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Monday, July 30, 2012

Tip Tuesday--How do you spend your time

About six weeks ago I watched this video of Randy Pausch, remember his Last Lecture at Carnegie Mellon?    This time it was a different lecture he was giving one on time management.  Your own time management.

Yes, the video is long and you'll probably catch on before I did, but I was also busy wasting time that day and watched every bit of it.  

His message: Life is short.  Make good use of the time you have.

One thing he suggested was to do a time study and really see where you are spending your time.  Are you engaged in focused work all the time, or are you frittering some, or a lot, of it away?

Well I thought, this is probably a good idea to check out.  So I made up a handy dandy spreadsheet to see how I was doing; because everything in my life can be dealt with via a spreadsheet.  It was terribly embarrassing at how much time I was wasting through out the day.  BUT, because I took the time to look, I was able to make some changes.

And if I get prompted to make changes, then I want others to get busy making changes too.  See how that works?  I think it's called misery loves company.

Here is a picture of the sheet I used.

It was a very simple spreadsheet and it only took me a few days of tracking my time to see where the glaring issues were and where I could make immediate changes.

Don't wait until you get organized to try this.  THIS will help you get organized.

It's like a financial budget for your time.  You have to know where you are spending before you can make changes in those spending patterns.

Anyway, I broke the day down into 15 minute increments and then typed out various categories of things that I could/should be doing during those waking hours.  My sleep was not up for change, except to add in more, which I really didn't over these few days of study.  The video suggested doing the study for a month.  I started with a day and then went up to a week just to see how things would go.

On the first day I found that I was spending an EXCESSIVE amount of time not doing things I should be doing.  I am too embarrassed to even show that page to the wide world.  But man-o-man, did it prompt change!  I think the page I'm sharing was day 3 when I was whipping myself into shape.

If you work for an employer who pays you, be sure they are getting their money's worth while you are there; Hello Pot?  It's Kettle--just sayin.  

If you find that after a certain time of the day or night productivity drops drastically, then perhaps that prompts a change or a shuffle in your schedule to some activity that doesn't require extreme concentration.  

Or if you find yourself being interrupted a lot during a certain time of day, plan on that being the main activity for that time slot.  Train people to come to you during that time and ask them to wait at other times when you know you'll get your best most focused work done.  

Maybe one of these changes will even allow you to skip burning some midnight oil.  

Anyway, you only have so many 15 minute increments in a day, be sure you are using them wisely.  

If you want me to send you a copy of the tracking sheet, leave a comment and I'll send it to you---when I have time.  

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Weekly Menu 7/28+


steak fingers
mashed potatoes

Regina's pork chops
cheesy grits
green beans

baked ranch chicken
creamed corn

tortilla quiche
ranch style beans

italian roast
chocolate pudding

chicken spaghetti
garlic bread
apple cake with praline frosting


Grocery Deals 7/25+

Sprouts     canatloupe 1.50, cherries 1.29/lb (vs 3.99 Randalls), blue/black/strawberries $2, pears .88/lb, grapes 1.50/lb (vs 1.99 Randalls), corn .33, squash .99/lb, zucchini .99lb, .33 red bell peppers, green bell peppers .50 (yep, the red peppers are less than the green this week), tomatoes 99/lb, cucumbers .50, carrots .50/lb, green onions .50, cilantro .50, onions .50, avocados .88, 

HEB           cantaloupe 1.50, nectarines .98/lb, mangos .50, potatoes 2.49/5#, TX beef ribs 1.97/lb, boneless chicken 1.97/lb, 
School Supplies: spiral notebooks .17 (vs 1.49 Randalls), markers .97, filler paper .82, pencils .47/10

Randalls       beef roast 1.99/lb, pork chops 1.99/lb, 85% lean ground beef 2.79/lb, nectarines .99/lb

Monday, July 23, 2012

Tuesday's Tip--Avocado

Have you ever made a great salad or salsa with avocado and then not been able to eat all of it the same day you made it?  Me too!  

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Move to the Lee of the Stone

There are a lot of homeless rabbits at our house this week.  This wasn't our intent, but it is a natural consequence of some work we are having done.  

Do you remember the movie "The Secret of NIMH"?  It was animated so I know that leaves some of you out.  It's totally a very believable story... 

There were the super smart lab rats that some how were sneaking out of the lab at night to cavort with the local wildlife including a wise old owl and a family of rabbits.  Of course they all got along splendidly. Somehow the rats catch wind of a plot from the humans to do away with the rabbits house.  

***spoiler alert***

It's a race for the rats to get out and warn the rabbits, but the rats can't run fast enough to tell the rabbits, but the owl can fly there and save them.  The owl repeatedly tells the mother rabbit that she must move her house to the lee of the stone and she and her family will be saved.  Wouldn't you know that just in the nick of time the rabbits all make it over the stone before the mean and evil looking tractor comes and plows up the land and their old house.  

Please meet the mean and evil looking tractor.

This was my view Thursday morning at the edge of the yard fence.

Then the heavy equipment arrived.
I was so mesmerized by watching this machine knock over those scrub trees and grind them into mulch right on the spot.  I tell you what, if I had been a three year old boy I would have been jumping up and down at the very sights and sounds of it all.

and then here is what it looked like in dawn's early light and the tractor fired up for another day...
Can you believe it?? We can see all the way to the gate from the house.  That white spot is the worker guy's truck that is parked pretty close to the gate.

Friday, July 20, 2012

One Take Wonder

Very early on this summer as the pool was getting settled, it became very clear that it had a pretty serious leak.  In fact we could even find the leaf shaped hole near the edge.  Water was leaking out like the proverbial sieve.  We decided that a new pool was the answer so we ordered it, but it would be 3-4 weeks before it could be delivered.  

While we waited we wondered if some duct tape would help the situation.  

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Weekly Menu 7/21+


smoked chicken
pasta quattro formaggi

beef enchiladas
refried beans
ez spanish rice

cowboy pie
chocolate pudding

tater tot casserole

chicken tenders
mashed potatoes
green beans

 chicken squash casserole

sloppy joes
carrot sticks
peaches or plums

Grocery Deals 7/18+

Sprouts    grapes .97/lb (vs 1.29 Randalls), strawberries $2, oranges .99/lb, cherries 1.99/lb, peaches/plums/nectarines 1.49/lb, lettuce .99, celery .99, spinach .99, zucchini/yellow squash .99/lb, roma .99/lb, red/green bell peppers .50, avocados .50, onions .50/lb, boneless thighs 1.99/lb, country style pork ribs 1.99/lb, oats .69/lb

Randalls    ground beef 93% lean 2.99/lb, country style pork ribs 1.99/lb, red/black plums .99/lb, strawberries 1.99/lb

HEB           blueberries 1.47, cantaloupes 1.47, plums .97/lb, red peppers .77, red/gold potatoes 2.49/5#, sirloin 2.97/lb, leg/thigh $1/lb  

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Weekly Menu 7/14+


chicken fajitas
corn salsa

pork chops
buttered panko noodles
yellow squash

frito taco salad

chicken fried rice
egg rolls
orange fluff

mushroom/garlic bread

tortilla wraps
potato salad

roasted potato medley
green beans

Cook extra chicken tonight for Tuesday’s fried rice.

Chicken Fajitas
Corn Salsa
Fresh corn is wonderful in a salsa, but getting the texture right can be a challenge if you’re not grilling the corn, said Keith Dresser in Cook’s Illustrated. I recently tried the obvious alternative, but even two minutes of boiling “destroyed the freshness that I was trying to retain.” Then I started experimenting with the ancient Mesoamerican technique of using limewater to soften corn. Now I add a touch of baking soda to boiling water and steep the corn in the water as it cools. The tactic works “like magic,” bringing out the natural sweetness that makes corn “an exemplary foil” for salsa’s tartness and heat.
3 ears corn, kernels cut from cobs (2¼ cups)
¼ tsp baking soda
2 tbsp lime juice
1 tbsp vegetable oil
½ tsp honey
1 tomato, cored, seeded, and cut into ¼-inch pieces
1 shallot, minced (I used purple onion.)
jalapeño, seeded and minced
¼ cup chopped fresh cilantro (I didn't add this, for Tom's sake.)
Bring 2 cups water to boil in a saucepan over high heat. Stir in corn, baking soda, and ¼ tsp salt; remove pan from heat and let stand 10 minutes. Drain corn and let cool slightly, about 10 minutes.
Whisk lime juice, oil, honey, and 1/8 tsp salt together in a bowl. Add corn, tomato, shallot, jalapeño, and cilantro; toss to combine. Let stand 10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve atop chicken or fish or with corn chips. Makes 3 cups.
Alternatives: Instead of the tomato, make a corn salsa using an avocado with three scallions and a pinch of cayenne, plus ½ tsp toasted cumin seeds. A peach also works well, mixed with 4 sliced radishes, basil (instead of the cilantro), and minced habanero instead of jalapeño


Pork Chops
Buttered Panko Noodles
·           1 c noodles, cooked
·           3-4T butter
·           ¼-1/2 c panko
Melt butter in a small skillet while noodles are cooking.  Add panko to butter and allow them to get crispy in the now browning butter.  Drain noodles and add buttered panko on top. 

San Antonio Squash
2-3 yellow squash sliced in half length-wise and then sliced into half moons
1T butter
¼ c chopped onions
½ can rotel, drained
Sautee squash and onions in butter until crisp tender.  Add in Rotel and velveeta until hot and melty. 

Frito Salad
1 lg. head lettuce
1 purple onion, diced finely
2 c. grated Cheddar cheese
2 tomatoes, diced
2 c cooked ground beef (seasoned for tacos if you want)
1 can red beans, drained and rinsed (optional if you are bean averse)
1 bottle Catalina dressing (eyeball this so you don't soak it too much)
1 green pepper, diced
1 pkg. Fritos, crushed
Chop up everything, combine in a large bowl (except for Fritos) and mix in enough dressing to coat everything well.  Think chop salad at a restaurant.  Add in the Fritos for each serving so they don't get soggy. 


Chicken Fried Rice (Menus4Moms)
Calrose rice, cooked (about 2-3 cups)
1 egg
1 onion, chopped
frozen peas and carrots, thawed
corn if you like it
meat (leftover from Saturday)
soy sauce or tamari
Cook calrose rice according to directions or reheat rice if you made extra last week. Heat some oil in wok or deep fry pan (I use about a tablespoon) and scramble one egg in it. Remove egg and add some more oil (I add about 3 tbsp) to the pan, heating. Add chopped onion, some thawed peas & carrots (and corn if you like), and anything else you like in your rice. We sometimes add leftover chicken or canned baby shrimp. When the onions are tender, add the rice and add soy sauce to taste and stir with a big flat wooden spoon or large cooking chopsticks, if you have them (mine are about 18" long). Add the cooked egg near the end of cooking time and stir well. When the rice is heated through and a bit crispy, it is ready to serve.

Egg Rolls (frozen)
Orange Fluff

In another effort to clean up things I’ve purchased and never cooked.  Tonight will use up some frozen ravioli that I ran across today when I was looking for a veggie to cook for supper. 
Frozen Ravioli & Bottled Sauce
Garlic Mushroom Bread
¼ c chopped mushrooms (chop first, then measure)
3T mayo (no miracle whip here folks)
¼ c grated mozzarella (or if you have left over 4 cheese blend from Saturday).
½ tsp garlic
1T butter
Slices of delicious bread
Melt butter and small skillet and cook mushrooms and garlic until tender.  Cool for a few minutes.  Add in mayo and cheese and spread on bread.  Bake or broil (if you’re brave enough) until brown and bubbly.

Tortilla Wraps
Burrito sized tortillas
Deli meats
Sliced cheese
Diced veggies
3T honey
3T mustard
Mix honey and mustard in a small bowl.  Spread some on each tortilla, add meat, cheese and veggies.  Roll up burrito style. 

Potato Salad

2lb ground meat
1 package stuffing
1 c water
½ c bbq sauce
2 eggs
Combine all ingredients except ¼ c bbq sauce and shape into an oval in a 9x13 pan; top with remaining bbq sauce.  Bake at 375 ~1 hour. 

Roasted Potato Medley
Cube a combination of sweet, red and russet potato.  Mix with 1-2T olive oil, salt and pepper, onion wedges, garlic.  Place on an ungreased baking sheet and bake for 35-40 minutes at 375.
Green Beans

Grocery Deals 7/11+

Sprouts      cherries 1.69/lb, oranges .77/lb, grapes .99/lb, peaches .99/lb, strawberries $2, blueberries 2.50/pt, seedless watermelon $4 (vs $6 Randalls), avocados .77, tomatoes .99/lb, zucchini/yellow squash .99/lb, cucumbers .50, green bell peppers .50, celery .99, green beans .99/lb, eggs .99/dz, boneless chicken 1.77/lb
Randalls      cherries 1.89/lb, mango .50, plums .99/lb, strawberries 1.99,  corn .50, 97% lean ground beef 3.99/lb, leg quarters .59/lb,
       Friday-Monday only: mayo/miracle whip 1.99, canola oil 2.99
HEB               cherries 1.77/lb, blueberries 1.97/pt, cantaloupe 1.50, corn .33 (vs .50 Randalls), chicken breasts $1/lb, pork or chicken fajitas 1.97/lb, t-bone steak 5.97/lb, bacon 2.50/lb

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Frugal Friday--Reuse Plastic Storage Bags

One of the frugal tactics I have used for a long time is reusing the plastic storage bags.  You can see from the picture that I regularly purchase Ziploc brand.  And this is clearly not sirloin steak in 3.5 oz portions.  

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Weekly Menu 7/7+


beanie weenies
potato chips

aussie chicken
smore tortillas

cheesy spirals
garlic bread

ez veggie beef stew

BLT salad

Jill's chicken tacos
taco fixins
refried beans

shrimp scampi

Grocery Deals 7/4+

Sprouts       avocados .33, cucumbers .50, bell peppers .50, red/yellow/orange peppers .99, lettuce .99, green beans .99/lb, zucchini .99/lb, celery .99, spinach .99, tomatoes .99/lb, cherries 1.99/lb, mangos .50, peaches 1.29/lb, blueberries $2/pt, strawberries $2/lb, raspberries $2 6oz (vs $2.50 HEB), BlueBell 3.99, pepperJack 2.99/lb, Colby cheese 2.99/lb, chicken tenders 1.99/lb

HEB             cherries 1.77/lb (vs 1.99 Sprouts), mangos .33 (vs .50 Sprouts), strawberries $3.76/2#,  red potatoes $3/5#,  ribeyes 6.97/lb, boneless chicken 1.97/lb, beef fajitas 2.97/lb

Randalls      No ad update this week.  

Enjoy the holiday.  Go USA!!!! Happy Birthday America!

Monday, July 2, 2012

Tip Tuesday--Storing Onions

Back in the spring I planted onions, and then the rains came and by late May we had a bountiful onion harvest.  But we don't eat onions that fast, so I needed to store them in a way that they would last a good long time, like several months.

Since they are a root vegetable I could have stored them in my root cellar, but oh wait, we don't have one of those.  So instead they will have to be stored in the pantry on the cool floor.

If you can keep them from touching they will last a good long time.  Nana taught me a long time ago that if you have a bunch of onions, you can save your old pantyhose when you get a run in them and use those to store your onions.

I'm not sure about you guys, but I can't remember the last time I put on a pair of hose.

Business casual is the way of life in my workplace so I didn't have any that were no longer good, but I had a bunch of them left over in a drawer and in an effort to use something up, I pulled out a pair and put them to good use.  

I left some onions out that I thought I could use up fairly quickly, and the rest are 'in storage'.

My boss shared that he individually wraps onions in newspaper and then puts them in his fridge, but my fridge is almost always packed and this just wouldn't work.

I guess he has to use newspaper since he doesn't wear hose to work either.  :)