Archive for routine

I’m Ba-ack! As Best I Can, Anyway.

I’m sorry I haven’t written in so long. I wish I could blame my absence on writer’s block, an early and fortuitous move, or being busy doing something I love, but I can’t.

Unfortunately, I have fibromyalgia. Pushing myself over the winter to work on the blog while trying to work on the house while transitioning jobs while doing the holidays while getting sick from the germs of being around new germ factories kids was too much. I crashed, pretty hard. I ended up being mostly bedridden, sick (still coughing), having to drop to 16 hours a week at work (and still sometimes calling out), and feeling so bad that I actually applied for disability (both disability and SSI were denied; I’m not appealing right now since I feel better).

But the bedrest and forced slow-down helped me immensely. I was able to start to recuperate. We went from eating whatever fast thing I could throw together to eating less-processed fast things I could throw together. *Quick meal tip: you can boil potatoes ahead of time with the skin on and then just scrape or rub the skin off when you’re ready to use it with either your fingers or a spoon edge. Even the big baking potatoes!

I’ve been able to go back to working five days a week, with 1 or 2 of those days being longer than 4 hours. I hope this holds up because the class I’m working in over the summer has two field trips each week starting next week until school starts.

Unfortunately, I also have ADHD, so when I started feeling better I was still too disorganized and scattered to work in “time” for posting. I finally just pushed over the edge this morning to get my foot back in the door.

I’m going to be posting more frequently, but no promises yet as to how frequently (due to being scattered, disorganized, etc). I plan to post on lifestyle “stuff,” which for me will mean posts on the following:

  • homesteading
  • decluttering
  • home management (possibly slanted for someone with chronic conditions that affect memory, as both ADHD and fibromyalgia do)
  • life management – I expect lots of trial and error here
  • vegan recipes – starting with simple smoothies (I make one for breakfast these days)
  • our animals
  • Kaida and her art
  • homeschooling
  • home repair/renovation or random building projects that I do. I’m not trained to build, but I like doing it so, why not? Don’t follow my building advice! Maybe just use my stuff as idea generators.

I’m probably forgetting a lot of what I want to talk about; my brain just stopped. I guess that my clue to wrap it up!

See you next time!

SQUIRREL! Just kidding! I remembered that I want to also post (and maybe even write about) interesting articles I find about ADHD, fibromyalgia, general health/nutrition, or maybe anything else… 😉

Being Flexible In Your Menu Planning

I did a menu plan for last week, my standard Week 1 menu, and did not make a single thing on it. Correction, we made macaroni and cheese from a box with peas and carrots–on a different day than planned. *Sigh*

This is Week 2 and the dinner menu is planned as follows:

  • Monday: pinto bean chili with peppers and onions, corn bread, broccoli
  • Tuesday: black beans with sweet potato and mango, brown rice, Normandy blend veggies (cauliflower, broccoli, carrots)
  • Wednesday: butternut squash frijoles (pinto beans, pureed squash), brown rice, broccoli
  • Thursday: macaroni with peas, carrots and mushrooms, Brussels sprouts
  • Friday: refried pinto beans with onions and peppers, white rice, romaine, broccoli

We’re already off schedule and it’s only Tuesday! Yesterday, we had macaroni, peas, and carrots with broccoli on the side. We’re out of Brussels sprouts and I forgot to add the mushrooms yesterday. We’re out of sweet potatoes for today’s dinner and I’m not so sure how black beans with mango and no sweet potato will be. I guess we’ll find out!

I’m not sure how it happened (poor planning?), but I never actually got any meals into the slow cooker last week. You know what? Hold on a minute!

I’m back…I did it! I started brown rice in the rice cooker and tonight’s black beans and mangoes in the slow cooker (canned black beans, frozen mango chunks, frozen diced onions, black pepper, garlic powder). My plan is to eventually using some kind of Caribbean seasoning with this, but we’ll up the heat slowly.

So tonight when I come home, I have only to microwave the Normandy blend to go on the side and make some cookies for dessert. Yes, I’m making cookies, conventional ones, from a mix. Yes, it’s a vegan fail, but that’s where I’m at right now.

Back to the slow cooker. One reason I’m reluctant to use it is because it has to be washed by hand. Ugh. Standing at the sink hurts my back and frankly that’s energy that I usually don’t have in the evenings. Has anyone tried those disposable slow cooker liners? Did you like them? Are they safe? Let me know in the comments!

P.S. My daughter did NOT like mango flavor. I guess we’ll come up with something else for black bean Tuesdays and leave the mangoes for the smoothies!

Menu Plan Monday

Most of us have probably heard about menu planning as a way to control your grocery spending. Usually you would look at what items you already have, look at the upcoming sales, and plan your menu for the next week. I tend to only shop every two weeks and needed to plan for more than a week at a time. This makes it hard to plan for sales so most of my dinner stuff doesn’t change, though I will keep an eye on prices at Sam’s Club and Costco for price changes in rice and beans.

I have seen Sam’s Club mark down basmati rice one time in the past year when I happened to be there so I bought 100 lbs. I’ve also seen them mark down elbow macaroni so bought several cases (max. 5) when I was there. I will look at fruit on sale if it’s close to time to go shopping and if it’s something that will keep well or be used quickly.

So I made a menu plan for the month. Some things repeat every week; some things repeat every other week. I used an Excel spreadsheet, with each page being a separate meal. I did four weeks at a time and went through my wall calendar writing the week number, 1-4, to the left of each week for the whole year.

This week is week one. That means our dinners are planned as follows:

  • Monday – sweet pinto beans, applesauce biscuits, broccoli
  • Tuesday – curried black beans with carrots, mushrooms and cauliflower, brown rice
  • Wednesday – taco-spiced pinto beans, white rice, romaine, avocado, broccoli, cubed winter squash
  • Thursday – macaroni with peas and mushrooms, brussels sprouts
  • Friday – chana masala-spiced pinto beans with diced peppers, onions and carrots, brown rice, broccoli
  • Saturday – eat out (not paid by me)
  • Sunday – usually Amy’s canned lentil soup with wheat bread due to our schedule

I know the combinations might sound a little odd. I wanted to get a cole vegetable in every dinner and broccoli is the cheapest, hence the repeats. Next week gets a broccoli/cauliflower/carrot blend instead of lonely cauliflower.

For all of these, nothing is measured; I just throw stuff together, add spices, and essentially hope for the best! 😀

Monday’s sweet beans very-loose-recipe is a take on baked beans, but my daughter is allergic to tomatoes. So ingredients include pinto beans (canned or from dried), mustard powder, brown sugar, a little maple syrup for flavor, and garlic powder. I generally don’t add salt in my cooking. I tend to run low in potassium and don’t want to make it worse. There’s also this video about salt by Dr. Greger:

My daughter’s favorites are macaroni, followed by Amy’s lentil soup and then sweet beans. Though she does get tired of the lentil soup sometimes.

I really like that everything except the macaroni can be done in the slow cooker, and macaroni only takes 10 minutes once the water’s boiling anyway. Come in the door from work, put a pot of water on to boil, pop some brussels sprouts in the microwave in a glass bowl, go to the bathroom/change clothes/feed the dogs/whatever–water’s ready when you get back.

Do you use menu planning? How long do you plan for?

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Start The Week Right With Set It Up Sunday

Everyone is busy these days. Parents have full schedules, the kids have full schedules. One of the methods I’ve found that help me is to use Sunday evening for some self-care (to be covered in other posts) and “set it up!”

We homeschool and I find that Kaida can be more autonomous if she’s given an assignment sheet to check off. Some of her work requires more direct help from me (e.g. starting a new chapter in math, checking writing assignments), but some of it she can do a lot of on her own (e.g. math practice, spelling workbook, history reading and questions). I write out all of the assignments in the different subjects on Sunday evening. She goes through each day and checks off the ones she did.

One thing I’ve learned–do it in pencil! If math takes too long one day and we need to bump science over due to time constraints, it’s so much easier to be able to erase than have to scratch it out or look for the whiteout tape. This may seem obvious, but I like writing with pens more than pencils because it’s easier to see so I didn’t start off using pencil.

Another thing I’m starting to do is prepping all of my beans at one time. It’s a new thing for me so I’m still working out the details. For starters, I’m soaking each day’s beans in its own jar. I put one cup of rinsed and sorted beans in each jar, and filled each up to the curve with water and a generous pinch of baking soda. The baking soda is to help soften the beans.

I’ll probably use the crock pot to do at least Monday’s beans, but I’m working my way up to cooking them all at one time in the pressure cooker, each in their individual jar. I’m a little nervous about it because I haven’t pressure-canned beans (or really anything else) so I’m hoping I don’t mess it up. I know they don’t have to cook for nearly as long as it takes to can them–only about 7 minutes (depending on the type of bean) versus about 1.5 hours. I’m just scared since it’s new to me.

The other thing I’ve started doing is starting the laundry cycle on Sunday. Each day of the week is assigned a particular group of laundry. Sunday is darks/jeans, Monday is lights/shirts, etc. So the same group becomes ready for a load usually close to its assigned day, rather than just waiting for a giant pile and then dealing with it.

How do you get ready for the week ahead? Let’s talk about it in the comments!

P.S. The Self-Improvement Giveaway 11 is still going on. Sign up today for hundreds of free resources!

Psst! Did You Do It? Menu Planning, Of Course!


Menu planning is all the rage these days (did I just sound really old?). I’ve tried planning for a long time, but have usually still been flying by the seat of my pants. I’ve found that, with me not getting home from work until after traditional dinner times and frequently not “having” enough time on the weekends to meal prep, I’ve gotten further and further off course. No more! I vow this day to get back to the straight and narrow as quickly as possible, or as soon as we get through the leftovers in the fridge and get caught up on dishes. But I digress!

I’ve mentioned before that we’re vegan. That kind of limits our meal options (at least for a not-very-skilled cook such as myself). I also found that dental issues from grinding/clenching my teeth my whole life are limiting. Also, (surprise!) having a seriously limited grocery budget is a hindrance. So that leaves…

Beans, rice, and potatoes to the rescue! Also, oatmeal plodding along and bringing up the rear.greatveganbeanbook

I started by writing down a list of menu items I could make at least palatable and that my daughter, Kaida, would usually eat. This was not a huge list. I then divided that list over four weeks. I used an Excel spreadsheet. I planned out what type of bean, what flavor profile I was going for (different spices), what grain I wanted on the side, and what vegetable would accompany it. I used “The Great Vegan Bean Book” for recipe ideas for beans and “The Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease Cookbook” for potato ideas, though you’ll notice that my potato dishes are not really that hard. *sigh*

At first, I alternated having a bean dish and a potato dish for dinner, but found that I just can’t devote the time to cooking potatoes when we get home, mostly because of the peeling. My solution was to plan all the bean dishes for dinners, since they can go in the crockpot, and to use potatoes or sweet potatoes for lunches. Breakfast alternates between cold cereal with almond milk and oatmeal. About every other week, we have pancakes on Sundays and Wednesdays. I make a large batch on Sunday and then we just warm up the leftovers on Wednesdays for a mid-week break from the monotony.

This schedule has been working better for me. Last week, I actually used the slow cooker twice! I know it’s not five days, but it’s better than none! My problem now is figuring out leftovers. I guess I could freeze all of the leftovers for now. I have days/meals scheduled to eat leftovers in my finalized schedule, but we’re not quite there yet. Bedtime is horrendous, but that’s another post. 😉

This week is week 3. Tonight’s dinner is schedule to be what I call “sweet beans.” It’s pinto beans with garlic powder, pepper, brown sugar, mustard powder, and a little maple syrup. Sometimes some chopped sweet onion, if I think of it. I may try it with a prepared mire poix just to see how it turns out. I think it’s similar to some baked bean recipes, but I just kind of throw things in there. The menu says I’m supposed to make applesauce biscuits to go with them, but I will probably be too lazy to make them. I’m supposed to be making them Sunday evening during food prep time, but it’s not Sunday anymore so we’ll probably just have a slice of wheat bread instead. Broccoli on the side.

Lunch for today is supposed to be mashed potatoes. Ugh. I like mashed potatoes; I just don’t like having to peel them. Okay, I admit I actually don’t like to spend time cooking. Ooh! Maybe I’ll cheat and use tater tots!

Tomorrow’s dinner is supposed to be black beans with carrots, mushrooms, and cauliflower with curry seasoning with brown rice. I know chickpeas are more frequently used with curry, but we’re having homemade hummus tomorrow for lunch. I used it to make sandwiches on Tuesdays because I have to go to work earlier. Lunch is scheduled to use leftover veggies. We’ll see what’s still edible in the fridge while I try to get this schedule under preventreverseheartdiseasecontrol.

For reference purposes, the mashed potatoes I make are similar to the “Good Garlicky Mashed Potatoes” on page 138 of “The Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease Cookbook.”