We relish the dinner hour

Monday, January 11, 2010

If you have children, then you know how trying the dinner hour can be. Enough said.

Last month I read a blip in Real Simple magazine about a menu planning service called "Relish Relish". After my sister joined and Facebook'ed her love for it, I had to check it out.

What I discovered is that this service has the potential to theoretically change my life. For just seven bucks a month, I am guaranteed 5 great meals a week. I joined right away and love it! To date, even my pickiest eater (age 8) has gobbled up her dinner.

Once a week, I select my 5 favorite meals and print out the pdf file they prepare which includes a grocery list (sorted by category) and the week’s recipes (most of which require 5 steps or less).

I especially love the comprehensive grocery list, because I can pull my coupons ahead of time. I keep all of the recipes in page protectors and filed in one of my fabric covered three ring binders for future reference.

A stitch in time

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Six. That is the maximum number of tasks that I can accomplish realistically within a day. I know this because I recently conducted a study of sorts in which my purpose was to answer one question: “Where did the day go?”

For three weeks, I chronicled my activities. Not what I wanted to do; but what I actually did. My findings surprised me. A self-confessed type-A personality, I love to make lists, especially to do lists. The longer the list, the better, I used to think. It wasn’t until I began tracking my activities, that I grasped the straightforward concept that there really are only so many hours in the day.

In addition to analyzing my actions, I kept a simple log of my feelings or mood throughout the day. What I learned, was on those days that I overscheduled myself, I consequently had more stress and that in turn negatively impacted my attitude. Likewise, those days that were loosely structured with little or no direction produced a similar feeling.

The ideal situation, I deduced, is a daily plan with clear limits. While I do have a Blackberry that affords me access to a variety of scheduling applications, it does not allow me the ability to impose clear limits; but instead, fuels my desire to over schedule every aspect of my life.

Because I do take pleasure in writing, particularly the handwritten word, I developed a one page template that allows me just enough space to set realistic expectations. I keep the completed pages organized in a pretty fabric covered three ring binder that is divided by month. A memento of sorts, I think it may be interesting to save the binder for my girls to look back on someday when they have a family of their own. There is space for me to note my general demeanor and share what the favorite part of my day was.

Of course, the reporter in me is indeed curious, how you keep from over scheduling your life? Feel free to post your thoughts below and you will be entered in a random drawing to win a Watermelon Wishes 1” fabric 3-ring binder cover made in your choice of my stock fabrics (the actual binder is not included, just the cover). The winner will be selected February 15, 2010 and announced on the front page of my blog. Be sure to include your name and city as to keep someone else from claiming your prize. (Ex: Andrea Chapman, Haymarket) There is no charge for shipping and international readers are welcome to enter. The only requirement is the cover must be shipped to the destination listed in the original comment.

Until next time,