Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Pantry Challenge

I too have decided to take up the pantry challenge that Jessica at Life as Mom is hosting.  My goals are pretty straightforward and are not overly ambitious but I do feel that any steps in the right direction are good.

  1. Cook one more family meal per week (difficult to do with our schedules but I think can be done)
  2. Use items up in the pantry the following ways
    • Trying new recipes from cookbook I bought my husband for Christmas
    • Freezer cooking to re-stock freezer while emptying pantry
  3. Find a new way to keep pantry organized.  Although embarrassing, I'll post a current picture of my pantry later.  Keep in mind that I just organized it over Thanksgiving break - how does it get so messy!
I'm looking forward to the challenge, I don't expect to save much money since I'll need to buy meat to go with  some of the items, but I'm looking forward to providing my family with some home cooking which they don't get a lot.

Feel free to leave comments sharing anything you are doing for the pantry challenge.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Happy New Year - 2011 Resolutions

I love a new year!  I know that nothing really changes but when January 1st comes around if feels like we get a do over.  It's kind of like a fresh snowfall where you can go out with the kids and make snow angels or a big snowman before the snow gets all yucky.  Every year I like to sit down and think about what the past year brought and what I'd like the new year to bring me.  I don't expect to do all my resolutions but I figure if I aim for the starts and hit the moon I'm still farther ahead than I would have been otherwise.

2010 brought a lot of blessings for us but I feel that some of them came at a really huge personal sacrifice for me.  I feel like I really lost who I was this year because there was just so much to do both around the house and especially at work.  I gained back all the weight I lost in 2009, I hardly went out with my friends and I basically just didn't have any fun.  My mother-in-law even commented a couple of weeks ago about the change she's seen in me.  To get back to myself I'm going to try and make my 2011 mostly about me.  Here are my resolutions for the new year broken down by category:

All About Me
  1. Be healthier - While I'd like to lose weight (and need to) I'm really going to focus on eating healthier and exercising.
  2. Take golf lessons - I'm not sure that I really would like golf but it would be good to learn for my career and I think it would be good exercise.  None of my friends golf (and Mike doesn't want to learn) so I also think that this will be a good chance for me to get some alone time to clear my head.
  3. Develop a hobby - I was talking to some people at a conference and when they asked what I liked to do I was really stumped.  I pulled out the old favorites (reading and gardening) but quite frankly I rarely do those any more.  I love to read but I haven't picked up a book in almost two months and I don't know that I did any gardening this year.  I want to develop a hobby that I can talk enthusiastically about, just not sure what it is yet :)
  4. Read more - I bought myself an e-reader this year but took it back to the store because it didn't work.  Quite frankly I really like the old fashion method of picking up a book instead of reading it on a screen.  I'm going to make an effort to read more.
  5. Pamper myself - I absolutely love messages.  I haven't put massages in the yearly budget but my goal is to try and squeeze our grocery budget enough to get a massage at least monthly.
  6. Re-connect with my friends - Friday night is typically the night that my girlfriends from high school go out for dinner together.  This has been going on for 20 years but is one of the very first things I give up when I get stressed out and busy.  The nice thing about the group is no one gives you a hard time when you don't go (even if it's for years) and they're always happy to see you when you start back up.  I'm going to try and make dinner at least 2-3 times per month.

All About Everything Else
  1. Be more organized - I'm definitely a fly by the seat of the pants kind of gal.  Everything gets done and the house is usually company ready but I think if I was more organized I'd be able to do it all with less stress.  One of the ways I'm going to do this is to cut down on mail by getting all my bills electronically and getting on the no-junk mail list and off the pre-approved credit lists.
  2. Pamper my mom a little more - my mom is pretty fantastic and really knows how to pamper those she loves.  I was a little pouty this Christmas because I felt like no-one went out of their way to get me anything I wanted while I really put a lot of thought and energy into everyone elses presents.  When I finally got a chance to get together with my family on New Years Day for Christmas (my grandpa took a turn for the worse so my parents went to St. Louis for Christmas) my mom really came through in the presents department.  She didn't buy me anything to extravagant but she showed that she really thought about what I'd love and got it for me.  It felt really good just being taken care of like a daughter and I realize that with my grandmother's Alzheimers my mom is never going to have that feeling again.  My goal for this year is to make her feel a little pampered and cared for.
  3. Cook better for the family - We generally have about two family dinner nights per week due to different schedules.  I'm going to try and squeeze one more night in there and I'm going to try and cook a wider variety of dishes using as much homemade and natural items as I can.
That's about it, I could add a ton of things to the list (like volunteer more) but reality is my time is limited and I need to focus what time I do have on me and my family.  In a few years when my kids aren't home anymore and I'm done with school I'll have a lot more free time do make the list even larger.

I"ll update periodically how much resolutions are going throughout the year.  I'd love to hear some of your resolutions.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

The Confirmation Dress

One thing to know about me is I'm not a huge shopper.  The first reason being that I don't have a lot of time for 'window shopping', if I don't have a specific need I don't go into the store and if I do have a reason it's got to be quick.  Reason number two is I got myself into some trouble a few years back with overspending, quite frankly I used shopping to relieve some intense stress I was under but ended up just getting us over extended on our credit cards.  If you don't go into a store you can't buy anything :)

With that being said, Danielle and I spent two afternoons shopping this week and we really had a good time.  She had gotten quite a bit of money and gift cards for Christmas that she wanted to spend.  Plus I also received a gift card to my favorite store (White House / Black Market) and I need something for a party within the next week.

One of the first stores we hit was the Black/White store where I ALWAYS head for the clearance rack.  I love the store, don't love the prices.  I tried on a few things and quickly became frustrated by the weight I gained this year.  My daughter was trying to be helpful by picking out things that would look great on her size one body but not so hot on my larger size.  One of the items that she picked out was a black wrap dress originally $100 marked down to $25.  All clearance items also received an additional 30% plus by using my 'member card' I also received another 5% discount.

I let my daughter try on the dress and she looked absolutely amazing, very grown-up and mature.  She's getting confirmed this spring, my usual mode of operation would be to go dress shopping for her the Saturday before her confirmation and pay an arm and a leg for the dress.  However in keeping with my New Year's Resolution of being more prepared we not only got her confirmation dress but we also only paid about $17 for it!  What a deal!

What a way to start the new year!