Monday, March 26, 2012

Menu Planning

Today marks the third week I’ve actually sat down and planned what meals we are going to eat during the week. Some of you are shaking your heads and murmuring, “Helloooo! This is only your third week???” While others are thinking, “Why bother?” So this post is for the rest of you who think I might be on to something.

After poring over Pinterest for clever ways to spur my interest in planning ahead and pinning several possibilities onto my Good Ideas board, not to mention procrastinating (my favorite!), I finally came across one that is simple enough that it might actually work long term. At first I was enamored by those with the cute magnets and creative cutouts but wondered where I would store the extra bits in an already full kitchen, because it must be in the kitchen or it will not get used. Then there was the type that is semi-permanently attached to the fridge via various tapes and sticky letters, but this wasn’t realistic because my fridge sides are surrounded and I refuse to put anything on the front of my brand new fridge (our last was so cluttered with pictures that it drove me nuts). Not to mention that both types offer little flexibility when new recipes surface which happens frequently, unless you want to get all your craft stuff out again, make the mess, etc., or make something quick and dirty that doesn’t match. I need them to match.

Just the other day I ran across The Lovely Cupboard blog. On the tour of her 1940s cottage is a photo of a clipboard whose board has been simply decorated and on it is a piece of paper marked “menu” with a two-week block-style calendar in which to write your meals, under which is space for shopping lists. There is also a little box beneath to hold pens so there is always one at hand. I chose to attach my pen to the side of the bulletin board with Velcro instead. Simple. Adaptable. Brilliant.

The ultimate goal of this menu planner is to help me to think about what's for dinner more than fifteen minutes before we should be eating it. The Captain will tell you that I don't think about food until I'm starving and have to eat right now. He is one who thinks about tomorrow night's dinner. I can't usually be bothered with something that trivial when I have more pressing things to worry about like getting The Boy bathed and in bed so I can collapse and watch The Big Bang Theory or something equally stimulating. However, since I've implemented the menu planner, I've noticed several things: I go to the market less often, I make better use of leftovers, I know what's in the fridge, I'm saving money, I don't have to think of something on the fly to make for dinner because it's already written down, and, most importantly, I can easily answer the question, "What's for dinner, Honey/Mom?" but I don't have to because they know where to look. 

See? This blog is keeping me accountable and helping me get organized. Next post I'll give you the recipe one of our favorite dinners.

Thursday, March 22, 2012


First, I'd like to apologize for my recent several weeks’ absence. My life changed two weeks ago. All is well now, however, and I may at some future moment decide to share -- but not today. Anyway…

So we finally have satellite TV back in the house and it’s becoming part of our lives once more. What is astonishing to The Boy and I is our fascination with commercials. We, again, have a DVR which we loved when we had pay TV two years ago because we could skip all the annoying commercials and shave about ten minutes off every half hour show. However, because we’ve been in our own little counter culture, outside the real world of commercial television for so long, we find ourselves watching commercials for cars and tissues, cereal and, most of all, ads for all the new shows that have popped up since last we had “real” TV.  

I realize this attraction is short-lived, that soon will be back to being irritated by commercials and happily fast-forwarding through them. That the phrase, “I hate ‘Live TV’!” which was once common in our home will resurface. In the meantime, you’ll have to excuse me, the TV show I’ve been ignoring while writing this post is finished. It’s time for the commercials. J

Monday, March 5, 2012

Psychic Reading That I'd Be Writing

When I was in college a friend gave me a gift certificate to have my astrological chart read for my birthday. I was intrigued. The meeting was in the astrologer’s home, which was very bohemian and smelled heavily of patchouli. Not surprising on either count. She told me a bunch of things I don’t remember now and didn’t mean anything at the time. However, there are two things I do remember: 1) that I’d have two children (we have one and the ship has sailed on the possibility of a second) and 2) that one day I’d be writing. When I asked her if she saw me singing, she said no but that she definitely saw me writing. Hmmm.

Now, I love to sing -- just ask my neighbors… It has always been an emotional outlet for me. Mad at The Captain? (c'mon, you know it happens) Adele or Miranda Lambert. Happy with life in general? Kenny Chesney or just about anyone -- mostly country but the occasional pop and classic rock songs make the cut. My childhood four-poster bed was the perfect height to use as a microphone when I was singing the Grease soundtrack in fourth grade and the Annie soundtrack in sixth and the Footloose soundtrack in high school (I’m short). These days my brother-in-law comes to our house and plays his guitar and I sing. We throw songs back and forth to each other. You learn this and I’ll learn that. Our only audience is the rest of our family at RitterFest, our annual family reunion (fodder for another post).

While The Captain patiently listens to me crooning country songs, he has gently made me to understand that, while he enjoys listening, I will never see the Grammy stage from a vantage point other than that of in the audience -- ouch. I don’t like this but I know it’s true and whenever anyone replies to the contrary, my response is that even if I were good enough, I’m twenty years and forty pounds too late. That doesn't stop me from making a captive audience of my family. J They, too, listen patiently and applaud enthusiastically. (thanks, guys)

Recently, as you know, I’ve found my laptop keyboard as another creative outlet. Not that I don’t still sing along to my iPod in the car, the house, the shower, hum quietly to music in the supermarket, and my brother-in-law still comes over to play his guitar. I guess my astrologer was right about something because now I have an audience that extends beyond my family – even if my voice has a different medium, so to speak. Now I’m off to put the folded laundry away (yes, it’s folded today) and get to work on the floors while subjecting my reggae-loving neighbors to my renditions of Little White Church and American Honey. Thanks for listening.