Tag Archives: time saver

I’m Dealing With Some Stuff

Readers, I am quickly learning the value of a good schedule. When the quarter ended, I had three weeks before my new job started. Three weeks when my daily life looked a bit like this:

8:30AM–Wake up. Sort of
9:00AM–Realize that I had not actually woken up. Panic and start yelling at Mike to get out of bed and get ready for work.
9:15AM–Make Olive and Mike some breakfast.
9:20AM–Convince Olive that YES, her hair does need brushing.
9:30AM–Realize I have not packed Mike a lunch. Panic and promise myself to pack his lunch tonight before bed. (I won’t remember).
9:40AM–Throw Mike out of the house with a baggie of veggies, a piece of fruit, and a leftover I’m pretty sure he’s only been eating the past few days to make me happy. Kiss him goodbye and thank my lucky stars he’s polite enough to at least try to eat it.
9:45AM–Realize that he’s probably been getting subway every day, since the leftover comes back mostly untouched. Become filled with rage. Resolve to punish Mike for this later (I won’t remember).
10 AM–Eat WHATEVER I WANT FOR BREAKFAST. Usually this is a delicious fruit and veggie filled smoothie I made during my panic to get Mike out of the house, with a piece of toast. I then savor at least one cup of coffee.
10:30-11:30AM–unspecified internet time. I tell Olive I’m doing important work. Important work often includes reddit. Hey, I gotta keep the routine.
11:30-12:30PM–Gardening/miscellaneous chores/whatever I feel like doing. Sometimes that means laundry, cleaning the bedrooms, or weeding. Sometimes it means Olive and I get fancy and have a tea party, leaving the dusting for another, unspecified occasion. Sometimes this means I take a shower and think about things I could potentially do. Sometimes I have another coffee and doodle for a little while. It’s a very productive time.
12:30-1:00PM–COOK AND EAT WHATEVER I WANT FOR LUNCH. Remember I am lazy and opt for PB&J again. Yum.
1:00–3:15PM–Remember that I’m an adult and am supposed to do things. Freak out, clean the kitchen, clean myself if I haven’t already, and try really, really hard to remember if there was something I was supposed to do. I completely forget until Mike gets home.
3:15PM–Mike gets home and I remember that I was supposed to go to the grocery store. Hey Mike, wanna go to the grocery store?
3:15-5:00PM–Miscellaneous Mike’s home stuff.
5:00-6:00PM–Dinnertime stuff. We eat whatever I want to cook. It is glorious.
6:00-8:00PM–More miscellaneous stuff. We often sit around talking about what we want to do. This sucks up most of the actual free time. Usually, we let Olive play outside for a bit or run errands. What am I saying? Usually, I forgot that I Was supposed to do something, uproot everyone from what they were doing, and go do the other thing instead. This is also a very important part of the routine.
8:00-8:30PM–Olive’s bedtime. This often involves stories, songs, and pleas for more goodnight kisses. I can not stress the importance of routine enough, people.
8:30-10:00PM–I drive to the gym and get in a decent workout. Sometimes. Other times this part of my day involves me bargaining with myself to go tomorrow instead. This time can also be facebook time, movie time, or eating vegan ice cream from the pint time. It’s pretty versatile.
10:30PM–I start to get sleepy.
11:00PM–Convince myself that I’m not tired. Whine to Mike that I still have to do the dishes. Do the dishes with Mike, and then whine that I’m tired some more.
11:30PM–Tearfully apologize to Mike for whining so much.
11:35PM–Wait, wasn’t I mad at Mike about something earlier?
11:45PM–Pass out, if I haven’t already. Remember as I’m falling asleep that I had intended to read/sew/write a letter/call someone. Tell myself I’ll do it tomorrow.

Repeat.

Readers, I was bored. Bored, bored, bored, bored, bored. That’s why I had scheduled so much “miscellaneous” time. I mean, I could have come up with something constructive to do, and eventually I tried to a little bit, but when you’re broke, burnt out from school, and completely unfocused, it’s nearly impossible.

Anyway, a few weeks of this went by and before I knew it, I was employed again, and my schedule starting looking like this:

6:00-6:30AM–Hit snooze button every ten minutes. Bargain with alarm clock to turn back time a little. I know it can do it and is just keeping the technology from me. Please?
6:30AM–Give up on the alarm clock. Wake up, get dressed, and pack gym bag.
7:30AM–Commute to gym.
8:15-9:30AM–Gym/shower/get dressed for the day.
10:00AM-4:00PM–SPREADSHEETS.
4:00PM-5:00PM–Commute home.
5:00-6:00PM–Hug family, cook dinner, thank god I am not staring at a computer screen.
6:00-6:30PM–Eat dinner, tell Olive that yes, she does need Mike’s help brushing her hair tomorrow morning, and no, I don’t think I’ll be able to teach him french braids.
6:30-8:30PM–Family time. This still occasionally involves panicked errands. Old habits are hard to break.
8:30-9:00PM–Olive’s bedtime routine. It hasn’t actually changed, it’s just a bit later.
9:00-10:00PM–Dishes and lunch packing for tomorrow. This includes me, Mike, and three days a week, Olive. Yes, I do pack them little notes. I have yet to find a note in my lunch bag, though. I resolve to give Mike what for about that later (I won’t remember).
10:00PM–Insist that I’m totally down for watching a movie or playing a game with Mike, as soon as I’m done with my blog/reddit/facebook/stalking Edward Norton.
10:30PM–“Actually, can we watch it upstairs, instead? I’m kind of tired.”
11:00PM–“No…no…I’m…I’m awake. I swear.”
11:05PM–/transmission

Now, you may have noticed that a large chunk of my day once devoted to panicking, using the internet, and whining, are gone. They are now completely devoted to spreadsheets. So. Many. Spreadsheets. This has caused me to organize things a little better in order to manage things, and to appreciate my evenings with my family. As a result, I go to the gym before they’re even out of bed (the lazy jerks) and eat my breakfast afterwards. This means that my delicious breakfast smoothie and toast are a no-go. The smoothie doesn’t pack well guys; please accept this as a fact and do not go through the process of learning this heartbreaking lesson for yourself.

I had a few go to foods initially. Sometimes this would be a cup of cheerios, some nuts, and a piece of fruit. A few times I packed a peanut butter sandwich with fruit. These are all fine and dandy, but lets face it, when you’re used to waking up and having your only dietary limit being what’s in your kitchen, they’re just plain boring. I needed something awesome and quick that would pack well and give me the nutrients I needed after a really hard workout.

Yogurt Oats
1 cup plain non dairy yogurt (omnivores and lacto–ovos, get what ever you’d like, but please check the ingredient list for gross stuff.)
1 cup of fruit (Any and all are fine.)
1/2 cup old fashioned oats
A handful of nuts (optional)
maple syrup, honey, or jam to taste

Ok guys, do you have a thermos? No? Go get a small one, they’re $2 at Walmart or target and infinitely useful. Mine even has it’s own little spoon hidden under the cap. So convenient! Anyway, to pack this, you’ll need a thermos, and I recommend putting it in your freezer for about ten minutes beforehand to get it cold.

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Please pretend that the froggy ice pack you see in my freezer is Olive’s and not mine. Or accept that adorable cartoon frogs are a very adult way to keep your lunch cold. Whichever.

To sweeten the plain yogurt, I usually use about a teaspoon of maple syrup. I was in the mood for berries this time though, so I added a tablespoon of my favorite jam.

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Add the yogurt.

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Yeah, you could buy flavored yogurt, but the big tub is cheaper, and do you really want to commit to one flavor for an entire week? I don’t. Besides, I like being able to control the amount of sugar and omit sweeteners. Aspartame for breakfast? Or ever? No thank you!

Add the fruit, oats, and nuts if you want them. I lift weights at the gym, so I like to get a teensy bit of extra protein. Besides, I’m also a big fan of healthy fats, and it’s not like I can get to a fridge to spread avocado on a piece of toast anymore.

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You can’t see it, but I added both berries, and a banana. Mix and match whatever you want. I have my suspicions that raisins and apples would be pretty awesome in this, too.

Mix it up, and let it hang out for a little while. If you’re making this at home, just put your bowl in the fridge and eat it an hour or two later. If you’re on the go, keep it in your thermos, and when you get to eat it after your workout, it will be delicious!

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Letting the oats soak in the yogurt makes them very chewy. Some of you may have had muesli the traditional way by soaking it in milk overnight. This is kind of like that, but with yogurt and less nuts. It’s porridgy, and really filling.

Now, I’m not saying it’s best to eat your breakfast at your desk. I love sitting down with my family for as many meals as possible, including lunch and breakfast. Still, if I worked out at night, Mike wouldn’t see me, and if I worked out in the evening, Olive would start to miss me. This way, I get my day off to a great start and they get more time with me. If you have to pack your breakfast, this is an awesome way to get something that is tasty and healthy without spending your hard earned paycheck on something sub par. Everyone wins!

Plus, now I don’t have to deal with those two monsters in the morning. Of course, that has nothing to do with why I leave the house so early.

…I lied, it’s a huge a perk.

I mean it. They’re horrible. Remember the three bears?

Still, they’re my bears. And those bears are far, far away.

Eat something good today, readers!

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Money Saving Monday–Dinner When You Can’t Be Home

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At three fifteen today, Mike came home and found that on the counter. Naturally, he was very confused.

But, before I get into what’s in that pan I’m going to explain why it’s there. Twice a week I’m not home for dinner. Sometimes I’ll have something in the slow cooker, others they’ll reheat something I cooked earlier in the day, and on rare occasion they’ll eat leftovers. Unfortunately, I leave the house at 1:30 PM on those days and won’t be back again until 10PM (since I hit the gym after class, most nights). Sure, it’s only twice a week, but they can’t eat that much slow cooker soup happily, I don’t particularly feel like spending my few free hours preparing a meal I probably won’t get to eat, and Mike usually has thirds of whatever I cooked so we almost never have leftovers. As a result, a lot of the time I leave Mike to fend for himself.

Mike has come up with a few strategies to deal with what has become known as “bad dinner night.” One of them is beans and rice and a steamed whatever vegetable we have on hand. If he’s feeling fancy, he’ll throw some soy sauce on top of it. According to Mike, this is what they eat most nights I’m not home.

Except Olive always rats him out later and tells me that they had what she assumes is “Daddy’s favorite food.”

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This isn’t a picture of their dinner. This is actually a picture of the dinner we had for our two year anniversary. Make of that what you will.

Nice try, Mike.

Don’t get me wrong, as far as fast food goes they could be doing a lot worse than Chipotle. They would also, however, be spending a LOT less, so a solution had to be created if I wasn’t going to spend an hour preparing an entire meal for them and he wasn’t going to spend our life savings (and lifetime quota for sodium) in one quarter.

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I had to get a bit creative.

Obviously, I didn’t have time to prepare much and I didn’t want to leave something simmering on the stove at 1:30 PM for him to come home to and feel obligated to eat that very instant, but I had time to chop some veggies.

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And leave some instructions.

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Naturally, when he got home he was confused.

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But he figured it out.

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I’m sure you probably wouldn’t have had to actually put the spices in a container with the other ingredients, but I know Mike. They had to at least be in the vicinity of his cooking space or he’d have forgotten all about them, instructions or not. This had the added benefit of teaching him a few basic cooking skills without me hovering around the whole time, ready to “save the meal” at any given moment.

For someone who doesn’t cook often a recipe from a cookbook is a giant, foreboding, mess. Half the time they don’t have the insight necessary to know they need to read ahead in the recipe. This way, each ingredient had a number and an instruction and he could literally go from A to B without needing to prepare something. He also didn’t have to blow a gasket trying to remember how to dice carrots. Yes. This is actually a legitimate concern.

Moms (and dads who cook for that matter) have to work, it’s a natural part of life for most people. Even if they don’t, sometimes they just can’t be home. Why shouldn’t their families still eat well when they aren’t able to be there? I see this as a perfect solution for both the kitchen inept spouse and the pizza ordering babysitter. This time I used soup, but I could see this working really well with casseroles and other foods. Put out a container of cooked rice already measured, some spices with instructions, the proper amount of fake cheese, nutritional yeast, veggies, etc, and a dish with the heating instructions written on it, and within a few minutes you have it prepared, and they can have it cooking. Cooperation goes a long way in a busy, crunchy, and broke house. Though it does hurt the hip factor quite a bit.

After ten minutes Mike had this simmering on the stove, with no help from me at all (that would have been cheating, and this was for science!), and you know what? It turned out pretty good.

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Especially with the cornbread I whipped up. (Yes, that’s a teaser.)

What’s that? You want the soup recipe, too? Ugh, you whiners.

Split Pea Soup of Spousal Assistance
1 lb split peas
8 cups vegetable broth
1 dash liquid smoke
2 tsp minced garlic
1 tbs olive oil
1 tsp poultry seasoning (minus the bird, of course)
1 cup carrots, chopped
1/2 a sweet onion, chopped

In the bottom of a large soup pot, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the carrots and onions and saute until the onions are soft. Add the garlic and saute for an additional minute. Add the remaining ingredients and simmer for 1 1/2 to 2 hours, of until peas are soft, mushy, and heavenly.

I promise, you won’t miss the ham, especially since we added some yummy smoke flavor. It tastes like happy.

And now, Mike totally knows how to make it without my help.

I think this is a win for household cooks everywhere, yes?