The Case of the Hopeful Housewife (Part 3)

It’s been two weeks since I set out to work on creating a new family and cleaning schedule.  It is definitely still a work in progress.  I’ve been really tuning in to what my family is good at, what we stink at, where we could use some help/simplification etc.  Stopping to really take it in has been helpful and eye opening.  I don’t know that I actually ever really took that time before.

The first thing I did was to sit down and write out on some scrap paper each day of the week.  I made a note on each day of specific schedules (like swim class on Saturdays.)  Then I started to plug in a room or space to concentrate on for each day. The room a day method seems to work out best for us.  I’ve already switched some days around to create a better flow.

Now that I’ve got that part sorted out I will be working on a specific chore list for each room.  I want to create a checklist that we can mark off as each task is completed.

Observations:

  •   I have noticed that time seems to get away from us headed towards bedtime (particularly on nights my husband works late.)  This means I get stuck having to do end of the day pickup all by myself once the kids are in bed and I want everyone to take a part in this DAILY.
  • We are good at following list.  We may not get everything done, but we get a great deal more accomplished when the plans/task are clear.
  • We need to step up our organization throughout the house.  No more “stuff” without a home.  It is slowing us down for sure.
  • While my husband is always willing to help me out he doesn’t want to be nagged and he needs to do things at his own pace.  I need to keep this in mind when I am assigning chores.
  • My kids are getting big enough that I need to stop doing some things for them.  I have a habit of just doing something because it faster and easier.  I know they will never learn responsibility if I don’t let go.
One really big observation is with regards to weekends.  I’ve noted that things really seem to get away from us.  For example this past weekend we had a house warming party to attend.  In the morning my son had swim lessons and I had errands to do.  My husband and I did a divide and conquer, both arriving back home at lunch time.  We all ate lunch and it was time for a quick shower, get the boys off to grandmas and run out the door.  We left toys everywhere, the kitchen a mess, and laundry half done.  We got home late that night which meant everything would have to be done in the morning.  This meant starting my Sunday already behind.
The fact is that on weekends we are super busy and as warm weather and summer approach we will only get busier.  Truthfully, none of us wants to spend time cleaning up when we could spend time doing something fun as a family.  So I think I may make some adjustments:
  • plan some really simple meals with limited cleanup (think sandwiches, pizza, one dish casseroles.)  If I can prep ahead during the week even better.
  • use paper plates and cups on busy weekends to speed up cleanup.  I would like this to be short term as we get a better handle on things but I believe it could be very helpful.
  • start each weekend morning with look at the day ahead.  make sure we are all on the same page about the days plan/timeline/etc.
So there you have my two week update.  I think we are heading in the right direction and I feel good about the progress we are making.  Hopefully that holds true for the next two weeks as well!

March 2016 Plans

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I’ve got to be honest, this is one lady who is ready for spring!  I am craving sunlight and flowers in my yard.  Cups of coffee while watching the boys play, and the start of some outdoor projects that will go a long way to making this house feel more like home.

Here’s a look at my plans for March:

Food:

  • I have only one plan here. Eat soup.  We live near the factory that makes all the soup for Panera and other restaurants/grocery chains.  Every few months they have case sales to unload extra inventory and it can be purchased for a steal. As in $5 to $10 cases of soup that contain up to 16 pounds of soup.  Well, I got a little over zealous in my purchases of said soup and we have approximately 20 4lb bags of soup right now.  It is taking up a huge amount of space in the freezer- which means I can’t defrost it.  We are also heading into warm weather when no one will want to eat soup. So for this month and next month my food goal will be – eat soup.

Finance:

  • My husband was looking at trading in one of our vehicles.  I need to work some additional savings for this into our budget.
  • I ordered the HD Antenna and it arrived.  Now we need to test it out and make a final decision about whether or not we are going to cancel cable.  I’m ready- my husband is still on the fence.
Family/Fun:
  • We are pretty busy this month.  I would like to plan two family activities though.  It will likely be a fly by the seat of our pants plan.
  • It is my husbands birthday this week.  I’ve got a cake ready to go and will have the kids make a card.
  • I am going to a scrapbooking crop with my mom.  I am really looking forward to this!
Fitness:
  • Continue to exercise at least 4 days a week.
  • Drink more water.  I have no excuse.
Home:
  • Clean and organize the storage cabinet in the 1/2 bath where my husband and I keep all of our toiletries.
  • Purchase new pillows and a throw for the sofa.  Something bright and cheery!
  • Purchase a decorative pillow for our bedroom.  Hang up pictures that we already own.
  • Spend some time outside on warm days.  I want to dig up some flowers that have spread a bit too much.
  • We are going to build a playhouse for our boys.  We plan to follow this tutorial here.  It will take a few weekends so we are going to start at the end of the month.

Week in Review {Week 10}

 

 

 

Wow, I have been busy!  I can’t believe it’s been two weeks since I’ve done one of these post.  I didn’t mean to abandon the week in review post- but sometimes life happens.  I’ve had a flurry of sick kids (yes, again- the stomach bug is going through our community) along with school events, and other family goings on.  It doesn’t mean I’ve abandoned my frugal ways too! Here’s what we’ve been up to the past week or so:

  • We used a free Redbox code to rent “The Good Dinosaur”, which the kids loved.
  • I signed up my 5 year old for little league to take advantage of the early bird registration- saving me $25.00.
  • I borrowed and read two books from the library. I have now read 6 books this year and well on my way to my goal of 20 books in 2016.
  • Salvaged some pie crust that needed to be used up.  I made a quesadilla with it.
  • I purchased a raincoat for my son on sale at Old Navy for $12.  It is a little big so I should get a full year from it.  Our previous Old Navy raincoat lasted 2 years and still looks brand new.
  • Made sure everyone had lunch and snacks from home everyday.  We have only eaten out dinner once in the last several weeks- pizza this past Tuesday.  My little one was very sick and needed his mommy.
  • Went to a neighborhood dinner party and brought a salad. There was a big bowlful left so I took it home- the hostess said they wouldn’t eat leftovers.
  • I found some flower shaped lollipops amongst our candy stash.  I will give these to my niece and nephew for Easter along with a $5 gift card for ice cream. I am still deciding what to do for my boys. It will not include candy since they will get a bunch from others.
  • I was gifted two more books and some coupons by my mom. In exchange I gave her more -you guessed it- soup.  Haha!
  • We went to a free event for kids at a local university celebrating March into Reading.
I hope you have a great weekend!

 

 

Month in Review [February 2016]

 

Good Morning!  It is going to be a beautiful week here in Rhode Island for the month of March.  I am craving the warm spring weather!  Before we move forward how about a peek at what did and did not happen in February?

Food:

  • make cookies, pizza sauce, and spaghetti sauce for the freezer. I didn’t get to pizza sauce or cookies.  I did make spaghetti sauce though and it is delicious.  Perfect for sneaking in veggies to picky eaters.  You can find the recipe here.
  • try 2 new recipes: Taco Pasta Casserole and Green Chili Rice Casserole.  Both are freezer friendly. I did make both of these.  The Green Chile Rice (recipe) was great and my boys both raved about the Taco Pasta Casserole (recipe) too. 
  • Clean out the freezer above the fridge.  Use up all odds and ends.  Once finished move on to the upright freezer downstairs.  Defrost the upright freezer. We were able to clear out the freezer above the fridge and I cleaned out and rearranged the upright freezer.  I did not defrost it yet.  There is just too much soup still. 
Finance:
  • continue to research savings in any areas we can.  Specifically cellphones, vehicle insurance, etc. We made a stop at our cellphone provider.  After some review it turns out we have a better plan than they currently offer.  Once the payment for the phones are paid (there are 3 more)  we will see our bill come down $60.00.  We’ve decided that this is satisfactory for us at present. 
  • take a look at my credit card points and see if we can use them to purchase some gift cards to use for upcoming birthdays.    We decided to hold out using these until Christmas.  Money is usually tighter at that time of year.
  • January had an extra pay period so we are trying to figure out how to allocate that money.  We will pay off one credit card for certain. I am about to pay off one credit card today (I had to wait for the updated bill.)  Woohoo!  The rest of the money is going to go to paying a medical bill and car tax.  I will also use some to purchase some spring clothes for myself.  I haven’t bought myself spring clothes in years and I need a wardrobe beyond yoga pants.
Family/Fun:
  • We have a family fun day planned for the science museum (free admission) as well as going to see Star Wars.  I will bring snacks and drinks from home on both adventures.
  • Have 2 stay at home dates with my husband.  There are several movies available at Redbox we would like to see.  I am hoping I can find a code to get them for free.
  • February school break is coming up.  I found out there are 2 science shows at a local mall for free.  My mom has offered babysitting for the little one so I can take my 5 year old.  I will be researching other fun and free activities this week.
Fitness:
  • continue to exercise at least 4 days a week.  I had done pretty well with this until I got ill in January. I did  better in February.  I really enjoy walking and now that it is warming up a little it should be easier to make it happen.
  • drink more water.  I have no excuse. I did a little better.  Not great though….
Home:
  • clean and organize the storage cabinet in the 1/2 bath where my husband and I keep all of our toiletries. I didn’t get to this yet.
  • purchase new pillows for our bed. I was able to get two pillows on sale at Target for 25% off! 
  • purchase new shades for our bedroom if I can catch a great sale.  I ordered the shades from JC Penney at 50% off plus free shipping.  The only issue is that they won’t arrive until May.  I figure we can wait since we’ve lived with out them for this long. 
  • spend some time cleaning out the basement storage area.  It got really messy over the holidays.  I need to make room for more shelving to hold pantry supplies.  I made some headway with this.  I cleaned up quite a bit and ordered the shelves. 

So there you have it- another month in the books.  I hope you had a great February.  I know I am excited to see what March brings!

Green Chile Rice Casserole [Recipe Review]

A few weeks back I borrowed the book “Not Your Mother’s Make Ahead and Freeze Cookbook” by Jessica Fisher.  I have a strong interest in freezer cooking as lately it has really been a huge help to us.  It stops us from ordering out and is saving us quite a bit of money. Our only restaurant or takeout meals in the month of February were those that were planned. Yahoo!20160302_134025.jpg

I made copies of a few of the recipes from the book I thought my family might enjoy and one of them was Green Chile Rice Casserole.  I made a few adjustments to suit our taste and the result was a rich dish that makes a great side or even main dish paired with a salad.

Green Chile Rice Casserole {Adapted from Not Your Mother’s Make Ahead and Freeze Cookbook}

  • 1 15oz can of black beans (drained and rinsed)
  • 16oz sour cream (you could use plain yogurt)
  • 2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1 4oz. can diced green chiles
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 3 cups cooked rice (I used long grain white- you could use brown)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Pour all ingredients except rice into a big bowl and stir until combined.  Once they are well combined add cooked rice a bit at a time.  The mixture is thick and this will make it easier to stir.  Once all the rice has been added, spread into a 9×13 dish that has been greased.  Bake for 30 to 40 minutes until heated through. (30 if you are adding hot rice/40 if your rice or casserole was chilled.)

Since there are just 4 of us I cut the recipe in half and baked in an 8×8 dish and it worked great.  It was such a big hit I will be making the full pan version next time to have left overs to enjoy!