We are spending the weekend at a friend’s lake cabin. It’s not an isolated cabin; lakeshore is too precious to allow that kind of space. My favorite time to be here is any time but summer, when there is constant noise from boats and people. Even now, just two weeks after Labor Day, it is mostly silent and peaceful, only rarely disturbed by the roaring of a motorboat.
The sun rose in a pink-orange glow above gently rippling water this morning. Loons called in the distance, crows nearby. It was a time to just absorb beauty, to simply be. Lake sunrise is one of my favorite meditations. Continue reading “Sunrise at the Lake”
Because I use spreadsheets for everything, I made a quick pass at determining why my weeks still feel out of control even now that my work stress is manageable. Continue reading “Pausing in the Blur of the Week”
And as a sorry FWP, I had real anxiety about it. I’ve spent innumerable hours scrolling Facebook in the last four years since I had my first child and have been nursing or pregnant (aka exhausted) pretty much constantly since. It’s getting better now, and I decided it was time to let this crutch go. I still get on it on the computer, mainly for garage sale groups and three other groups I belong to that I find useful.
I didn’t think just taking it off my phone would do much. I thought I would log on via the phone’s web browser. But I haven’t. And it’s been glorious! I pick up my phone probably 75% less, and am on FB itself 90% less. I don’t feel beholden to my phone, imprisoned by it, ready to chuck it in a lake anymore. And I’m not particularly doing anything that amazing with that time, but I don’t feel so time scarce, as Ilse mentioned in one of her recent posts. And I’ll take all the time I can get.
I inherited a love of growing food and flowers. My grandparents grew amazing tomatoes, lush lettuce, and other vegetables on the perimeter of their small city lot. My parents’ garden grew all of our summer vegetables plus enough broccoli and green beans to eat all winter (from the freezer). I’ve been growing vegetables since I was a college student, when I suddenly had an urge to plant lettuce and tomatoes in pots.
Time in the yard for me is unscheduled, relaxing, and usually uninterrupted. I can work on one area and, in passing another, see that some weeding is needed, and do it right then. I can work with focus, and change the focus whenever needed. Continue reading “Thanks, Microbes! Or, Easy Garden Preparation”
… is to slow down.
I am always going, doing, moving. Even after weeks of summer vacation, I found myself feeling pressed for time. I had hoped that feeling would disappear this summer, my first off in 4 years. And it was wonderful, fun, productive, and sometimes relaxing – but I found relaxation to be elusive. There are so many things that I want to do, see, learn, explore. Continue reading “My mindful living challenge”
During the years that I was a SAHM, I learned to cook. I had been cooking for over a decade by that time, not including my undergraduate years of pasta and sandwiches, but meal preparation prior to really learning to cook was time-consuming and exhausting and also created massive piles of dishes.
By “learning to cook,” I mean
- cooking without a recipe, just creating things based on what I have on hand
- looking at a recipe, and knowing what would need to be changed to meet our preferences
- reading ingredients, and mentally compiling the aroma and evaluating it
Although I generally like to cook, I am not excited about it Mondays through Fridays after a full day at work. As in the routines mentioned previously, I’ve also tried to minimize the daily brainpower needed to get everyone fed.
Here’s what works for me:
Meal plans: I shop weekly, locations selected based on what we need and what’s on sale. Considering what’s on hand and the week’s evening schedules, I sketch a rough meal plan.
Freezer cooking: We have a freezer in the garage and it is one of my major timesavers. I use it to freeze:
- extra servings from meals
- sauces or other meal components
- garden produce
- any ingredients that are convenient when frozen, such as ginger cubes or cooked rice
- foods with short shelf life, such as nuts and cornmeal
The night before a busy day, it is heavenly to go “shopping” in the freezer and find something to thaw in the fridge.
Make lunches: We all eat homemade lunches every day, and we all eat very different lunches every day (since there are only 3 of us, that’s manageable). Here’s what we prepare:
- Mari’s Pasta: Pasta for dinner turns into a few extra lunch servings, packed for school in an insulated food jar.
- Thom’s Meat and Potatoes: I cook large batches of meat or sausages, and slice before freezing, placing waxed paper between slices as needed. Each Sunday I remove a few servings and place in a container in the fridge. He has this with rice or potatoes and microwaves everything at lunchtime. Fresh vegetables are always available – carrot/celery/pepper/radish sticks or a salad.
- My Lunch Salads: I prep salads 3 days at a time, on Sundays and Wednesdays. My salads are always different and might contain any vegetables I have available, plus beans or roasted tofu, nuts or seeds or avocado, berries or other fresh or dried fruit, and potato or grains. I put them in plastic containers ready to grab from the fridge.
(I know, 3 different lunches isn’t really simple. But it keeps everyone happy.)
Vegetable prep: We eat a lot of vegetables, and they require work before going into any recipe. When I have about 30 minutes of time, such as on weekights after an easy dinner, I’ll work on veggies for the next night’s dinner or for our lunches. Fresh vegetables last longer when cooked, so I prefer to cook all the vegetables I buy within a couple of days and then use them throughout the week. For stir fry, I chop and freeze mushrooms and peppers, and other veggies I cut fresh.
Cook vegetables for many uses: I batch-cook my various vegetables individually, without seasoning, to use in different dishes. For instance, fresh zucchini or mushrooms can be roasted or sauteed and then stored in the fridge or freezer. Once cooked, they can be used on sandwiches, in salads, in chili, in omelets or frittatas, etc. I season the final dish and the vegetables just need to be added with enough time to heat through.
Buy frozen fruits and vegetables: Frozen berries are perfect for smoothies or yogurt parfaits. Frozen vegetables have no waste and no prep time.
Bread baking shortcuts: I bake all of our bread, using a few different methods that I’ll detail in a future post.
Please share your food shortcuts! I am always excited about maximizing my kitchen efficiency.