Can you imagine have a day where you can stare out a window and enjoy the view. I was watching my dog do just that this morning. Nothing brings this little girl more enjoyment than spending her days watching the leaves blow by and the birds dancing around the front yard.
It made me think about how quickly we get caught up in the minutia of our daily lives and we miss out on what is going on around us. Take a moment today and look out your window, there is so much to see.
My parents celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary on Saturday night with a fantastic party. Honestly, isn’t this a milestone that we all strive for? 50 years!
The food was amazing (it was an Italian buffet). The company was so much fun (my parents have really cool friends). Finally, it was a reminder of why we are all on this big blue rock. Family and friends are everything, the rest really doesn’t matter. My parents and I all gave speeches. But, I have to give a GREAT BIG shout out to my 22 year old son who wrote a beautiful speech for his grandparents. Honestly, we do not give millennials nearly enough credit for the amazing people that they are.
Below is our meal plan for the week. When I plan ahead, I save so much money and I am never asking myself, what am I going to make for dinner. It makes my days so much easier. Tuesday is leftover night. I am really hoping that we have enough on hand to make that possible. We have my daughter’s chorus concert that night with very little time for cooking with our work schedule.
It’s that time again. I need to go over our frugal finds for the week.
My daughter is in college to be an early elementary teacher. I found a great deal in the library book sale room. I found a dvd set of 100 scholastic storybook classics for $5.00. I found several on sale online that sell for between $40 and $60. I am hoping to help her build up her classroom with finds like these.
Speaking of the book sale room, I found two, brand new bestseller hardcovers for .50 each. I bought them for a Christmas gift for next year. I am pretty sure that neither book was ever cracked open and I have someone on my list that loves the genre of book I purchased. If your library has a book sale room, visit it often. A lot of really good stuff is donated to those sales.
Eric found a gorgeous glass bird feeder at Goodwill for $8. It came with the artist information and has proved to be a good buy.
I got a haircut with a $25 off coupon. Haircut came to $23 with tip.
By shopping at Aldi, our grocery bill was $73 for a week’s worth of food for 4 people. I am able to do this by avoiding meat (for the most part), writing up a meal plan and sticking to it and avoiding processed foods (again, for the most part).
Tonight was chicken enchiladas. The original plan was bean burritos, on Tuesday. But, things change and so do cravings. Burritos did not happen on Tuesday, I went to the store today and bought a chicken that I boiled and it gave me enough meat for three meals. Also, that awesome pot holder was given to me by my daughter for Christmas.
2 cups of cooked chicken
1 cup sour cream
1 can green chilies
6 whole wheat tortillas
1/4 cup sour cream
1/4 cup salsa
1/4 cup cheddar cheese
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix chicken, sour cream and chilies in a bowl. Fill 6 tortillas and bake for 20 minutes. Mix sour cream and salsa. Top the enchiladas with topping and cheese, bake additional 5 minutes. I served this with a southwestern salad.
I made a really good risotto tonight and used barley instead of arborio rice.
Mushroom Barley Risotto
1.5 cups uncooked barley
3 cups water
1 tbsp butter
1 chopped onion
1 cup water
1 tbsp chicken stock base (I use Penzey’s)
2 tsp majoram
1 pound button mushrooms
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tbsp dried parsley
parmesan cheese (I like a lot of parm)
salt and pepper to taste
Boil water and cook barley. Saute onion in butter for 5 minutes, add mushrooms and saute for 5 minutes. Add cooked barley, add water and chicken broth, garlic powder and herbs. Cook until water evaporates. Add parmesan to taste and serve. Delicious!
Below is a list of books that I read in the month of February. I am well on my way to achieving my goal of reading 110 book in 2020.
This Tender Land by William Kent Krueger – In a word, fantastic. This author has proven over and over again to be a master story teller. His books are always thoughtfully told with characters that the reader is meant to genuinely like. His last book Ordinary Grace is another that I would highly recommend. My mom gave me this book for Christmas because she did not want me to have to wait too long on the library hold list. Five stars for this book, without hesitation.
Girls Like Us by Sheila Weller – I read this one for my bookclub. It is a biography about Joni Mitchell, Carole King and Carly Simon. It really gets into their role in the feminist movement, while telling their individual stories. I liked it, but there was about 150 pages in it that could have been edited out. I would give 4 stars.
Mr. Nobody by Catherine Steadman – I had high hopes for this one. After reading her 2018 novel Something In The Water which was a nail biting, brilliant story, I was so excited to see she had something new. Meh. What a disappointment. She had such a great idea with this one, but it was rushed and the ending was really unsatisfying. Two stars, which really broke my heart. I know this author is capable of great novels.
Dracula by Bram Stoker – Everyone knows this story. It was ok at best. I am glad I read it, as it has been on my to read list for years. Three stars just because it’s a classic and his withstood the test of time.
Fierce Attachments by Vivian Gornick – This book was on my 1000 Books To Read calendar, so I ordered it from my library. I had never heard of it before seeing it on that calendar. Mothers and daughters can be so complicated, this book proves that over and over again. This is Vivian’s story about her relationship with her mother. It made me happy that I have the mother that I have, because her’s was a piece of work. Four stars because anyone who came out of that childhood a productive citizen deserves a well reviewed book.
The Winter Sister by Megan Collins – This was another good mystery. It tells the story of Sylvie and her mother, 16 years after her sister’s murder. I had no idea who did it until about two pages before the reveal. This is another one with a pretty terrible mother, who the reader has very little sympathy for. Four stars for this one
The Grammarians by Cathleen Schine – Imagine the most annoying grammar police, times ten on Facebook and you have twins Laurel and Daphne. Their world is grammar and words, making them pretty insufferable to be around. This books tells their story up to the rift that causes them never to speak to each other again. This was an okay book, not great but certainly not terrible. Three stars.
I did not read nearly as many books in February as I normally do because Girls Like Us was so long, well over 500 pages with small print. March should be a better reading month for me, I have a lot on my list. What is on your list for books this year? I need recommendations.
Below is an update on my 2020 goals. I am actually making progress!
I was recently diagnosed with VERY high blood pressure. Until November, it was always normal. Out of nowhere, it has gone up a lot. I am now under the care of a cardiologist who has put me on medication and he is starting a round of tests to try figure this out. So, my number one goal is to get my pressure back to normal. Several of my goals have been set to help bring it down with the help of medication.
I continue to be in the normal range since early February.
Lose 20 pounds. Truth be told, I could stand to lose more than 20. But, small goals are best and 20 seems like a good start. When I hit that, I will add 10 more to lose.
This needs work
Continue to get 10,000 steps a day in. This has never been a problem for me. But now, more than ever, I need to keep this habit in my daily routine.
I was doing such a good job at this one. In my defense, we had some really cold and snowy days. Honestly, I am probably exceeding this with my treadmill use, but I don’t count my steps on the treadmill.
Go to the gym 3 days per week. I need my daughter to hold me accountable with this one. She is so good about getting herself to the gym on a regular basis, I need to follow her lead.
This I am doing
I have spent a lot of time reading about the causes of high blood pressure and what I can do to bring it down. Eat more fruits and vegetables. I eat a lot as it is, but it’s time to add more, especially potassium rich produce.
This is another goal that continues to be a success.
I downloaded the Simple Habit app to encourage meditation on a daily basis. I keep hearing that meditation helps calm the mind. I do meditate, but not daily. Time to start trying to meditate at least 2 or 3 days per week.
Yeah me! I am doing this as well
Get back into the yoga habit. Several years ago I went to yoga 3-4 days per week. I was in great shape, but I fell out of the habit as my kids got older. Since they are now adults, I probably shouldn’t continue to use them as an excuse for not going.
3-4 days a week hasn’t happened, but I am doing yoga again.
Cut down on the alcohol. I really don’t drink very much. I have wine with dinner some nights and enjoy a cocktail when in a restaurant. But, until I get my blood pressure under control, I need to eliminate alcohol.
I drink wine on weekends only.
Now on to other goals. Pay off the house. We had every intention of paying it off December 31. A couple of unexpected expenses put that on hold.
Read 110 books in 2020. I sign up for the reading challenge every year on Goodreads. I don’t think I have ever missed my goal.
21 books read so far
Read 3 classic books this year. I am starting small because in all honesty, I don’t always enjoy the classics. But, my mom and I agreed to start with Call of the Wild in anticipation of the movie. It seems easy to add 2 more to 2020.
Call of the Wild – read
Dracula – read
More dates with my husband. In the past I told myself we would have a date night once a week. That proved to be difficult to achieve some weeks, making it easy to just forget about it. Date night once a month seems easier.
We consistently had a date night once a week in February.
We have a membership to the Milwaukee Art Museum that I plan on utilizing a lot more this year. I really do need to spend more time taking advantage of the cultural activities my city has to offer.
We didn’t visit the art museum, but we did visit the public museum.
Spend more time outdoors. It’s not always easy in the winter to be outside. But in the spring, summer and fall, I need to spend a lot less time indoors. I recently read an article that encourages 1000 hours per year which is about 2.5 hours per day.
I think I mentioned the cold, snowy weather.
Throw away 20 items per day. We have too much stuff in this house and some of it needs to go.
Pretty sure I am averaging more than 20 items per day.
More no spend days. These are so easy to accomplish and the benefit can be seen in your checking account.
This has actually been my easiest goal to achieve this year.
Spend more time with my friends. This is another one that I am pretty good about following through on. I enjoy meeting friends for lunch, dinner and potlucks. In 2019 I reconnected with several old friends that I have spent time with.
I am consistently meeting with friends at least twice per week. It has been so niche to catch up.
Finish a knitting project I started in November and start and finish another. I learned how to knit in 2019 and really enjoy it. I hope to find more time in the coming year to year improve this skill.
I am almost done.
Learn how to can! We usually have a prolific vegetable garden (2019 was a failure). My husband is the one who usually preserves the bounty. But, more job responsibilities means that I should take this one over.
Go on 2 weekend getaways with my husband. A full blown vacation is not going to happen, but a couple weekends away should be attainable.