Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Day #10 of 30 Days to a Simpler Life---Revise Your Living Spaces

Welcome to the Day #10 Challenge!

Beware of overfurnished, overdecorated living spaces.  Create feelings of comfort and serenity by living with less.  Today, let go of at least ten knickknacks.  There are three categories of knickknacks---meaningful, semimeaningful, and meaningless.  Look for ones you have outgrown.  If you can't part with ten, or any at all, put several in a cardboard box and store them out of sight, in an Ambivalence Center.  Experience your home with few visual distractions. (30 Days to a Simpler Life, p. 64)

OR for serious simplifiers only...

Abide by this rule: When something new comes into your home, let go of something old.  Everything has a life cycle.  Embrace change. (30 Days to a Simpler Life, p. 68)

This task is going to be very difficult for me.  I don't have that many knickknacks and the ones I have I think I want to keep.  I may have to go into the belly of the beast (i.e. the hall closet) and see if there's anything in there that I'm already ambivalent about that I can let go of.

I'm still dawdling through the pantry challenge of Day #8.  Today I got the second shelf cleaned up.  Can you tell we like rice cakes?  Only two more shelves to go!  I'm hoping to get the other two shelves done during my pre-houseguest cleaning blitz that will be underway between now and 6PM Thursday night.  Anyone want to share how they keep their rice and dried beans neat?  Those are on shelf #3 and I'm at a loss as to what to do to neaten them up in their open, messy plastic bags.

Yesterday I said that today I would share my personal method for meal planning and recipe keeping that is a little different from what they suggested in the book on Day #9.  To be honest, I really need to get a bigger binder to accommodate my recipes, but right now I have a regular 1 inch binder.  The front part is a print out of my contacts from Outlook for phone numbers and addresses and my Flylady control book.  I'm an on again, off again follower of her system.  Behind that are my favorite and family recipes in page protectors.  I don't get a lot of magazines so I'm generally not clipping recipes to try, but the ones I do want to try are all jammed inside one page protector.  Granted, it could be a little bit neater, but for right now it works because there are so few.  I think unless you're a recipe clipping junkie there's really not much need for the 2nd binder that the author recommends to house the recipes you want to try.  Here's a photo from my binder of my great grandmother's plum kuchen recipe written out for me by my mom---

Most of the time when I try a new recipe it's from a cookbook I checked out from the library or on the Internet.  If the recipe makes the cut to get into the favorites section of the binder, I make a copy of it and put it in a page protector.  Some recent ones to make the cut are this broccoli cheese soup recipe (we put the cheese on the side---dairy for the kids, soy for us.  Not to mention, the croutons are AMAZING!) and this cauliflower bisque recipe (we do it with rice puree instead of cashew cream).

Until I started trying to convert to vegetarianism, here is how I planned our meals.  I made this master sheet of all the meals and sides I could think of that we regularly ate and put it in front of all the recipes in the binder---

Then the night before I grocery shopped , I picked five or six meals from the list (plus a new recipe or two), put them on a bottom of a piece of paper, and then wrote the grocery list with all the items I needed to make the meals above like this (this is my list from when I shopped on Monday this week)---

You may have noticed a name and number in parentheses next to a meal. That is my notation for the name of the cookbook it's out of and the page it's on so there's no confusion about where to find the recipe on the day I go to cook that meal.  When I get back home from shopping, I post the list on the side of the refrigerator.  Then every morning I look at the list and decide which meal I feel like making.  I'm not a slave to the day of the week I wrote on the list.  That's more to help me get organized.  

I still use that method except now I'm pretty much cooking everything we eat out of vegetarian and gluten free cookbooks I checked out from the library.  Tonight I made this vegetable paella recipe and served it with a salad.  I eliminated the mushrooms (Red hates them) and the water chestnuts (I forgot to buy them) and cooked the rice separate from the veggies.  I figured if the vegetables were a disaster at least I could still salvage the rice.  It actually turned out great and I would make it again.  I used canned tomatoes, and I think that was a mistake because it made it taste more tomatoey and acidic than I think it would using fresh.  Next time I'll use fresh tomatoes for sure.

Anyway---so that's my method.  Now I just need to get that bigger binder...

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