Early To Rise: The 2-Month Update

I told you back in January that I don’t really do New Year’s resolutions. I think they are often too vague, too lofty and doomed to failure. What I like to do is short-term goals, with an end date in mind. If you missed it, you can read that blog post here. I set a goal to get up at 5:00 AM for two months. I wanted to do this to help myself be more productive and have more peace/less chaos in the mornings. I promised to update you all on how it went.

For the month of January I set my alarm for 5 and hit “snooze” about 3 times each morning. That still gets me up by 5:27. I got up, did hair and make-up, made coffee, checked Facebook, watched the morning news and ate breakfast. I got my kids up by 6:30 and fed them. Life was pretty good. I did have more peace and less chaos. Getting Amelia (the 4-year-old going on 14) up by 6:30 gave her time to get used to the idea of being up before actually having to do anything. This made it much easier on me. Within half an hour she was alert and ready to eat breakfast and get dressed. This is working!

One thing I noticed right away: When you are getting up a lot earlier, you have to go to bed earlier too. Because I am now going to bed shortly after my kids are in bed, I have to be really strict about their bedtimes. I also watch a lot less television!

Next came February. I changed the game a little. In my January post, I had mentioned that I might like to work out before work if I could get up earlier. In February, I started actually getting up at 5:00 am. I joined a challenge group on Facebook for working out. There are 5 or 6 members, and we are all doing the same workout. It’s one of those programs that you buy a set of DVD’s to follow along at home. Being in this Facebook group has really helped me stay motivated! I know that 5:00 am is the only time I have to get this workout done, so I have to get up or I let my group down. Plus, pride. I am happy to say that I have done this every single day that I have had to go to work. Our workouts are Mon-Fri, so I let myself sleep a little longer on weekends and holidays (we did have one in February).

I had set the goal for 2 months. It is over after this week- but my workout challenge group is 8 weeks long, so I guess I’ll keep it up for at least another 4 weeks!

Quick Tip Tuesday: Tackling the Laundry Mountain

Everybody has one. A mountain of laundry, waiting, taunting. Whether you have a huge pile of dirty stuff waiting to be washed, or a huge pile of clean stuff that you need to fold and put away, it’s just a never ending battle! Here’s my way of keeping the laundry at bay:

Start a load in the wash in the morning- as soon as you wake up.
Go about your morning, getting ready for work or play dates or whatever is on your calendar.
Switch the laundry load from the washer to the dryer before you leave the house.
Fold it and put it away when you get home.
Repeat each day.

Foodie Friday: Turkey Stuffed Peppers- Yum!

I usually do my meal planning on Saturday, and then go grocery shopping. We had these stuffed peppers on Tuesday night, and it was all I could think about for about 2 days!

pepper

4 bell peppers, any color will do but I love orange!
1 lb ground turkey
4 servings of brown rice, cooked per package instructions
1/2 C non-fat, plain Greek yogurt
salt and pepper to taste
Croutons, crushed

Prepare rice per package instructions and set aside.

Slice tops off of bell peppers, pull out seed cluster and discard. Set peppers aside.

Brown your ground turkey in a skillet over medium heat. You may want to use a teeny bit of olive oil or spray with a non-stick cooking spray because ground turkey doesn’t have much fat in it.

Mix in prepared rice, Greek yogurt, salt and pepper.

Place peppers, cut side up in an 8×8 baking dish. Fill each pepper with 1/4 of the turkey mixture. Top with crushed croutons. Pour a little water or broth in the bottom of the baking dish. This will help steam the peppers in the oven as everything else warms through. Bake at 350 for about 30 minutes.

Cheap Dates- Or Dating on a Budget

We have all heard how important it is to spend quality time with our spouse/significant other. Yes, we usually enjoy it once we are out of the house, but it is so hard to get out of the house. Especially if you have kids. Especially if you’re on a budget. My husband and I are currently going through this. We have two precious girls, and it’s hard to leave them to go out on a date. When we really need a date night, sometimes it doesn’t seem worth the money. We live about 45 miles from Oklahoma City. If we want to go into the city to dinner and a movie, it’s just so expensive. A date in Bricktown (which is an area near downtown OKC for my non-Okie readers) would include $10-$20 to park, $50-$60¬† for dinner, and at about another $30 for movie tickets. That’s so $90-$110 on top of 90 miles of driving! It becomes expensive really fast!

I was needing to come up with some ideas and I wanted to share them with you. We haven’t actually done any of these yet, but we will!!

Picnic- This will¬† have to wait until spring, but a nice little picnic in a park, by a lake, in the backyard… wherever you want would be a fun and very inexpensive date! You don’t have to have a fancy wicker picnic basket with two hinged openings… although that would be cute and nostalgic! All you really need is a blanket, a basket or bag (reusable grocery bags would work great for this!) and a meal. You could go all out and make a nice dinner, or you could do finger foods. There is a show on the Food Network where the host put together fried chicken salad sandwiches and lemonade. They were so cute! I heard another person describe a picnic by the ocean (yeah, I live in OK. There are not oceans here) where they just had some cheese and crackers and single-serve bottles of wine. Super easy!

Outdoor Movie- I thought it might be cool to set up an outdoor movie at home, but projectors are not cheap! I even looked up rentals, but it’s still pretty pricey to rent a projector… so for this one, you will be at the mercy of your location. Some towns may do an outdoor movie night as a special event. You should check with your local Chamber of Commerce to see if there are any such events in your area. There are also still drive-in theaters around and they are usually pretty inexpensive for admission. There is one in OKC that we really enjoy going to, of course it’s not a year-round thing.

Dancing- If you have a VFW in your town, check which nights they have dances. It could be really fun! There will probably be quite a few more “experienced” couples there to hang out with, and it will definitely be cheap! They may serve dinner or they may let you bring in snacks.

Driving- It would be fun to go test drive some cars, even if you have absolutely no intention of buying a new car. Test drive your dream car. Test drive your honey’s dream car. Go for an ice cream cone after and I bet you’ll have a great time!

Run- or walk. Train for a 5K race together. You may be runners, you may be walkers- it doesn’t really matter. You’ll feel better knowing that you’re getting healthier together!

Backyard Camping- Set up a tent in the backyard. Roast some marshmallows, make some s’mores and watch a movie on your tablet- just the two of you- or the whole family. Try to find different constellations. Then you could sleep outside, or choose to go back in.

Go to a baseball game- Baseball is probably one of the least expensive sports to watch- especially if you have a Triple A team in your area! Buy the cheapest seats they have and just enjoy the atmosphere, the game, and each other!

Go fishing, cook what you catch. This one is going to be longer than just a couple hours. Go fishing in the morning or afternoon. Take a picnic lunch or some snacks and spend the day at the lake/pond catching your dinner. Later, back at home, have a nice fish dinner. If you don’t really know what to do with the fish you catch, ask your Extension Family and Consumer Sciences Educator. I bet she can find out for you!

It doesn’t really matter what you do. What is important is spending some time having fun together! Let me know if you have any other inexpensive date ideas, and let me know if you do any of these! I love hearing from you!

This is Husbee and me at a baseball game back in 2012!

Quick Tip Tuesday: Fruit and Veggie Prep

When I get home from the grocery store and put away all my groceries, I prep my fruits and veggies. I fill the sink with cold water and about a cup of white vinegar. Then I put all my fruits and veggies in there (including things I will peel) and let it all sit for 10-15 minutes while I take care of some other things. When I come back, I let the water out and rinse everything with cold water. I put apples, bananas, oranges, and anything else that doesn’t go in the fridge into my fruit bowl. I put grapes in zip-top bags, berries in a berry basket and I cut up any veggies I want for snacking and put them in zip-top bags too. Everything that needs to be refrigerated goes on a refrigerator shelf, not in the crisper drawer. This way, I see these things every time I open the fridge. Not only is it going to be convenient for me to use, it will also be at the forefront of my mind when I need a snack!

My rule of thumb for where to store is this: If it is in a cooler at the grocery store, I put it in the fridge. If it is not in a cooler at the store, I put it on my counter top.

Quick Tip Tuesday: Burned on Mess

Have you ever burned something to the bottom of your pan and it just would not come clean? Put some water in the pan and put it back on the stove. As the water starts to simmer, take a wooden spoon and start scraping the bottom of the pan. The burned on food should come off much easier. Once you get it all up, pour the water and debris down the drain. Be sure to let your pan cool back down before hand-washing. Submerging a hot pan in water can cause it to warp.