January

I just started using Microsoft OneNote at work, which is like a virtual notebook, with “tabs” and “pages.” And you can have multiple notebooks. Pretty cool. I wonder if I will stick with it, and is there an app for my phone? I need it for work and the rest of my life, too.

I have a lot of ideas to keep track of. Karate for the kids? An online parenting class for me? What about the garden? It’s time to order seeds and figure out where things will be planted in this new location. I would like to also type up instructions for each crop instead of poring over my gardening notebooks from years past to try to remember what to do when.

I persist in my hope that organization is the key to life improvement though deep down inside I’m not so sure.

One garden job that I did accomplish so far is to get a bigger outdoor container for compost, with a working lid. It’s just a plastic bin; I’m going to get Tom to drill holes in it. I also brought my big rosemary, sage and thyme containers inside for the winter (back when it snowed). So far, so good. But truthfully, most of the stuff still outside is still alive. Case in point: the parsley that I made the kids pick in the dark last night so I could use it in meatballs. Meanwhile, my basil plant has stayed alive in the kitchen all this time. I think that’s kind of amazing. If it made it this far, it ought to keep going, right?

The Christmas stuff is now mostly put away. Once the tree comes down I’ll really have to reckon with what to do with the living room. Need more seating. Need a rug, curtains. Need something that is as cheering as the tree is. The kids’ rooms need some help as well. Curtains, rearrangement of furniture, certain other things. It also wouldn’t be a bad idea to reorganize the kitchen a little. I also need a plan to keep the kids’ artwork/art supplies/schoolwork/school supplies under control.

I need a lot.

Then I had an idea to just make January a “me” month and just do stuff I feel like doing. Read books I want to read, etc. Binge-watch something. Try new soup recipes. Work on the next puzzle. Even a “me” two weeks would be great. Set Feb. 1 as the date to pick up again with making doctor appointments, cleaning (which I did a lot of the past 2 weekends, so there), thinking about tax returns, etc. This won’t happen, but just the idea of it was nice. I think just working on the puzzle is all I need. Clears the head.

And a new book to read or show to watch would be good. I watched The Minimalists on Netflix but it was like preaching to the choir. I fell asleep. I tried one episode of Bridgerton but couldn’t get into it. Tried Nightstalker but too disturbing.

Wine + puzzle + Kathleen Edwards music = great Friday night

Not too much else going on since the New Year. Sadly, we had to put one of the older cats to sleep, Teller. That was a rough day. I continue spending two nights a week at physical therapy. Soccer practice has started again for F. T hoped to play basketball but didn’t make the team. Tom and I have both been focusing on getting the kids outside and active as much as possible despite the cold (luckily it hasn’t been too too cold). People are getting vaccinated and Biden was sworn in today so things are looking up. But get-togethers remain dicey. I’m not that sorry that T will not be playing an indoor sport.

I ordered some rug samples for a living room area rug and got a quote for a new sofa slipcover. The samples are from Hook and Loom. Originally I was looking at Wayfair, etc., but then had a light bulb moment — could this be an opportunity to make a conscientious purchase? At the very least, do I want a rug that is offgassing all kinds of whatever? I never ever used to think about “offgassing,” but it’s hard to unthink it once you do.

This past weekend was all about decluttering. I finally got through the last 2 bins on the front porch. I also went through some bins in F’s room. They yielded some items for the Buy Nothing group (snow boots, books, art supplies, more). I also got a good “get” from that group — a twin bedskirt for F’s bed. Will have to continue this weekend. Still plenty of random stuff around, but now it’s more of a question of “where should this thing live?” than “get rid of it.”

I have been eating out for lunch a lot at work. Not good as it’s hard to find lunch in the city for less than $10. At home, we’re about at our usual pace: takeout twice a week or so. Maybe three times. But sometimes it’s just for me and Tom.

Looking back at New Year’s, NYE and day were pretty nice and relaxing except for having to work some in the evening. End of year deadlines and the such. I made gingerbread and homemade whipped cream from scratch on NYD and then went ahead and made the pumpkin gingerbread trifle the next day (halved the recipe). It might be my all-time favorite dessert. So glad I made it. Ate it all weekend. Worked on the puzzle, blogged.

Wish I had taken a picture of the trifle.

Saturday after New Year’s, it was back to reality and that meant cleaning. Finally cleaned all the floors. It felt really really good. Lots and lots of laundry. Sunday, I went to Mom’s Organic Market and Acme, and did a ShopRite order for Tuesday. I’ve been pushing fruit and carrot sticks on the kids and they’ve been eating it. I also started leaving only a few other snacks out so that they aren’t blowing through all the food quickly. The rest is hidden or in the basement fridge. We had Pizza Hut on NYD (points for a free pizza), chicken cutlets and “Grandmom noodles” on Saturday (Knorr bagged noodles), and I made pork chops and boxed scalloped potatoes on Sunday. NYE was wings, snacks, etc.

It’s so hard to cook all the time. Same problem I used to have when I was a stay-at-home mom: how much time can you spend in the kitchen before going crazy? To cook breakfast, lunch and dinner every day, or to prep stuff for future meals… so time-consuming. As virtuous as it feels… The only thing I can say is that when I stick to things like Haddon Culinary and even Primo, at least it’s not too unhealthy, and supporting small biz. So maybe I just need to keep the McDonalds, Pizza Hut and Krispy Kreme off the table (literally). And accept that I probably won’t really make all the meals I dream of making. 😦

The next weekend I took N and F to observe a karate class and to talk to a friend I hadn’t seen in forever. Got F’s hair cut. On Sunday I made pork chops in the Crock Pot, corn, mashed potatoes, a baked sweet potato for me. And gravy that was actually thick and good! Had a surprise visit from Grandmom and Uncle Ted. Last weekend, N and F and I enjoyed a walk at Croft Farm and playing on the playground. It was also my mom’s birthday and I got her a Google photo book. Nice to finally have some of the millions of pictures of the kids printed up.

Now it’s Saturday again and F and I had a very productive morning/afternoon: got her glasses, went to Mom’s Organic Market, tried out a new crepe place in Haddonfield. Planning tilapia and mashed potatoes for dinner. Right this second, Tom has them all out on some kind of walk/hike even though it is frigid. And I’m happy to be here alone.

If she didn’t look like me before… she does now!

Some quick frugal wins/fails:

— N lost his phone in the Poconos, so we replaced it. Perhaps we should have made him pay for it, but we kind of need him to have one these days.

— I’ve remembered to use coupons here and there, like at CVS.

— We really went down to the bones of the fridge/pantry this week, so some stuff got eaten that otherwise might have been wasted. Think a lone older waffle that was dug out of the back of the freezer.

So, hopefully I’ll make a little more progress in pulling the living room together, and F’s room, frugally. I’ll order seeds and start them on time. I’ll meal prep tomorrow and not eat out too much this week. I’ll make all the doc appointments I need to… including the pediatrician annual visits that I totally forgot to go to this week… And I’ll keep writing cause I’m back on one of my old projects. I’ll be better about staying in touch with and checking in on friends and family. All while trying to ensure the kids don’t fail virtual school and stay sane. Easy peasey!

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