Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Pillowcase menu planning (and other brain-savers)

One month into 2012, and life is swirling about me fast-and-furious.  As I knew it would.  The semester kicked off with a big bang; students and committees and reports are taking up the bulk of my day.  My boys' basketball practice and home projects and other family projects are filling up the evenings.  I know it's going to be even more hectic in April, when several big projects I'm working on come to a head at all about the same time.  This makes me sound unhappy -- but I'm not.  I really love being just a little-too busy.  I tell people I feel like I don't have time to spit -- which is just as well, because who would want me spitting on them?

So let me say just a little "amen" and prayer of thanks for the quiet time at the beginning of the month when I got to do some planning ahead, preparing myself for this busy time.  In the midst of all the storm and fury, it's nice to have some small pieces of my life on auto-pilot right now.  To wit:
  • The boys are cooking.  Every Tuesday.  In fact, J-son begged to be allowed to make pizza next Tuesday.  Last night, N-son made Peanut Butter Pasta (a family favorite).  Every week, it gets easier.
  • I'm into week 3 of having my complete outfits lined up and ready to go.  One of my friends tells me that she dresses by mood, and so she has to choose her outfit each morning.  She wouldn't want to decide what to wear one night in advance, much less one month in advance.  But me, I'm grateful not to have to spend brain effort on my clothes at 6:30 a.m.  
  • A pillowcase of frozen food
    at the top of our chest freezer.
  • On a whim, last December I organized my canned food and my frozen food into what I thought would be one-month parcels. I can't tell you how much I'm loving that, even though it's true that the timing on the box doesn't exactly match the timing on the calendar.  It's great to be able to go down to the cellar and just pick up a box that says "January", and have a lovely mix of jams, fruits, vegetables, and soup ready to carry upstairs.  And when the kitchen freezer started getting empty, I just went to the chest freezer and picked up the "January" pillowcase.  Inside was August corn, 3 lbs of hamburger, several sticks of turkey kielbasa, a casserole or two . . . it gives me choice, but not so much choice that I'm overwhelmed.  
And there's a little unexpected halo of success on our trash reduction project.  I decided to try to get down to putting out one garbage can every other week; given our busy 5-person household, I hoped I could manage something like this somehow by the end of the year.  The first weekend in January we put out two garbage cans -- not an auspicious start.  But then, trash production slowed dramatically.  It wasn't until yesterday, the fifth Monday of the year, we put out the third trash can.  So already we are on target for the goal.  Not quite sure how that happened, honestly, but I'm celebrating anyway.

Not all is rosy in the Miser Mom household.  General busy-ness is making the evening routine a bit rushed; shoes have been lost, not to mention tempers.  Clearly, I need to make sure there is space to let the boys (um, and their parents) decompress.  More Time In.  Tonight I'll be bringing in outside assistance in the form of L-daughter's boyfriend to build a newspaper box with the boys.  Man time.  Banging things with hammers.  Ought to be good therapy.


  1. Enjoying your blog. Thought of it when I read this in the NYT today:

    A Mother Lets Her Sons Do the Cooking

    1. Thanks, Marj! Wow, her kids are definitely making fancier stuff than Peanut Butter Pasta! But then, it's clear the kids are learning to cook like their moms. I think soon you and I should go take cooking lessons from her boys.