Amy Beth

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Poppy turns One!

You guys. My poor Poppy is already suffering from 2nd child syndrome.

happy

Well maybe not suffering.

Anyway, her birthday is the week before Christmas. This year it also happened to be a couple of days before we left on a two week trip. While each year I’ve planned a small but fun themed party for Charlie (one, two, three), Poppy’s first birthday was decidedly less involved.

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But there was a pipe cleaner crown.

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A banana cream pie.

presents

And a few presents that Charlie had a hard time leaving alone.

And of course, lots of adorable smiles.

mama

dada

poppy

Happy Birthday my sweet Penelope!


Linking up with Tina and many others at Tuesday Talk!

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Making a Monthly Meal Plan

Makeingamontlymealplan

Have I mentioned before that I pretty much hate getting meals on the table? Meal planning, grocery shopping, cooking, cleaning…all of it. Except the eating. I very much enjoy the eating part. I’ve tried lots of things to make this whole daily ordeal more enjoyable, or at least take up less of my life. So my latest project is one more attempt at streamlining the whole meal preparation process. The biggest change from anything I’ve tried so far? Planning for the whole month.

I started by making a list of all the meals I would consider quick and easy. When I actually sat down and wrote them all out I found I actually had a pretty good collection. For the most part they are recipes that I can make from memory, have a small list of ingredients, and come together fairly quickly. Some recipes are crock pot meals that take a while to cook, but only a few minutes to dump the ingredients in at the beginning of the day. I’m sure each family would have a different list, but ours includes things like tacos, spaghetti, parmesan tilapia, and roast beef.

Easymeals

Then I made a list of easy and quick side dishes. I’m really bad about making the main dish and then realizing we have no vegetables once I get it on the table, so I knew I needed to think about sides ahead of time. I only have a handful that I’m planning to rotate though each week, but they are super simple. Mostly various types of frozen vegetables with some roasted sweet potatoes or carrots thrown in for some beta carotene.

Once I made my lists I realized I could fill out a whole month’s calendar and only repeat most of the meals twice. This sounded like a fabulous idea, but I knew I would miss some of our favorite but not quite as quick and easy meals. So I made a list of favorite seasonal meals. My plan is to put one “seasonal favorite” in a week, but with a list of favorites already made it’s still not something I’ll need to think very hard about. Some favorites that I’m planning for this fall include my stuffed acorn squash and chicken and rice chowder.

From there I filled in the calendar! I based the plan around our typical schedule for the week, so on grocery shopping days I always plan on just picking up a rotisserie chicken for dinner. On days when we tend to have more going right before the dinner hour I plan on crockpots that I can prepare earlier in the day.

Calendar

The last step was preparing a shopping list. Since I plan on repeating my “quick and easy” meals all year long, I knew I could go ahead and make a shopping list to refer to all year too. This took a bit of time, but I think I have a pretty thorough list now. I split it up into things that I can buy just once at the beginning of the month, and more perishable items that will need to be purchased on a weekly basis. My hope is that I can take one big shopping trip at the beginning of the month and get all the unpleasantness of that out of the way and keep all the rest of the trips short and sweet. Since I’ve only just started this system I have yet to find out if this is how it will actually work in reality.

Maybe in a few months time I can report back on how this system is working out. I’m hopeful that it will make at least some things easier and I’m already excited about the fact that the whole month’s meals are planned out.

Anyone have any fabulous tips for making meal planning and prep involve less time and stress? I’m all ears!

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**This is going down in the books as Project 1 for my 31 Projects goal!

Monday, October 5, 2015

31 Projects: A Year-Long Goal

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I’ve heard it said before that goals are dreams with deadlines.* I’ve been really good in my life at dreaming, but not so great at accomplishing goals. I’ve come to realize that a lot of this is due to a lack of deadlines. I do just fine at getting things done when there is some sort of external pressure. I did just fine at work. I was great at school. But when it comes to my own personal life I often feel like I’m not accomplishing very much. In the past I’ve balked at placing an arbitrary deadline on myself. I guess I figured that if the deadline is coming from me, then I can just as easily change it. And then it’s not really a deadline, it’s just procrastination. But after all that reasoning I still don’t really get anywhere.

So, to commemorate my 31st birthday this past week, I’ve decided to make this a Year of Accomplishing Things. I’ve made it my goal to complete 31 projects before my next birthday. October 1st, 2016 is the deadline. And since it’s my birthday I can’t change it. No procrastinating on this one! I’ll either meet my goal or I won’t, but at least it won’t just languish out there for all eternity while I wonder if I’ll ever get around to it or not. I feel like this will be good for me.

So what do I mean by 31 Projects? It’s pretty open-ended really. The purpose is to take all the many many many many ideas I come up with throughout the year and turn at least some of them into reality. Some of them will likely be craft projects. Some will probably be home projects (decorating, organizing, and the like.) Some may be projects for the kids. Hopefully all of them will bring about some sort of personal fulfillment, either by being a creative outlet or improving my life in some way.

I have dedicated a page in my planner for keeping track of my projects and have already started jotting down ideas. A few are already in progress. You can also expect a lot of 31 Project related blog posts. 31 of them, hopefully.

Project page
My project tracking page in my Get To Work Book

When I do the math, it looks like I need to complete a project every one and a half weeks. This is a pretty lofty goal. So if you know me in real life, feel free to ask about what projects I’m working on. I have a feeling I’m going to need a little motivation to get this done. :)

*Pinterest tells me that was said by someone named Napoleon Hill.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

A Peek at my Planner – Get to Work Book

I don’t know about you, but I’ve spent much of my adult life searching for THE ONE. The one that can help me achieve my dreams. Be a better person. Support me through stressful times and forgive me when I just can’t do it all. The one that I can pour my life into and receive clarity and purpose in return. I’m talking, of course, of the perfect planner.

Peek

As I’ve grown though, I’ve slowly become more accepting of the fact that I can’t expect the planner to fulfill my every need. I have to be willing to do the work to get the most out of the relationship. I need to be willing to commit. To buckle down and work out our issues and see what good can come out on the other side rather than just run off to a newer, prettier planner at the first sign of trouble. As you can see, planners are a very personal issue for me.

So when one of my favorite bloggers and people on the internet that I most admire in terms of her “get it done-ness” launched a new business that sells planners I decided to give it a try. I had been without a long-term planner for a while. I’d just been casually flirting with different lists and notebooks but I could feel it was time for me to settle down. So I bought it. It’s charming and unassuming. It gives me guidance and focus when I need it, but it never pushes. It allows me space to be me. It’s a planner, and I’m going to stop with this extended metaphor now.

The planner is called the Get to Work Book and it is made by Elise at Elisejoy.com. The next edition of the planners for the 2016 calendar year is available for pre-order now, so I thought it would be a good time to give a little peek at how I’ve used mine for the past few months. You can check out the Get to Work Book website for photos and videos that show each of the different page designs in more detail.

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As a reminder that I want to be more creative and crafty in my daily life, I decorated the cover page with some watercolor. It turns out decorating planners is a thing that people really get into, and this planner is the perfect blank canvas for some serious artistic flair. Just take a look at the Get to Work Book instagram or search on pinterest for “planner decorating” and you’ll see what I mean. Like Whoa.

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brainstorming space decorated with washi tape
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project planning page

One of the things I love about this planner is the amount of brainstorming space that is included. I’m a person who thinks and plans best on paper, but other planners I’ve had have never really included a lot of space for this. I always had to find other notebooks or scraps of paper which inevitably got lost or forgotten. This planner allows me to keep all of my ideas and brainstorms right there with the nitty gritty details of the day. It has several sheets of blank graph paper before each monthly spread and more in the back of the book. It also has some handy project planning sheets for those projects that need to be broken down and given a bit more structure.

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weekly spread

I also like how open ended the weekly spreads feel. If you wanted to write out a schedule for the day, you could do that. If you wanted to just make a big to-do list for each day you could do that too. Or you could be like me and combine a few tasks with a shopping list with a note with details about an upcoming event with an inventory of the fridge for meal planning. The grayscale design gives enough structure to help you keep things organized but is subtle enough to ignore if you need the space.

The fact that I have used this planner for three months and haven’t yet thought about switching it up and trying something new is a big deal, as my husband will attest. Maybe it’s the planner. Or maybe it’s just me finally being ready to commit. But I feel like even if I come up with new ways to organize or categorize my life, this planner will be flexible enough to change with me. We’ll see. But I think maybe, just maybe, I’ve found the one.

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

A summer capsule wardrobe attempt

Capsule wardrobe title

I know it’s September and school has started and Labor Day has passed and everyone is now in full on Fall mode. But we’ve had a week of 90 degree weather in these parts and my summer wardrobe is still very much in use. So I’m going to pretend that this post isn’t desperately behind the times.

So, have you jumped on the capsule wardrobe craze? I kind of feel silly explaining it here because it seems like every blogger ever has already done so, but just in case you’re out of the loop, here’s the low down:

A capsule wardrobe is basically a pared down wardrobe made up of items that can be mixed and matched in many different ways. Some people will stick to just 40 items in their closet, others go with 37, some work it all the way down to 25. The ultimate goal is to have a closet made up of only items that you love and can be worn with anything else so you don’t have those mornings of staring at your stuffed closet thinking you have nothing to wear. You could essentially grab any top and any bottom and throw them on and look great.

Doesn’t that sound like a dream?

Or like every man’s wardrobe. Anyway…

I’ve been intrigued by this idea for quite some time and this summer was the first season that I wasn’t in maternity clothes or rapidly changing size. I purged and edited until I got down to 24 items. I got rid of everything that didn’t fit, wasn’t flattering, or wasn’t comfortable. Then I pulled out some of the things that didn’t really seem to go with anything else and was left with what you see below.

Capsule wardrobe

As you can see, my wardrobe is pretty casual. It is built on a base of gray and navy with pops of berry, teal, and green thrown in. If I had an office job I would probably need a different assortment of items, but for now this collection takes care of what I need. I can’t say that I love all the items, but it’s been a good exercise to see how little I can get by with. For the fall I think I’m going to try taking a more deliberate approach and perhaps invest in a few basics that I’m currently lacking.

And it really has been easier to pick out clothes each day. I haven’t been faced with a “I don’t have anything to wear!” feeling all summer. It’s definitely an experiment that I’m willing and excited to try again.