Monday, November 29, 2010


Believe me, I'm no expert in the field of home management, but I have to share something with you.  Its something that has saved me a great deal of time and lately, lots of money as well.  Are you intrigued?  Here's my tip for you... plan a weekly menu.  That's it. 

I know, you're probably thinking you don't need to, and that you have everything under control.  But bear with me here because it gets a little more exciting.  (I think, anyway.) 

I've given a little bit of effort in years past with planning a menu, but felt very restricted by it.  What if, for example, I don't feel like eating spaghetti on Monday?  or whatever.  In the past 3 months though, I've planned a menu simply as a way to actually make some of the recipes I've collected over the years.  I have a huge stack of good-sounding recipes that I've been meaning to cook - some I've had for 20 years even! And since some of these recipes call for ingredients I don't normally have on hand, I thought I'd be smart and make a menu and a corresponding shopping list.  By doing so, I spent about $100 less on groceries during that 2 week period. Yes, I said $100.  I could probably save even more if I planned a menu based on whats on sale at the store that week too.  I don't necessarily stick to the menu as its written, and I usually swap days depending on whats going on that particular day.  But I don't usually abandon the menu entirely. 

Anway, I was checking out one of my favorite websites, I'm an Organizing Junkie , because, frankly, I want to be one.  And she had a link to another blog where there was the cutest menu board.  I'm linkin' up that website too...
She made it out of a baking pan!  How clever!

The directions are all on her blog, While He Was Napping.  And while its super-cute, I won't be making it because its just one more thing for me to do.  But hey, you're you. 

In case you still need convincing, I'm going to list some benefits of planning a menu:
  • You can save money
  • You never have to worry at 4 pm what you could possibly whip up for dinner by 5.  I look at the menu for the next day while I'm cleaning up from the current day's dinner and take out any meat that needs to thaw, chop up any veggies that I may need, etc.
  • This saves time
  • In theory, if you have a menu posted, other family members can get started on cooking it.  Notice I said "in theory".  Because in all honesty, that'll never happen. 
  • It helps you eat healthier by having food thats actually good for you, rather than ordering a pizza or running to the nearest fast-food restaurant because you can't possibly have dinner ready in an hour.   
  • It makes you feel oh-so-smart because you have it all under control. 

Monday, November 15, 2010

On a Lighter Note

I've become fairly obsessed with The Next Iron Chef on the Food Network recently.  I have never been one to watch cooking shows as I'd rather do than watch, but I happened to be tuned in when the first show of this season aired.  Its kind of late in the game to be talking about this because next week is the final show, but next season, if you like cooking shows, you should definitely watch. 

They started out with oh, I don't know, maybe 10 chefs and each week they eliminated one of them based on cooking challenges.  They'll give these people a challenge, say, updated carnival food and then give them 30 minutes to come up with something.  And what they come up with is amazing.  I can't even come up with a dinner idea in a house full of food, but these chefs are so creative that they can make anything. One week one of them made corn snow-cones. Aside from that concoction, everything else looks really, really tasty. 

And then there's the inevitable personality clashes and irritating habits of chefs that just make it all the more fun to watch.  One week, when given a challenge to come up with something that utilized the concept of respect using potatoes (I don't know who comes up with these ideas, and they are a bit out there, but...) one pompous chef kept critizing others for not "respecting the potato".   That made me smile several times during the week. 

So if you're looking for something to watch and you're tired of the same old reality shows and you've seen every episode of CSI, try something on The Food Network.  And then after you've watched and learned, invite me over to your house to eat.  : )

Here's the guy I want to win.  Chef Forgione.  Cutie.  : )

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Sunday Confessional

Here we go again.  Its a Sunday and I find myself with time to post so I guess its confessional time...

I don't like Christmas.  Yes, its true and I said it out loud. 

Maybe someday soon I'll elaborate.  Suffice it to say that the occasional Christmas commercial that I hear now signals my fight or flight response, and hearing a Christmas carol in JCPenney the other night made me clench my fists.  This is nothing new and I'm afraid it won't go away any time soon. 


Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Proud Mom Soapbox

This past weekend, our marching band competed at its last event of the year; the Michigan Competing Band Association's State Championship.  It marks the end of a very long season, which technically began last May.  44 bands competed in 4 different sets of finals.  Each flight is based on high school size so that similar schools are competing against each other.

 For the 6th year in a row, our band took 1st place!  Yay band!  All 3 of my kids have played in this band during the past 6 years and have experienced the thrill of winning.  However, my oldest was also in this band when they didn't win.  Her freshman year, we took second place to our biggest rival by 5/100's of a point.  It didn't kill her or anyone else in the band for that matter.  It was a good life lesson, in fact. 

Sitting in the stands at Ford Field in Detroit this past Saturday, I was once again reminded how petty and small-minded people can be.  Bitter parents form non-winning schools are very vocal when it comes to their criticism of our band, simply because we have a history of winning a lot.  "They have a lot of money for props and uniforms" was one of the things I heard mentioned a lot. (which is totally untrue!)  "They should just make them stop competing, give our kids a chance to win" was another comment I heard.  As a band parent who's been at both ends of the spectrum, I can identify with some of their complaints.  Its not fair that there can't be 11 first place winners, but thats just the way life works.  Every single student on the field works hard, and puts a lot of time into their practices.  Every one of them.  Our band director is always stressing that we aren't striving to win, but to give the best performance they can.  If they do their best, that's all he can ask of them.  I've known this man for most of my life, but in the capacity of a band director, I've known him for 7 years.  Not once have I heard him say, "Let's go out there and win!"  He has always encouraged the band members and band parents alike to be gracious in winning or losing. 

99% of the parents in our organization are always very gracious to other bands and their parents, offering praise for jobs well done, giving compliments on their shows and music.  But I've gotta tell you that isn't the case for most of the other bands in attendance.  One band mom from another school was once so upset about our winning that she slugged one of our band moms while this mom was washing her hands in the bathroom.  What kind of message is that sending to our kids?  It makes me almost fearful of wearing my school sweatshirt in public.  After the show Saturday, my family went to a restaurant (while I rode the bus with the kids) and they were treated poorly by parents from other bands.  Dirty looks and all. 

Its just band, people.  And winning isn't everything.  No where on any college application will any of this matter.  What really matters it that kids learn the value of hard work, and that striving for something as a team creates a work ethic that will serve them well throughout their lives. 

For right now though, I'm going to play the role of proud band mom and post a picture. 
I'm proud of ALL of our band students.  They are a great group of kids!


Just like everyone else, I have a "favorites" tab in my task bar at the top of my screen.  For the longest time, it was just filled with my favorites, until my kids figured out that they wanted to save their favorite web sites too.  So mixed in with my gardening blogs and coupon sites, there are sites like..."How to make a realistic werewolf mask", and "how to make a fake Pepsi bottle and hide stuff in it".  I even found one that gives instructions on how to create  realistic fake squirting blood from a wound, which of course begs the question, "why?"  Anyway, while looking at my favorite blogs I was faced with the realization that they're all talking about Christmas already.  (!)  I don't know if these super-organized people are in the minority, or if I am.  (I'm going to choose to believe that they are...) So here's my contribution to being organized this Christmas. 
  •    Organized Christmas  This site offers a lot of recipes and homemade gift ideas.  They suggest you have a Grand Plan (their term) and use a notebook to keep all of your recipes, receipts, and lists organized.  Sounds good in theory. 
  • Organized Home - Christmas  A general home organization site, it too uses a notebook.  There are even printable forms you can put in your organizer.  There's lots of useful information too, like sections devoted to freezer cooking, cleaning your house, and getting rid of clutter. 
  • Speaking of lists,  if you need a list, chances are its here.  Of course, it ain't free.  And I'm too cheap to have someone else make my lists for me but hey, you're you.
  • Christmas Organizing This one is by a woman who calls herself a "Christmas Coach".  She's even on Facebook.  There's a lot of ideas here, but not a lot of depth.
I guess I should start taking the Halloween decorations down if I'm going to start thinking about Christmas...

Wednesday, November 3, 2010


If you have no desire to hear me whine and complain, then back away slowly right now.  And if you keep reading, don't say I didn't warn you.

Today is one of those days that I'd just like to run away from home.  At one point this morning, I was very close to doing just that, except I can't run away from home.  Part of this started last evening, and most of it started long before then. It involves a broken lawn mower, a rake, and no help.  Throw in some frustration at trying to start the neighbor's mower, a downpour, a corrupt ipod, and a dog that thinks she no longer needs to go outside and you have an inkling of the problem.

Believe me, I know that I don't have it that bad.  You can take me to task for complaining and don't think I haven't taken myself to task either.  I'm just fed up with life at the moment.  I'm questioning why, if God knows the desires of our heart, and wants us to be happy, he's chosen not to hear me.  Is this payback for something?  Here again, you can berate me and remind me that God has his own timing, and has a plan for our lives.  I know these things.  One of my favorite verses is Jeremiah 29:11 - "For I know the plans I have for you...plans to give you hope and a future."  But this knowledge isn't making me feel any better. 

There...I've vented.  If you're still reading, sorry about that.  I'll try to clean up my attitude.