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Archive for November, 2011

I took a few hours for myself on Sunday. A milestone. A much needed chance to sit, think and regroup. I have so little time alone that its beginning to show in my interactions at home. Firstly, I am not as expressive of joy as I would like, which really bothers me because there is so much joy in my life. I am forgetful, tired even when I get 8 hours sleep, dreaming a lot when I sleep, indecisive and withdrawing from the world. Interestingly it is this latter that is usually what I need most.

I am very social by nature but once I find myself housebound with children, and at the boys’ ages naps dictate a lot of indoor time, it snowballs into not wanting to leave the house. Then I start feeling trapped by the situation and myself.

So on Sunday I left. For 4 blissful hours.

I ate a very tasty egg sausage muffin for lunch, followed by an americano and raspberry bar. Decadent.

What did I do?

I updated Quicken and played with my new toy. See it in the photo on the left of my computer. Isn’t it compact? Isn’t it neat? Isn’t it lovely? And that’s just it in its travel case 🙂 I’ll see about getting some photos of it in action. I scanned in recipes I want to try out and scrapbooking layout ideas that I like. I also scanned in a bunch of business cards I’ve been hanging onto. I had a nice little pile of paper to recycle when I got home. Project Paperless continues 🙂

What did I get out of my 4 hour window alone?

The confirmation that I need to do this more often. I felt like I was puttering about with little tasks that never quite make it to the top of my daily priorities list. Yet when I do I feel complete in my work. Parenting is my work. I love my work. As in any job when critical task keep sucking up attention the important, though less critical, tasks get neglected. Then work seems a lot more like a chore with too much to do.

The reminder of how much more productive I am when I can focus some uninterrupted time on a few tasks. Not a very new or original insight. But when I have so many things to do when caring for little ones I can forget that carving out time away from the family is a better way of getting some things done. More efficient, less frustrating. MUST. REMEMBER. THIS.

The feeling of being an individual again instead of a collective. It can sometimes feel like I am a part of the Borg when caring for so many people and their needs. 4 hours with personal space was like taking a breath on a mountain peak. Pure oxygen.

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Going, Going…

All our Christmas presents (and some birthday presents) for cousins are packed up and ready to go to the post office. I am feeling really good about this because since having kids I have gotten worse and worse at sending gifts in a timely fashion. I’ve even forgotten to send some on occassion-ouch! That makes me feel bad. I am forgiving myself and starting over. Hopefully, I can keep this up.

The reason I was unable to report them Gone is that Ethan and Sean are unwell right now. Hence Ethan is still in his pajamas in the above photo.

Sean was feeling miserable yesterday morning and wound up needing an early nap.

Then Ethan needed to go for his nap and was feeling miserable in the afternoon. I couldn’t even get dinner made so:

When the girls came home I took all the kids to Burger King because:

I needed to get Ashley to dress rehearsal for her piano recital this weekend.

Then quickly home for a healthy snack before putting the boys to bed and sending the girls off to their Go lesson with Dad.

Therefore, I was housebound and exhausted and didn’t get to the post office yesterday. Sigh!

Today is a new day 🙂

By the way, taking the kids to Burger King yesterday was absolutely yuck for me. Have they changed how they are making their chicken and fries? I rarely do this and I hate doing it. The girls love it. It was expedient but it’s more an illusion of satisfying hunger. I could have just given them peanut butter toast and a banana and they would probably have had more nutrition. They were expecting homemade fries and chicken nuggets for dinner and I didn’t want to disappoint them completely when I couldn’t get dinner made this afternoon.

Notes to self:

1. It is okay to disappoint the children.

2. Must get some VERY easy dinner options lined up for when this happens. Thanks goodness it doesn’t happen very often!

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“Our inventions are wont to be pretty toys, which distract our attention from serious things. They are but improved means to an unimproved end, an end which it was already but too easy to arrive at.”-Henry David Thoreau

I have found an invention that is an improved means to an improved end and, while it keeps me focused on serious things (like household and financial management), it will free up time and space, both physically and mentally, for fun with my family.

These past two years I have been slowly setting up the scaffolding that will allow me to go paperless (or as paperless as possible).

I’ve made sure all the digital statements from our banks, investments and bills are up to date.

I have set up cloud storage at dropbox.

I’ve had an external harddrive for backing up files for many years. One failed on me (hence cloud storage), so I bought a Seagate and have had it for over a year now. I love it. Small and sleek with 500GB of storage. James also has an external harddrive that we use as a second back up for our photos. However, I plan on getting another external hard drive some time in the new year as an extra back up for all of our digital documents.

Image:Profitstars

I have started notifying institutions that I wish to opt out of paper statements and switch to e-statements.

I have started a pile of old paper statements for shredding.

I am also creating a schedule for checking online accounts for downloading the most recent statements.

(It’s almost as if the banks, credit card companies and utilities got together and decided to choose a different date each month for issuing statements and then varying how long before a bill is due. Fortunately we use Autopay for most of our bills. We pay off our credit card bill as soon as the statement is issued and it would be so nice if we could just do this through an auto pay method, but our credit cards don’t allow that option.Do you think the credit card companies might want us to miss a payment due date so they can get the interest???)

And now for the best part-my new toy!

After much research I have purchased a wonderful little scanner, the Scansnap 1100. It is a mighty little scanner. You can click on the link and read reviews over on Amazon. There are some very knowledgable techies out there happy to share their wisdom and they post reviews on Amazon. A great resourse.

It just arrived yesterday and I have been having fun using and discovering my new toy. I have already added a substantial number of documents to the pile for shredding and another pile has been sent to recycling. Project Paperless has begun…

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I certainly did better with food waste compared with last week. I still had some food loss, but it eases the cringe factor a little to be able to send it for composting. I am very grateful for Seattle’s fabulous recycling and yard waste. All my food waste can be put into our yard waste bin for composting. Yes, even the meat! Isn’t that amazing?

I lost a third of a jar of marinara sauce because I found fuzz at the top of the jar when I opened it. I don’t keep marinara sauce in the fridge long enough to grow fuzz, so I don’t know why this one went south. The upside is that I have another jar for storing dry goods in my kitchen. I love these jars 🙂

A very small amount of lasagna was neglected this week. I made a new recipe and it wasn’t our favorite. We did our best, but couldn’t eat any more of it.

The orange slices got a little slimy in the ziploc. This saddened me a great deal. We could have eaten these easily.

We don’t order food very often, but when we do we order from a restaurant called Chef Liao, which is located on Phinney Ridge. It’s an Asian Fusion restaurant and we loved to orderseveral of their dishes. James really likes their Pad Thai. We only add that extra dish from time to time. When we do it seems to push our ability to eat the leftovers to the limit. We just couldn’t eat any more.

The photo is deceptive. It looks like a lot in those two containers. It’s really less than one serving. Oh, and I really love reusing these containers to pack cookies for giving away.

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The End of the Season

Although winter is my favorite time of the year, living in Seattle I have come to appreciate the joy of all the other seasons. Autumn, with its splendid display of color, is almost over. Along with the beauty of nature at this time of year comes the delight of being literally surrounded by the season. Leaves, leaves, leaves, in all shapes, sizes and colors. What a beautiful autumn we’ve had.

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Today I have decided to join Kristen over at The Frugal Girl for her weekly Food Waste Friday spot. I have been following The Frugal Girl since January 2010, when I found her blog during a search for information on making homemade yoghurt. As I had also just started baking my own bread, I was thrilled to discover that she is was a baker too. I have had tons of inspiration from her blog and it has added to my life in a very positive way.

Now I’m hoping that The Frugal Girl can help me subtract something from my life for the positive:

Food Waste!

I have been noticing my food waste since I started reading her blog nearly two years ago. This year I made a real effort to reduce my food waste as much as possible. I have had mostly great success as the year has progressed, with very little food waste each week and even some weeks with nothing wasted. Yay!

However, I humbly confess that last week I fell off the wagon and have decided to go public with my shame 😦 Kristen has shared how public humilitation has helped her drastically reduce her food waste and now I’m going to give it a try.

So here are the photos of my week of shameful food waste:

Circular containers on the left,

Circular container with red lid: frosting that I didn’t use up after making a half birthday cake. I should have just let Caitlin eat it a spoonful per day when she asked if she could do this for her dessert after dinner. That would have been the ultimate win-win 🙂

Middle circular container: raw cut potatoes that I had left over when I peeled to many to for dinner one day. I thought I would make potato bread with them, but I have limited time right now for anything but simple bread making and should have just cooked this instead.

Bottom container: Cream that I originally saved by freezing. I pulled it out to defrost for scones and lost motivation. I wasn’t getting enough sleep that week and now realize I need my sleep to stay motivated. So I learned something from this waste.

Circular bowl: left over orange chicken that I was planning to bring to a pot luck that I was attending on my own. I procrastinated about whether to go until I didn’t leave enought time to actually throw together the meal. In the end I discovered I wasn’t supposed to bring a main course. Duh! James ate most of the meal for lunch the next day and I just let the rest sit.

Below the orange chicken: cooked broccoli and cauliflower. I made too much for a games night/dinner at our house. I would normally make a stir-fry rice or melt some cheese over it to use them up. I just didn’t feel motivated.

The two containers of raw cauliflower were left over from the same evening. Raw cauliflower has to be my favorite vegetable (brussel sprouts run a very close second). I love to dip the little florets into homemade wasabi mayonnaise. I was out of mayonnaise and so didn’t eat these. This saddened me.

Under the cauliflower: Half a ham and cheese sandwich that I planned to grill. I forgot about it because there were too many containers with leftovers on the shelf in the fridge.

White bowl: chili and rice which really saddens me. One of my favorite foods that got lost and forgotten behind the containers until it was late.

Lastly in this photo, a baguette I bought to go with dinner when I really wanted homemade baguette. I didn’t have time to make one. I lost interest in this and didn’t want to it.

I love the salad dressing in this photo. It’s one of the very few that I use. It was recently opened and just did not taste good. I checked the expiration on the lid and it had expired two months ago! Maybe it was out of date when I bought it because I don’t remember it being in my fridge that long.

The homemade yoghurt was a very sad loss. The first time I’ve thrown some out. It had soured because I bought some little yoghurt drinks that Caitlin requested and should have used these up first.

A couple of ham slices that I erred on the side of caution with instead of eating. Japanese curry that I should have used up for lunch. Anyone of the kids would have loved that curry. It is one of their favorite meals and usually they’ll eat seconds or even thirds! No excuse on this one.

And the final travesty is the homemade mincemeat. I made it last November for mince pies at Christmas. I never got around to making them. I am so humbled by this one. I adore mince pies and have been making my own using a jar of mincemeat. My father-in-law taught me how to make the mincemeat and I spent a bit of money on the ingredients. Such a waste of food, time and money. I’ve been trying to figure out why I let this sit and finally realized that I am not a confident pastry maker. I will rectify this in 2012 and will use jarred mincemeat until I build my pastry skills.

Thus ends my catalogue of food waste shame…oh dear…

This is certainly the worst it has been in two years. I hope never to have to show this much again!

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