Once A Month Cooking

Crystal over  at MoneySavingMom and Jessica at Life As Mom are hosting a virtual “Once A Month Cooking” session.  This is the first time I’ve participated and decided to do the majority of my work on Sunday since I’m working Monday before prepping for Tuesday’s class.

My first dish was chicken alfredo pasta using up leftover chicken from the crockpot.  That went into the oven and I mixed up brownies (from a mix) and twenty minutes in tossed some goodies on top:

Brownies with chocolate chips and chopped walnuts.  Probably won’t last all month…

Then I finished up another pasta dish, this one heavy on the vegetables.  I’m thinking about grilling up the steak from the freezer this week if the weather holds out.

Tomorrow I’ll finish up my cooking “day” with scrambled eggs since I’ve got a short time to finish up nearly 2 dozen eggs and brownies only use so many eggs.

While I’m nowhere near an expert at this type of cooking it does help save money because instead of stopping at the grocery store I know there’s food ready at home. Plus cleaning out the pantry is always a money and time saver for me!

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How to Balance Multiple Jobs

Since July of 2008, and for some periods before that, I have held at least 2 and up to 5 jobs simultaneously. Some of these jobs are freelance and most are under 20 hours a week. But I wanted to share a little bit of the “how” this works in my life.

Balance priorities. I don’t have a spouse or children. It’s lovely really, my time is mostly my own and therefore my schedule is much more flexible than many people.

Work close to home if possible.
I live in a small town so driving to my part time job takes 4 minutes, 8 during rush half hour. It’s 2 miles away from my full time job and it takes me approximately 3 minutes to walk to one of my volunteer jobs. This allows me more working time both at home and on the clock because the commute time is so short.

Keep an accurate calendar. As many reminders as I need are put into my cell phone and backed up to my computer. Notes for appointments, working hours and bills are all entered. When I’m planning my day I try to balance things that are urgent and things that are important, but not urgent.

Eliminate barriers. There are days I just don’t feel like working. Unfortunately, most of those days I have work! I have to overcome my mental barrier that I’m five years old and I don’t wanna! Another common barrier is that “everything will be fine.” Girl Scouting taught me that I have the skills, or know how to get them, to be prepared for the future.

Keep your goals in mind. I work as a newswriter (freelancing) because I love writing. The paper is good exposure, practice and keeps my skills sharp. I work as a test proctor some weekends because I have a good friend who needs help covering her classes – the extra money goes towards savings which means I can have a little more fun.

Have an end in sight. I’m pretty sure I can’t keep up this schedule indefinitely. Or even another 10 years. But I have goals and an end in sight. For some jobs it means when I reach a point in my career the smaller jobs will fade to the background so I can focus on larger opportunities. For one part-time job I will keep working until my student loans are paid off. Most of this is mental so stay positive. Otherwise the light at the end of the tunnel looks like a train.

Take a break. Go on vacation, relax without working or planning to work. Take a friend out to coffee and remember that life is for living and not just earning a living.

Where Will Today Take You?

Where will today take you?

One of my commentors left the link to this video which features a short speech from Steve Jobs in 2005. It’s highly watchable and a great use of 15 minutes. In the video, Jobs mentions that it is impossible to tell how the events of today will play a part in your future BUT looking back these things become clear.

It’s the interesting person you met online who offers you a freelance job (true story happened to me).

It’s learning a skill that will help you for years to come (9th grade typing with Mrs. G).

It’s a compliment that boosts your confidence and convinces you to push on when you want to quit (too many to count).

And so many more ways that your life today will impact your life tomorrow.

So where will today take you? If your day consists of doing menial work, keeping your head down, not making eye contact and insulating yourself from others are you creating space to influence your future? Or are you just surviving?

I’m not knocking surviving, we all have periods of stress and depression where the entire goal is to make it to the end. The end of a project or day, the end of a responsibility or class.

But after you get through that rough patch focus on the next thing. Even if you have no idea what the future will bring to you (and who does?), learn something new. Drop in on a class or check out a library book. For goodness sake, Google something!

Stuck? Don’t know where to get started? Do something weird, unexpected and dare I say, fun?

Crayola downloadable coloring pages. Grab a crayon and go.

Sudoku online, no printing necessary, simple to impossible skill levels

Do a puzzle online here

Find out what plants are native to your region and think about planting one.

Skip, even if just to the mailbox

Did you know today is National Chili day? Celebrate something weird!

Throw a picnic indoors

Take that box of cake mix and make cupcakes (They’re like cake but cupcakier!)

Research someone inspirational

Check your city website for upcoming events

Take a walk down Main Street

Buy a coffee and pay for the next person in line

Play basketball, ride a bike, throw a softball pitch, turn a cartwheel

Sing

Stormin’

There’s a nasty little storm brewing in my neck of the woods, lots of wet and wind which makes me a little cranky.  So today after so many conversations about spring and enjoying the small things I cleaned off my kitchen table and put out a few beautiful things.

I took the leaf out of my kitchen table hence the great divide you see.  The placemats are spill proof and the covered dish was part of a set I bought for $9 at the Salvation Army.  Granny Smith apples 39 cents a pound will be pie soon enough:

and these wonderful flowers were on sale at Costco.  Until my roses recover from their pruning I think it’s great to have flowers around. Winter is so dreary and dead, I needed some life (especially after nearly killing Eeyore, my floppy depressed looking houseplant AND the supposedly unkillable bamboo).

Are these just so bright and cheerful? I love the variety and health of the stems, no depressed looking roses here! See up close

My good intentions of finishing my Spring Cleaning list were dashed with the trip to Costco, a phone interview and then class starting early so I’m going to get to that list tomorrow during Furlough Wednesday.

12 Ways to Get ready for Spring

I’m impatiently awaiting the official start of spring (thanks a lot Punxsutawney Phil!) and days when the sky doesn’t resemble gray goop. Though I’ve not seen a single snowflake not embroidered on a towel this winter I am rather anxious for 80 degree days, blue skies and flowers blooming.

Until the weather decides to cooperate I’ve decided to get my house ready for Spring weather. Depending on the size of your house it can take just 10 minutes for each task and if you have 2 stories split them up, top level and ground level.

-wipe down the window sills with a damp cloth
-sweep down cobwebs in the corners
-wipe down all door handles and light switches
-shake out area rugs
-empty trash cans and deodorize
*I love to put the empty trash cans on my lawn, toss in some cheapo dish soap and fill them up with water. Let the soap soak in and get rid of stains and smells, dump the water in the flower bed (mild soap kills bugs) and rinse off on the lawn.*
-wipe down the fridge, freeze, oven and stove
-wipe down all the sinks
-replace central air filter
-change sheets and put away flannel sheets until Fall
-dust light fixtures and replace any light bulbs that burned out
-sweep the walkway outside or your porch
-clean toilets

And there you go, 2 hours if you’re working alone and the major cleaning jobs are done!

I like to print out the list and set my timer, noting when something only takes me 5 minutes and when a task takes 20.

The goal is to get done in 2 hours but it’s easy enough to break up into 4 nights 30 minutes a night or an hour each on Saturday and Sunday.

Try this little trick: plan a 10 minute break to sit down and enjoy some water halfway through if you’re doing everything in one day. If you use twitter or facebook or a message board post a message like this:

“halfway finished with Spring cleaning!”

And when you’re done see just how many people have commented. Most people know they should be doing something, even may want to do that thing but are content to procrastinate just one more day.

Get up, move, be productive and then enjoy your fresh, cleaner home.

On the Road Again

In the next month I’m embarking on vacation and getting more excited as the days pass by.  While I plan on posting here while I’m gone and working to bank a few extra posts early, I have started a new blog for this vacation to keep my friends and family updated.

Whether you’re a seasoned traveler interested in giving me some tips or a homebody looking to live vicariously I invite you to stop by and check out plans and savings for the next few weeks and then a slew of maps, stories and pictures from 8 time zones away.

Check it out here: Traveling with Kelly

Connections, I haz ’em

If you’re looking for a reason to get involved in the community, I have one example of why it’s a great idea.

This afternoon I went to check out some books at the library where I volunteer running publicity for events and fundraisers.  One of the librarians helped me find a book which happened to be “In Processing.”

I mentioned that I would like to check it out since the library will be closed on Saturday, Sunday and Monday.  The librarian went down to the processing room and pulled the book from the shelf for me and then walked it to the front desk and asked them to check it out over any holds.

Score.

Brand new book, recently updated and received in the library and it’s all mine for 2 weeks.

The front desk librarian asked me about another book and CD set that I had checked out – they are probably overdue. Whoops. She renewed them so I don’t have to go online at home.

I heart the library.