How I’ve Learned To Simplify Life

It’s no secret that as we age everything gets a little more difficult to do. We can all deny feeling a bit older every year but in our hearts we are and we know it. This year I have noticed that things that used to be so easy for me to accomplish seem to have gotten a bit more difficult. I am not talking all physical things either, I mean anything and everything that pertains to life. Which really made me look at how to simplify life and be a happier person.

IMG_1870Like dealing with stress and stressful situations. In the past I would worry myself sleepless over things that I knew I could not change. As of recently, I now notice that unless it involves my direct family(myself, husband or son) I listen, give advise if asked, and wait and see what happens next. This wait and see approach really helps me see that no matter what I feel or think I cannot make things any easier by worrying about the outcome. Ultimately, it is about something or someone else and there is not a thing I can do about it anyhow.

Physically I have noticed that my level of activity is not what it once was. However, I will say that compared to most individuals I know, I am still much more active that anyone else my age. Maybe this change is from age, although I strongly feel I could have other factors effecting my activity level. It could be almost anything or it could be an assortment….anything from working long days with two very active toddlers that are only a few weeks apart from each other, hormones, lingering injury issues from my ankle tendon tears, having to do more around the house/yard since my husband hurt himself, and so on. Regardless of what exactly it is, clearly I am getting older and find myself slowing down just a bit. However, I am feeling good with my activity level since it also allows me a bit more time to enjoy life.

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Next, I think the big thing I have noticed in the past few years is that I just don’t have the need for a perfect, clean house anymore. Cleaning for me used to be a stress reliever believe it or not. If something would stress me I would come home and my husband and son knew to get out of the house and find something fun to do because I needed to clean. Which was really quite good but also so bad. I had a very clean house by Saturday evenings after I would spend the day with my mother whom, at the end of her illness, really stressed me out. After she passed away, I did not have that HUGE responsibility on my hands anymore which left me with a gaping hole I had nothing to fill it with. After a few months of twiddling my thumbs wondering what in the world I would do now on my weekends since caring for her every single weekend is what I did, I figured out that cleaning to relieve the tension and stress from caring for her was not necessary anymore. I could actually go and have some fun. Granted, I still have a clean home, just not as spotless as it used to be, which is really quite nice. The best part is I am actually having some really fun weekends now. If I am not with my family hiking, kayaking or doing something outdoors, then I very possibly have plans with a friend(s) to do something fun. This really took some getting used to. However, now, I can actually plan fun outings and enjoy the time away and not be so concerned that the house is not clean. I will get to it another time, day or weekend….it’s not the end of the world if it’s a bit dusty…..right?  IMG_2725

I can’t forget to mention meal times and how much that has changed. In the past year I really changed up how I grocery shop and prepare meals for my family. I never enjoyed grocery shopping and honestly I still don’t. However, it is so much easier today that a year ago. I used to be a once a month big grocery list shopper and in between run for the little necessities like bread, milk, fruits/veggies. This list was made on a whim with no meal plan and no thought as to what we would be eating when. I just purchased things and then came home and figured out from what was in the pantry what dinner would consists of. Which really was not all that great most of the time. Then one day everything changed. Our son graduated high school, started college, got a job, and then got two jobs. And literally overnight a light bulb went on in my head. There are many, many nights he is not even here for dinner so why am I making meals for a family of three and ending up with a ton of leftovers. Which brings us to today…every Thursday we discuss as a family the next weeks plans, schedules, and meals. From who will be present at dinner time during the week to if there are any requests for a special meal to be prepared. I post this menu on the frig, make my grocery list according to this menu, and only buy what I need to prepare these meals. I then shop every Friday night for the next week. My list is shorter, there is no wondering what I am making for dinner on said night anymore, and grocery shopping is so much faster which is awesome. And let me tell you, it’s saves a ton of money and time. I find myself buying much less junk food and things that we don’t need.

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It’s funny to look back and see how life has changed over the years for me. Ultimately the changes I see are for the better. I am calming down and not taking life quite so seriously. I am still very active and happy…yes I have my share of aches and pains, but who doesn’t? I no longer care so much about what others think of the life I lead. I can go to bed with the laundry still in the dryer…which would have NEVER happened a few years ago. And best of all, I have come to realize that you can only worry so much about others and sometimes taking the wait and see approach is the best thing you can do for everyone. The only person you can change is yourself and if you find that something needs changing….what are you waiting for…change it!

Simplifying life has been a complete success for me. I can honestly say, I am a happier person now at this age than I have ever been before.

 

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What’s For Dinner?

Here is what our meal plans look like this week. I hope I can inspire you all to prepare and enjoy a nice meal at home with your family. Plus, show you that with just a little planning, dinner is possible with a crazy lifestyle.

Sunday: pulled pork sliders, roasted fingerling potatoes, homemade low fat coleslaw

Monday: chicken fettuccine with veggies and crusty bread

Tuesday: smoked salmon salads

Wednesday: crock pot chicken noodle soup

Thursday: meatless tortilla taco stacks

Friday: pumpkin pancakes and chicken breakfast sausage or possibly leftovers

Saturday: make it yourself or starve:)

As always, if you see something that sounds good and you would like the recipe, comment or email me at rednatural1973@gmail.com and I will be happy to share it with you.

 

Weekly Dinner Planning

A while back I was asked how I plan and accomplish getting dinner on the table every night while caring for children and exercising as often as I do. I thought now would be a great time to touch on this topic since everyone has probably started their resolution of adding exercise to their daily life all while trying to juggle everything else that life throws their way.

First let me say, I always have a plan but do not beat myself up if that plan does not always happen. However, there are many factors that play into our weekly meal plan. Things like appointments, # of people eating that night, schedules, seasons, moods, weather, workout plans, coupons, etc.

Typically, I make my menu plan on Friday’s so I can take stock of the pantry and grocery shop for the needed supplies over the weekend. I always give myself Saturday off, where I prepare no meals at all for my family. This is the day I only cook for myself, someone cooks for me, or in the summer time you will usually find us sharing a meal on the tailgate of our truck after hours of kayaking,

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a meal on top of a bluff,

IMG_0382 or it could even be a meal on the top of a kayak. Regardless of where Saturdays meal may be you will not be served by me on this day of the week:)

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There is no magic trick to getting a decent dinner on the table most nights. I use my time wisely, I prepare anything I possibly can ahead of time, we have many cooking projects that the kids I care for can help with, I use kitchen tools when time is tight (love the crock pot), and always clean and cut up veggies right after I buy them. That is one step I don’t need to worry about getting done during the week.

A normal week looks somewhat like:

Sunday: nice dinner could take anywhere from 30-45 minutes to prepare (workout day)

Monday: 30minute meal (workout night)

Tuesday: 30 minute meal ( workout night)

Wednesday: crock pot or casserole meal (playdate on Wednesday’s means something to set and forget or a casserole I premade in the morning is ideal) (workout night)

Thursday: 30 minute meal ( workout night)

Friday: easy fast 15 minute meal (who feels like cooking on Friday’s) (off no workout)

Saturday: off (workout, kayaking, hiking, tennis, etc)

I will start posting our weekly menu plan on Sunday’s so you can get a little look into how I manage meals, exercise, working, and life. Maybe this will help those of you who struggle to find balance when it comes to feeding your family and still finding time for you.

Here is this weeks plan:

Sunday: no boil lasagna and side salad

Monday: pork stir fry over rice medley

Tuesday: crunchy ground turkey hoisin pockets and roasted broccoli

Wednesday: roasted whole chicken in the crock pot, stuffing, and zucchini

Thursday:  sushi and side salads

Friday: tuna casserole

Saturday: make it yourself or starve:)

If you see something that sounds good and  you would like the recipe, comment or email me at rednatural1973@gmail.com and I will be happy to share it with you.