Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Time Management

These past few weeks, I have become the queen of time management!  (Yes, I just tooted my own horn.)  Last week, I wrote about my tendencies to procrastinate My husband even made a joke about it: “If you were a nation, which one would you be?”  Response: “Procrastination!”  Cheezy, I know.  I decided it had to come to an end! 

Not only am I trying to live by the motto, “Just Do It!,”  I am trying to get into the habit of writing out lists of what needs to get accomplished the next day.   I am naturally a morning person.  I have no problem getting out of bed at and getting the day started, so I’ve decided to do as much as possible in the mornings!

This is what our dry erase board had for me to do one morning:

I have 2 ½ hours between the times my alarm goes off in the morning and the time I have to go to work.  I knew this list would be difficult to complete within 2 ½ hours, but I wanted to see just how much I could actually get done.

What was accomplished:

·         Puppy bedding in the washing machine
·         Puppy out for a walk (1.25 miles – 30 minutes) while her bedding was being washed
·         Picked snow peas from garden / collected an egg (this was a surprise! Our 3rd hen finally started to lay eggs!)
·         Hung puppy wash on the laundry line
·         Put in a second load of laundry (was not expecting to do this)
·         Prepared shortcake muffins (35 minutes to bake : 15 minutes to prepare)
·         Shower
·         Ate breakfast
·         Started dinner for the evening (was not expecting to do this either)
·         Checked my email (I shouldn’t have done this – I got sucked into its vortex for 15 minutes)
·         Got ready for work
·         Hung second load of laundry out on the line

What wasn’t accomplished:

  • Pick red raspberries
  • Pack for our trip out of town

When I got home that evening, all I had to do was reheat dinner (chicken parm), pick the red raspberries (5 minutes) and pack for our trip.  All of this took less than 30 minutes.  I had the rest of the night to enjoy with my hubby and our animals!

I have also been learning that my lunch break at work is a waste of time; why not make the most out of it?!?  Once every week or two, I run to Aldi’s down the street and pick up any items we may need so that I don’t have to worry about going to the grocery store on the weekend or after work.  On the other days, I read during my lunch break.

I wasn’t sure how I would find an hour a day to keep up with the Bible in 90 Days reading program I started over at MomsToolbox, but I have been able to plan my time and use it wisely, and thus far, haven’t had a problem keeping up!  It is amazing when you make a plan, how easy it is to stick to it (and even have some time to spare!)

Do you make yourself a schedule to accomplish every day?
How do you stay on top of tasks? 

This blog is linked up to Homestead Revival's Preparedness Challenge.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

If You Cant Stand the Heat, Get Out of the Kitchen!

Here in NE Ohio, we have had unseasonably high temperatures over the past two weeks, and it doesn’t look like it will be letting up anytime soon!

We don’t have air conditioning.  That’s not true.  We have air conditioning when we bought our new furnace 4 years ago, but it never worked.  I have put hubby off each and every year because I think air conditioning is a waste of money and resources unless it is 90+ degrees outside!  That being said, we use an air conditioning unit in our bedroom at night or on extremely hot days when we need a reprieve from the heat.

I came home one day last week to find Todd making zucchini fries in the oven, baking them for over an hour.  To say the least, I was a bit perturbed.  When it is 90 degrees in the house, nothing should be baking on the stove or oven (in my opinion)!

We (meaning me) have decided that with this heat, we would not cook on the stove in the house.  If we do, it would be in the morning to prepare a meal that can be nuked in the microwave in the evening.  Everything else is to be cooked either in a crockpot or on the grill.

That being said, these are a few meal ideas that we are going to be implementing this week:

Salad with grilled chicken
Roasted chicken (in a crockpot) with instant mashed potatoes and corn
Hamburgers (grilled) with zucchini grilled in a foil pocket
BBQ Ribs with leftover zucchini
Chicken quesadillas (we have a quesadilla maker that we love!)

BBQ Ribs with zuke & green beans from garden

Homemade Waffles
(we ran out of milk so had to use water, hence the holes!)

Dinner the night of the power outage: steak, leftover zuke and mashed potatoes
Here are some pictures of meals that helped us to conserve our energy/keep the heat down in our house over the past few days:

I would love to hear about what you make in warm weather.  Any recipes we should try out?

Monday, July 25, 2011

25 Weeks 'Til Christmas: Week 22 Flavored Oil

I cant believe we are 22 weeks away from Christmas!  Are you getting ready for it? 
This week, for the 25 Weeks 'Til Christmas series are directions on how to make your own flavored olive oils!  I found these directions on WikiHow and cant wait to make our own!

Flavored Olive Oil

Photo Credits

Start saving up your wine bottles and getting ready to dry some of the herbs from your garden.  No herbs?  Start growing them! They are super simple and dont take up much room in a pot or even in your garden. 

We have found that vineyards in the State of Ohio arent allowed to recycle their wine bottles in-house (reusing the wine bottles for the next batch of wine they make).  We have been able to get cases of empty wine bottles for free. It never hurts to ask!

Every Monday through the week of Christmas will be a new homemade gift idea/project.  Be sure to check them out!  Happy Crafting!

Also, stop on over at The Way Grandma Does It to see her Christmas in July gift ideas!  She is brilliant!!

Sunday, July 24, 2011

I'm A Cheap Date

Todd and I like to go out a couple times a month.  This usually consists of lunch and a movie.  It is a bit of a game for us to see how little we can spend on a date. 

This is what our date yesterday consisted of:

My date

Lunch (we love the all you can eat soup & salad!)

Total Bill for the two of us: $15.97
We used a gift card from Christmas making it FREE to us!
 Frugal Note: Olive Garden offers samples of wine for $0.25/each.  This is enough for the both of us to enjoy the wine, but not spend $6.95/glass! 

Dollar Theater!
We went to see our first 3D movie which was $3/person.  That is
a fraction of the cost to see it at a "normal" theater when it first comes out!

A woman asked if we'd take her picture with her daughter, and she took one of us!

Total date: $6
If we didnt have a gift card from Christmas, we still would have spent less than $25 for the date.
Cant beat it.  We'll most likely do it again next month sometime!

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Power Outage!

Todd has had off this past week from work during the plant's annual shutdown.  He will also be off of work next week as well.  Since he has had off of work, he makes dinner every.single.night for us.  Yum!

Yesterday, our power went out just before I got home from work.  There has been a heat wave going through NE Ohio making it extremely hot in the house. 

So...what did we do during the power outage?

Eat Dinner Outside!

Use a phone book for the first time in years! (to call electric company)

Chill out on the front porch...

Go to the local Twistee for ice cream cones...

Spot a deer on the way home...

Try to find things in the dark...

Drive around taking pictures of the sunset...

(I love this picture of the sunset...)

Find a rainbow after a short drizzle and take a picture...

Come home to find the lights are back on!

We had a great evening together...without electricity!  We should do it again sometime soon! 

This post is linked with Homemaker By Choice's weekly blog hop and the Homestead Blog Hop!

Friday, July 22, 2011

Dreams of Self-Sufficiency

When I speak of self-sufficiency, I am speaking generally about food and energy.  Even though I love what the No Impact Man  accomplished in his year of being “no impact,” I’m not sure our family could live that way.  None-the-less, I am striving to reduce our impact. 

I realize that being self-sufficient is not easy, but I still dream of the day that we can create enough power from the sun and wind to operate all of the modern conveniences of our home without relying on the electric company.  I also dream of the day that we can survive mainly off of the fruits and vegetables from our 1 acre of land.

These are the steps we are taking to become more self-sufficient:

  1. Reducing our energy footprint
  2. Buy items that will last (non-disposable items and appliances/machinery that can be fixed by my handy hubby)
  3. Plant perennial fruits and vegetables (Click here for an extensive list!)
  4. Expand existing garden and build new gardens to yield more produce
  5. Make use of any available land to build edible perennial landscaping
  6. Grow and dry our own herbs
  7. “Buy it used, wear it out, make it do or do without.”

I do have my limits!  We will not be growing our own wheat/flour, raising our own meat or dairy products.  I would love to have bees for the honey (thus not needing sugar), but I will have to work on hubby for that.  I’m thankful he finally gave in to getting chickens*!

For me, becoming self-sufficient is a way of thrift and frugality along with an awareness of how we use our resources to positively affect the environment.  To become self-sufficient will not be easy nor will it happen overnight.  That being said, I have always had a desire to live this way.  It may take 3-5 years to get the garden to produce enough to sustain us throughout the Winter and Spring months. It will take even longer to make our home run efficiently and with minimal pull from our environmental resources.  Little by little, we are taking steps to reach our goals of self-sufficiency and each year, we get a little bit closer to living out our vision.

Are you striving to become self-sufficient?
What steps are you taking now to help you down the road of self-sufficiency?

*Hubby wanted nothing to do with chickens. As a child, he was pecked by chickens and absolutely despised them.  He said they were only good for one thing: eating!  Since getting our chicks in March, I find him outside holding them, and loving on them without me being around.  It’s so cute!  I am turning my suburbanite into a farmer. 

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Just Do It!

To put off doing something, especially out of habitual carelessness or laziness. 
To postpone or delay needlessly.

I am a master procrastinator.  It will be 7:55AM and I will be running around the house with a wet head, packing my lunch, getting dressed, brushing my teeth, putting the chickens in their coop and putting Lana on her line outside.  Mind you, I have to leave for work by 8:00AM!

Lately, my moto has been the same as Nike’s slogan: “Just Do It!”
I will see something that needs done, and instead of putting it on my “to do” list, I just complete the task.

 Dishes in the dishwasher are clean – instead of waiting until I get home from work in the evening, I complete the task before leaving in the morning.  Time: 5 minutes

Chicken Coop needs cleaned – instead of waiting to do it in the evening, I get it done in the morning as I kick the ball around for Lana.  Time: 10 minutes

What’s for dinner? I decide in the morning and prepare as much of it as I can so that when I get home, I can just heat it up and have it on the table as soon as Todd gets home from work (I beat him home by 10-15 minutes on the days we both have to work.)

(Do you notice that in the morning, I put things off until the evening?   In the evening, I promise myself I will get it done in the morning!  Then, chores don’t get completed for several days until they pile up and become overwhelming.)

When I wake up in the morning, I know I should walk the pupperoni (Lana) so that she will be pooped and sleep most of the day while we are at work.  In the past, if I would wake up tired, I would hit the “nap” button on the alarm, giving me an extra half hour of sleep.  That really isn’t fair to Lana nor is it fair to my own health.  So now, even if I grumble under my breath in the mornings, I get my butt out of bed, get some clothes on and put on my walking shoes. 

By doing little chores and tasks as they come up, I notice that my evenings are much less stressful! And sometimes, I even have time to do things that I want to do, like post blogs in advance, take pictures, play around in the garden, and even read!  Not to mention when I do these things throughout the week, it is one less task I need to complete (or put off) on the weekends!

Do you procrastinate as much as I do?
What do you do to help ward off the terrible procrastination bug?

This post is linked up to the Homestead Blog Hop!

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Weekend at Mom's House

There are no words to express my mother, but I'll try.

Life is never a dull with my mother, which is funny, because Todd says the same thing about me! If I were half as fun as my mom, I'd be perfectly happy.

Todd and I decided to go see my mom for the weekend.  The little (all 5' of her) busy bee always seems to have something going on, and our schedules matched up for this weekend.  Todd and I drove the 2 hours after I got home from work on Friday evening and arrived right around 9:30 with a car full of goodies and a puppy.

Mom refused to tell us where we were going for the day, so we had to just wait and see.  It turns out, she took us to a wildlife preserve about 45 minutes away from her home called The Wilds.  This was right up my alley.  I love animals.  We got to take an open-air bus and traveled on the 10,000 acre property (approximately 14 square miles) where The Wilds are helping to preserve endangered species. 

The property was donated to The Wilds by American Electric Power because they considered the land unusable due to lack of topsoil on the land (only 6 inches).  The Wilds is extremely eco-friendly using Bio Diesel to run their tour buses around the grounds, electric carts for employees, solar panels to operate the gates we went into and out of to ensure the animals don’t intermingle, and they use rainwater for the water needed in the bathrooms! 

Here are some pictures I took while on the tour:

This is mom.  Isnt she cute?

We had an awesome time!
Jack Hanna visits frequently to shoot videos of the Cheetah cubs and to continue his research.  If you are ever in the area (SE Ohio), I highly recommend stopping by for the day.  If you are interested in contributing to their cause, please click here.  It was amazing, they mentioned at least two animals that are said to be extinct within 20 years if they are not protected and repopulate. 

After The Wilds, we went home and relaxed by the pool for a few hours until it was time to go to the stock car races!  We haven’t been to the races in a couple of years, and we had such a great time.  Though it was a long day, it was a ton of fun!

A '57 Chevy that was racing
On Sunday, we went on a little boat ride around Zanesville.  It was relaxing, and alot of fun!

There is nothing like spending time and making memories with the family!  That being said, I will need a good two weeks to catch up on my sleep!

What did you do this weekend?

Monday, July 18, 2011

25 Weeks 'Til Christmas: Week 23 Marble Magnets

There are only 23 weeks until Christmas!  This week, for the 25 Weeks 'Til Christmas series is a website I found online called Not Martha.  The author of the website, Megan, is brilliant! I love alot of her craft ideas, and the blog is just plain fun to read.

Magnet Marbles

Photo Credit

For instructions on how to make these Magnet Marbles, please visit Not Martha's link!  I love that these are not your typical magnet.  They can be customized to the idividual and just plain fun on the boring ole' fridge!

Every Monday through the week of Christmas will be a new homemade gift idea/project.  Be sure to check them out!  Happy Crafting!

Friday, July 15, 2011

Newton Falls, OH 44444

Newton Falls, OH is where my husband and I have called “home” for the past 4 years. Moving from Akron, OH, this was a big change of pace for us.  We went from living on top of our neighbors with the hustle and bustle of the city to complete silence and tranquility.  The town of Newton Falls has 3 stop lights that I can think of, and if you blink while driving through town, you may just miss it! 

Fun Facts:

Newton Falls
·        is one of only three zip codes in the United States with matching digits
·        population of only 5,000 residents
·        has the oldest remaining covered bridge in the State of Ohio
·        still has a full service gas station
·        is located next door to Lordstown (aka Chevy Country), the manufacturing facility to the Chevy Cruze

The 4th of July is always a blast here in Newton Falls.  Even though we have a population of a little over 5,000 people, visitors from all around come for the 4th of July festivities including a week-long fair, an incredible parade, and the best 4th of July fireworks display I’ve ever seen!  It has been noted that over 40,000 people come to Newton Falls for the 4th of July festivities!  And remember, we only have 3 stop lights!

People driving into town to watch the fireworks.

One major event that happened in Newton Falls a few months ago was a train derailment!  This is a picture of the train that derailed off of the bridge and onto the road!  Thank goodness no one was driving under the bridge that morning.  We had black vehicles with tinted windshields buzzing around town for over a week to determine the cause of the derailment.  This is about as fun as it gets around here.  There was a buzz around town for weeks after the train derailed!

Photo Credits
The place I visit the most is the local library: I go at least twice a week to pick up books and DVD’s I’ve requested from other local libraries.  We save a lot of money by watching DVD’s and getting resources from this library.

There really isnt much to do or see here in town, but we are close enough to Youngstown, Warren and the Pennsylvania border that we can find things to do.
Even though we live in a remarkable town, this is my favorite place to be:

Home with Hubby & Puppy

Rules to Link:
  1. Link up the specific blog post about your city/town
  2. Provide a link back to this blog post so others can join in!
  3. Have fun!

This page has been linked up to: Homestead Barn Hop #20