Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Making Dinner Easy - Prep Now, Save Time later

If you are anything like me, you love to cook, but by the time dinner rolls around, you are tuckered out and not in the mood for the prep, cooking, and dishes to wash. I cook most of my meals from scratch, and have a few tips on how to make the task more manageable. First, I do a weekly meal plan. This way, I only have to think about what I am making once a week, and I never buy more than I need at the grocery store. This was born out of necessity after one too many $200.00 trips to the grocery store, only to find I had nothing to eat.
Also, I prep in advance. I have to do my dishes by hand, and this can become a monumental task if I do them all at once. I am the type of person who eats, and is done for the day - as much as I try to force myself to do the dishes promptly after dinner so I can wake up to a clean kitchen, it never happens. Instead, I generally wake up and stumble to get my coffee, shoving dishes out of the way in a kitchen so messy and full of pots and pans that it looks like the contestants of Top Chef just completed a quickfire challenge in there.
So my solution has become prepping/cooking in the morning or during nap time, so everything is ready to go for dinner with minimal clean-up. I am far more motivated to wash the dishes I use during the day than I am at 7:00 at night, and it helps me to get dinner on the table in a more timely manner, rather than underestimating the prep time of a meal and having it take 2 hours.
You can cut your veggies far in advance, stored in plastic bags or containers for meals you are making that week, wash your produce when you get it home from the store, check your meal plan so you can pull your meats from the freezer to thaw, etc.
For instance, today I am making chicken alfredo for dinner. So this morning I roasted and cut up the chicken. Now at dinner, I only have to throw pasta in a pot and make the sauce. If I am making tacos, I roast or poach the chicken, then shred it and toss it in the fridge. That way, at dinnertime I only have to re-heat it in a pan with the taco seasoning and serve.
For me, it is much easier to find the motivation to do the prep work of cooking at 11am than it is at 5pm, and it makes the dishwashing fly by.
Here's a tip on food safety: If you forget to thaw your meat the night before, and do it in the microwave, it must be cooked immediately to prevent food borne illness. Please do not thaw meats in the microwave and then put them in the refrigerator while they are still raw.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

The Long Awaited Thank You Cards

So, I finally made them. Don't get too excited - they have yet to be addressed and mailed; however, since today is Sunday and tomorrow is a holiday, I have two days to get it done. Of course I had to go buy new embossing powder, since I am a perfectionist, and of course I ended up using a powder I already had.
I went through several designs, and then ran out of white cardstock. Just as I was about to scrap the whole idea due to not having the perfect paper, I tried it on some ivory cards I had. I loved it! Here is the final design, along with some of the preliminary ones. You can't tell so much from the pics, but the ivory cards have blue embossed snowflakes, and the white have blue/silver embossed.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

The Room I Dread

I finally packed up the Christmas tree and decorations today (yes, I know it is January 12th). If any of you are wondering, no, the thank you cards have not been sent out, since I have once again fallen into my usual trap of waiting to make them by hand. I'll keep you posted on that feat!
I have now decided to turn my attention to the room I dread - the spare room.
It is supposed to be my crafts room, and I tell you what, there are quite a few crafting supplies in there, but by no means is it a craft room. It is the catch all room, and I would like to see if I can get it organized and orderly.
I know, somewhere amongst the clutter lies my beloved Cricut, endless spools of ribbon, embellishments for scrapbooking, and other surprises. Unfortunately, right now it looks like a scene out of the show Hoarders.
The sad part is that this clutter room is in addition to a large storage unit filled with more clutter, and I go back and forth - do I clear out the storage unit, or the clutter room? I need a week and a full time nanny if I want to do both at the same time, not to mention several trips to the dump.
I have decided to take on the craft room, to turn it into a craft haven, all while on a budget.
I'll keep you posted along the road to having a great craft room on a tiny budget.
To begin, this is how it looks now: