Category Archives: Time Management/Organization

Writer’s Block Over: Reclaiming the Time

It has been forever since I actually sat down and intentionally wrote a blog post. I’ve written a dozen or more articles in my head, but they’ve never made it onto paper…let alone the blog. It’s felt like writer’s block, and for a number of reasons:

  1. It’s been an incredibly busy season in our lives–between work, school and church schedules; holidays and family time; and finishing up the back room project, on top of a water main breaking.
  2. We’ve had a season of sickness–about six weeks each during the holidays. (We’re both finally feeling better!)
  3. This particular season at work is recruiting and conference planning season, so it’s been especially busy; and when you add the general busyness to this, along with the lack of sleep from being sick, I was too tired to even think about writing.
  4. I think the fatigue and overall winter gloom made me lethargic; when I got home from work, the only thing I felt I had energy to do was watch TV, and that’s what I did.

So, though the season of busyness is not over yet, the sickness and fatigue is waining, and I’ve had more energy to want to think creatively again. Plus, I’ve been asked to write emails, manuals, and some ads at work recently, so I want to make sure I don’t lose my craft. And the only ways to do that are reading and writing.

I went to a book party last night, and it really encouraged me to start reading again. The last few novels I’ve picked up to read have kind of been flops that I’ve abandoned towards the beginning, so I was happy to get a highly recommended book to break the rut.

And if I want to have time to read and write, something else has got to go. So, as I talked with Bryan last night, I decided the thing that was getting the boot (for me) was television–at least for the month of February! That means watching on the TV, over the internet, Netflix, sports, movies, everything–it’s got to go if I’m going to reclaim my time! And Bryan’s promised to help me. 

I’ve been thinking about pulling the plug on television for a while now. It started with an interview our pastor did of a dear lady who turned 100 last year! She said one of the best decisions she made to improve her prayer life was not watching TV–and she doesn’t feel like she’s missed anything! I haven’t been able to shake that thought. Then our shepherding group leaders have been talking a lot recently about getting rid of everything that’s a non-essential: whether that means eliminating daily distractions or even as drastic as downsizing their home to give them more time to serve and less time working on a big, beautiful yard. Don’t get me wrong, God can use your time in the yard for His glory and He can show you the beauty of His creation through your work in it, but there’s a time and season for everything, and they have some good points.

So, I’m going to do my best to break the couch potato habit; and I’m not promising I’ll write every day, but I am promising that I will either read or write (or maybe a little of both) for at least a little while each evening. I’m also hoping that this will be an encouragement to my soul (as opposed to the needless drama of fictional characters and lack of edification on most shows these days).

Interesting Articles and Tips for College-Age Students

It’s back to school and the blogosphere is flooded with tons of helpful tips, advice, and info about heading back to college…or jumping in for the first time.

First, I read two articles specifically addressing “20-somethings.” The first was “The 20 Things I Wish Someone Had Told Me at 20” by Dr. Karin L. Smithson on HuffingtonPost.com. It has some good reminders worth reading as so many head back to school…about picking friends, staying healthy, the importance of family and faith, etc.

The second was “20 Things 20 Year Olds Don’t Get” by Jason Nazar on Forbes.com. For all my friends heading back to college…or just out of college…or just trying to build traction in your careers, this article contains some fairly sound advice. It’s not necessarily that young people “don’t get it” but rather some good career tips that they “should get,” or maybe “don’t get yet,” or “what to strive for.” From productivity to professionalism, online etiquette to face to face communication, reputation and fiscal responsibility, this article hits the key topics that are crucial for young people to grasp early on if they desire to be successful.

Also, I’m noticing lots of college-age or recent post-college grads struggling with “discerning God’s will for their lives.” One book I recently read that I wish I had read when I started college is Kevin DeYoung’s Just Do Something. See my recent book review here. Also, remember that you don’t have to read every spiritual self-help book known to man; if you have a Bible and read it regularly, seek godly counsel, and prayer, those three things are more valuable than any “how to” book or article out there.

In regards to what to major in, I read “The Decline and Fall of the English Major” by Verlyn Klinkenborg on NYTimes.com. It is sad to hear that the number of students majoring in English is declining. I could have majored in a great number of things, but I am continually thankful that I majored in English. It has been invaluable in every aspect of my life–personally, professionally, socially, even spiritually. The most beneficial classes I took were probably Critical Writing with Dr. Horton and Philosophy of Education with Dr. Salter (both should be required by every major, in my humble opinion). To think clearly and logically and to be able to write concisely and coherently are two of the most precious yet neglected treasures in this culture. Klinkenborg writes: “Writing well used to be a fundamental principle of the humanities, as essential as the knowledge of mathematics and statistics in the sciences. But writing well isn’t merely a utilitarian skill. It is about developing a rational grace and energy in your conversation with the world around you.” and “No one has found a way to put a dollar sign on this kind of literacy, and I doubt anyone ever will. But everyone who possesses it — no matter how or when it was acquired — knows that it is a rare and precious inheritance.” Well said, Verlyn.

Finally, it’s important in your college years to stay healthy in this fast-paced, stress-filled season of life. Here’s a fun “Cheat Sheet for Healthy School Lunches” from The Honest Co.:

Lean Packing

Infograph from Travelista.com:

Here’s a slideshow from the NY Times on how a flight attendant packed for a 10 day trip in a carry-on bag:

 

I like using a yoga bag (like the Gaiam Everything Fits or Metro Gym Bag) as my carry-on bag and rolling up my Tempur-pedic pillow where the yoga mat usually goes. Then my second carry-on is my purse. It works pretty well for me.

Here’s a great Packing List for Women from Rick Steves. And a Packing List for Men from StyleGirlfriend.com. And another general packing list from ApartmentTherapy.com.

And one more, in case there are children involved–a Travel Kit for Kids from RealSimple.com.

 

If you’re flying and checking your luggage, make sure you have one full set of clothes in your carry-on (including under garments). And whatever you do, travel, experience, and enjoy the journey!

“One’s destination is never a place, but a new way of seeing things.” – Henry Miller

Another Week of Healthful Budget Grocery Shopping!

This week’s grocery shopping included four stops, all costing a total of $56.86! I used the “Dirty Dozen” list to make sure I was buying organic on the most important items, and went as all-natural on the rest of the ingredients as possible.

From Trader Joe’s: $36.93

  • 2 dozen all-natural eggs
  • organic plain yogurt
  • organic baby spinach
  • all-natural mozzarella log
  • local cucumber
  • local yellow squash
  • cauliflower
  • organic broccoli
  • uncured bacon ends and pieces
  • all-natural pork roast
  • organic gold potatoes

From Aldi: $9.72

  • dried cranberries
  • lemons
  • limes
  • cabbage
  • artisan lettuce
  • 3 cans of tuna in water

From Bi-Lo: $4.95

  • egg roll wrappers
  • wonton wrappers

From The Best Asian Market: $5.26

  • daikon root
  • bok choy
  • rice wine vinegar
  • mushrooms

Ideas for this week’s menu:

Breakfasts:

  • Spinach Bacon Quiche
  • Scrambled Eggs and Homemade Hashbrowns
  • We still have oatmeal, cereal, milk and juice from last week’s grocery shopping
  • I plan on attempting to make some artisan bread for toast and sandwiches as well

Lunches:

  • Leafy Green Salads with all the fixin’s
  • Tuna Salad Sandwiches
  • Hard Boiled Eggs
  • Tomato, Mozzarella, and Basil Salads

Dinners:

Snacks:

  • Yogurt
  • Trail Mix (we have nuts and chocolate, and we’ll add the dried cranberries)
  • cucumber slices
  • Baked Apple Pie Egg Rolls
  • Some kind of dessert using lemons and limes – I haven’t decided yet
  • Fresh lemonade

Who Says Eating Healthy Costs More?!

I’m not sure why I don’t shop at Trader Joe’s more often! Probably because it’s a little bit out of the way to get there, but it’s still not that far out of the way. Can you believe I only spent $52.03 on all this, without using one coupon?! And it’s all either organic or at least all-natural and unprocessed! My plan is to shop at Trader Joe’s once a week through the end of the year and see if I can keep our budget to about $50 per week.

Here’s what’s I picked up yesterday (as seen in the picture above):

  • Flour Tortillas
  • Applegate Roast Beef Slices
  • Applegate Herbed Turkey Slices
  • Swiss Cheese Slices
  • Large container of Grape Tomatoes
  • Brussels Sprouts
  • Romaine Lettuce
  • 2 bags of Carrots
  • Broccoli
  • Sliced White Mushrooms
  • 1.5 lbs. Ground Turkey
  • Shredded Cheese Blend
  • Red Onions
  • Bananas
  • 3 lbs. Sweet Potatoes
  • Feta Cheese
  • Bok Choy
  • Orange Juice

I also picked up condiments for $1 each at Earthfare (stock-up sale) and got free chips and salsa with my $5 purchase!

And here’s how I plan to use it:

  • Breakfasts:
    • Orange Juice
    • Hard Boiled or Scrambled Eggs (a friend picked up 3 dozen Eggland’s Best Eggs during a buy-one-get-one-free sale, plus coupons for me last week for $1.20 total!)
    • Cereal and Milk (already had on hand)
    • Sweet Potato Hash with Edamame
    • Oatmeal with Raisins and Brown Sugar (already had on hand)
  • Lunches:
    • Roast Beef or Turkey Wraps with Swiss Cheese and Lettuce
    • Salad with Feta, Black Olives (on hand), Roasted Beets (on hand), Carrots, and Tomatoes
    • Peanut Butter and Jelly Sandwiches (on hand –  make homemade bread)
  • Dinners:
    • Enchiladas with Ground Turkey and Shredded Cheese (top with sour cream and red onion)
    • Baked Potatoes and Broccoli with Cheese
    • Grilled Chicken and Caramelized Brussels Sprouts
    • Stir-Fry with Carrots, Bok Choy, Onion, and Mushrooms and Rice
    • Breakfast for Dinner
    • Turkey Burgers and Potato Wedges
    • Sautéed Mushrooms with Garlic and Cheddar, served over Quinoa
  • Snacks:
    • Bananas
    • Oatmeal Raisin Cookies
    • Carrot Cupcakes
    • Sweet Potato Fries
    • Chips and Salsa

 

Product Review: Früsh

A while back, a marketing firm contacted me about a new product that’s hitting grocery stores near me. They sent me some goodies to share, along with an amazing little packet of reference materials about a new drinkable yogurt called Früsh. Früsh is all-natural yogurt with fresh fruit and added probiotics and calcium for a healthy snack or part of your breakfast routine.

The packet: a cooler with ice packs and 24 bottles of Früsh, a banner, product materials and coupons, 2 drawstring backpacks, and some buttons!

I’m not sure the exact meaning behind the name, but to me it’s a “Fruit Rush” – fruit yogurt on-the-go! I tasted it and thought it was  pretty good, but I wanted to make sure it wasn’t just me, so I took the samples they sent me into my office and did a taste testing!

“The Goods”

Here are some of the guinea pigs at my Office Sampling Party:

Sampling Party at Work!

Now let’s see what these volunteer taste testers had to say about their experience:

Let’s start with the CONs:

Mark said, “The texture is different. I’m used to Naked Juice.”

Jake also said, “They’re slightly too sweet. I prefer kefir.”

John said, “The blueberry is too ‘yogurty’. The strawberry’s good and the peach is alright. The strawberry banana tastes artificial, even though it’s not.”

Janice also said, “The strawberry banana tasted like the container” [note: no one else had this opinion, but in the effort of full disclosure, I decided to include it.]

Janice also thought the strawberry was the best, but that the grams of sugar were too high.

Ashley said, “If you mix it with Greek yogurt, it would be better. It’s not terrible but really sweet. The bottle is cool, unless you have big hands or are a lefty.”

One thing my sister pointed out was that it doesn’t have active live cultures in the yogurt, even though it does have probiotics.

And now let’s look at the PROs:

Matt said, “The peach is the best!”

Jake said, “I enjoyed all of them.”

Ken said, “It’s like a healthy jello shot. I like all of them, but the strawberry and peach are at the top.”

Janice said, “I don’t normally like blueberries, but the blueberry Früsh is good.”

Mandy said, “The peach is my favorite. Then the strawberry. Cool containers!”

Ryan said, “I’m not a fan of blueberry, but the peach and strawberry taste like heaven.”

Greg said, “It tastes like a melted strawberry milkshake, and I love strawberry milkshakes!” He liked all of them.

Kyle liked all of them too.

Rebecca said, “I don’t normally like strawberry banana, but I liked all of them. The peach was my favorite.

And my favorite review from Miss Marian: “That strawberry’s wonderful! I’d keep that in my fridge. I definitely would buy it.” Peach was her second favorite.

Here’s some Nutritional Info from the company: FRUSH Nutritional Overview Page!

My nephews liked it too:

And, last but not least, my opinion:

“I liked all the flavors, especially the peach. I actually liked it better than kefir, personally, because it wasn’t sour at all; however, I did think they were slightly too high in sugar. I definitely appreciated that the ingredients were all-natural; even the colorings came from fruit and vegetable extracts! That’s a definite plus in my book. The bottles fit really well in my hand (though I do see the point about not fitting well in lefties’ hands). And it was a great, quick breakfast on the way to work, paired with a granola bar (and some coffee, of course).”

Overall, I think this is a really good product and I hope it does well. Look for it in the following grocery stores near you:

  • Bi-Lo
  • Harris Teeter
  • Piggly Wiggly
  • Ingles
  • Wilco
  • Food City
  • Food Lion
  • Winn Dixie
  • Lowes Food
  • Hannaford
  • Price Chopper

GIVE-AWAY: Since I was given these goods, I wanted to share! So, I have 2 drawstring backpacks and some coupons, and I’m willing to ship them to three or four of my fans. All you have to do is answer the following question below by this Friday, September 7, 2012, and I’ll do a random drawing.

The question: Have you tried Früsh? What did you think? (And if you would like a backpack and coupons or just coupons if you win?)

Simplifying the Laundry Closet

Our “Laundry Room” is more of a hallway closet than it is a room, but it does have some nice storage space. Life has a habit of getting busier and busier (thus “Project Simplify” for the month of August). One thing that happens with a busy schedule is a directly correlating increase in clutter…and laundry.

This past weekend was the first real weekend I’ve had off in about 6 weeks (more like a year and a half for my husband). So, we did some little organization things that we’ve been meaning to do for some time. The first thing I tackled was the laundry closet. It’s where we keep many of our frequently used tools and less frequently used kitchen items (like the large crockpots, coffee urns for parties, etc.), and laundry supplies, of course.

I couldn’t bring myself to take a BEFORE picture, but here’s the AFTER:

Pegboards are a wonderful thing. And I started using my old compost bin for lint trash.

Shelves for Laundry and Party Supplies. Green bag for giveaway items. Note: a towel rack hung above the drier works perfectly for a drying rack (thank you to the previous homeowners for installing that). 

I still want to add an extra shelf above the back of the washer and dryer, so things can’t fall back there. And that will give more space for work shoes, laundry detergent supplies, etc. It just looks so much nicer now!

Celebrating “National Simplify Your Life Week” All Month Long!

August 1st through August 7th is “National Simplify Your Life Week!” And with as busy as our lives have been, I’ve decided to celebrate this concept during the entire month of August. My goal is to get back to the essentials and simplify things – this will likely include posts on meditating, learning to be still, organizing various rooms of the house, and more. So stay tuned!

For this first celebration post, I thought I’d share some of my favorite organization pictures that I’ve found on Pinterest. I don’t know about you, but I love having a place for everything and everything in its place!

I love window seats! Several ideas turn bookshelves on their sides and add cushions to the tops. I’d recommend checking out end of summer clearance sales for outdoor furniture cushions. You can always recover with different fabric if you don’t like the clearance options.

I love the idea of turning a bench into a filing cabinet – thought I wouldn’t file confidential documents here unless it’s able to lock. And I love the push pin board. I think I’d use the top box to organize jewelry, personally.

Step 1 for me is to reorganize my linen closet to look more like this. I need it to hold linens for both queen and king size beds, towels, plunger and cleaning supplies, and little extras for guests like mini shampoos, lotions, extra toothbrushes,  etc.

What’s your first step to Simplify Your Life this week?

 

Weekly Recipes and Meal Plan

via Instagram

This Week’s Basket from Milk and Honey Organics Included: Braeburn Apples, Green Beans, Beets, Brussels Sprouts, Local Lacinato Kale, Kiwifruit, Romaine Lettuce, Golden Nugget Mandarins, White Onions, Cara Cara Red Navel Oranges, Parsley, and Local Covington Sweet Potatoes.

This Week’s Meal Plan:

via PepperPlate.com

Recipes from This Week’s Meal Plan:

Weekly Basket and Meal Plan

This Week’s Basket (from Milk and Honey Organics) Included: Honeycrisp Apples, D’Anjou Pears, Ruby Grapefruit, Tangelos, Red Onions, Silver Dollar Mushrooms, Local Collards, Baby Spinach, Russet Potatoes, Carrots, Broccoli, and Hurricane Creek Tomatoes (and for Fruit Baskets Only: Starfruit).

This Week’s Meal Plan:

Recipes from This Week’s Meal Plan:

Bon Appetit!