Meaningful Things to do Every Day

Meaningful Things to do Everyday- The Planned Path

I’ve had many days that I’ve sat in a room staring at a wall wondering, “what should I do?” I could have watched TV, went shopping, piddled around on the internet and social media, blah, blah, blah. But I couldn’t push myself to do any of those things. Why? Because none of them really had any depth or meaning, and I was tired of sitting around doing a whole bunch of nothing. So what did I do? Well I googled “meaningful things to do” first, but I didn’t find anything that really gave me the answer I was seeking, so then I sat around and did a whole bunch of more nothing. Since then I’ve thought about and explored this a lot more, and thought I would share what I’ve found with you in case you have ever struggled with the same, and become increasingly frustrated by google’s lack of answers.

People say every day is a gift, but how exactly do you enjoy that gift on a daily basis and not waste it? It’s so easy to go through each day with a glaze over our eyes, and just do things to pass the time and never really pay attention. How exactly does one go about seizing the day? We sometimes think that meaningful moments are reserved for the weekends and just try to get through the errand filled weekdays as quickly as possible. What a waste! Splash coffee in your face instead of drinking it if you have to (actually please don’t do that), but wake up! Don’t just get by, but choose to make something of every day. Ok, nice thought, but how exactly do you do that? Well I’m glad you asked, it’s really quite simple. Technically I asked, but shhh…

Talk to People

Talk to the people you love every day. Don’t just talk to them while looking over your computer screens or in passing, but serious no distractions actual talking.Think of the people who are gone that you would cherish another conversation with. Always take the opportunity to talk to the ones you love every day.

  • Tell them what they mean to you.
  • Show them your appreciation for all the things they do.
  • Talk about the good and funny things that happened that day. I’m not saying don’t vent, but make sure you focus on the good things as well.
  • Talk about the deeper things in life, and all the mysterious questions that plague you.

Spend moments with your loved ones

Everything we do in our daily lives seems so singular to me. We need more together activities. Things that allow us to interact with each other. The biggest thing people do together nowadays is watch movies or television shows, where somebody else is talking the whole time! My husband might dispute that statement, because I can’t usually keep my mouth shut during a show or movie, but that’s beside the point. Here are just a few ideas for little moments you can take with your people:

  • Reading stories together at night as a family (preferably by a roaring fire with hot cocoa in hand, but not necessary).
  • Going for walks in a pretty place.
  • Hugs. They’re the best.
  • Fireside chats and deep discussions.
  • Game nights.
  • Meals with family and friends.
  • Breakfast!
  • Nightly stargazing on the back porch.
  • Cooking meals together.
  • Teaching something.

Contribute Something

One thing that really makes me feel like I’m not wasting my day is when I’m being productive and contributing something to the world and other people, even if it’s only  benefiting one other person. The most obvious way to contribute to society is through some sort of job, but there are plenty of other ways.

  • Use your talents (speaking, planning, making people laugh, making pancakes, etc).
  • Genuinely compliment someone.
  • Smile. It makes people feel good.
  • Cook for people.
  • Clean.
  • Raise and teach children.
  • Help other humans in need.
  • Weave random acts of kindness throughout your day.
  • Comfort someone.
  • Enjoy someone else’s contribution! People contribute for the enjoyment of other people, so it’s good to be the other people sometimes too. I didn’t write this for no one after all.

Connect with your purpose

The final and most important meaningful thing you can do everyday is to connect with your purpose, the reason you are on this earth and breathing its air. If you have no idea what your true purpose is, you can read my post “What is Your Purpose in Life?” to explore what that may be.  I believe we were put here by a Creator, and the only way to truly understand the purpose of that is by studying the Word He gave us. If you have heard and believe Christ’s teachings, then the first thing you should do in order to start connecting with your purpose is obey the gospel (if you have any questions about that you can email me at jess@theplannedpath.com). Once you have done that, here are ways you can connect with your purpose on a daily basis:

  • Meditate
  • Study the truth
  • Prayer and supplication
  • Serve others with a spirit of love
  • Discuss God with other people
  • Worship

If you do those four meaningful things, your day will never be wasted. We complicate life and make it seem like the only way for it to have any real meaning is by going on amazing trips and accomplishing grand things, when all we need to do is simplify it and break it down in order to find what truly adds meaning to our life. People and God. That about sums it up.

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How to Live a Rad Life

Rad

No one uses the word “rad” anymore. In fact, even though I was born in the eighties (the raddest decade), it’s become somewhat extinct in my vocabulary. Well, I guess that’s not completely true. I use its non-abbreviated self, radical, occasionally. Most of the time I use it in a negative way… but this isn’t the case with “rad”. Before I was born, it was a term that was used to describe something completely awesome, bodacious, or anything that was totally tubular (having to channel my inner Ninja Turtle). Nowadays you just don’t hear it… until today that is.

My talented wife is usually the one who brings you some sort of inspirational message or a post with great advice for your day-to- day lives. This week it’s me, her husband. She was busy working on other things, so I offered to fill in this week. To be honest with you, I have no clue what I am doing. I’m surprised my wife agreed to this, because I’m pretty sure she will be barred from all the well-respected blog communities after this is posted to her website. My point is… don’t expect much. To prove my point, I came up with my topic by thinking out loud and saying the first words that came to mind…“How… to… be… RAD!” So, with a slight change…

How to live a rad life.

1. Be real.

Most of us struggle with comparing ourselves with others. It’s way too easy to get on social media and see all of the photos of someone else’s seemingly happy life. We all know that there are “ups” and “downs” to life, but people usually only post the “ups” to their Instagram profiles. If we aren’t careful, it’s really easy to get caught up in the idea that everyone else’s life is so much better than our own. Don’t do that! It’s a parasite that keeps you from enjoying the life you do have. We often overlook all the great people and moments we have in life because we can’t afford to fly to Paris for the week like Steve and his family. Let’s get back to reality. Sure, maybe you can’t afford a trip across the globe, but you can enjoy a quiet dinner at home followed by a board game with the wife and kids. Want to be rad? Be happy with yourself and with your life. There are probably plenty of bodacious things about your life, try and be mindful of those from time to time. There’s nothing wrong with wanting to improve things a bit, just don’t get caught up with what everyone else has. “Give thanks in all circumstances.” 1 Thessalonians 5:18

2. Be honest.

I was a carpenter for about 6 years. One of the most important things I learned during that time was that you should always be willing to put your name on anything you do. It keeps you honest. You see, if we really wanted to, we could just skate through life without trying very hard. I had a teacher in high school who wouldn’t grade a paper I turned in because she could tell I did the very minimum amount of work. She sent it home with me and gave me the weekend to do it properly. She knew I was capable and gave me a second chance. At 15 years old I didn’t appreciate what she did then, but I do now. You see, as I’ve gotten older, I have come to realize that people expect us to be honest and do what we claim we will. If we do the least we can get away with, we can find ourselves taking advantage of someone’s good nature. Imagine if everyone in life was that way. Let’s say you get sick and require surgery, I sure hope you don’t get the doctor who isn’t thorough and careful during all of his procedures. Maybe your tub has been leaking and is rotting out the floor and the framing underneath. The carpenter could very easily take shortcuts that could leave you hurting several years from now. Don’t be that person. Be the person someone can trust. You’ll find that your life will be much better because of it. You’ll grow deeper, more meaningful relationships with people because they will be based off your honesty and integrity. Those around you will know who you really are and what you stand for. “Whoever walks in integrity walks securely, but he who makes his ways crooked will be found out.” Proverbs 10:9

3. Be patient.

“Wise man say: ‘forgiveness is divine’ but never pay full price for late pizza” – Michelangelo (the turtle)

It probably makes more sense to make this point about forgiveness, but the quote reminds me of how impatient we can be. In the age of two-day shipping and instant tax refunds, we find ourselves living in an “on-demand” world. We all have our own individual triggers for impatience. When something or someone takes longer than we expect, we increasingly get more frustrated and annoyed. Even to the point of dwelling on it and letting it ruin our day. It’s embarrassing to say this, but I find myself getting aggravated when a webpage takes a few seconds longer to load while using my phone. Just a few seconds. That’s what I choose to be impatient about. It may sound silly, but I bet there are a few more people who struggle with that as well. In those moments, we feel like we’ve lost control. That whatever it is we are waiting on hasn’t happened on the timeline we fully expected it to. The truth is, we rarely have control to begin with. We get so bent out of shape over things we can’t do anything about. We end up spending our time and energy being anxious and complaining about whatever situation we are in. When instead, we could be re-focusing ourselves and using our time more productively. Being impatient and complaining is the best way to lose time during our day. It’s also the best way to increase your stress level, which, you guessed it, causes you to be more impatient. Relax and try and channel that energy into something productive. You’ll be glad you did.

Rad. Today, you might hear someone say “lit”, but that someone won’t be me. I turn 30 this year, so it’s safe to say that the only time you’ll hear “lit” in my house is when referring to the gas water heater. Maybe I’ll have to “turn up” the television because I can’t hear as well anymore. That’s the closest I’ll get to using modern slang. Just old, boring and using dated slang. Anyways, I hope this helps you have a rad life.

So there it is, my first (and probably last) post. It’s not earth shattering advice, but I do believe those are three things we struggle with from time to time. I could have written more points… and maybe I should have taken my own advice (point 2), but it’s almost 1:00 AM and I am tired.

Thanks, Dave.

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Meal Planning: Saving on Groceries

Meal Planning: Groceries

Alright, this is my last post on meal planning. After this I’m done yammering on about it. Here are my earlier posts in the series in case you missed out:

Meal Planning: Getting Organized

Meal Planning: Quick & Easy Method for Making Meal Plans

Today I’m discussing the grocery shopping side of things, and how to save some money and time in the process. I’ve got two assignments below for you to start working on, and if you complete those and the ones from the previous two weeks, you are going to be a meal planning machine! So get to work!

Assignment #1: Establish a grocery shopping technique

  1. Shop from your own pantry first when planning out your meals to take advantage of ingredients that might be expiring soon or meals you didn’t get a chance to cook last month.
  2. This will probably sound a little ridiculous to some, but I buy all of my groceries at once for the entire month with a couple of quick trips to the store for produce as I need it. I do this because 1. I hate grocery shopping, so the less times I have to go the better, and 2. I save a lot more money the less I go. The less you go shopping the less you will end up spending. You will buy things in bulk, and you will make things stretch further throughout the month. You will also see less things that you go “oh that looks nice” to, and throw in your buggy.
  3. If it’s not on your list then don’t buy it! Unless you forget to write down toilet paper and you’re about to start using your shower curtain, but other than that stick to your list! If it’s important enough to put on a list, only then is it important enough to buy.

Assignment #2: Create a stock pile.

  1. Create a list of the staple items you use in a lot of your recipes or buy regularly.
  2. Watch grocery store sales flyers every week for items on your list of staples, and start stocking up on ingredients to last you until they go on sale again. This will cost you a little more than you usually spend at the start, but will save you money in the months to come. Also, don’t just buy any old item because it’s on sale. If you never buy Little Debbie snacks, then you aren’t going to be saving any money by purchasing them when they are on sale, because you never would have bought them to begin with.
  3. Shop at discount grocery stores like Aldi to stock up on cheaper ingredients when they are available.
  4. Take advantage of a deep freeze so you can stock up on things like meats, cheeses and (so I’ve heard) milk whenever they go on sale.

Other Savings Tips

  • Try to buy fresh fruits and vegetables when they are in season, because that’s when they are cheapest (and better quality). I keep a season schedule for produce in my planner, so I can keep up with it. Research when fruits and vegetables are in season for your specific area.
  • I buy all of the groceries that I can’t find discounted somewhere else at Walmart. Their prices are usually the cheapest, and I like to use their app for their Savings Catcher feature. You just scan your Walmart receipts, and it will compare prices of competitors and give you the difference in rewards dollars of anyone they find with lower prices, and then whenever you feel you’ve built up enough cash you can put them on a Walmart gift card.
  • Plan meals closely together that use the same perishable ingredients, so you don’t waste things. Like I have some meals that call for cilantro, but I only need a little bit of the bunch I have to buy, so I’ll plan another meal that uses it around the same time.
  • Buy store brands. They are usually cheaper. Just make sure you compare prices of other brands first, because that’s not always the case.

The last thing I want to say is: invest in your health. Yes saving money is good, but not at the expense of making unhealthy choices because it’s cheaper or quicker. Spend money on produce, skip boxed meals and packaged foods loaded with preservatives and trans fat (etc. etc. etc!). Spend money on whole foods, and invest time into creating meals with healthy ingredients. If you want to make up the cost you spend on quality foods, then cut out the sodas and unhealthy snacks you purchase. Nothing is worth feeling like junk and having poor health when you’re older, because you didn’t take care of yourself when you were younger.

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Meal Planning: Quick & Easy Method for Making Meal Plans

Quick & Easy Method for Making Meal Plans  -The Planned Path

Welcome to week two of my meal planning guide. Last week I discussed getting everything organized to make the meal planning process easier. Check it out if you missed it! Today I’m going to be covering my actual meal planning process, and how I get it done quickly and efficiently, so I can move on with my life and cuddle with my kittens. Like last week, I’ve littered some assignments throughout my post to get your meal planning process in order. (*nonchalant shrug*) Do them or don’t, I don’t care. (*sudden intense stare*) You really should though.

Menu Planning

The best suggestion I can give you when writing out a menu for the month is to base it off your routine. If you’re exhausted on Mondays because you just started work for the week, then you probably aren’t going to want to cook a big meal. If you attend church every Wednesday night, then you are probably going to want to do something quick. You get the idea. Never bite off more than you can chew or you’ll be saying the all too common, “let’s just get takeout tonight,” and that’s twenty-five bucks down the drain and a pack of nasty thawed out chicken in the fridge going to waste.

I go ahead and plan my meals out for the entire month instead of every week, so I don’t have to worry about it as often, but you might want to do it on a weekly basis, so it’s easier to plan around your schedule and adjust for unexpected things. This also depends on how often you go to the grocery store, and if you have the self-discipline to plan your meals every week before the week begins. I like to do things in bulk to get it over with, and worry about other stuff the rest of the time (plus I don’t trust myself to do it weekly).

Assignment 1: Make menu pages.

These are the most important part of meal planning. You’ve got to have something to plan on! You can print out the one I’ve provided below by clicking on the image (I cut mine to fit an A5 planner), find something cuter through google, or make your own. I like to keep mine in a weekly format. If  you don’t really have time for all that, then just use some good old notebook paper and write it out. You can keep these in your planner (ideally in a nice little section dedicated to meal planning), in a 3-ring binder with the rest of your meal planning materials, or if you are going more of a digital route, just use the calendar on your phone or computer to enter them in.

Menu Printable

Assignment 2: Create a meal schedule.

Having meal categories scheduled for specific days makes meal planning so much simpler for me. It probably takes me about five minutes to plan out meals for the month. For example, Monday’s are pasta nights in my household. I just go to my meal roster, which we discussed last week, and pick out a meal listed under my pasta section, then write it down on my menu planner page for Monday. You don’t have to decide between a ton of different meals at a time or worry about accidentally scheduling the same thing too close together, and you can create a meal schedule based on your situation. I like to keep my Friday and Saturdays open, because I usually have events going on those nights or I might actually want to cook something a little more labor intensive, since I’m not usually blah from work on those days. Here is what my meal schedule looks like:

Meal Schedule

Making Grocery Lists

After you’ve planned out your meals for the month (or week) it’s on to the tedious grocery list. There’s really not much to say about it. It’s a grocery list. Write it down. done.  Except…I like mine organized into categories like dairy, meat, produce, etc., so I can easily see everything I need from each section I get to in the store. If I just write down the ingredients as I’m going down my list of meals, then when I’m going through the grocery store I’ve got to go through my entire list to make sure there isn’t anything else I need from that section, and I usually miss something and have to walk back and forth throughout the grocery store annoyed and tempted to use my buggy like a bumper car.

Assignment 3: Get a grocery list

To prevent such dramatic grocery store antics I use the app, AnyList. I’ve mentioned it on here a few times before if that tells you anything about how much I like it. It automatically categorizes items for me as I enter them in (as long as it recognizes it), and ACTUALLY you can make it show items you’ve already marked off your list by clicking the little eye on the top right corner and then tapping on the item to add it back to your list, so you don’t have to type them in again. I just go through it, make sure everything is there, and mark off anything I don’t need that month. Easy peasy. It also has a section for meal planning, which I have not given a shot yet. If you would rather use a piece of paper then you can look up several categorized grocery lists online that you can print out.

I also like to plan for a few extra meals on my grocery list for “blah days,” those unexpected days that just drained you mentally or physically, and you don’t have much of a desire to do more than stare at a blank wall. The meals that I plan for these days are anything that doesn’t require much effort on my part, like spaghetti out of a jar or frozen pizzas. I have a section on my meal roster (which I shared with you last week) listing out all my easy meals, even if I already have them listed in another section. Having extra meals planned out for this prevents me from giving in to fast food and hurting my budget and my health.

Well, that’s it! That’s the process. Fascinating stuff right? If you haven’t dozed off and face planted into your bowl of cereal yet, then join me again next week. I’ll be discussing grocery shopping and tips for saving money, one of my favorite things to do!

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Meal Planning: Getting Organized

Recipe Organization pic

Welcome to week one of my meal planning guide! My plan for this series is for you to have created everything you need to start meal planning quickly and efficiently while saving some dough in the process by the end of it. Eating out all the time gets expensive!

In order to have any sort of success with meal planning you need to have a good roster of recipes to choose from or else you’ll be living off Hamburger Helper and frozen pizzas every day. You are going to have to push yourself past making the same old meals all the time, and try new recipes so you can have a variety to choose from when you are trying to decide what to have that week. And the most important thing is to have this all organized in a manner that makes it easily accomplished. So, that is where we are beginning today.

Here are your assignments for the week:

Assignment # 1: Make a master list of the meals you cook

Alright, your very first assignment is to create a reference guide listing out all the recipes you make that you will use when planning out your meals. Think up all the meals you currently cook and list them out, then type them up and organize them by categories that work for you. To make meal planning easier for me, I have theme nights scheduled for specific days, so I like to organize my categories according to the theme nights (I’ll discuss theme nights more next week). This is how I organize mine: Pasta, International, Meats, Easy Meals, Soups & Misc. So my meal roster looks like the image below:

Meal Roster

I keep my roster in my planner, which has a section dedicated for meal planning. You can start a meal planning binder, create a space in your planner for meal planning, or just keep the list where you store your recipes. Having a good roster of meals listed out to refer to makes it SO much easier when you are planning your meals for the week (or month if you are more ambitious). If you are having trouble remembering all the meals you make, I’ve included a list at the bottom of meal ideas that you can refer to.

Assignment #2: Find new recipes to add

One problem I have struggled with in the past is getting in the rut of making the same few recipes over and over again, which makes it difficult to plan for a good variety when you are scheduling meals. So, I challenge you to go on a quest to find TEN awesome new recipes to add to your roster. Hunt through those dusty old cookbooks sitting on your shelf (or your parents’ shelf), mindlessly scroll through Pinterest until you see something that makes your stomach scream, “YASSSS!!!”, google specific meals you want to start making and find the perfect recipe, and the best, ask your friends and family what their absolute favorite recipe is to cook and, most importantly, eat. Once you decide you want to add a new recipe to your regular routine you can add it to your main roster of recipes, and make it part of the family (*awwww*).

Look down at the list below to get some ideas of new meals you would like to find and start adding to your routine. I’ve also included a few links to some of my favorite recipes from around the web (my particular favorite is the black bean tacos, look it up!).

TIP: When you start trying out these recipes make sure you don’t take on too many in a short period of time, or you run the risk of getting burnt out with cooking, because it’s always more difficult when you’re not used to cooking something. Plus, I tend to forget about new recipes I’ve tried when I move on to another one too quickly. Whatever you do though, have fun and experiment until you get it exactly the way you like!

Assignment #3: Organize your recipes

Now that you have a good list of recipes you make and recipes you want to try, you need to organize them in some sort of efficient manner for when you plan meals. My personal favorite is using index/recipe cards. My husband bought me a cute little recipe box with recipe cards and dividers where I keep all the recipes I make regularly (the ones I don’t know by heart at least). For any new recipes I want to try out, they go on regular old index cards, and if I like them they earn their way onto a pretty recipe card in my recipe box, and for the ones that just don’t quite make the cut, let’s just say their fate isn’t so pretty. When you are planning meals for the week you can go through your stack of new recipes and pick one out you want to try that week! You can keep them in the back of your recipe box or put them in a separate one, which is what I do (I found it at a thrift store for $1 before I found out my husband had bought me one as a surprise the same day, oops!). I find that having physical copies stacked together all in the same place when you are meal planning is much more effective than just marking a page in a cookbook or pinning them on Pinterest and forgetting about them, which is what I do 100% of the time.

I like to use this method of organizing recipes, because it’s easier to have them all right there to quickly flip through and get ingredients when I’m making a shopping list instead of having to go to each individual webpage on my Pinterest or find it in a cookbook, and the smaller size is easier to handle than a full sheet of paper.

If that’s not particularly the route you want to go, then you could just make different boards on Pinterest for each category you choose, you could put them all in a nice binder with dividers, or you could use some handy app like Evernote to organize and quickly access them digitally.

Alright! There are your assignments for the week, so get crackin’! And cooking.

MEAL IDEAS

Soups & Stews:

  • Chili
  • Taco Soup
  • Potato Soup
  • Vegetable Soup
  • Beef Stew
  • Tomato Soup & Grilled Cheese
  • Chicken Corn Chowder
  • Gumbo
  • Squash Soup
  • Brunswick Stew
  • Wild Rice Soup
  • White Chicken Chili

Chicken

  • Chicken Fingers
  • Buffalo Chicken
  • Grilled Chicken
  • Roasted Chicken
  • Chicken Fried Rice
  • Teriyaki Chicken

Beef/Pork

  • Steak
  • Grilled Pork Chops
  • Baked Pork Chops
  • Pot Roast
  • Hot Dogs
  • Barbecue
  • Ribs
  • Meatloaf
  • Burgers

Seafood

  • Boiled Shrimp
  • Cajun Shrimp Boil
  • Sautéed Shrimp
  • Salmon
  • Mahi Mahi
  • Fish Tacos

Pasta

  • Spaghetti
  • Chicken Alfredo
  • Chicken Parmesan
  • Beef Stroganoff
  • Lasagna
  • Two-Timin Pasta

Mexican

Misc.

  • BLT Sandwich
  • Chicken Salad Sandwich
  • Breakfast for Dinner
  • Stir Fry
  • Pizza
  • Takeout
  • Leftovers
  • All vegetables

Sides

  • Green Beans
  • Baked Beans
  • Lima Beans
  • Black Eyed Peas
  • Carrots
  • Corn on the Cob
  • Corn
  • Coleslaw
  • Broccoli
  • Baked Potato
  • Roasted Vegetables
  • Mashed Potatoes
  • Sweet Potato
  • Rice
  • French Fries
  • Peas
  • Macaroni & Cheese
  • Salad
  • Asparagus
  • Squash
  • Zucchini
  • Fried Okra
  • Sauteed Mushrooms
  • Cornbread
  • Garlic Bread
  • Biscuits
  • Roll
  • Pasta Salad
  • Potato Salad
  • Chips & Salsa

Lunch

  • Leftovers (my favorite)
  • Salad
  • Tuna Salad
  • Baked Potato
  • Canned Soup
  • Hard-Boiled Egg
  • Jarred Spaghetti
  • Turkey Sandwich
  • Roast Beef Sandwich
  • BLT
  • PB & J Sandwich
  • Grilled Cheese
  • Pasta Salad
  • Nuts
  • Fruits
  • Raw Vegetables
  • Sliced Meat & Cheese Cubes
  • Chips & Salsa

Breakfast

  • Scrambled eggs
  • Toast
  • Muffin
  • Smoothie
  • Cereal
  • Fruit
  • Oatmeal
  • Sausage
  • Bacon
  • Waffles
  • Pancakes
  • Granola bar
  • Yogurt
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Meal Planning Series! And a New Schedule

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Hello people! I am going to be starting a 3-part series on meal planning beginning this Thursday! Each part of the series will include exercises for you to get your meal planning in tip top shape, and hopefully make your life a lot easier and more affordable. I’ve always been a big believer in systems and processes to simplify and make my life easier, especially when it comes to the mundane. Like I say, I plan so I don’t have to think.

Each step I am discussing relies heavily on each other and each is an essential part to my meal planning technique, so make sure you don’t miss any. Here is a breakdown and schedule of what I will be doing:

  1. Recipe organization for more efficient meal planning April 28th
  2. Menu planning & organized grocery lists- May 5th 
  3. Grocery shopping techniques & savings- May 12th 

Also, I am going to start doing my weekly posts every Thursday at 9 AM from now on instead of Monday. This is due to the fact that I am lazy at times (large spans of time actually) and have a tendency to procrastinate on my posts every now and again, and I’m not really a fan of spending my weekends trying to cram it all in when that happens. So, start tuning in, or clicking in I suppose, on Thursdays at 9 AM!

That’s all!

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How to Move Mountains When You Feel Like You Can’t Move a Crumb

IMG_3212

“It always seems impossible until it’s done.” -Nelson Mandela

I have always had a pretty low self-confidence in myself when it comes to doing things I’ve never done before. I haven’t given many things a chance, because of that ugly little word can’t, and there are many things I never thought I could do, but surprised myself and did.

A small, and probably silly, example would be my current job as a church secretary and bookkeeper. I can remember thinking about the job when I was a teenager, and seeing the secretary for the church then, Ray (he was amazing at it!), and thinking “I could never do that.” I was young, low self-confidence, inexperienced, etc. etc. Regardless of that thought, I’ve always had a tiny interest in it, but I knew in the back of my mind I would never do it, because I didn’t think I could. Flash forward to a few years later, the job opens up, but it’s more than just a secretary job now, it’s also bookkeeping. If I didn’t think I could do it then, there was DEFINITELY no way I thought I could do it now! I may have had a business degree, but I also had zero experience with bookkeeping, but I still just couldn’t get the possibility of it out of my head, because it was a good opportunity. I had just graduated college not too long before, I had never really earned that much of an income, I had no real world experience, and literally no idea what I wanted to do. After days of torment and agonized discussions with my husband about it (never would have been able to without his encouragement), I decided to go for it. I got the job, and ended up being much better at it then I thought I could be.

I don’t think it’s just a me thing when it comes to having low self-confidence in your abilities. I figure it’s a human nature sort of thing, but some of us are better at pushing past it than others. Is there something that has been itching in the back of your mind, but you keep telling yourself you can’t do it? Well, here is my personal method for overcoming self-doubt and pushing past the I can’ts.

1. Stop feeding the negative beast inside of you.

Stop telling yourself, “I can’t do that, or this, or that thing over there.” You can do more than you think. Things are never as impossible as you make them seem. They only look that way because you’ve never done them before, or you don’t have much experience .

2. Consider your past experiences.

Think back to something you just really didn’t think you could do, but you did it, and it was a lot easier than you thought it would be. I’m sure there are plenty of things you could come up with if you really thought about it, and plenty of things you have forgotten about altogether. It doesn’t matter how small or stupid you think it may be, write it down, dwell on it, whatever you want to do, but take that knowledge and use it to encourage yourself to try the thing you are scared of now, because you know you’ve done more than you thought you could before.

3. Be prepared.

I am insecure about most of the things I’m inexperienced in, but that fear has also benefited me, because it has caused me to prepare like crazy for whatever it is. I try to understand every nook, cranny, and crook of it before I ever attempt it. Never go in blindly to a situation. Let your lack of confidence push you to work harder to achieve it and understand it, not give up.

4. Talk to people you trust about it.

I never would have attempted my current job if I hadn’t had my husband encouraging and pushing me, and so it has been with most of the things in my life. Sometimes you just need someone to tell you that you’re capable, and help you work through your insecurities. I think we know we are capable deep down, we just need someone to confirm it for us sometimes.

5. And finally just do it.

We tell ourselves we can’t do something, and then we never do, so we continue on assuming we can’t do it. The only way to truly build your self-confidence is to do the things you are afraid of. You can do way more than you give yourself credit for, so get out there and like those folks at that shoe company say, just do it!

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What is Your Purpose in Life?

What is your purpose in life? -The Planned Path

It seems one of the great questions of humanity has always been, “what is our purpose?” Why is it that people feel so drawn to ask this question and feel the need to have a purpose? If we were just the result of some random expansion of matter, what led us to actually ever care about such things? Perhaps it is because we were put here for a purpose, not just some random accident. Our hearts are filled with the desire to be more than nothing whether we act on it or not, and that did not come from nowhere.

So what could your purpose be? Why are you here? What are you supposed to be doing with your time on earth? Is it to be a painter, to bring people to tears with only a violin, to protect humans from other humans, to take children out of bad situations and find them loving homes, or is it maybe just mopping floors and ridding the world of bacteria? No, I don’t think it’s any of those things. I think they may be a part of our purpose, but they are not the root. They are just passions and abilities through which we can let our true purpose shine. Purpose is so much more than just a passion. When you simplify it down and really think about it, we all share the same purpose. But if we all have the same purpose, why is it so confusing? Because a lot of times we only ever consider it in the context of this small world and our short lives within it. To find out what our purpose is we need to answer three questions.

1. WHAT IS OUR ROOT?

If we were just the random results of nature, then there is no purpose or reason we are here, other than just chance, which would mean love and goodness are nothing more than things we made up. Besides the fact that this option is completely depressing, it doesn’t actually make any sense, because within the physical boundaries that are established in this universe, something can’t come from nothing, and definitely not something this intricately designed and so full of diversity. I don’t care how many billions of years you might think we had to work with, it had to start somewhere. We have always had an explanation from the beginning of time, but as time has went on some have just chalked it up to the belief of a bunch of delusional fanatics and tried to come up with their own explanations. The root of our existence is simply that we were put here by a creator, that creator being God. So that leads us to our next question…

2. WHY DID GOD PUT US HERE?

God didn’t create us so we could get good jobs and make lots of money (never put the measure of your happiness and how blessed you are on things that don’t last), you were created because God wanted you, plain and simple. He didn’t create us because He needed us, or that He wanted slaves to scrub the floors of Heaven. We were and continue to be created out of love.  I mean that’s really saying something when you love someone enough to literally want them forever and for always! God wanted us so much that He has bent over backwards to show us His love, by walking this earth and taking on all our shortcomings and sin, so that we could be with Him. Our purpose isn’t about doing grand or amazing things, it’s simply about choosing to love God. He already loves us, but He didn’t make us to be a bunch of robots with no choice in the matter. That wouldn’t be true love. True love isn’t a feeling, it’s choosing to love. And if you truly love God it will show through your actions every day (if you love God, you’ll keep His commandments, John 14:15), not just the days you feel like it or have a whim for God. Don’t ever get so distracted with the things of this life that you forget why you were put here in the first place.

3. WHAT DOES THIS MEAN FOR OUR LIVES?

God didn’t leave us to just guess about what all this life and purpose stuff is about. We have a book filled with answers and instructions and history that is from God. You know, the One upstairs, the One who created it all! You would think people would be scrambling to see what it says, what the answer to this life is and the story of it all. But no, we tend to get wrapped up in our short time here on Earth and all the temporary things, and have a hard time thinking of the big picture and all that is beyond this life. We have this life to enjoy no doubt, but never forget why you were given it. We need to understand what our beginning was, what all has happened because of that beginning, and what is in store for our future. Open up a bible and look and study for yourself, don’t just take my word for it, or anyone else’s for that matter.

Life really only has to be simple, but we cram it full of things trying to make it mean something. We fail to recognize it really only needs one thing to mean something, and that’s God. Everything else is just extra. Life is more than just trying to get by and survive. If you lost everything yet still had God, you would still have everything. When you die, it won’t have mattered whether you ever owned a home, had ten children and a husband, read every novel you could get your hands on, or had tea with the queen of England. When you die all that will have mattered is if you had God. You could have lived in a box without a relative or a novel to your name, and be spat on by the queen of England, but still have the same love, care, and reward when you die as Sally in the big brownstone if you both just had God. The sufferings we experience here are really nothing when you think about the eternity that lies beyond.

“For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” -Romans 8:38

Image by: Tom Hall

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A Potentially Embarrassing Announcement

A Potentially Embarrassing Announcement

I am writing a book.

Seeing that statement alone and naked up there makes me want to dive into a heap of blankets and pillows and hide, because up until now this has been an extremely private endeavor. I’m not telling you this because I am trying to brag and look very smart and cool, because believe me that’s not how I feel. There is nothing more humbling than trying to write a book, or so it has been in my experience. I have given up and started again and given up and started again more times than I can count (practically every day). The majority of the time I am typing, a little voice inside my head is yammering on things like: “this is all a bunch of crap” or “you are never going to figure this out” or “you just aren’t talented enough.” That little voice is very lucky it’s not a physical person, because it’s likely I would have physically assaulted it by now. My hope is that this pile of crap will lead to some flowers (after extensive editing of course), but anyways…the real reason I am telling you this is so I will be motivated to actually finish it, to avoid the humiliation of looking like a loser.

Oh, and it’s fiction as well. I know I’ve mentioned a couple of times on here that it’s always been my dream to be a writer, and you might have assumed I meant non-fiction since that’s what I’ve been writing, but it’s actually been my dream to write fiction since I was a little girl. I’ve given up on that idea quite a few times, but somehow it always creeps its way back into my mind like a piece of gum I can’t stop stepping on. So, I intend to see it through, and you all are here to judge me in case I don’t. It may end up just being a pile of crap, but at least I will finally get that gum off my shoe. Don’t ask me any questions about it though, because I’m not going to tell you! Now, here are some inspiring Thomas Edison quotes for anyone who needs a little motivation:

“Our greatest weakness lies in giving up. The most certain way to succeed is always to try just one more time.”

“To invent, you need a good imagination and a pile of junk.”

“Many of life’s failures are people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up.”

“We often miss opportunity because it’s dressed in overalls and looks like work”

“Genius is one percent inspiration, ninety-nine percent perspiration.”

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Unique Ways to Organize Your Home With Vintage Treasures

Unique Ways to Organize Your Home with Vintage Treasures

I like to consider myself a part-time treasure hunter. One, because it sounds really cool, and two, because I really like digging around in old buildings and houses for cool old stuff. I’ve been in the antique business with my mom for the past three years, so we’ve come across quite a few unique and interesting things in our hunting. Most of the decor and furniture in my house is not new by a long shot. I like to use old junk (or vintage and antique decor as most refer to it) in unique and useful ways, so I thought I would share with you some ideas on how you can use vintage decor to organize your home. All this stuff I see regularly when I go to estate sales, yard sales, and thrift stores, so it should be fairly easy for you to find at a good price if you’re willing to search. You could always go to antique stores as well, but be prepared to pay a good chunk more.

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Cheese Crates

Cheese crates are so adorable to me. They are perfect for storing remotes or desk supplies like scissors, pens and pencils, tape, etc. I mean the possibilities are endless when it comes to a box, but that’s what I like to use them for.sugardish.jpg

Silver Creamer & Sugar Dishes

I use these to store my makeup brushes, bobby pins, and hair bands. They look so lovely. I think ceramic floral ones would be equally as cute.

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Teacups

Vintage teacups are an adorable way to organize your jewelry, but I still think my favorite thing to put in them is tea. But still, adorable.

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Old Windows

This is the only thing on my list that involves a little DIY. I’m not really a DIY kind of girl. I’m more of a buy it and there it is kind of girl. But thankfully I have people like my mom to do it for me. You can turn an old window into a coat hanger and chalkboard for memos with a little chalkboard paint and some large hooks (just make sure you install them on the wide part of the window). My mom also stained mine, but you could do whatever you want with it. Thanks mom!

Another idea is to use one as a pot rack. Buy some hooks to hang your pots from and a chain to hang it to the ceiling (as seen above) from a home improvement store. Voila, pot rack. You just need to make sure you find the studs in the ceiling to hang the chain from, or voila, disaster.

Old Cabinets

If you don’t have the luxury of a pantry then an antique cabinet is a great way to store your food if you have the space, and will add some character to your kitchen. I use an antique pie safe, which I only paid $75 for! Sorry, just had to brag.Those things are expensive. Another idea would be for blanket and board game storage in your living room.

Knickknacks

There are all kinds of weird ways you can use vintage knickknacks if you find the right ones. I use a brass deer to hold all of my rings by hanging them on his antlers, a small vintage bird planter to hold writing utensils and scissors in my kitchen (but it would also be an interesting item to hold remotes), and several random ones as quirky bookends (just make sure they are heavy enough though).

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Sewing Table Drawers

They can pretty much be used in the same way as cheese crates, but they look perfect with perfume bottles stored in them, or used to corral bathroom objects like cute little jars full of cotton balls.

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Cake Plates

Vintage cakes plates are a lovely way to keep similar objects grouped together whether it be toiletries or your most used cooking oils and spices.

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Zinc Mason Jar Lids

Random I know, but I love using these for organizing little things like bobby pins and paper clips. I also saw a DIY project (once again, not a DIYer) where you cut out a piece of cork and put it inside the lid, and then use it as a coaster. Looked pretty cool to me, but when would I ever get around to buying a piece of cork?

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Crates

Crates are way more awesome than any boring old basket you could get at a craft store. It’s a box, so there are countless ways you could use them. I use mine for holding all my bathroom junk (hairdryer, brush, hairspray, etc.), because I have no storage in my tiny bathroom whatsoever. I also use one to corral all the books and magazines I’m currently reading, my notebooks, and computer charger. They would also would be great for holding rolls of toilet paper, as shelving when stacked together on their sides against a wall or individually hung on a wall, to hide piles of shoes at the entryway or kids toys in the living room, the possibilities are endless. Well, maybe not endless. It is just a box after all.

Do you use any random objects to organize your home?

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