I have made such huge strides forward that I may not make this a priority next quarter.
Well that ‘s enough for now. It looks like I am going to have to set some new goals in the homemaking arena. I will post in a day or two the headway that I have made in the spiritual area, parenting, physical, and business and personal growth arenas. Until tomorrow- happy homemaking. I think I'm on a roll!