This Saturday’s Rabbit Hole is Brought to You by Insecurity

I wrote yesterday about how quickly January has gone by and today I am still thinking the same thing. I’m feeling good about my writing; I’ve done a post just about every day of this year. I’ve only missed three days of posting in the month of January and since starting this blog in the middle of December I’ve written 46 times. I’m patting myself on the back :)

The approach I’ve taken to just writing what ever it is that is on my mind has been the only reason I’ve been able to keep up with the writing frequency. Planning posts is hard for me. I really get caught up in the planning part and get stuck.

I’ve been told by a few therapists that I am a perfectionist and that is what holds me back from doing a lot of things. I thought the first one who said it was crazy because I don’t do anything perfectly, but in truth I really do want to be perfect. In the end though that desire is a barricade that stops me from moving on things and it definitely is a source of frustration.

I suppose I always thought being a perfectionist was something good, something reserved for people who do great things, beautifully and effortlessly. Honestly the first time I was told I was a perfectionist I was thrilled that someone could think of me that way. Boy, did I get it wrong. Perfectionism is maddening. The people who do things beautifully and effortlessly are in no way perfectionists. They are probably very focused and organized and have an ability to handle stress on a level I am likely to never understand.

I have found though that when I work on things without trying too hard I actually enjoy the process. I have also noticed that my results are always much better than if I were to plan the task to death. It’s a great feeling to actually get things done especially when I can appreciate the time and work I put into whatever the task was instead of focusing on how well I didn’t do.

I don’t even know where any of these thoughts are coming from this morning. I guess just knowing that I have been able to write almost daily for the past 6 weeks has really impressed me. I will admit that there were 2 posts that I felt stress and pressure over but that is because I committed to writing them and then the perfectionism tried to sneak it’s way in. Those posts by the way were the resolution list and the menu planning steps. And really, who cares about either, other than me?

I really enjoy writing and I need to remind myself that no one really cares what I make for dinner or how I reach my decision of what to make. Seriously. They don’t and it’s not even that important to me. So long as there is food on the table, that’s what counts to my family.

What truly works for me is doing weekly menus and even though I want to do monthly menus, they might not work for me. So why have I put all of this (imaginary) pressure on myself to do something that I might not even be happy with or successful at doing? Well, I don’t know for a fact that I won’t be happy or successful, so I think I should try. I also want to challenge myself at something. Sure, this isn’t anything all that big, but for me it is a challenge.

I’m going to keep going with the monthly menu challenge. In four weeks I can decide what is best for me and realize once again that it really wasn’t a pressing matter at any point to begin with.

I suppose I am feeling a little inadequate lately because I’ve been doing things for so long that don’t feel really important. I don’t have a job and I don’t have any special skills. I don’t have any specialized education or training and I guess that is bothering me a little. I do know how to do a lot of things though, many random things that I could help people with. I think I just want to help people but as I said I don’t have any specific skills.

If you need help caulking stuff, I know how. If you need to change the flapper in your toilet, I can help. Not sure how to make delicious salsa or rib roast, I’m your girl. I can teach someone how to do a perfect manicure or create gorgeous smoky eyes. If you want to know how to pick out the best bed linens, create a pivot table in Excel, or paint your walls like a pro, I can help with those, too. I can do a lot of things well but they are all random and nothing that anyone can’t Google on their own. I don’t have a niche and it bothers me.

Well, this post has gone on about a lot of things and I’m going to stop now before I go further down a rabbit hole I can’t find my way out of. I really don’t know what the point of any of this was or why any of it was on my mind but hey, I wrote about it and got it out. I hope you all have a great day.

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How To Write A Dinner Menu Plan: Weekly or Monthly

Another week is flying by for me, I can’t believe it is Friday already! I’m glad when the weekends come fast and now that it’s the end of January I feel like this year is moving at lightening speed. With February just a couple of days away I realized that if I want to make a full month of menu plans I’d better get started! I know I said I’d get the ball rolling on it last week but procrastination is a good friend of mine.

Since there are 28 days in February and the month starts on a Sunday that makes my planning a little easier, in terms of nothing really, it just seems cool that there are 4 equal weeks. That rarely happens. Like, ever. So this is going to be a good month! I say so.

There are a few steps I take when planning a weekly menu for our house. None of them are hard but they do require a little thought and time. Here are the steps I take if you are going to give it a try but don’t know where to start.

Figure out how many days you need to cook for:

I always like to leave one or two days for leftovers this ensures that we don’t waste food and also gives me a break for a few days. I also usually a leave a day for ordering pizza but since I’ll be going for the whole shibang this month I’ll be replacing ordering pizza out with making pizza at home, which is pretty easy, fun and inexpensive. The last thing I consider is any plans or parties that we have coming up. If we won’t be home for dinner it’s another day I won’t have to cook!

This month I will just be having leftover days excused and I’ll give myself 2 of those days a week. That leaves me with 5 days a week to cook and 4 weeks for the month for a total of 20 recipes I’ll need. Ahh, but four of them have already decided.. Remember I am making pizza. Take those days out and I am down to 16 recipes that I’ll need. I rock at math!!

So to get me started I’ll first break down to how many of what type of meals I to pick recipes for.

Using What Proteins You Have or What to Buy:

Knowing what is on sale at the super market and what can be stocked up on is good for this part of planning. If you are only doing a menu for a week than you probably will only need about 1 pound of protein everyday to feed a family of 5. Keep in mind if you are hoping for leftovers you’ll want some of your recipes to include over 2 pounds of meat.

I have found that it is much cheaper (and easier) to buy bulk packs and then break them down and store them in the freezer. You don’t have to do this all at once either, just switch what you buy every week. Meaning if ground beef is in bulk for 20$ for four pounds, buy that separate it, and try to make only once a week. Then the next week do the same with chicken. Then the following pork, etc. Ideally you’ll be spending $20- $30 a week on protein, building your supply and before you know it you’ll be stocked.

Or you can use a club membership and stock up once ever 6-8 weeks like we do. In our case we buy bulk at Cosco every six-eight weeks and our freezer is almost always stocked with a variety of proteins. I always have more than enough to make at least a weeks worth of recipes and that is so nice. We spend about $200 every 6-8 weeks but that also includes other items like cereal, snacks, paper good, etc. Of course this means that we still need to buy produce and other pantry goods that we need, but it really helps cut food costs for the month. I admit we still need to get better at the other shopping but for now we are off to a great start.

I’ll get more into stocking up your freezer and pantry over a few months of time if anyone is interested. It really deserves it’s own post so if you are interested let me know.

Breaking down your menu plan:

Anyway, back to the menu.. Since I have 4 recipes to plan for each of the weeks this month I like to break it down even further. This can be done by the type of meals you want or by the ingredients you like to use. I like to do it by ingredients first, mainly protein. This month I’ll be doing 1 steak, 1 ground beef, 1 chicken and 1 roast (beef or pork) each week.

From there I like to base my recipes by type: quick and easy or low and slow. These categories free up the amount of time I’m actually working in the kitchen. These types of meals really help when we have afternoon appointments which for us is usually 2-3 times a week. These types of recipes are great for everyone because we are all busy!

The last way I like to break it down is by what everyone likes to eat. I try to keep everyone happy and looking forward to what is for dinner. You sure can’t please everyone all of the time but once a week is always good. I  always, always ask my family what they think of a meal if it’s the first time I’ve made it. I know what everyone’s favorites are and lucky for me they have a lot. At least once a week I’ll cook one of their favorites or try a recipe I think one (or each) of them will really love.

Picking the recipes and deciding what days to make them:

This is always the hardest part for me. I can get lost in my cookbooks for hours and become easily distracted. I have found that the easiest way to tackle this is to start by filling in the tried and true favorites. From there I will consider what ingredients I need for those and try to pick recipes that use the same types of vegetables or perishable ingredients so I don’t waste a bunch of money after only making one recipe. It also makes shopping that much easier.

After I have it narrowed down a bit I think if there are any recipes that I’ve been wanting to try and add those in. I read a lot of recipes in cook books and on-line. If there is something that I know I want to make in the future I’ll bookmark it. On the other side of that if there is something I know I want to make but don’t know how I usually head over to Allrecipes. That site is great because of the reviews!! I always go for the recipes with the highest reviews and then read the reviews! Tried and true I tell you! My go to cook book at home is the Pioneer Woman and luckily she has most of her recipes on her website. She is my absolute favorite cook in the world. Super simple and always delicious!

Make the shopping list:

This part can turn confusing really quick if you let it! I think the best way to tackle this part is to have a piece of paper separate from my menu/recipe page, making my shopping list for the items I will need. If you are doing a weekly plan this is pretty quick and simple. I think I will just go week by week for my monthly plan also. One trip to the market a week is doable and gives me less of a chance to forget items.

Once the list is made, double-check it and stick to it! You’ll have everything you need to make all the food on your menu and won’t need to run out or have an excuse to not cook.

Those are the basics for planning my menu and I hope this was pretty easy to understand and if you have any questions let me know, I’d be happy to help out. I’ll be back with another post to share what I’ve decided on for the month and for what days and a little more detail about approximate costs. Happy Friday, TGIF, have a great night :)

So that’s the outline of how I’ll plan for this upcoming month. This can easily be done for a week and if you are thinking of making a menu for the first time I’d suggest you start with only a week. I’ve had lots of luck with those! This month’s plan is challenging to me but I know I can get it done :)

Menu Planning and Marshall

I started a post on how to make a menu for a months worth of recipes. It’s a lot more information than I expected it would be and want to tweak it before I actually post it. I’m also still picking out recipes for the menu so I’d better wait until I’m actually finished creating it before I explain it :) I’m hoping to get it all finished up by tomorrow and that I’ll be able to share it with you!

Yesterday’s IEP meeting for Marshall went okay. The meetings are always longer than expected and this one was 2 hours long. I started to feel bamboozled when we got to the part where his IEP coach wanted to change most of his accommodations and I’m happy to say that I spoke up for him even though it was hard for me to do. It took a little while but I was feeling frustrated and said I wasn’t comfortable with the changes she was recommending and wanted too wait until his re-evaluation in March to finalize anything. In my experience they want to help but not to their full capacity or in ways that are fully helping him. I have a feeling a lot of parents have to go through this and it really is a shame. I know Marshall is ready for some changes but not all of them and I don’t want him to go backwards in terms of him having behavior problems again.

Today his probation officer will coming to meet with me before his court date next month. This would be to wrap up his probation period but he’s had a few hiccups along the past six months and I don’t know what she will say. I think a few more months would be good for him but I don’t know if they will think it is necessary. I also still have to pay his $175 fine which I don’t have until next week and I know that will come up.  I’m in the last stretch of my money problems and paying that fine is the last thing holding me back. It feels really good to be there but I’m still stressing over not having paid it yet. Life goes on and next week I’ll feel so much better :)

I hope you have a good day, I’m going to open the curtains, let some light in, and get back to working on my menu :)

No Time for Editing Today

I didn’t get to write yesterday because it was a mad house in here when I woke up. We didn’t receive nearly as much snow as was predicted and because of that the schools were open but on a two hour delay. I had let Marshall’s buddy stay the night because it was predicted that there would be so much snow that school would be closed and they were going to shovel snow all day yesterday. Marshall was also suspended for talking back to a teacher so either way he wasn’t going.

I tried to sleep in a little late but the sound of Marshall’s alarm clock was too much to allow me to do that. I tried to for almost an hour and then finally was so annoyed that 2 boys were sleeping right through it that I just got up. Of course as soon as I went down to shut it off Marshall woke up and was as hyper as hell. I wanted to cry. Not really, but I couldn’t write and I was agitated about that because he was being so hyper and I’d not be able to concentrate.

Aidan worked from home yesterday and because he had so much to do I didn’t even see him until 5:30, with the exception of when he came down to grab lunch only to quickly disappear again. I was annoyed but later realized it was only because I missed him. He worked from home for two days and had a lot to do so we didn’t get to spend any extra time with him.

This morning I have an IEP meeting for Marshall at his school. I want to cancel because I was up all night, unable to sleep and I feel like a zombie. It’s also freezing cold out (17 degrees) and I will have to walk a long way through the parking lot with the baby due to the always lacking parking. I am not cancelling but I really am not looking forward to going. I’ll just go and get it over with. I don’t expect that it is going to be a good meeting. Marshall isn’t doing well in school and I haven’t been up his ass about it. I’ve really just been focusing on getting his behavior in check and it’s taking all of me to not give up on that.

I can only expect that his behavior in school is going to worsen now because his best friend is moving and it is going to be hard for him not having his buddy in school. I’m going to let the school and his therapist know and see how we can help him through it. Well, I’m going to get ready for this meeting now. Have a nice day.

Snowy Monday, Woo-hoo!

There seems to be some major confusion between the weather centers and their latest storm predictions. I’ve read about 5 different reports and have found 5 different estimated snow fall amounts! Reports are varying from totals expected to be 4-8 inches and up to 8-18 inches. I guess the only way to really know for sure is to wait and see but it gets me worked up when none of them can agree. Weather forecasts are all only educated guesses but how can there be such a huge difference between so many of them? I feel like some of the stations just try to be different and hope they win.

As of now there is only a light dusting of snow/ice on the ground and I have to admit I am a little relieved. I need to go to the market for one ingredient that I forgot yesterday for our fun dinner tonight. If it’s bad out I won’t be going anywhere and that would suck. I really hope the snow fall rate doesn’t increase much in the next two hours. I saw that Aidan brought his laptop in from his car and wonder if he is planning on working from home today. I like when he works from home even though he’s been grumpy lately.

The kids didn’t have a delay and there wasn’t an early dismissal announced like at the other schools. *update Regina texted me at 7:30 they are letting out at 12:00* I hate when they wait until the last minute even though this year it doesn’t affect me. Last year when we were living at the hotel (because of the fire) it affected me because I had to drive them to and from school. This year they just take the bus. It wasn’t fun having to pack the baby up and then drive in the snow when it was bad out!

I’m super excited for our fun snow dinner tonight! In addition to the things I mentioned yesterday I am also making jalapeño poppers. They aren’t breaded and fried but stuffed with cream & cheddar cheeses then baked. Yum! I hope they are good! I’ve been wanting to try the recipe for a while and randomly yesterday Marshall asked if I would make them. They will be so great with everything else! I’m looking forward to fun leftovers for lunch during the storm on Tuesday and I’ll be disappointed if we aren’t trapped inside for the day.

The snow is really coming down now. Like very hard. I don’t think I will be getting to the store. That really sucks but life goes on. Maybe if Aidan works from home I’ll run over by myself but I don’t want to take the baby out when it’s bad. Well, that’s all for now, have a nice day, wherever you are doing whatever you do!

Excited About the Snow Heading Our Way!

Hurray! They are finally calling for a decent snow storm here on Monday night! We’ve seen a few small snow showers but this storm is expected to reach 6-8 inches or more(!). I really can’t tell you why this excites me so much but it really does. I’m going to go to the store today and pick up some things to make that will be fun to eat when we are trapped inside for the day..

Not that I wouldn’t be cooking anyway.. and we really could just stay inside if we wanted to.. but.. well, I’m a weirdo. and I really feel excited. I realize that this all makes me sound like a major nerd.. but I don’t care. I am a geek and I love big snow storms :)

I’ve been wanting to make a fun dinner one of these nights anyway. I call meals “fun” when they are a large variety of appetizer type finger foods. You know, some favorites for everyone. I’m thinking spinach and artichoke dip, potato skins, wedge salads and chicken wings. Everyone here would love it if I surprised them with a fun dinner, I haven’t had one in a super long time!

I’ve made the Pioneer Woman’s chicken wings once before and everyone LOVED them, including me and I usually am not a wing lover. Every recipe I have made of her’s has turned out great (I’ve tried a lot) and they are super easy. I highly recommend her cookbooks!

Aside from food for my fun snow party dinner I have to get cat food, coffee creamers and fabric softener. Laundry has been at a halt since Friday morning because I ran out of the smell good stuff. I started buying coffee creamer a few years ago and seriously coffee doesn’t taste good to me now just using milk and sugar. Yesterday we talked about taking a trip to Costco today because we need roast beef, stew meat, and flap steak but I really don’t feel like driving over. I want to get some work done around the house!

I hope today is a great day; yesterday was super boring. Aidan and I both had headaches and were a little cranky with each other. He let me hog the tv all day to watch Friends on Netflix so today I’ll return the favor by entertaining Henry downstairs so he can play his video games in peace. Give and take right? I really am a lucky girl to have him. My ex would have never let me watch the tv that I wanted, let alone for a whole day!

I’m going to get my shower now while everyone is still asleep. I hope you have a great day and if you are trapped inside because of snow I hope it will be fun in someway or another ;)

Editing: A Self Exercise

While Henry was napping yesterday I took a some time to work a little on the way my blog looks. Being a Gemini and changing appearances go hand and hand for me. There is nothing like the feeling of instant gratification! Now that I am feeling good about the visuals on my blog I think it’s time to turn my focus on the next area that needs my attention: editing.

Harvey Millican commented on my post Make Time for Myself with regards to finding the time to write. He pointed out that it is good that I make the time for it and how he needs to remind himself to write when he has the time. Thanks for that comment, Harvey. I have to agree with how right you are and I’d like to note that you really got me thinking. It is hard finding the time to write. Not only is finding the time for writing hard, it is also hard to give ourselves the time to edit. And if we want to see our stats improve, to then network.

As far as the writing bit, I do have that time carved out pretty well. When I started this blog I committed to a specific time to write and reminded myself that it was “now or never” during that hour. I removed the old (imaginary) pressure that I used to put on myself and now I don’t think about what I am going to say ahead of time. I just sit down every morning and I go at it. This obviously won’t work for everyone. It works for me though because I write about my life which hardly requires any research or planning ahead. Does this make for the most interesting posts? No, but the main purpose of my blog is for me to have an outlet to vent and feel better for getting it all out.

As far as the editing piece of it, I know that I should approach it the in the same manner as I do writing. Just carve out a specific amount of time at the end of my writing and get to it. Editing takes me a long time though. I tend to cut the fat too much and then add more and more in its place. Towards the end of my last blog I felt left with posts that didn’t really reflect me. I ramble a lot in real life. I bounce around when I speak. That’s me and though I try not to sound like a complete idiot when I write, but if I do, that’s because I sometimes sound like a complete idiot in real life.

Until now I’ve really only focused on creating the habit of writing every day. I’m ready to challenge myself now and make editing a bigger part of the process now. As with writing, because it’s worked well, I’ll carve out time (with a limit) to do just that. This time though my goal will be that I won’t edit to the extent that I lose my voice. I want remain true to myself and really get my style down pat. It’s a fine line to me and one that will take a lot of practice but at 40 posts now, I am ready to push myself a bit.