Sunday, January 30, 2011

Little Things That Make My Life Easier

There are small things that I try to do everyday that make my days run much more smoothly. I don't do these things in any particular order, nor do I do them EVERY SINGLE DAY. The theory is that if I DID do these little tasks on a daily basis, my life might just be a little less stressful. Try these things at home and see if your mornings, dinner routines, and every day chores don't just seem a little more fun (and easier!).

1. "Make" coffee the night before.
Try pouring your water and putting in the coffee grounds at night. That way all you have to do is wake up and press the on button. Even better would be if you had a timer on your coffee pot that automatically starts brewing when you wake up.

Shown here is my "coffee station." My trusty Turtle houses my Dunkin Donuts brand coffee. I even lay out my spoon next to the coffee pot so I'm ready to stir in my favorite creamer.

2. Do one load of laundry every night.
The only thing I hate more than doing laundry is not having anything to wear because I didn't do laundry. Every night I try to do at least one load of laundry, that way I avoid wasting an entire Saturday folding and putting away 45 thousand loads that I put off doing during the week. My weekends are much more pleasant when I have clean clothes and an empty hamper.

I usually use all Gain products because I love the smell. Wish I could bottle it up into a perfume, for real. I found a couple of recipes online for "homemade detergent" that I'm interested in trying. Using Gain really takes a bite out of my grocery budget! If you have a recipe for detergent, let me know!
3. Get your outfit ready the night before.
This is an oldie, but a goodie. My mother first introduced me to this idea to make our school mornings less stressful. When we were kids we would actually lay out our school clothes on a chair next to the bed so when we'd get up all we'd have to do is get dressed. No thinking involved. (It's hard to think about what goes with what at 6am!) I don't lay my clothes out now, but I mentally plan what I'm going to wear the next day and sometimes hang the outfit at the end of the closet. This can reduce morning stress enormously!

4. Plan your day around spending time with Christ.
This is supposed to be the single most important element of your day, and for me, it often gets pushed to the back burner. If you know you have an early meeting in the morning, make sure you set aside time in the evening for your devotions. If you know your going out to dinner that night, make sure you set your alarm and get up early. If your day is extremely crazy and you don't know when you'll get time, talk to Christ in the car on the way to work. This isn't the most ideal way, but it's better than nothing. The point is to take time to hang out with Our Father. He loves spending time with His children.

 Meal planning involves so many elements of stress reducing awesomeness I don't even know where to start. One thing is to keep your recipes organized. About once a week or once every 2 weeks, go through your recipes and pick out what your going to cook and what you need to add to your shopping list based on your menu for the week. Knowing what your cooking for dinner every night helps you be prepared for anything. Even if you decide to go out to eat last minute you'll know you can fix what you were planning the next day. Base your menu's on the weather, your husbands preferences, budget, and dinner guests. You'd be surprised how much praise you'll get from your loved ones by preparing what they prefer most! Because I shop every 2 weeks, I plan out about 12 meals, and plan to eat out twice. I pick out my recipes, shop for the ingredients, and go. I could go on and on about how happy meal planning makes me, but it might bore some people. Email me if you have any further questions, or if you have any recipes you want to share!

6. Make Lists.
I have two lists. A Long Term List, and an Every Day List.

The Every Day List goes hand in hand with meal planning. Keep a running total of errands you need to run, groceries/cleaning supplies you're out of, and appointments througout the week.

The Long Term List has things that I want to do once the Every Day List is complete, or close to being complete. Right now my Long Term List looks like this:
  • Finish JD's Baby Book
  • Find out distant relatives birthdays and put them on the calendar
  • Go through my medicine cabinet and throw away out of date products
Do you kind of get the idea? The Long Term List has things on it that aren't necessarily pressing, but that are important.

7. Don't wash your hair everyday. Seriously.
I used to be obsessed with my hair. I felt that if I didn't wash and style my hair everyday it would appear dirty. I felt this way up until really about a month ago. Then, I discovered this little miracle:

Yes, that's right. It's waterless shampoo. Seriously, it works! Rub a little of this Bad A onto your roots and BAM! Instant healthy, shiny, CLEAN LOOKING locks. I'm not saying don't shower everyday because that's just disgusting. But if you're as obsessed with your hair as I USED to be, then please; do yourself a favor and give dry shampoo a try. You'll save tons of time in the shower. I believe Matrix has a dry shampoo as well but its a little out of my price range and I haven't tried it yet. Dry Shampoo is my new best friend!

8. Before you leave in the morning, do a 5 minute "Clean Sweep" of the house.
Wash your dishes from breakfast. Make your bed. Wipe down the high chair. Straighten the throw pillows on the couch. Take 5 minutes to make your home look a little nicer. It never fails that the day my bed isn't made and there are dirty clothes on the bathroom floor is the day that my husband brings a friend home to eat lunch. You can breathe a sigh of relief when you know you left your house in an orderly manner that is worthy of unexpected guests.

In case you didn't know, we are currently living in a garage-house while we build the "real" house next to it. It's more or less like a studio apartement with one extra bedroom for the baby and another room for storage and laundry. This means that my bed is in the same room as the kitchen, living area and dining. Needless to say if I don't make the bed, people will notice! There's no closing the door!

9. Use leftovers to re-invent dinner.
I have been saved many evenings by using my leftovers to create something new. Leftover chicken breasts? Try a Tomato, Chicken, and Mozzarella sandwich. Day old Salmon fillets? Crumble the fish into a salad. We had a ham and sausage tray at JD's birthday party yesterday, so today I made Ham and 15 Bean Soup with cornbread. The point is be creative with your leftovers so nothing goes to waste!
Here's the recipe for the 15 Bean Soup:

1pkg 15 Varietal Beans
Cut up leftover ham slices. Thick pieces work the best!
1 can of hot Rotel
1 can of diced tomatoes
1/2 onion, chopped
Dash of Tobasco Sauce
Couple Cups of water

Cook everything on the stove for about an hour, stirring occasionally. Bake Cornbread from a box recipe while the beans are cooking. Serve Soup over the top of a piece of buttered cornbread! Yum!

10. Do something nice at least once a week.
My true goal is to do something nice and unexpected for someone else everyday. Since I'm human and (Surprise!) naturally sinful I sometimes have a hard time being nice to people. So I say, start small with once a week and work yourself up. Write a kind review about a business online. Tip the girl who cleans your tanning bed. Tell the lady at the cleaners you like her shirt. If your like me, these seemingly simple gestures aren't always the first thing to pop out of your head. Just try a little harder to make someone else feel important. Pray for God to show you how you can be nice to someone you don't normally pay much attention to. Who knows, you might even make a new friend!

I hope these tips are useful to you! Have a Stress-Free week!!

1 comment:

  1. Love this post! I only do a few of them (1, 5 and 6) and I'm not always on top of it either! Might have to try the waterless shampoo b/c i always wash my hair everyday, I feel like it looks greasy if I don't. I am going to keep all of these in mind! thanks love!