Tuesday, January 25, 2011

My Homemaking Notebook

This year in my quest to become more organized I’ve created a “Homemaking Notebook”. I originally saw one on someone else’s blog a couple of years ago but when I decided to finally make one I googled it and saw that this was not a new idea at all! There are many websites and blogs about this very thing. So I took an idea or two from different people as well as making something that would suit our household.

A homemaking notebook or binder is supposed to be an organizer for the entire household. But seeing as I am the only one using it, I added a lot of personal items to it as well. As the kids get older I’m sure there will be more in there in regards to school schedules, and extra curricular activities but for now it’s basically for me to keep the house fairly organized.

Here are a few of the items I put in my binder:

1. Cleaning List- I broke up all the rooms of my house and what all needs to be done in each room. I then broke it down into days and now I have a checklist for each day (Monday-Friday only).

2. Menu- I’ve printed out a calendar for the month and I’m planning our meals at least 1 week in advance. Since I’ve started doing that I’ve noticed that I’m much more organized when it comes to grocery shopping and keeping to my grocery budget. (A great website for calendars in excel format is www.vertex42.com) 

3. Food Diary- This isn’t a household matter but because I’ve created this binder to be used only for myself I have this in here as well. I’ve been tracking everything I eat or drink and tallying the calories and protein amounts. Since I’ve begun this I notice I really think twice about snacking or having a can of soda.

4. Bible Reading- I’ve committed myself to reading the Bible in 1 year. So I’ve created a spreadsheet that tracks my reading so that if I follow it, I will have read the entire Bible in chronological order by the end of December.

5. Prayer Journal- This section is a place to jot down anything that I feel God is speaking to me about or things I need to pray about.

6. Budget- In this section I’ve created a spreadsheet that shows every bill we have to pay on a monthly basis as well as a spot for each month of the year. As we pay our bills I will put an “x” in the spot and it helps to show us what has already been paid for the month and what still needs to be paid.

I’ve also printed out our budget that I’ve created that shows how much money is coming in and how much is allotted to go out. We keep ourselves on a very tight budget that is mostly cash based so we cannot overspend. When the cash runs out for the week, we can’t spend until the next week when I refill our envelopes. Since we’ve begun this budget we’ve been finally able to put a small bit of money away for the first time.

7. Birthdays & Anniversaries- This is the section where I’ve put down all the birthdays & anniversaries of family members and close friends. Mainly the people I intend on sending out cards to.

My mom recently told me that one of her aunts used to buy all the birthday cards for the year at the beginning of the year and fill them all out. She would address the envelopes and file them away so that every card just needed to be dropped in the mail as the birthday came near. I think this is a fabulous idea and I hope to try to start that this year.

8. Garbage Schedule- Where I live they’ve made our garbage & recycling a bit of a confusing matter, so I’ve printed up a calendar of our garbage  & recycling schedule to keep me organized on what goes out when.

9. Emergency #’s- I haven’t completed this yet, but this is a section to keep all phone numbers that may be necessary in an emergency. Poison Control, the local hospital, police station, family doctor, paediatrician, etc. This could also be great if you get a babysitter so you have every number she may need in one place.

10. Notes- In this section I’ve just put lined paper in so that if I need to jot something down or even write a quick note to my daughter’s teacher, the paper is right there and I don’t have to go hunting for it.

So these are the sections in my binder, but there may be more that would suit your family.

For many, a section to create a grocery list may be handy. I don’t use that because I have an app on my ipod that I enter my grocery list on which keeps track of prices and categories for me.

If your kids are older it may be beneficial to have a section for each child to keep track of extra curricular activities, assignments, or even just a place to keep their medical records.

I’m sure as the year progresses my notebook will evolve and will hopefully be even better next year, but for now I’m already finding it very helpful for both home and personal organization.

Have a great day!

Friday, January 21, 2011

Meal Planning

January is the month of diets and health consciousness. Everyone makes resolutions to lose weight and get healthy and slowly it falls by the wayside as people forget or they give up because it’s too hard.

So far I’m doing all right. I had one bad day calorie wise as I mentioned in my previous post. Yesterday I was within in my range- just barely. For supper last night I made a Vegetarian Tofu Chilli. While I’m not vegetarian, I do like to try different thing. As much I’ve liked other vegetarian chilli’s, this really wasn’t one of them. Probably not one I’ll do again.

Today has already been a struggle. I’ve been taking my youngest Sophia to get a picture taken each month of her first year, and today was her 10 month picture. On the way home, Tim Hortons was calling out to me. I was craving a French Vanilla Cappuccino and a Bacon Breakfast Sandwich. I even switched lanes to go over there and then managed to talk myself out of it and go straight home. Although there may be allowances for it, I didn’t want to waste the majority of my daily calories on that when I could enjoy something more later on in the day. So for breakfast I had 2 slices of Ezekiel Bread with a tbsp of peanut butter and a black coffee from my Keurig. Way less calories!

Recently I discovered a website called SOS Cuisine. I believe it’s mostly for Ontario and Quebec residents but the recipes on there can be accessed by anyone. The thing I like about it is that it gives you a weekly supper menu using items that it knows are on sale that week in my local grocery stores. So it gives me the menu, the recipes, a shopping list, and a list of where the sales are to buy the cheapest food! I love it! I don’t always love all the recipes (the vegetarian chilli was from there), but I use it mainly and add a few of my own recipes to the week.

Now that I’m planning our meals on a weekly basis I find I’m much more organized and don’t need to run out to the store to quickly get that ingredient for supper. Although there are usually only 3 eaters at supper (Sophia eats from my plate- and Emily is only here every other weekend), I always cook 4 servings and use the leftover serving for my husbands’ lunch the next day. It’s very convenient!

Well I’m off to work on some housework and laundry while Sophia is napping. Hoping you have a great weekend!

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

One of my resolutions for this year was to start writing on my blog again. I miss sharing the things I'm doing in my kitchen and sharing about things I'm learning concerning health & nutrition. And yes, I miss sharing about my kids.

Last time I wrote I was pregnant with my 2nd child- she is now 10 months old! Wow! She's growing so fast! She's started mimicking me by pretending to hold a phone and say, "allo?" and she tried combing her hair this morning after watching me comb her sisters hair.

Another thing I started doing this year was tracking my eating. I was never paying enough attention to my calorie intake and I never paid any attention whatsoever to my protein intake. Until recently, I didn't realize how important protein was in keeping me full, building muscle and burning calories. I've started writing down on a chart everything I was eating and drinking. Yesterday I was over my calories for the day- although i didn't think I had eaten that much. But my cup of chocolate milk, a can of pop and a cookie all added up. Today I am being much more careful about what I am eating!

This evening I will be eating at my church for supper. Every Wednesday they serve supper for only $4 before the Bible studies and kids church starts. We've only been taking advantage of it since the New Year and are enjoying meeting new people and eating great food that I didn't cook! I will have to try and figure out though how to calculate the calories. :)

Well that's it for today. But I'm looking forward to writing much more regularly now!

Have a great day!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

I'm back!

Wow! I haven't written here since June! It's been a crazy, crazy summer! I had my parentscome visit for almost 2 weeks- a trip that had to be extended when my dad was hospitalized with a minor stroke. The day they left, my husband's brother and his family came for the rest of July. Great times, but so busy! In August we had weddings, family dinners, and then we flew out to Saskatoon to spend a week with my family. The day we arrived back in Toronto, my husband's other brother and his family arrived from Florida for a week. We had a good time with them as well, but no time to do anything productive.

And now, it's September. I told myself not to even try to blog during the summer because I would just disappoint myself. So here we are.

My daughter Daniella started Junior Kindergarten this year. That's so weird to me. I feel like she was just born yesterday and now she's off to school. I expected to be emotional about it but I wasn't. I think there was just too much commotion that day to be emotional.

Another change in my life is that I'm now unemployed. It's a long story, but I am now a stay-at-home mom. I've been telling my husband for the last 3 years how much I wish I could stay at home with my kids and take better care of the house and have more homemade meals, etc. So here's my chance. I guess this is probably where I should mention that I'm expecting! We found out at the beginning of August and I'm currently 13 weeks along. So this is why I am not finding another job right now. Who wants to hire someone who will be taking maternity leave in 6 months?

So yesterday I made taco salad for supper. Instead of using the little packets of taco seasoning that you find in the grocery store, I made my own mixture. It's WAY cheaper, much tastier, and no added junk like MSG, etc. My husband told me several times that it's much tastier than the store bought so I think I will stick with this.

Today I decided to bake some bread. Ever since moving out east 5 years ago, I've had trouble baking any decent bread. I'm not sure what it is since other people seem to do it fine, but I always have trouble getting the dough to rise. I don't know if it's the elevation, or maybe the house is too cold, but either way today was successful. Once the dough was made, I put a heating pad in a large bowl and put the dough bowl inside the larger bowl. That seemed to do the trick!

I also made some Zumma (Summer) Borscht. It's a Mennonite soup that I grew up with. It's got farmer sausage, potatoes, onions, and dill. So delicious! So tonight we had soup and bread for supper. Yummy!

Well I guess that's all for now. Have a great day!

Friday, June 19, 2009

Father's Day Ideas: Part 2

We’re just 2 days away from Father’s Day, and I know most of you ladies have it all figured it out already. But just in case, you’re one of those last muinute gals, here’s a couple ideas for you and/or the kids.

Car Nut Frame
This cute little frame is easy enough for the little ones to do and how can Dad not like something with nuts?

Best Dad Desk Accessory
How could Dad not love this little reminder that he is the best?

Denim MP3 Player Holder

Does Dad have an MP3 player in need of a case? Here’s an idea to fix that!

Dad Clipboard
Does Dad need a clipboard? Here’s a fun one he’d like!

Dad Box
Make a Dad Box and fill it up with some of his favourite goodies!

Painted Father’s Day Magazine Holder for the Fisherman
Does Dad like fishing? How about magazines? Bring the 2 together with this Magazine Holder.

If you missed Part 1 of Father's Day Ideas, please click here to see it!

Happy Father’s Day! Have a great weekend!

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Sam the BBQ Man

When Sam & I got married almost 5 years ago, the only thing he knew about the kitchen was where the fridge was. He could sort of BBQ a hamburger and that was about it. But in the last couple years he really started to BBQ and learn his way around our kitchen. At first his steaks were alright, then they got better, and now I have no desire to spend my money at a fancy steak restaurant when I can have one of Sam’s steaks! They’re fantastic! He’s also been mastering grilled peppers, onions and zucchini. They get better every year.

Last year for Father’s Day the girls & I bought him a book called the BBQ Bible. He loved it. But the only problem was that many of the recipes in this “bible”, were for a charcoal grill. He only had access to a propane one. So he set his sights on a charcoal grill. The Weber Gold. We heard about this thing for months and months. So a few weeks ago Emily and I put our heads together and decided it would make a great Father’s Day present. We left Daniella out of the conversation because she can only keep a secret for about 5 minutes. Unfortunately Emily is only with us every other weekend and her weekend did not coincide with Father’s Day. So we decided to hold it one week early. I went to the mall and got a little plaque engraved that says, “Happy Father’s Day. Love Emily & Daniella, 2009”. Then we taped the plaque into his card. When he opened the card and puzzlingly looked at the plaque, Emily told him to go into the porch and see what was under the blanket. There was his Weber! He was so shocked and so excited! Immediately the BBQ Bible came out and he had to run to the store for some charcoal and some meat.

That night, we had steak, peppers and onions. They were SO good! The next night we had chicken. Last night Sam was going to try his hand at BBQ-ing a pizza. He watched several YouTube videos on how it was done and planned to do it, but it was raining quite hard- so no BBQ-ing that night. But Sam wanted to make his pizza so he did it in the kitchen. This was his first ever pizza! I was so proud of him!! It was really good too! Way better than I usually make since I tend to always put on too many topping no matter how hard I try not to. After the pizza was all cleaned up, I helped him make a marinade for some pork chops that he’ll be grilling tonight and for some more steak for tomorrow.

So if you ever think getting your husband to cook is hopeless, it can be done!

Happy BBQ-ing!