Tuesday, November 29, 2022

Planning ahead...

Do you plan for the week ahead? Perhaps the next month or year? My personality is such that planning ahead helps me stay focused, calm and practical - especially around the home and also with my home-based business, Elefantz. 

As a homemaker, planning mostly entails a weekly cleaning routine and menu, with extra plans for any baking or the making of condiments. 

Most Fridays I like to do big chores, such as vacuuming and mopping all the rooms, cleaning the bathroom and washing bathmats, popping out for a quick 'fruit and veg' grocery shop, washing and changing the bedsheets, and cooking meal basics such as brown rice, roasted vegetables, cookies, bread, poached fruit, boiled eggs, and chicken breasts for the following week. 

I find that by spending one day each week focused on creating a clean and welcoming home (the other days I do smaller tasks and maintain things) and having pre-prepared ingredients for various meals stored in the fridge or freezer, that the other six days are enjoyed at a much simpler and slower pace. If for some reason I have to be away from home on Friday I will still do the sheets and a grocery shop, but leave everything else to the following Monday. This too, adds peace and calm to my day to day living, because as wonderful as steady routines and rhythms are, we must always be flexible and ready for a change of plan. 

This week I am blog planning for 2023, as well as preparing notes and ideas for a brand new series of The Homemakers Heart digital magazine. 

This, along with regular blog posts, a newsletter, and the next free block for The Virtuous Wife project along with the accompanying Bible study this coming Thursday, takes time, so having some meals prepped and my house relatively organised, clean and tidy in advance, means I can think clearly and give myself a few good days this week to properly plan and prepare for the coming year. 

Those roasted vegetables become my lunch each day...

I simply cut up a tray full of carrots, sweet potato, potato, cabbage and cauliflower, then drizzle them in olive oil, scatter some garlic over the top and roast until they just begin to caramelise. This is a great way to use up vegetables from the fridge before I stock up on more. 

Usually I place a portion of the roasted veg, straight from the fridge, in a frying pan on a very low heat and cover it as it warms. We no longer use a microwave so I'm becoming well educated in warming food without over-cooking it. :-) Some days I'll add a few slices of the previously cooked chicken breast, other days (like this day) I'll cook an egg in the centre of the veg just before serving. 

Some fresh rocket (arugula) with a drizzle of balsamic glaze, and a sprinkle of cashew parmesan completes this healthy and delicious lunch. 

The cashew parmesan is so much nicer than real parmesan, and very easy to make. In a food processor simply add 2 cups of roasted cashews (you can use unroasted if you like), 3/4 cup nutritional yeast flakes, 2 teaspoons garlic powder, and 2 teaspoons of salt - whizz it all up until it's the texture of fine breadcrumbs. We use it most days, so I'm usually making a new batch every month. 

Can you see that little jar above the salt? About four or five months ago we stopped using black pepper (oh, that was hard for me)and began sprinkling cayenne pepper over our savoury meals instead. It has an abundance of great health properties, and hubby really wanted us to try this so we did. Now, let me tell you that I used to be able to grind black pepper over my meals until they looked as though the food was overrun by black ants! That's how much I have always loved black pepper. But once we switched to cayenne instead, something unexpected happened. The irritation in my oesophagus, which I'd had after every meal and would often cause a lot of pain, has practically disappeared. 

We bought that little bottle of cayenne pepper, and were so impressed with my health results (and some of hubby's) that I bought a huge jar and now re-fill the little bottle from it. 

Last Friday I also baked a sweet loaf of pumpkin bread, made four jars of strawberry jam, and a batch of our favourite almond and cherry biscuits (cookies). I had to laugh when I'd printed the labels from our Dymo label-maker...just where did that missing "R" go?? Not one to like waste anymore, I accepted that it was no big deal to use those labels instead of printing new ones, as they are for our own pantry supplies. However, when I make more jam for gift giving next Friday I shall hand write pretty labels with no spelling mistakes. 

These biscuits are really scrumptious and rarely last a week, but I did bake a pineapple fruit cake two weeks ago which we have plenty of so our tea time treats will make it through until next baking day. 
I want to make some ginger syrup next Friday because it's a real favourite in our home as a refreshing cordial mixed with lemon juice, soda water and fresh mint from the garden. Fortunately I got large knobs of ginger at the supermarket for almost half the price of a few months back. Many things have increased in price, but I get such a surprise when I discover something we use regularly has gotten cheaper.

My planning ahead has also included some extra crafting. Lucy of Attic 24 is hosting her regular yearly crochet-a-long in January and as my dearly beloved was quite insistent that I tell him what he could get me for Christmas, it seemed quite providential to suggest her Spring Frost yarn kit...which he promptly, and quite cheerfully, ordered. The fact that I crocheted two of Lucy's blankets this past Australian winter convinced him that I would most definitely enjoy making another. 
You can have a look at Lucy's Spring Frost blanket HERE.
I may not start it until late Autumn (May) but having it there to make means my winter nights are planned ahead.

Being very mindful about not wasting anything (if we can help it), my husband's employer recently offered him an extremely good office chair to bring home because the business replaces all their chairs every year or so. It is of very high quality, and you would never know it had even been used, but hubby likes the chair he already has in his home study so he asked if I'd like it. Due to all the ongoing issues with my knee these past five months, this was a real blessing because when I sit at our dining table I've needed to prop up my chair with pillows and put things under my feet, just to keep my knee in a comfortable position. This 'new to us' office chair makes sitting at the table far more comfortable for me, but I really don't like black - so the blessing continued when I was in Spotlight last week and found a pink cover for it, reduced to $10. 

It's lovely to be able to sit and plan ahead comfortably. But it's lovelier still to know God has been in the details - and I thank those of you who have been praying for my knee, because it is slowly healing, and this gifted chair really makes a difference as I can't even sit comfortably on our couch right now. I am blessed and grateful. 

I'll sign off today with a picture of Harry-dog, who is 3½ months old now, growing larger than we thought he would (he's already bigger than his mother was) and showing definite dachshund stubbornness, loyalty and appetite. His cavalier side is easy to please, and he's a wonderful night sleeper now as I can finally sleep in until 5am - and believe me that extra hour makes a world of difference. 

When I clean up after him of a night, my mind goes back to when I would gather the children's toys and place them back in the toy box at bedtime - for Harry loves his toys, especially an old doll Rafaella used to cuddle as a baby. 

Love to know about your planning. Would you tell me about it? Any good planning-ahead ideas or tips you can share? 

May the Lord bless you and keep you in all His ways, protect and guide you each day, and bring you rest and refreshment as you sleep in His care. Hugs, 

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Lin said...

I am terrible at planning Jennifer and usually find that when I do plan, things happen and my plans go out the window anyway! I usually have a big clean on Saturdays though as we rarely go out then. Being retired means we can go out during the week when it is quieter. Good to hear the knee is improving, if slowly. xx

Joanne said...

Hi Jennifer ,
Thank you for sharing your black pepper and oesophagus experience ! Now that I think of it, I started using black pepper again and discomfort, feeling like heartburn soon followed. I thought it was from vitamins and meds. I'll give the " no black pepper" a test. Thanks !
Planning...now that the days are cold the wash I hang to dry takes longer. Plan accoringingly :)
I love the yearly calendar that Threadbare Creations has published on her site. It's great to have an overview of each month and enough space to add those appointments and new block release dates :)
hugs, take care,

Clara said...

Again a very very interesting post, Jenny. You are so inspiring! The cashew parmesan is something so new for me, I HAVE to try it! I have to admit that me too, I wish a more natural and simple life and I try to do some little steps in this direction.

Anonymous said...

I plan for each week also, but it seems lately my plans get changed. I guess I'm learning to go with God's plan for me and not mine. But all is good, and I can see the blessings I am provided with in the changes He makes to my schedule. I'm so glad your knee is feeling better. Having a comfortable chair makes all the difference. Blessings!

Julie said...

Another wonderful post dear Jennifer. My heart skipped a beat when I spied that vintage salt container on your bench. How beautiful.💙 That is interesting about the black pepper as I - like you - used to cover my food with it & love it.
Dear wee Harry dog tucked up there with his toys. How lucky he was when he came to live in your home my friend.
I should plan more - I mostly plan in my head but this can often just swirl around & around as I go about my day. I will certainly today, order a new diary with room so I can write down my plans - I have a nice one but it will finish in another month. Take care of that knee my dear friend. xxx

Ondrea said...

It is good to see someone so organised and it does help the household keep running efficiently. However, each time I have scheduled daily things to do something crops up and everything gets put on hold for another day. I end up with twice as many things to do on another day lol. I have never used salt in or on food and always added ground pepper but not quite as much as you lol. I have never had or wanted a microwave and people think I am crazy. I had to learn how to use my daughter's when I was over there. So, not much planning here apart from going to bed each night wondering what to cook for tea the following night. I like your ideas better. Ho hum.

Anonymous said...

Hello Jennifer,
Thank you for yet another lovely post! I just love the way you share your life, and although I hardly ever comment, I look forward to your posts very much! Your reaction to black pepper is so interesting, and many congratulations on finding out you can use cayenne pepper and not suffer from your terrible oesophagus pains anymore!
I am wondering if you or any of your readers has noticed some sort of reaction to other spices? Recently I have noticed I wake up with a head ache that arrives very late during the night. Often after the evening meal the day before had spices, such as ginger, garlic, curry things like that....
Your day of cleaning and cooking is a great way to leave time for other things, hobbies etc, and I try to do similar planning, so recently I have started to cook larger meals, so I can freeze a portion for another day. I love your tip to make a large batch of roast veggies, your lunch looks yummy!
anyway, many thanks, stay safe and best wishes from Nicoline

CathieJ said...

I write loads of lists, but I am not a planner. Now that I am retired, I pretty much do as I please each day. Laundry gets done one or two times per week. Groceries get bought when we are running low. I could pureed meals for my mom when I notice her freezer is low. I think I have to consider having roasted veggies for my lunch. That looks delicious and is definitely healthy. I have a similar chair for my sewing machine. I need it for lower back support. I do find that it helps. I hope this chair helps your knee continue to heal. Well done finding the pink cover. Your pup looks quite content in his bed surrounded by toys.

gracie said...

I do make a menu for the week on a blackboard in the kitchen. It sometimes changes but it is a good guide line. I am a list maker... lately using an erasable board. Nice to be able to erase what I did do!
Thank you for being a wonderful example and inspiration to us in blog-land.

Rosie said...

I always plan my coming week in regards to meals, although sometimes it doesn't turn out the way I planned due to life simply stepping in and changing. Glad to hear the knee is getting better.

Anorina @SameliasMum said...

I must admit that I'm not generally a planner although, like you, Friday is my main cleaning day where I do the big house clean, plus if the weather is nice, the sheets & towels/mats.

Harry is such a cutie and I bet he gives the best puppy love and cuddles. I have a Harry too (he's a 9 month old cavoodle) and finally starting to settle down although he does have his zoomies and runs around the couch like it's a velodrome.

Lori in Missouri said...

Hi Jennifer. I am so curious about the binder open on your planning table. Will you post a show-and-tell about it? Is it something you put together yourself?

Susan said...

This year, my planning is more like hopes than plans. =) Things are improving, but I'm not back to normal yet. Usually, I plan weeks, months, even years for goals, but not the last two years.

Tammy said...

Dearest Jennifer thank you so very much for Block 2 of the stich along and for the study notes to go along with it too. That is super nice to have. Thank you again my friend

Tammy said...

Dearest Jennifer thank you so very much for Block 2 of the stich along and for the study notes to go along with it too. That is super nice to have. Thank you again my friend.

Lori said...

Hi, Jennifer!

Love your plans and planners! I tend to make goals in Dec. for the following year, but try to get very specific so that when that part of the goal is checked off, I feel very much accomplished by the little steps.

I wanted to ask: Did we finish the Emilie Barnes book study? I hope I didn't miss the rest! It has been a delightful read-a-long.

Praying full recovery for your knee!

Lori in TX