Sunday, May 20, 2018

Productivity-An Elusive Find at Home

This post is part self accountability, but self permission to be human. Does anyone else battle the two self images, productive in certain parts of your life, but feel woefully behind and lacking in others? 

Friday I was extremely "on" at work. Before 10:00 I had wrapped up two projects, despite being out of the office for two days. By mid day, solved two grantees problems and got them sorted for moving forward. I had two longer than normal check-ins with staff that were quite positive, and finally completed two mandatory on-line trainings that I started and was interrupted multiple times. I actually left the office at 2:00 and did those from home. I am usually very efficient and effective with my time use at work. 

Home, not so much. Actually, I am productive, but don't seem to get as much as I would like accomplished. Yesterday, knowing I was not going to be home most of today, I decided no excuses. It looked like it was going to be a bit rainy so I didn't get bedding outside on the lines as I would have liked, but I managed to get all the bed linens stripped, washed, and replaced. I did several loads of delicate clothes, hanging on hangers and getting ready for the week ahead. I cleaned the fridge out, and topped off the groceries, also making Sloppy Joe's and salad to bring along today. Getting up at 4:00 a.m. (not that early intentionally) to watch Royal weddings helps add hours to the day! 

I would have liked more time on big projects like the berry bushes and the rubbish piles. I need more purging done in the garage and another purge of closets. And, I want to find more time to work on the book and the web site for which I purchased the domain for last year. There it sits, still not launched. 

Rome wasn't created in a day and neither is my life. I need to be focused but I also need to cut myself slack. It's not like I'm  sitting around watching soap operas and eating candy all day, though probably do more of both than I should. Little by little I am feeling a bit more control of some of the home chaos. In reality, there is just as much to do as ever, but I need to remember I don't own it alone. I'll keep plugging away at balance, and purging the useless stuff from life, things and activities. 

Half Psst the Month of May Budget


I am challenging myself to $380 for my household and grocery budget. I'm not counting a few incidentals that are part of household maintenance nor medications, but do count personal supplies and all cleaning. I spent $50 on Saturday, leaving myself with $39 through the end of the month. Completely doable when factoring in pantry and stock already in my kitchen. I had made an ample list of meal options last week, much of which can carry into this week, leaving me the funds for memorial day weekend. DH didn't get take out when I was out of town which surprised me, so kudo's to him. 


  • Sunday: Homemade pizza-pepperoni, onions, sliced tomato(picture is old-no spinach or ham this time)
  • Monday: Tuna hotdish with peas and steamed carrots
  • Tuesday: Jimmy John's
  • Wednesday:frozen pizza
  • Thursday:leftovers, but I'm not sure what
  • Friday: Hot dogs (I at lunch very late, frozen burritos, and DH had met a friend for lunch. DD2 had Spaghettio's before going to work and then snacks at a friends)
  • Saturday:Turkey meatloaf, mashed potatoes, steamed Vegetables
This leaves a whole lot of options. I made Sloppy Joe's, salad, coleslaw, and spinach dip for the lake on Sunday, with leftovers. The ingredients, buns, salad, and slaw was the bulk of my shop on Saturday along with breakfast cereals.  We've got awards night tonight for DD2 and her last orchestra concert tomorrow so I'll throw chicken in the crock pot when I get home to use it for meals through the week.

Here's the rest of my ideas for the menu, carried over from last week. 
  • Leftovers-tonight we'll have the remaining Turkey meatloaf, Sloppy Joe's, and assorted stuff from weekend
  • Boneless BBQ chicken thighs, baked sweet potatoes and broccoli
  • Loaded baked potatoes, with homemade chicken nuggets, baked beans
  • Chicken, rice, and broccoli hotdish-my favorite
  • Rigatoni and sauce and salad
  • Ham, hashbrowns, steamed vegetables
  • Tacos with hamburger, cheese, lettuce, and tomatoes, refried beans, Spanish rice
  • Veggie and chicken fried rice with Egg 
  • Rice crust ham, broccoli, and cheddar quiche with garden salad
I'm thinking ahead a bit to next weekend. While the $39 is doable, we will have a holiday weekend plus another three weekdays to stretch the month. I'm hoping chicken will go on sale, and will stretch the weekend budget with a crock pot pasta dish, which seems to go over with the guys and kids as a change from the abundance of salads. I'll bring my black bean and corn salsa and chips for snacking, which also is a  budget stretcher. How are you all doing on your May budget? Has anyone else challenged themselves to stay below a certain dollar amount for the month? Thinking ahead to summer picnics, potlucks, and guests, what are your crowd pleasing budget dishes?

Saturday, May 19, 2018

New Family Dynamics

Kids grow up, families evolve. I did get up early and watched the Royal Wedding. It wasn't so  much that it was the Royal Wedding, I'm just a sucker for weddings in general. The start of new families, particularly when two people have come from families with divorce, says something about the trust and faith in each other and the willingness despite the fear, to plunge into the rest of your life tied emotionally and  legally, to another person. Marriage is more than just a piece of paper in that respect, though I feel people can be just as committed and invested and not be married. Royal's aside, best wishes to two people that appear to have their heads and hearts in the right place.

DH and I have been married for over 30 years. Life and our family sure has changed in that time. Perhaps we will have big weddings in our family, perhaps not. Regardless life and families evolve and family members come and sadly go. Even little changes like DD2 getting a job and now suddenly our family weekends at the lake cabin often will not include her, a preview for when she goes off to school. Tomorrow we are going up to get the dock in, get the sleeping loft above the garage swept, dusted, and beds made, and a general purging of things we now, a year later, can be convinced are no longer needed. DD2 has to work tomorrow, so just us two. DD1 spent the weekend there though, but will be heading home by mid day. As each family member has grown up, the dynamics have changed. 

It's prom day in our high school, but DD2 is not going. She was supposed to have a non-prom day with friends, and proably will still hang out with friends for a bit, but someone asked her to cover their shift at 5:30. Saving for school and the trip makes it hard to turn down hours. She seems to like her job well enough, getting more comfortable. The schedule has been nice as it hasn't interferred with afterschool needs and committments, and generally, she is done by 9:30 so could still meet up with friends if wanted as she did last night. 

I get wistful on wedding days, family or non family. They are happy days and the start of new. A sign that families grow and evolve, and that is how life should be. 

Thursday, May 17, 2018

Work Travel is Expensive

I don't have an expense account for work for travel, conferences,and meetings. As it should be in my line of work, each expenditure is scrutinized for need. Still, when on business time, we are allowed a per diem based on the federal reimbursement rates. I believe $9 for breakfast, $11 for lunch, and $16 for supper. We have a specific max for ground transportation and parking, and air and hotel is arranged through the company travel coordinator so I do not even see those expenses. The per diem is figures out based on the days and time of travel plus any expenses covered by the meeting host then are excluded. this trip I have per diem for two breakfast, one lunch and two dinners. No ground transportation because there is a courtesy shuttle. 

My meeting is in the Chicago area. A quick Google look and you will see that getting lunch for $11 or dinner for $16 is nearly impossible unless eating fast food. The difference is out of my own pocket. Likewise, tips for the courtesy shuttle driver and tips for the baggage handler that retrieved our luggage put in storage as we arrived much earlier than our rooms were ready,and there is more out of pocket expenses. I'm over my per diem for the meals by $36.68. Even had I wanted fast food, I was in a suburb of a suburb with nothing but hotels and over priced chain streak houses. Add to this that I picked up Jimmy John's Tuesday night because DD2's track meet ran later than we thought (I went to it) and I still had laundry and packing. Dinner ended up up being an over priced diet coke, cheese, fruit, and cracker snack and an Almond Joy at the airport for $13.49, but I stayed within the budget. I nibbled while waiting for multiple hours.

Even when I used to have a more lucrative travel budget, there were still limits and I was always over. I also used to treat myself to a nice glass or two of wine when I traveled, might have this time if there wasn't a complimentary happy hour at the hotel. Oh yeah, tip for that though as well. Besides getting reimbursed for what I can, the hotel mistakenly charged the room to my personal card. I''l need to get that sorted as well. I had hoped for a bit more of my time away other than concrete, airports, and stuffy hotel meeting rooms.Still, the meeting content was good and it was nice to be there and back in under 48 hours.