Stuff and that.

Stuff. And yeah. That

Month: January, 2016

How to meal plan like a Domestic Goddess (or not)

Tonight, I should be sewing in some of the 180 ends I have on the latest two Harmony Blanket squares I’ve completed. However…

  1. I am too tired to concentrate on dealing with all the ends
  2. I need to tidy up and I don’t want to
  3. PRO-CRAS-TIN-ATE.
  4. Eh, I feel like writing

Because it does in fact make a difference to our life, and because I am trying to lose some of the condition I’ve piled on for the long, cold, hard winter that’s definitely ahead of us (yes, Winter is Coming. I have the lard arse to prove it. Random GoT reference there.), I have decided to be taking meal planning a bit lot more seriously. Normally, I write a list of 4-5 random protein sources, hopefully remember to get something out of the freezer and we see how we go from there. However, this week, I actually sat down and worked out meals.

Here is my meal plan for the week – I tend to plan from Saturday to Friday, mainly because Saturday is when I shop.

  • Saturday – Home made pizza
  • Sunday – Chicken schnitzel and vegies
  • Monday – Mexican tortilla pie
  • Tuesday – Lamb roast (Australia Day. Have to have lamb)
  • Wednesday – Lamb souvlaki for the grown ups and burgers for the complaining children
  • Thursday – Lasagne
  • Friday – Take away (fish n chips)

Sounds fair, reasonable and delicious. Saturday, we had friends call in. Sunday, Reg was out until late. Tuesday worked a delicious treat, and included a spontaneous chocolate pudding. Tonight I was supposed to be at a school function that ahem. Got rained out. Literally. Like they’re running about moving the library because they *knew* the ceiling would collapse if they got more rain. They got more rain. Tomorrow night, I want to go out for a couple of hours. And Friday… well, nothing has come up so far, but it’s still a good 24 hours away.

So, this is what my meal plan has ended up looking like

  • Saturday – Home made pizza  Fish n chips
  • Sunday – Chicken schnitzel and vegies Home made pizza
  • Monday – Mexican tortilla pie  Had to use the chicken – pan fried chicken strips. Bit thin and a bit chewy
  • Tuesday – Lamb roast (Australia Day. Have to have lamb) YAY GOT ONE RIGHT
  • Wednesday – Lamb souvlaki for the grown ups and burgers for the complaining children  Well, the burgers got eaten for lunch on Tuesday, and I couldn’t be bothered with the souvlaki – spag bol from the freezer
  • Thursday – Lasagne We had pasta Wednesday and I still have to use the mince and I am going out, damnit.
  • Friday – Take away (fish n chips)  Yes, well. Takeaway is ONCE a week. And we have sausages. Probably.

It appears tomorrow night will be tacos and Friday will most likely be sausages. Assuming nothing else dramatic happens. I’m not sure if it’s me that sucks at meal planning or if it’s my family. I’m all for Yay! Spontaneous! But bloody hell, this week is ridiculous. Next week, I actually KNOW is going to be a bit nutty, and I will plan accordingly, and I’ll probably get stuffed up by circumstances unforeseen. Again.

On the shiny Pollyanna side of things – tonight’s spag bol is tomorrow’s lunch left overs! Despite an epic fail on the meal planning side, I am taking lunch ONCE this week! (It’s only three days this week, I wasn’t expecting to manage ANY lunch from homes. Win!)

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Back to Basics with the Flylady

I may have mentioned a couple of posts ago that I was contemplating giving Flylady a red hot go again –  so I have spent the last three weeks contemplating a variety of questions.

  1. I have never managed to stick at Flylady for longer than 6-8 weeks at a time in the past.
  2. I have had at least four five or six goes at Flylady over the last ten years with little or no success.
  3. I crack the shits within a week at the sheer volume of emails that come through. Do I seriously think I will find it easier to ignore 24 Farcebook posts in a single day?
  4. I find the website revolting to manoeuvre and can never find what I am looking for.
  5. I find the schmaltz to be completely nauseating
  6. I keep coming back.

It’s so damn condescending and twee and annoying and I keep coming back like some demented teenager with a feral ex-boyfriend (I know I can change, I know I can make it work this time). I’ve dated other organisational experts and had the same result – I’m fired up with enthusiasm and wander off at the first sign of failure.

(Well, except for UnFuck Your Habitat –  I like their evening routine, I think 20/10 is a much better working time frame, and hey, looking at pictures of other people’s Habitats is inspiration for me to get off my arse and do some unfucking of my own. Also swears instead of butterflies and fucking rainbows, and the app is a dollar. But it still doesn’t quite make the grade for general day to day living. Also, Kon Mari for decluttering).

So why haven’t I ever managed to stick at the Flylady before? And what makes me think I’ve got Buckleys of having it stick this time?

I think part of it has been my circumstances at the time. When I first delved into Flylady, it was circa 2005 , I had a toddler, I was studying and working part time, Reg was working shift work (get up and make your bed is tricky when there’s still someone in it); and I just couldn’t quite ever get through the Baby Steps. (Digital clutter is so clutter and you don’t need to buy special purple things to do housework with. Pfft.) I think the next time, I was still working part time, had a kid in primary school and a toddler. I sort of skipped the baby steps because they just irritated me and attempted to move onto the Zone cleaning. Yeah, nah.

The other thing is that her faith plays a big part in the life of the Flylady, and whilst the message is relatively gentle, it’s still very much there as the basis of everything she says and does. There’s nowt wrong with that at all, if that makes her happy, so be it. However, I think I am best described as a bit of a heathen. All this talk about blessing this and blessing that – Pfft. And housework that’s badly done is housework that needs doing properly later. So, maybe I’m a perfectionist? And that’s why Flylady doesn’t seem to work for me. The millisecond something doesn’t work, or she’s too happy clappy, or flogs a product – ZOOOOOOOM. Can’t see me for dust. Of which there is plenty at my house. Any excuse and I am gone.

The next couple of times I had a go at it, I was working full time. Flylady and full time employment are not compatible in the slightest. And when you throw small children and after school activities into the mix, it gets even less compatible. I like the idea of it, I like the structure of it, but the reality? Um. Nope. Not even close. About a year ago, I looked at the last bit of Baby Steps and I was more or less there, so I moved along (yay, nine years to implement 31 days of a program)

So, what’s changed? I’m still working full time, and Reg is now working Monday to Friday like a normal person, I still have two children and I still have to juggle after school activities. What makes me think this is going to work this time?

As a bit of a laugh, I have been doing the Missions in each of the Zones for the last three weeks and um. Despite my efforts being decidedly half arsed and the Missions being subject to much internal derision (nothing says I loves youse all like a fresh supply of toilet paper and clean jocks)… My house is slightly but noticeably tidier and slightly but noticeably cleaner and more organised.

I also had an epiphany of sorts.

Every other time I had a crack at the Flylady, I was attempting to shove my motley collection of rhomboid shapes into her perfectly round and organised circular holes. I didn’t fit, so I left. This time, I am treating it differently. I am NOT treating it as the Master Plan for my life, because we all know how well that turned out. I’m skipping the Baby Steps because I think I’ve actually passed that stage. I’ve gone through her lists for each room and bodged together a list of extra things the cleaner doesn’t do for each room. I’ve divided my house into Zones that make sense for me – only four, though. The odd days are designated catch up on what I didn’t do earlier in the month. And I will do the Daily Missions in as half-arsed a fashion that I choose.

I will see how things turn out in another month. It will be an interesting journey. I am not sure if it was the half-arsed flying or if the confounding effects of working four days a week and having no kids for three days are actually what made the difference. Welcome aboard. This will either be an interesting tale of how I finally beat Flylady’s system into my life, or I will wander off in search of something else in about a month because, hey turns out it was the short week and lack of kids.

 

Reading reading

Yep. Doing some of that, I am.

So far this year, I have finished two books and am half way through #4 and a third of the way through #3. I am enjoying reading a bit more so far this year for some reason – whether it’s because I’ve just picked the right book to read and not picked anything I hate, or whether I’m just in the Mood for Reading. Whatever it is, it would be nice if it keeps going. I’m not going to set any goals for reading this year – just that I should. I’m also taking the Offspring to explore our new library during the week, and I might end up re-visiting borrowing books again. (Although, my spooky cousin who has purple hair works there. We haven’t spoken for nearly 20 years aside from the odd mumbled ‘hello’ when we cross paths – she was working in the building next door for a while. Embarrassing. Families. Ahem.)

Plus, I can’t read while I crochet, and as my crochet buddy is at the joining the squares phase of our project, and I am still about to finish Square #10 (out of 14) and all the ends (may have mentioned ends before – 14 sets of nine squares, each with five colours, and each colour has two ends. Crikey. That’s a lot of ends), I sort of want to keep up with that as well. But I like reading, so here I am.

Book #1: Career of Evil – Robert Galbraith Now, I started reading this series before I found out who actually wrote it, and thought the first one was a decent first novel. Then, by the time the second one came out, the cat was out of the bag and everyone knew it was JK Rowling. This was sort of unfortunate, although I think people had got used to the idea she can write about things that aren’t child wizards. BUT the other unfortunate bit was that the editing got a bit looser – like, OMG JK ROWLING CAN’T TELL HER TO CHOP BITS. So, number 2 wasn’t as good as #1. It was still readable, and still a decent holiday read. Career of Evil is #3. It starts off well, although I found myself mildly irritated with the story (and for fuck’s sake, we know Coromoran is hairy, you don’t need to describe how goddamn hairy he is every five pages. He’s a one legged hairy gorilla. Ok. Got it.) for almost the first third. There was also a bit of ‘need to suspend disbelief’ here and there as well – Robin was being a bit pathetic – ok she did get delivered a leg in a box, but seriously. However, we did find out a bit more of Robin’s back story, which was useful. Somewhere a bit before half way through, it started to get REALLY good, like I’m not crocheting because I am reading. Ahem. The viewpoint switched between the killer and the story – not sure that was great as the writing in those parts seemed really stilted and clunky. But it certainly got going after the 40% mark. The end was a bit race to the finish, then a bit WTF. Like really WTF. But I’m looking forward to #4, and I’d really like it if the hairy was mentioned less than once.

Book #2: Hester and Harriet – Hilary Spiers. This was one of those random pick ups from Target while I was waiting for Chaos to get his act together. So, an actual book made of paper. Weird. Anyway, this book is everything I hate – it’s a cosy, and it’s written in an odd perspective. It’s not second person, but sort of. Like reading a play (the author is a playwright, that splains that). Anyway, despite my predilection for hard core crime and death/serial killer-y type books, this was pretty cool (although, many suspensions of disbelief required about some bits. They’re in the middle and toward the end of the book, you’ll know which bits I mean when you read it.) I liked the characters – one of them I imagined as looking and sounding like Vera from the telly show of the same name. I’m not sure that she really did, but there was something about her… Anyway, it was a nice read. I enjoyed it a lot and handed it over to my mum to read.

Book #3: The Road to Little Dribbling – Bill Bryson I’m a bit over a third of the way through this one. I’ve loved Bill Bryson for ages. Even if I did try to kill him once. Long story. I picked this up when on holidays a couple of weeks ago after sniggering like a loon reading the first couple of pages. He got hit on the head by a boom gate in a car park, and it’s hysterical. Also, something that could happen to me anyone. Reading Mr Bryson is like listening you your favourite old uncle tell stories in front of the fire. Funny and affectionate and a little close to the wind sometimes. He likes to take the piss, but he’s very gentle about it.

Book #4: The Magician King – Lev Grossman I had an epic trip to the Big Smoke last week, and because I had to lug a fuck-tonne of crap with me, I didn’t want to drag Uncle Bill up the highway because hardback books are heavy as fuck. So, I popped this one on the Kobo and got stuck in. I’m a bit over half way, and I suspect I’ll finish it before I go back to Uncle Bill. It’s the second book in a series (I read the first one last year – Harry Potter goes to Uni with alcohol and sexy times). This one is more or less what happens next. There’s a feeling that getting what you always wanted is a bit disappointing, although Quentin Coldwater is a whinger. He is probably the kind of person who can never be content. The book is enjoyable (even with the moaning) and the characters are interesting, and I whizzed through almost half of it on the train. So yeah. Looking forward to what happens next.

 

And now for something completely different.

It’s that time of the year when I regale you with my success and/or failure in relation to the vague goals I’ve set myself at the same time last year. So, without much ado…

  1. Write more – yeah, but it was almost all work related.
  2. Reading – yep. About 25 books. And I’ve eased up on the damn Candy Crush.
  3. Paper diary – yep. I am SO analogue when it comes to organising myself
  4. Ditch Candy Crush and be creative – Yep. Crocheted a blanket and I’m a bit over half way through a single bed sized blanket. That’s pretty fucking creative even if I am following a pattern
  5. Food. Four out of five’s not bad is it? I’ve had a couple of injuries in the last year (back and knee, both of which are heading toward ok), and custard do-nuts.

So there you have them. Five fairly valid “resolutions”, four of which I am continuing on with and the other – well. Taking that a bit more seriously this year because I’ve realised it’s easier to lose enough weight to fit into *all* my short sleeved shirts than buy new ones. Fuck clothing manufacturers suck.

What of 2016?

Well, so far this year, I’ve done three extraordinary things. Ok, they’re not all that extraordinary (more extra ordinary than extraordinary if you know what I means) and the year is barely three weeks old.

  1. I have not only purchased, but worn shorts. See what I mean about extra ordinary? But I’m a fat middle aged lady and I’m on the tall side,  mid-thigh isn’t exactly in the middle of my thigh, more at the 40% from the top mark. And they’re scarlet. So yeah, for me, shorts are extraordinary. Mayhem says they’d be better if they were a little bit longer, but they’re fine. (As an aside, heaven help the future significant others of my offspring. If they ask “does my bum look big in this?” , they’re really going to have to want to know.)
  2.  I’ve also purchased a $150 pair of thongs. Technically, they’re sandals – but hello, slide on shoes with arch support (this kind of thing, only basic black. Apparently they’re so cool, stock is limited), they are still thongs without toe bits. AND I WEAR THEM WITH SHORTS. AND I DON’T NOTICE IF ANYONE’S LOOKING AND POINTING AT THE OLD LADY IN BRIGHT RED SHORTS AND THONGS.
  3. I finally learned how to drive the Old Car. Ok, that’s not strictly correct – I’ve always been able to drive it. I was just really shit at changing gears in it, and it’s an auto-fucking-matic! I worked out how to use the stupidarse quickshift gear changing thingy. Seriously, it’s not that fucking quick if you have to use both hands to get the fucking thing into reverse. Blokes are all hur hur manly hur hur quickshift, and the laydeez are all muttergrumble who’s stupid idea is this?! Anyway, we were away for the weekend, and circumstances lead to me driving the Old Car around for a couple of hours over the course of the weekend. All I can say is roll on the next cruise night, because move over, Reggie, you’ve created a monster! I’ve even backed it out of car parks a couple of times *and* drove it up the driveway.

While I have been mildly astonished I’ve done all of the above, and they really are quite ordinary things if I look at them through the eyes of other people – wearing red shorts and Birkenstocks, driving a car. Pfft nowt much in it. But for me… they’re all tiny little steps outside of my comfort zone. And I didn’t die of shame or horror or anything.

So, I have decided to DO stuff this year. Doesn’t matter how big (obviously, although the Old Car is fucking HUGE) or how small (don’t think I can get much smaller).

I’m also going to have a red hot crack at losing some fucking weight. I almost cracked the ton late last year which is unacceptable. I’ve dropped back to hideous, which is a good start. However, there’s a (fairly long) ways to go. A friend of mine has lost 17kg in three months, with walking and dieting (low carb, high protein). I can do that.  First “goal” is 95kg. And I’m back on Calorie King and everything. No ‘rules’ per se, just lowish fat, aim for a bit more protein than I have been eating, and maybe cut down on the carbs a bit. I’m still walking every day, but I’m going to walk at night as well when it’s not too fucking hot.

Along with the losing weight thang, I have also personally challenged myself to bring my lunch at least once a week. I realised not long ago that I spend nearly $20 a week on coffee alone, about the same on snacks and about $10 a day on buying my lunch. That’s $100 a week I’m pretty much stapling straight onto my arse that I could be spending on much more fun stuff like – I dunno. Getting a dressmaker to make me some fucking shirts. If I bring my lunch once a week, and buy fixings from the supermarket for a couple of days, I could be saving a whole $1,000 in a year – which is more than enough for some bespoke tailored shirts.

And I am contemplating getting back on the Flylady wagon. There’s an entire post in that alone. I’ve almost fallen off a couple of times already and it’s only been a couple of fairly  half-arsed weeks. I’ve dabbled with Flylady off and on for about ten years, made some good friends, and maybe as a result, maybe as a complete coincidence,  more or less have a cleanish and tidyish house (depending on your definition of cleanish and tidyish, of course. And your definition of Clutter. I was never ready for Hoarders, despite what some close members of my family may think.) The Fylady website is fucking annoying though – there’s this very Hall-mawkish kind of overlay that smears everything with saccharine sweetness and “you can do it” aphorisms that make me do a little bit of sick in my mouth when I read them, and don’t get me started on the ‘testimonials’. (No, I’m not the most romantic soul in the universe.)

HOWEVER, when you strip all the Fly-Things back to the fundamentals and get rid of the schmaltz, the basic structure is GOOD. Break the tasks up into smaller jobs and do them a bit at a time, the job gets done and it’s not so overwhelming. Plus, there’s this whole thing that if I *do* keep up with the bits and bobs I’ve been doing, a) I get more of my weekends back and b) I’m not spending two hours tidying up before the cleaner comes on Friday.

Now, it’s 10.57pm. Part of the Great Weightloss Campaign means bed at 11pm, so I have three minutes to shine my sink and get my arse into bed by 11pm. Ok. By 11.15pm. Baby fucking steps, alright.