Write Your Love Out

My high school geometry teacher used to tell us that our brains were attached to the tip of our pencils.  She wanted us to take notes and show our work.  She has a great point.  Writing does a magic trick… it turns the invisible into the visible.proof

Ruth is an amazing friend of mine.  She opened her house as a host for an innovative program called Safe Families and had a teenager living in her house taking on a temporary guardian relationship.  This high school girl needed a place to stay while her family figured some things out, but Ruth did more than give her a room.  I was at Ruth’s one night and used her restroom where the mirror was framed with sticky notes of affirmation for her guest.  “You have great value.”  “God calls you His Daughter.” “I’m proud of you for . . .” and they went on and on.  Ruth often got ready and left for work before her guest got ready for school, and I can imagine her fixing her hair in the morning and rereading her collection of encouragements from Ruth.

Imagine starting your day surrounded by the positive things people see in you.

My thoughts are a war zone.  I especially love Missy Higgins and her song Watering Hole.  It describes perfectly this idea that these thoughts we’re running from coming home in our heads to take up residence.  You can watch her singing this here.  If only there was a way I could tip the balance allowing my better thoughts to win the war.

Managing the invisible mess: the thoughts in my head.

My thoughts may be invisible, but my response to them is anything but.  And they trend in predictable ways.  I know from experience what time of day my patience runs so thin I shouldn’t walk out onto that ice.  Without an afternoon piece of peace my ugly stepsister greets my husband when he comes home instead of me.

When this happens I need serious intervention, like a piano that’s been left in a damp basement for years.  I’m caught on this idea of tuning my heart; changing the dial on my thoughts to something with less static.  So, I’m writing my love out… right now in the form of lists of things for which I’m grateful.  Not an original idea, I know.  Gratitude acts as the antidote to negative thinking.

IMG_2709We have recently moved states and before we can buy a house, my husband’s parents have let us move in with them.  I’m the girl who went to college with her high school best friend and we intentionally chose different dorms in order to stay friends.  I know I have proximity-related relationship challenges.  I doubt I’m the only one.  So I’ll be living with my in-laws and spending most of my time with my mother-in-law.  I now have a list on my phone (in Notes) called “My Awesome Mom” and every day I’m writing 5 things I love about my mother-in-law.  (Not a challenge, really.  She’s pretty amazing.)  It’s a great way to tune my heart and manage the invisible mess in a proactive way.  It’s like doing laundry as soon as you have a full load instead of putting it off until there’s 7 loads and a whole day needing to be renamed “laundry day.”

Do you need to change the dial on your thoughts?  How do you write your love out?

What Your Smartphone Says About You

At any given moment my phone has 4 apps operating.  Calendar, Notes, AnyList, and MyFitnessPal.

smart phone

I’ve mentioned my way of menu planning on Notes in my previous post here.  That’s the main reason I keep the Calendar and Notes apps open.  When you hold your meal plan loosely you alter it frequently based on need.

MyFitnessPal is my second calorie counting app I’ve used.  I was using Everyday Food, but MyFitnessPal is more specific and I can calculate calories of a recipe easily.  I’ll have to do a separate post on this one.  There’s so much I love about it.

IMG_2640AnyList has completely replaced my lists I used to keep on paper.  I have a list for groceries, clothing items I need to buy eventually for our family, errands I need to run, things I have to do on my actual laptop, questions to ask at the next doctor’s appointment, etc.  Having all of this on my phone keeps things on hand (literally).


IMG_2641When I add grocery items it automatically groups them into categories. Now all of my produce is together no matter when I add them to the list.  I can easily add amounts to items as well.  (Like specific ounces not just… 2 or 3.)  And it’s legible.  You probably have beautiful handwriting.  I do not.  Teacher’s have tried to improve it to no avail.  No one tried harder than Mom.  Lots of red Big Chief (probably not PC) practice pads at our house.  Where was I?

I especially love AnyList because I can share my list with someone else via email on their app.  That means that my husband and I both have access to the grocery list.  He can add stuff that he needs me to get.  Or, because I’m a stay at home mom… and a bit of a homebody, he can get the list on his way home from work.

How about you…  What apps do you keep open?  What’s your favorite way to keep your grocery list?

Being Old Mother Hubbard

I have this idea for a new Food Network show.  I like Chopped because they use weird ingredients and somehow make it all work, but I thought why not do the same thing but in a person’s kitchen using only what they have on hand.  Then bring in a chef and have them make a three course dinner for the family with whatever is in their fridge and pantry and that’s it!  I can’t come up with a good name for it.  The only thing I can think is, “Chef in my Kitchen” or “Make What You Have.”  (I’ve heard Rachel Ray does a “Fridge Raiders” segment.  I’ve not seen it.  Is it similar?)

I like this idea because it’s what I do now.  Over the years I have meal planned in different ways.  Starting out, there was no plan.  We went to the grocery store daily and got what we needed for dinner.  I ended up with a good amount of stuff that didn’t get used all the way.   Then I started planning for a month at a time… on Excel of course.  I printed out a calendar and put it on the fridge and I had lunch and dinner planned for a month.  The only problem was life happened and stuff needed to get moved around and I would end up with half the ingredients for a meal and too many leftovers in the fridge.  Waste happened with no plan and a strict plan.

IMG_2568Now my meal planning is more fluid and I hold it loosely.  I keep it on my phone in my Notes app.  I plan only one week ahead.  As soon as I know what I’m cooking today I erase and start planning next week’s meal for that day of the week.   I also keep my Calendar app open and add appointments and weekly meetings right on to the menu because we have to plan a quicker meal if we’ve got something going on.  I even write what meals we’re eating leftovers in order to use up everything.

IMG_2567I’ve got my “go-to” meals now that use stuff up.  Pasta primavera or stir fry is ideal for using up vegetables.  (Mom taught me a trick of adding a little crunchy peanut butter to stir fry to make it a little heartier tasting.  You’ve got to try it!)  A bag of cole slaw mix (cabbage and carrots) can last several meals for us.  I can do cole slaw, vegetable and bean tostadas, Bierox, egg rolls, all sorts of fun stuff with that bag.

Click Here to see my full Weekly Menu

Maintaining the car you own is cheaper than buying a new car.  Doing laundry is cheaper than buying new clothes.  What you have will save you money every time over buying something you don’t have.  Simple logic.  Now I apply this to my meals I make.  I use up everything I can before I go to the grocery store.  This works because I hold my meal plan loosely.  I can move a meal I don’t have everything for a few days later and instead make something I have everything for today.  Now I’m using food so it won’t get wasted and I’m saving time and gas by not heading to the grocery store.

IMG_2569My goal now is an empty fridge.  I want my cupboard bare before I go shopping again.  I do not stock my pantry anymore with canned goods or boxed meals; I only buy what I have planned and no more.

The fringe benefit of this is that I can clean my fridge regularly without having to empty its contents onto a counter or table.  It’s pretty sparse so I can wipe shelves to my heart’s content.

How about you?  How has your meal planning changed over time?  Do you have favorite “use it up” recipes?