All posts by Amy

About Amy

Just a blog that has had many different intents, but there's really not one singular thing to post about, so this is a multi-faceted blog. Creativity, projects, theatre, life, pictures, recipes, thoughts... everything. Welcome to my crazy life!

Monthly Cooking 4th month

Last weekend I cooked literally all day for the 4th month in a row. Well, I had about a 5 hour break – 1 where I went to a BBQ plate fundraiser for my friend’s brother and about 4 hours where I went to see a production of Smokey Joe’s Cafe.

To prep, I figured out how much time everything needed to cook and for how long. That way I wouldn’t be changing the oven temp back and forth and could plan my day around the crock pot temps. I was fairly successful, but I need to figure out how long it takes my oven to heat up and how long it takes to cook certain things on the stove, like 2 pounds of ground beef or the like. Some things took longer than others, and I was cleaning in between everything instead of in batches. I still haven’t figured out which one saves more time.

So this time around, I planned for 6 weeks of meals instead of my normal four. The weekend I’d be cooking would be the Saturday before tech Sunday. In non-theatre terms, tech Sunday is the Sunday before a show opens. Some theatres do it differently, and this one in particular holds a 10-out-of-12 – which means we are there for ten hours with a two hour break in the middle. This is usually 10am-10pm with a break around 4pm-6pm. It’s a long day and the last thing I want to do is spend 9-12 hours cooking on Saturday and 12 hours in rehearsal on Sunday. With tech week coming up (the last week of rehearsals where we put all the technical elements in – lights, set changes, props, costumes, etc) and opening weekend, I knew I wouldn’t want to cook the following weekend either. Tech week is always a long week, with work 8-5:30, rehearsal 6-potentially midnight – after opening all I ever want to do is sleep and relax. So for this cooking spree, I added two weeks, to last me through tech week and the week after opening. I ended up making 71 meals (because I was short a chicken breast, oops) and 72 breakfasts. Breakfasts will last me 2 full months (so I don’t have to worry about it next month).

This time I also did my grocery shopping on Friday night and did prep work that night while the bacon was cooking. I chopped up the onions, carrots, celery, garlic, and sausage. This made it simple to just dump the next day instead of taking more time to chop/prep.

To further see how much I’m saving, I broke down each recipe into how much they cost per serving. I’m hoping this will encourage me to save even more and find ways to make healthy and inexpensive meals. Since it’s just me, I have to be extremely careful about how much I spend.

My meals for the month are as follows:

Breakfasts:
* Cinnamon peanut butter muffins (12) – .20 each/2.40 recipe
* Double batch of lightened blueberry/raspberry muffins (24) – .48 each/11.52 each (this may fluctuate based on prices of the berries)
* Raspberry cream cheese danish thingies (12) – .70 each/8.40 recipe
* Bacon, egg, and avocado crustless quiche (12) – .90 each/10.80 recipe
* Sausage & egg muffins (12) – .43 each/5.10 recipe

Lunches/Dinners:
* Zucchini herb casserole (6) – so far this is the only recipe I don’t like – .90 each/5.40 recipe
* Chicken stuffed with spinach & ricotta (8) – 1.30 each/10.40 recipe
* Cheesy chicken & rice (8) – I love this one. I made it last time. – 1.06 each/8.45 recipe
* Bacon chicken pockets (8) – made this one last time, too. – 1.14 each/9.09 recipe
* Pepperoni pockets (8) – made this one with no recipe, so we’ll see how this one turns out – .72 each/5.75 recipe
* Pizza dough (8) – .19 each/1.50 recipe (adding toppings, each serving will be about .38 each)
* Nachos (4) – 2.88 each/11.53 recipe (ground beef is expensive!)
* Sausage tortellini soup (10) – trying this one tonight. I hope it’s good! – 1.48 each/14.75 recipe (sausage was free since I have a few venison/sausage links from my cousin)
* Chicken noodle casserole (6) – 2.55 each/15.30 recipe (bought a mix package, which is why this was more expensive. If I made it from scratch, it would be less expensive)
* Creamy chicken ranch (5) – SO DELICIOUS. This is one of my favorites! – 1.66 each/8.30 recipe
I also made the cream soup whenever it called for it (instead of cream of chicken) for .66 each.

I also have a few leftovers from the previous month:
* Nachos (4)
* Pizza dough (2)
* Cheesy chicken & rice (1)
* Sandwiches (5)

As usual, I factor in at last 6 times going out to eat. This comes out to about 90 meals total.

In addition to all those meals, I also made some sweets:
* Fruit salad (9) .86 each/7.74 recipe
* Graham/chocolate ice cream (probably 10) – .54 each/5.40 recipe
* Merengue cookies (30) – .08 each/2.25 recipe
* Double chocolate peanut butter protein bars (18) – .34 each/6.12 recipe
* Fruit leather (18) – .24 each/4.32 recipe
* apple cinnamon oats (12) – .33 each/3.90 recipe

When I get heavy into rehearsals, I will have to take modified dinners with me – I’ve been taking the protein bar, a few slices of cheese, and either fruit or the fruit leather. I know it’s not a meal, but I’m trying to pick simple things that are more or less healthy.

Altogether, I spent about $160 on meals for 6 weeks. 72 breakfasts, 71 lunches/dinners, cookies, bars, ice cream, fruit leather, apple oats, and fruit salad. Can’t really beat that!

One week later

It’s been a week and I’ve now had the chance to try all the recipes I’ve made. I picked some good ones this time!

I find cream of chicken soup to be a bit creepy. Those chunks of chicken that will stay good for a long time without needing to be frozen? *shudder* I can’t handle that. So I found a recipe for cream soup (no chicken):

* – super easy and was a perfect replacement for the recipe that called for cream of chicken

I make nachos and an enchilada recipe using Chuy’s jalepeno ranch sauce each month – they’re both easy and some of my favorites.

* – these are delicious! Next time I’ll use a fork to pinch the seams closed, and I probably won’t add the sauce. It’s good, but I personally feel they stand alone without it. Oh, I also didn’t use the Ritz crackers because I didn’t want to buy a whole package just for “garnish.” This will definitely be kept in my recipe rotation.
* – also very good! I made white rice to go with it. I also add a little butter when I reheat it. I’ll probably season it a little bit more but otherwise it’s really good and reheats well.
* – these are really good! I’ll probably make more chicken and alfredo sauce next time. And I probably boiled the noodles a bit too long (since I have to bake it and then reheat it). I added some ricotta to the noodles before adding the chicken/alfredo. I’ll probably add more because I wasn’t sure how much of the container I’d use, but there’s plenty left over so I’m okay adding more.
* – These were super easy to make, and based on comments I added a second egg. I probably should have used a little more breadcrumbs half way through because they got super sticky and didn’t hold together so well. Otherwise they fried well, and I tasted one and it was really good. They don’t reheat well in the microwave so I will try reheating in the skillet next time.
* – these are delicious! I also went light on the seasoning so I’d do a little more next time.

I have 2 balls of dough for pizza from last month. When I tried it last month, it was VERY good, but I definitely need to invest in a pizza peel. I have zucchini and potatoes to make fresh, and those round out my month of meals.

Cooking for a month round 3

I’m finally starting to get the hang of this. The only thing that kind of sucks and makes it difficult is when I want to make several things that require a crockpot. This time around I was a bit lucky because last month I had made enough breakfasts to last two months, so I didn’t need to make any breakfasts this time.

On my menu this time:
* Enchiladas with Chuy’s ranch sauce (8-10)
* Falafel (5)
* Nachos (4)
* Burgers (4)
* Potato burgers (sliced potatoes topped with beef, beans, and cheese, then baked) (4)
* Zucchini boats (1)
* Lasagna roll ups (9)
* Chicken bacon pockets (with homemade cream soup since cream of chicken soup creeps me out) (8)
* Chicken salsa verde over rice (8)
* Cheesy chicken & rice (6)
* Pizza from last month (4)
Total: 61 meals

I started with putting the chicken for the enchiladas in the crock pot. They were going to cook for 3 hours on high. While those were cooking, I cooked up 2 pounds of ground beef. I put half aside for nachos and divided up the other half for the potatoes and zucchini boats. When I’m ready to make those two I’ll cook the potatoes and zucchini. I’ve found those taste better fresh.

When the beef was finished I cooked the burgers. Once those were done, I made the alfredo sauce and cooked the lasagna noodles. The two finished about the same time, so I immediately put the lasagna rolls together.

While the rolls were cooking, I made the Chuy’s sauce. The rolls were done cooking at about the same time as the chicken. I put the chicken in the sauce and put the crockpot barrel in the sink so it would cool down. I put the enchiladas together and put them in the oven. While those were cooking I cleaned up.

Then I got the second crock pot meal going – just chicken, spices, and a jar of salsa verde. That would cook for 4 hours on high. While that was cooking I made the pockets, which use Grands biscuits. I also put together the homemade cream soup before putting the biscuits in the oven. While they were cooking I finished the soup and divided into an ice cube tray. Since the soup/cream mixture is supposed to go on fresh, I’m planning to just thaw out 2 cubes and reheat with the pockets.

THEN once those were done, I MADE FALAFEL. It was really easy, but I probably needed to use more breadcrumbs because the last half fell apart while frying. Otherwise it was super easy.

Once those were done I cleaned everything up. I was too tired (and my feet hurt) to do anything else. I’d been on my feet since 9am (and finished around 630) AND the only thing I’d eaten all day was a handful of Cheezits. So I had a pocket and it was super yummy! Now I’m just waiting for the crockpot to finish. When it’s about 30 minutes until done I’ll make the rice so it’ll be done at about the same time as the chicken. Then I just have to divide it up and freeze it (after it cools down).

So tomorrow, I just have to make the last crockpot dish (although I MIGHT make it tonight since it’s a dump and wait thing), the ice cream, granola bars, and MAYBE naan.

I feel pretty accomplished and that I might be getting the hang of this cooking for a month thing. At least I’m figuring out what works best.

I also have lots of fruit and salad to supplement the meals, plus cookies or granola bars as something sweet.

8 hours later…

After approximately 8 hours of cooking over the course of two days, I now have all my meals made for the next 3 weeks!  Well, I have breakfasts for at least two months and meals for one month.  I’ve even planned it so I have a few days worth of meals after I get back from Colorado.

When planning my grocery list, I listed everything I was going to make in a column and then had a column for all the ingredients I would need.  Then I tallied each column. That way I could figure out how many chicken breasts I’d need, or how much buttermilk I’d need.  I’d need sixteen chicken breasts!  Oi!

The first time I cooked for a month, I did not plan it so well.  I cooked things in any random order and ended up putting the chicken in the crockpot at the very end.  This time I went into it with a plan.  I spent about two hours figure out what I needed to make, then figured out cooking times and temps, and which items could overlap.  This time, I started with the chicken in the crockpot.  My process was:

* Preheat the oven to 400 to cook the bacon.  I’d need 24 slices and there was no way I’d do that in my Pampered Chef baker or in the skillet.  While the oven was heating up I lined up the bacon on a few trays and when I was done I put together the chicken taco spice mix.  Then I dumped that, with the chicken and rotel into the crockpot.  It would need to cook for about 3 hours.  Meanwhile, I:
* Cooked the bacon.  I cooked 12 slices for half the time – those would go into the egg cups.  I also got the pizza dough mix started – it would need to rise for about an hour.
* I let the half cooked bacon cool down a bit and then put them in a muffin tin, cracked an egg in the center, and popped them in the oven once the other tray of bacon was done cooking.
* While the egg cups were cooking, I cooked up the ground beef (next time I’ll do the sausage first!) and beans for nachos, setting aside half of the beef for burgers.  I divided it up into two containers (2 servings each) and cleaned up a bit.
* Then I cooked up the sausage and got the egg mixture ready for the breakfast cups.  By the time the egg cups were done, the beef and sausage had been cooked and I put together the breakfast cups (ground sausage and eggs). 
* While the breakfast cups were cooking, I put together the pastry cups and heated up the pan for the breakfast tacos.
* The pastry cups were ready to go in when the breakfast cups were done, and while those were cooking I cooked up the eggs for the tacos.  I timed this pretty well – I had just finished distributing the eggs when the pastry cups were done.  
* I let the grill pan heat up and then I took about 10 minutes here to clean up the kitchen a bit.  By the end  the pizza dough was done rising so I divided it into 4 balls (8 servings) and stuck them in the freezer.  I put the egg cups and breakfast cups in freezer bags and put them in the freezer as well.  
* The pastry cups still needed to cool, so while they were doing that I cooked the burgers.  While the burgers were cooking I assembled the rest of the tacos and wrapped them up.  While the burgers cooled I put the tacos in the freezer.  The chicken was about done by now so I chopped them up directly in the crockpot with my PC salad cutters (which are also perfect for quickly cutting up chicken!).  Then I let the shredded chicken cook for 30 more minutes.
* While the chicken was on the last leg of cooking, I made the copycat Chuy’s Jalapeno Ranch dip.  I made two batches of this – one for the enchiladas and one to use as pizza base or a sauce or however I wanted to use it.  By the time I was done with both batches, the chicken was done.  I dumped it in a bowl to cool and cleaned up the kitchen.
* Then I assembled the enchiladas and put them in the oven.  When I was done I finished cleaning up the kitchen and storing everything that was still out.  When the enchiladas were done I let them cool completely before dividing them up into 4 containers (4 lunches)

All of that took about 4.5 hours (plus about one inactive 30 mins or so while the enchiladas cooked).  Chicken cooked for 3 hours, and during that time I made 3 items that took about 30 mins each to cook and the rest of the items took about an hour (cooking the beef, burgers, sausage, cleaning, storing).  The last hour was the prep for the enchiladas and the cleaning up.  I’m sure once I do this more often I’ll get the hang of it.  I’m sure that there was a better way for me to do things that I’ll fix the next time.  

Today, I finished up what I still had left.

* Put about 6 chicken breasts in the crock pot for 4 hours on low.  While they cooked I:
* Got the dough ready for the hamburger buns. 
* While the dough was rising I put together my cheesy bacon ranch potatoes.  Being resourceful, I used the remainder of the dip from my Tony party, which happened to be the perfect amount (and a bit healthier since it was from a tub of sour cream).  It didn’t take long to throw it together and then it baked for 45 minutes.
* While that was baking, I put together the dough for the Biscoff cookies.  I divided them up and put them in the fridge for 3 hours as directed. They would be done at just about the same time as the chicken.  I also had time to make my ice cream and store it (it only took about 30 mins start to finish).
* When the potatoes were done, the dough was ready to be divided and go into its second rise.  While that was happening I ran to get lunch and when I got back they were ready to bake.
* Since I had done the bulk of cooking/baking the day before, there was a lot more downtime today.  I had about an hour left before the chicken was done where I didn’t have to do anything and could relax.  When the chicken was done I chopped it up and let it simmer in the crockpot for about 15 mins while I got the cookie dough out and turned the oven back on.  While the cookies were baking (8 mins) I divided up the chicken into bags – got about 11 baggies and that SHOULD cover about 22 meals.  I’m really stretching the chicken as far as it can go!  By the time I was done with that, the cookies were done.  And I am done!  I’m going to make a peach/raspberry cobbler tomorrow and then I’ll be done.

The only things I DIDN’T make were precooking the chicken breasts I’m going to use for my sliders and chicken monterrey dishes.  I’ll be freezing the rest of the chicken breasts (about 12 of them).  I didn’t cook any pasta or put together wraps as those taste better fresh.

So, in all, this is what I have for the month:
* 12 blueberry muffins (made those last week)
* 12 bacon/egg cups
* 12 raspberry/cream cheese pastry cups
* 12 sausage/egg cups
* 12 bacon/egg tacos
(60 breakfasts = 2 months at least)

* 4 Enchiladas (would be 8 but I’m sharing with Aly)
* 4 burgers (and 8 buns – but the buns are HUGE so next time I’ll make smaller ones and get 12-16 buns)
* 4 nachos
* 8 pizzas (each dough ball makes one small pizza – I’m planning to eat half and supplement with fruits/veggies/salad)
* 20 bags of chicken (I put 2 toward the pizzas – so 20 leftover bags for:
       * 4 pasta dishes
       * 4 wraps
       * 8 quesadillas
       * 4 other – sandwiches, with a rice/veggie mix, etc
* 4 breakfast for dinner or brunch – 2 each of pancakes and waffles
* 6 sandwiches
(50 meals – 25 lunches and dinners)

Of course there is some flexibility – a few times going out to eat or only eating half of something.  I have 22 days until Colorado so I’ll have a few days worth of food to come home to.  And if I NEED to I can always do breakfast for lunch/dinner more often until I get to the store again. 🙂

But for $185 (some of it I didn’t use all of it and will be able to use it next month, like Alfredo sauce, flour, pasta, OREO PEANUT BUTTER CUP COOKIES, mason jars, etc).  So if I estimate that I spent about $170 on groceries, that comes out to about $1.75 a meal, or just over $5 a day.  That’s not so bad!  So here’s to this month and hoping I stay on track and eat everything!

Double Chocolate Peanut Butter Bars (recipe)

So I really don’t have anything to add to the recipe that has already been created, so I am just going to link to it here.  Let me tell you… they are DELICIOUS.  Oh my goodness.  I can’t stop eating them.  I keep adding them to my meals in place of a cookie or something sweet.  I think I will try using honey next time instead of corn syrup as I think it would make them a bit healthier.

The original creator cut her bars a bit longer than mine.  I was able to get 18 bars out of my pan and I think she got 12.  I’d also suggest leaving it the freezer for maybe 2 hours.  Mine were still pretty soft and fell apart a bit when cutting.

Here is the nutritional information.  It may not be perfect but it’s a good estimate and is for a smaller bar like mine:
Calories: 157
Fat: 6.3
Saturated fat: 1.8
Monounsaturated fat: 2
Cholesterol: 0 (yay!)
Sodium: 55mg
Potassium: 75mg
Fiber: 1.7
Sugar: 10.3
Protein: 4

Check out her recipe HERE. Her pictures are much prettier than mine so check them out, too!

 

Meal planning

I’m on the end of my month of meal planning.  I didn’t do so bad, actually.  I’ve eaten almost everything I bought or put together, but there was some that went to waste.  I’m really trying to hold myself accountable for eating healthy and aside from a few slip ups, I did a pretty good job.  I’m going shopping this Saturday for the next 3 weeks (since I’ll be on vacation the last week) and I really am going to try to stick to my plan.  With my new freezer and much more space to store frozen meals, I hope it will be easier this month.  Nothing is perfect right out of the gate, right?

To (hopefully) ensure I will stick to my meals, I’m going to try and chronicle them here.  So my meals for the next 3 weeks will be:

Breakfast:
I’m actually making TWO MONTHS worth of breakfasts!  This will make it easier for the next month – I won’t be spending quite as much.
* 12 “pastry” cups – using Pillsbury crescent rolls, cream cheese, and raspberry pie filling
* 12 bacon & egg cups
* 12 sausage casserole cups
* 12 breakfast tacos
* 12 blueberry muffins (already made these)

Lunches/dinners:
*** Homemade rolls
*** Homemade pizza dough
* 4 servings of nachos (ground beef, beans, cheese, avocado, and tomato), fruit
* 4 servings of chicken enchiladas & salad
* 4 wraps (using the remaining tortillas from the enchiladas – 2 wraps = 4 meals) & fruit
* 2 chicken sandwiches with bacon & guac, fruit and/or corn on the cob
* 4 burgers (4 oz beef, cheese, pickles, on a homemade dinner roll OR in a lettuce wrap), salad, fruit
* 2 chicken with avocado, tomato, and mozzarella & salad
* 8 quesadillas (using remaining tortillas from the breakfast tacos) – chicken, beans, cheese, fruit
* 4 pesto chicken pasta (homemade pesto and light alfredo sauce, chicken), salad
* 8 personal pizzas (using homemade dough) – pepperoni, chicken pesto, ricotta, cheese & tomato, BLT, etc
* 6 sandwiches – grilled cheese, pb&j, cheese & turkey, peanut butter, banana, & honey
Breakfast for dinner (or lunch):
* 4 waffles/pancakes with choice of eggs, bacon, or potatoes, and fruit

Sides:
* Fruit (strawberries, bananas, blueberries, blackberries, raspberries, kiwi, peaches, oranges)
* Salad (likely just lettuce, feta, & dressing, although I might try a copycat Melting Pot a time or two!)
* Corn, tomatoes, potatoes, zucchini, cucumber, celery

Desserts:
I am planning on making two sweets each month. 
* Ice cream – likely cake batter oreo (or maybe s’mores)
* Cookies – using Biscoff cookie butter

Snacks:
* Chocolate peanut butter granola bars – I made these already – just a little something if I want something sweet and somewhat healthy, probably good before or after a workout

The reason why I’m doing this is because I am kind of wasteful.  I don’t always eat everything in my fridge (or freezer) before it goes bad.  Not only do I waste food, but I waste money.  I’m hoping being very careful about what I buy and planning in advance will not only encourage me to eat everything I have, but also make healthier choices. Clearly, I have a ways to go as you can tell by some of my meal choices.  I’m even planning on breaking down the costs of each meal and see how much I can stretch a dollar.  My goal is to not eat out as much and start cooking more.  I’m hoping as I do this, I will branch out a little.  

Plans for the House (updated)

So… it seems I have some grandiose plans for the house.  Some of them are probably just pipe dreams but here’s an updated list of what I want to do with the place:

* Built in window seat/bookcase in my bedroom – then paint the bookcase I inherited with the house and relocate it to the laundry room or garage
* Add shelving above my bedroom door
* Add a banquet in the sunroom for more seating and storage.  Not sure where I’ll put Grandsam’s sofa and coffee table.  I don’t really want to part with those.  EDIT:  The sofa will definitely go in Allison’s old room and maybe the coffee table too.  I probably won’t do this until the banquet is built.
* Wall of frames in the living room – I have gotten it started but I will probably end up painting some of the frames so they’re all white.  Except for my pretty purple one of course. EDIT: I’ve got art and have figured out what I want it to look like, now I just have to hang them all!
* Paint the dresser I inherited from my brothers.  Something cool like the reverse stencil or painting it white with the detailing a different color and move it to the man-couch room
* Paint the dresser I inherited from Grandsam white and either decoupage the drawer faces with fun fabric, paint them fun colors, OR add new fun hardware EDIT: I don’t think I’ll do this after all
* Make a bean bag for the other corner of my room EDIT: Probably won’t do this either.
* Buy another nightstand to match mine (after the dressers have been painted and relocated)
* Add more artwork to my bedroom walls and make what I already have more balanced EDIT: Working on this one!
* Make the laundry room more unified/clean EDIT: I’ve more or less figured out what I want to do… see below!
* Remove & sell Elfa shelves and make floating shelves (or a more inconspicuous laundry shelf) EDIT: Forgot about this one, may still do it!
* Sell the man-couch and the futon – SOLD BOTH!
* Not sure what I want to do with the laundry room yet.  Originally it was going to be a guest room or office but now I think I’m going to make the 3rd bedroom that instead. EDIT: Not this, see below.
* Paint the middle bedroom 
* Get a new frame and mattress for my room and move my current one into the middle bedroom (along with the dresser and my old nightstand) EDIT: DONE!
* Add artwork EDIT: Working on it!
* Decoupage all the light fixture covers something fun
* Add beadboard somewhere.  Maybe the entryway? 
* Clean out the hall closets EDIT: DONE!
* Turn linen closet into “library” – love this idea, may or may not be practical
* Organize kitchen & pantries EDIT: DONE!
* Plant trees, herbs, and veggies in backyard EDIT: Planned, now just need to execute 
* Build new dining table and benches
* New fan in sun room
* Enlarge back patio
* Build roofing over it
* Remove corner planter on front porch, replace with swing
* Paint porch
* Level walkway up to the house, add stairs
* Remove bushes from front & trees from side and transplant them to act as privacy bushes on the side yards
* Add lamp in front yard
* Replace porch light
* Update mailbox/add numbers
* Remove mailbox by door
* Replace numbers
* Repaint house exterior

New stuffs:

* Wet bar in the sun room – cabinets, sink, wine cooler, etc.  On the wall where the “bar” currently is, then I would move that to be under the windows or on the opposite wall.
* Build a cover type thing for the washer dryer, as well as install cabinets on the wall and a small pull out shelf next to the W/D.  
* Get a freezer and put in the back room
* Get a cleaning cabinet to store all my cleaning supplies
* Make a “Ziva space” so ZtD can play and relax in there (safely) when she has to stay inside.
* Take the bifold doors off Ziva’s closet/pantry
* Clean up Z’s space to make it more cozy
* Take the paint off the concrete floors and redo them with either stained concrete or maybe at some point down the road, tile.

 

Avoiding sickness

Every year, like clockwork, it seems like I get sick in February and October.  Normally I have to miss a few days of work because I feel terrible – stuffy, coughing (and the deep chesty gunky cough that sounds like I’m dislodging something deep within my body), headaches, etc.  I rarely have a fever, but definitely feel like poo.  From start to finish it almost always lasts about 6 weeks.  I have a lingering cough for what feels like forever.

 

This last October I really only “suffered” from a runny nose and a meek but persistent cough.  The cough was about as strong as a mild throat clearing, but it was happening ALL THE TIME.  Enough where I didn’t sleep for almost five days.  This was during Young Frankenstein and that weekend my voice took a vacation.  I used my oils – the few that I had – and it definitely helped, although I did take off two days to sleep and did end up getting a cough suppressant prescription from the doctor.  However, it all lasted a WEEK.  A WEEK!  What?!  Not that I was complaining, but I was shocked.  I do think that using the oils along with attempting to be more healthy helped a great deal.  By the following weekend I was all better.

Now, it’s February and guess what – yep, I can feel myself catching something.  I’m using an oil called OnGuard on my throat every morning (it’s a good immune booster) and another one called Breathe on my nose.  By the time I get to work, my nose is no longer runny and my throat doesn’t hurt.  

During the last half of the day the left side of my face felt funny.  There was pressure on my cheek bone and down into my cheek, and kind of around my jawline and up around my ear.  I’m a little afraid I may have caught the flu from Kacey (fingers crossed that’s not it) and used some of the oils I let her use.  Basil around the hear for that pain, OnGuard & Breathe, and peppermint for the achyness.  While I feel much better now, I decided to just do it – make my own pill.  

I bought veggie caps (empty pill capsules that are vegetarian friendly) with my last oil order and am starting to use the zpak protocol.  OnGuard, oregano, and frankincense in a capsule.  They’re a bit bigger than I’m used to.  I’m awful at swallowing pills and was afraid these might take some getting used to, but I had no problem taking it, surprisingly.

I await to see how it all turns out.  It’s been about 15 mins and I can feel my sinuses drying up and just this feeling of wellness.  It’s really strange.  As I mentioned before (I think) I was totally skeptical about all of this, but I totally believe in it.  I hope this oil ‘zpak’ works.  Stay tuned!

Natural Healing

So about seven months ago I was introduced to doTerra essential oils.  Extremely hesitant at first, I signed up.  I didn’t expect things to really work.  Yet each month I paid the minimum amount for an order of oils.  And guess what?  I’ve not only begun to use them regularly, but I’m slowly phasing out my medicine cabinet of pills and other pharmaceuticals.  

I firmly believe in this and the benefits they can provide for my body.  I only have a bottle of Advil for the really bad headaches that are persistent little buggers.  I’ve almost bought all the oils, so now I can focus on just getting replacements.  

I didn’t believe at first how oils could help.  I’d read about it and did think that there were remedies out there that didn’t involve drugs, but I didn’t REALLY think about how they’d work.  Or that the really would work.  So I was pretty shocked when my headaches would disappear in nearly 10-15 minutes after applying peppermint oil.  Or how my nose would dry up almost instantly using Breathe or eucalyptus.  Or how my throat would almost immediately stop hurting using OnGuard, or how using it in various ways would quickly clear up any impending cold.  Or that lavender would stop my insane mosquito bites from itching.  Or that cypress oil would help with my circulation in my feet.

I’m a total convert.  I’m even being nutty enough, or “granola” as Aly would say, to start making my own cleansing products.  Bath, kitchen, laundry… you name it.  If I can replace it with natural remedies instead of the chemical laden products I currently have under my sink, than I want to do it.

It’s not something I thought about a whole lot growing up, or even much until recently, and really, not until I started reading the Young House Love blog regularly.  There are so many chemicals in every day products, many of which are dangerous to our health.  I just wonder how much better I would feel if I could eliminate that from my life, or at least from my house – whatever I can have control over.  I’ve started with just the oils and I can already tell a difference.  I haven’t been sick in months, aside from a brief stint in October.

I’m looking forward to seeing how this can continue to transform my life!

“Systems” for 2014

I’m going to try out this blogging thing again, see if I can stick with it.  I will probably be cross posting between here and my LJ (http://spiderwebsitar.livejournal.com) just so I can keep up both.

So this year I have some lofty goals for myself. I think I can reach them. I wanted them to be a challenge, but still attainable. I took a page from Maryclaire and posted a screenshot of my goals on Facebook. I’m hoping it will hold me accountable.

1. Pay off my car by Dec 31st, 2014 – this is a $9,454 goal. If I’m extremely careful about how much I spend, spend my money wisely, and try to put away $10 a day to savings, I think I can do this.
2. Save $5,000 to go toward a piano – I didn’t save $5,000 in less than a month, but that sure would have been nice! The aformentioned Maryclaire was trying to get rid of a piano at her studio and I was the first to comment to say I wanted it. For FREE. It’s an old former player piano that, if it hadn’t been messed with in the 60s, could be worth 16,000! Damn hippies. It’s in pretty good condition, made in 1918 (almost 100 years old!), a Modello Baldwin, and the tuning strings are made of steel instead of copper because of WWI. It’s pretty neat to have something so historical, even if it is not worth much in terms of money. It sounds pretty good. And hey… it was FREE! Now I can put the $5,000 savings toward something else!
3. Find ways to be creative – build, paint, organize, plant, etc. – This year I really do want to plant a garden and some fruit trees. I want to build a new dining table and a loooooooong bench in the sunroom for storage and additional seating. I want to be more crafty, either with cards, art, or just finally knocking out things I’ve pinned on pinterest. 
4. Keep the house clean – I’ve been doing a pretty good job with this so far. As soon as the futon gets picked up, I’m going to clean out the back room and make it more functional. I went through a MASSIVE cleaning spree and cleaned out ALL the closets in the house. I donated about 6 bags full of clothes, am trying to sell/get rid of a bunch of things, and organized all the closets and the kitchen cabinets. Well, almost all of them. I’ve also decided to “try” to not have my housekeeper come for awhile and see how well I do just keeping the house up by myself.
5. Take more pictures – I used to take pictures ALL the time. I really want to document my life more.
6. Eat more healthy foods – I’m hoping just buying food for myself will help me make healthier eating choices. And if I buy healthy food I’m more likely to try to eat it all instead of letting it go to waste.
7. Take better care of myself – emotionally, physically, etc. I’ve realized I’m down on myself a lot more often than I appreciate myself. Focus on the positive. Keep active. Be healthy.
8. Focus on the positive and eliminate negativity – there are people and things in my life that are just not kind or positive. Always negative, always complaining, always derogatory, etc. I need to clean that from my life. I want to feel lighter in spirit and not be dragged down by negativity. After awhile that sort of behavior can eat at you and make you feel like you are unworthy or undeserving.
9. Put my phone away in social settings – it has been a peeve of mine for YEARS that people are always on their phones/ipads/devices rather than being the people who are right there. Someone shared a photo of a basket of phones with a note saying “be with the people who are here!” And I wish more people felt that way. I’m tired of people who can’t put their phones away for a car ride and/or a 45 minute lunch. It makes me feel like my company is not important enough. So why would I want to do that and possibly make other people feel that way? So, my phone will stay in my purse. Exceptions: taking or showing pictures, or if it lends itself to the conversation: “did you see what X posted? Let me look it up so I don’t mess it up.” or “What was that person’s name in that movie?”
10. Hang out with my friends in person (instead of text messaging) and write letters via snail mail (instead of emails or texts)
11. Be a better champion & supporter of my friends and family – text/email/write on facebook when friends have shows opening. Congratulate them publicly on new job offers, career changes, graduation, etc.

I’m also including a link my friend Rainya left on my Facebook post. I really like the message of this, and it really does speak to my goals as life-long commitments versus meet it and then forget it. (With the exception of the two money goals, which I plan to continue in some capacity each year.)http://jamesclear.com/goals-systems

Just another Friday night

So I have seriously started looking at plans and ideas for building a window seat and book shelf in my bedroom.  I would love to be able to be amazing enough to build it myself.  I have so many great ideas and I hope I can do it without the help of someone else.  If I could figure out how to post photos I will add them here.  Mainly, I just want to try and get in the the swing of writing every day.  

While I made all the design decisions in the house, I didn’t have the time to do it myself after I moved in, so I had all the work done first and by contractors.  Now I have a laundry list of things I want to do – and do myself this time!

* Built in window seat/bookcase in my bedroom – then paint the bookcase I inherited with the house and relocate it to the laundry room or garage
* Add shelving above my bedroom door
* Add a banquet in the sunroom for more seating and storage.  Not sure where I’ll put Grandsam’s sofa and coffee table.  I don’t really want to part with those.
* Wall of frames in the living room – I have gotten it started but I will probably end up painting some of the frames so they’re all white.  Except for my pretty purple one of course.
* Paint the dresser I inherited from my brothers.  Something cool like the reverse stencil or painting it white with the detailing a different color and move it to the man-couch room
* Paint the dresser I inherited from Grandsam white and either decoupage the drawer faces with fun fabric, paint them fun colors, OR add new fun hardware
* Make a bean bag for the other corner of my room
* Buy another nightstand to match mine (after the dressers have been painted and relocated)
* Add more artwork to my bedroom walls and make what I already have more balanced
* Make the laundry room more unified/clean
* Remove & sell Elfa shelves and make floating shelves (or a more inconspicuous laundry shelf)
* Sell the man-couch and the futon
* Not sure what I want to do with the laundry room yet.  Originally it was going to be a guest room or office but now I think I’m going to make the 3rd bedroom that instead.
* Paint the middle bedroom
* Get a new frame and mattress for my room and move my current one into the middle bedroom (along with the dresser and my old nightstand)
* Add artwork
* Decoupage all the light fixture covers something fun
* Add beadboard somewhere.  Maybe the entryway? 
* Clean out the hall closets
* Turn linen closet into “library” – love this idea, may or may not be practical
* Organize kitchen & pantries
* Plant trees, herbs, and veggies in backyard
* Build new dining table and benches
* New fan in sun room
* Enlarge back patio
* Build roofing over it
* Remove corner planter on front porch, replace with swing
* Paint porch
* Level walkway up to the house, add stairs
* Remove bushes from front & trees from side and transplant them to act as privacy bushes on the side yards
* Add lamp in front yard
* Replace porch light
* Update mailbox/add numbers
* Remove mailbox by door
* Replace numbers
* Repaint house exterior

And I’m sure there are many other things I want to do, I just can’t think of any.

Post #2

I’m getting the hang of this, I think… I want to put my header from LJ as my header here, but LJ won’t let me save it.  And I can’t get the original because its on my old harddrive which crashed and hasn’t been recovered yet.  So, I’ll have to deal with the underground tunnel picture for now.  Oh well.

So right now I’m in day 2 of orientation.  It isn’t too bad, except I have to be at work about an hour earlier than usual.  Normally this wouldn’t be so bad, but I can’t go to bed early because rehearsal is getting out late.  I’m just thankful that I didn’t schedule orientation for next week.  I had orientation the week of Thorougly Modern Millie tech week, and that was incredibly difficult.  I’m still exhausted, but I’m blaming it on Daylight Saving and my decision to go out for pancakes after rehearsal on Monday.  Truth be told, I’m very happy I went out that night!  I love my cast and crew and love bonding with them.  Perhaps we’ll do it again soon.

Sunday is our 10/12.  And even though most people complain about it, I really don’t mind it.  In fact, call me crazy, but I actually enjoy 10/12, even as a stage manager.

I can’t believe we open in 10 days.  It seems surreal.  This rehearsal period has been very wacky, especially compared to Christmas Carol, where we rehearsed nearly every day.  For Pajama Game not everyone was called every day.  I can’t say enough how much I love this cast and how I’m so happy to be part of it.