Tag: Thoughts

So far 2018, so good

I made a couple of quiet resolutions for 2018. If I have to be honest, I didn’t even really define or quantify them very specifically, mostly because I did just that last year, and that was just a way to set myself up for failure. Instead, I gently resolved to steer myself toward more contentment, and identified some ways in which that could happen.

Beautiful colorful landscape transforms to desert with no color.

One of those ways was to set clear limits on how much work I work. That is because I realised at some point last year that I am addicted to working, and that I will work for the sake of working. Unfortunately, and worse, I also realised that I am an incredibly inefficient worker. That’s probably because I had given myself access to all these extra hours of potential labour. Which meant that I faffed around a lot, created unnecessary work for myself, and spent a big part of my life feeling guilty or anxious that I did not get to that One.Very.Important.Thing (which, I now realise, was never that important to start with). And I didn’t delegate and outsource nearly as much as I should have.

But I’m much smarter in 2018, and I now know that the world will keep on turning even if I don’t work all the flipping time. So far, it has been remarkably easy to adjust. For example, at the end of last year one of the goals for the holiday was to get through enough strategy co-ordination to hit the ground running on January 8. Which hardly sounds like a holiday at all! Luckily for me, as soon as I felt that sand in between my toes, all motivation for work evaporated, and I just relaxed as much as I could. I did have a couple of meetings and sessions last week, but that was still on the back-end of work done last year. And I have done very, very little work to prepare for 2018. And you know what? I am ok with that.

Now, the old me would have spent this weekend working flat-out to prepare for a full week of work starting tomorrow. The new me said “Nope!”. Instead, I am taking the full week next week to prepare the groundwork for the next 12 months, and I will only start implementing that the week after. So I am a week behind schedule. Tough cookies.

And as it stands, I thus had a great weekend! Every time I reflexively reached for my computer to work, I gave myself a mental slap. Instead, I cooked (!), played board games with my kids, did mosaics with them, watched a couple of shows, read a LOT, and …lots of fun, this…spent some time figuring out what I want to do with this blog and how (and no, that is definitely not work!). That took me down the rabbit hole of other bloggers (there is so much good stuff out there, but also so much crap!), as well as endless clicks through Pinterest (that site is dangerous!).

Now it is Sunday night. My kids are in bed, I’m ready for the week and I am finding great joy in writing this post without worrying that I should be doing work-work instead. If I keep up this attitude, and force myself to work efficiently and smartly during normal working hours, I am going to have a really fun 2018 indeed!

How we do meals in my house (or, “Why Woolies is my best friend”)

I am always on the lookout for ways to simplify my life. Usually that means I identify the bottlenecks and try and…well, unblock them. Without a shadow of a doubt, one of the biggest “Ugh!” aspects of family life for me is the whole drama that accompanies the responsibility of making sure everyone is fed. Our house lacks a natural-born cook. In fact, it lacks anyone who even remotely enjoys being in the kitchen. But we all do love to eat. So we clearly need a system that makes this work for us.

Why do they want dinner every single night?
There are between four and six people in the house who need to be fed (two of the kids, StepDaughter and StepSon are with us for half the holidays and every second weekend etc). We have quite varied dietary requirements. The two stepkids follow a somewhat Jewish diet, which we try to honor. So obviously no pork for them, or milk and meat in the same dish. Craig is a bit of a health nut, and really only eats grilled chicken or fish, with side vegetables. Definitely no cream for him! And Zac, Micole and I share the same preferences and will eat pretty much anything that is not too spicy.

As such, it is an understatement to say that Woolies is our friend. It is more like our life support. I do 90% of my grocery shopping there, with the remaining food coming from greengrocers, and sometimes a butcher or a fishmonger.

My rules for food preparation are simple:

  1. Everyone takes care of their own breakfast (Craig or I will prepare Zac’s)
  2. Nothing we eat can take me more than 10 minute prep time (that’s from start to putting in the oven/on top of stove)
  3. I plan our menu meticulously for the week, buying everything for about seven days ahead and freezing as necessary
  4. We have very little junk food in the house and we eat balanced meals that are all healthy
  5. We eat out or order-in as necessary, or as wants arise. That’s usually two or three meals out per week, usually lunch.
  6. We do not waste food. I abhor that.

Because of Rule 2 of above, I am always on the lookout for quick fixes which in my language translates into “food that is bought frozen, and can be simply be popped in the oven for a ready meal” (food prep time: 0 minutes). Woolies offers a lot of such alternatives, but so do food markets and services like FitChef and GingerApple.co.za (which I haven’t yet tried but am eyeing). The one possible exception to Rule 2 are salads…I enjoy making them on the weekends, especially in the warm months, and then we have it with a rotisserie chicken or fish cakes. In fact, I made my first salad of the season today!

Despite my lack of cooking ability (or willingness) I need to emphasize that a)my methods do not cost a fortune and b)we eat very, very well. So, if you are the type to slave in the kitchen for hours on end, good for you. I seriously could not be bothered, even though I grew up in a house where there was a lot of emphasis on the importance of The Home Cooked Meal. Even today, whenever my mother cooks dinner for us (always a treat!), she invites us over for 5pm, but starts cooking at noon. I am not even kidding. I do not take after her! (I should say here in her defense that my kids love my mom’s cooking, and Zac always says that it is so much better than mine because she “makes everything from scratch“. I feel that this phrase sounds as if it is rehearsed, and wouldn’t put coaching-a-six-year-old past my mother!)

The point of all this is that I am never done looking for shortcuts when it comes to food prep. As I discover new ones (maybe other suppliers? or new dishes?) I will post them on the blog. If you have any tips or links, do share.

Sunday Lunch:

A summer salad. One of the few dishes I will actually spend time making!

A shopping day, all to myself. Didn’t buy a thing.

1.
I have had the work version of cabin fever for the past week, so fooled myself into thinking I want to go to Brooklyn Mall and shop. Luckily, neither kid was interested in joining me, and Craig had errands to run so it was just me. Let’s just give you the TL;DR version: didn’t buy a thing.

I think my aversion to shopping was enhanced by the Kondo philosophy of only surrounding yourself with things that bring you joy. This manifested itself properly last December, when I got a bee in my bonnet and chucked out/donated half of all my (and the kids’) possessions. I am not exaggerating here…we got rid of tons and tons of things. And all I could think of was how much money I had wasted but how much “free-er” I feel by giving all the junk away.

Some of the crap that hit the bins

And now, it takes a LOT to convince me to add anything to the contents of my house, or my wardrobe or even my bookshelf. I’m still a sucker for stationery and magazines (but not women’s magazines!). Usually I take the approach of …if I love it, I put it back and see if I love it enough to make a conscious effort to come and buy it the next day. So there were a coupe of things like that today:

  • A round cutting board from Boardman’s, marked down to R100 which is basically free. I jumped at it, but then after spending five minutes in the store I wasn’t sure if I was buying it because of the price, or because I really needed it. So I left it, and …we’ll see tomorrow.
  • A summer scarf at Poetry. I love scarves, because I like the option of covering my neck because that is where I usually feel the cold, even on a summery day. And this scarf had gorgeous colours, and I really loved it. So I will probably go back to buy it.
  • Apple Watch casings. I didn’t know these existed! Basically, they change the color of the case, which really appeals to me because mine is black, which is just too harsh sometimes. I would definitely have bought these on the spot, but today was the one day I did NOT wear my watch, and I wasn’t sure if I had the 38mm or the 42mm one. (Later, I realised I could have just checked on my iPhone Watch app). So I asked the salesguy to keep it for me, and I will def be back tomorrow to buy them! (Cheap too! R350 for 3 covers).

2.
I didn’t want to waste the opportunity of me-time, so I went to Tashas and had their divine custard slice (available only on weekends at Brooklyn) and a coffee shake. Yum yum!!!

Custard Slice from Tasha’s

3.
Starbucks opened in Brooklyn! This looks like a seriously awesome place to work when I don’t want to be at home or in the office. I suspect I am going to make it a daily “coffee-after-school-drop-off” thing. I will take 90 minutes to drink a coffee and catch up on emails and stuff. Maybe have some coffee meets too.

I didn’t actually go to the Starbucks today (Tashas, above!) so will probably take Micole there this evening. She loves it.

4.
Since Craig dropped me off at the mall, I decided to Uber back (I could just walk, it’s about 1.5km! But I had some Woolies groceries). To cut a long story short: I really struggled with pick-up because a)the app does not allow you to determine where in the Mall you want to be picked up and b)their designated pick up point is just opposite the metered taxis, so the driver refused to even consider stopping! It was a royal pain in the butt, and once again raises the issue of …WHERE IS THE POLICE???? Or the Uber intelligence, for that matter. Sigh.

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