by Lark

DH and I had a brutal week a few weeks ago. Work was both high volume and high complexity, DH had 2 evening commitments, and one of the animals (and therefore one of our credit cards) wound up at the emergency vet, and everyone was fighting colds. By Friday night all I wanted to do was put on PJs at 6pm and have a glass of wine, but we had a friend’s birthday party to attend first. I woke up Saturday morning completely wrung out, and determined to spend the weekend recharging my batteries.

I ended up splitting my day into 4 parts. In the morning I puttered around the house, catching up on the laundry, paperwork, and general clutter that snuck in while I was distracted with the week. This went a long way to restoring my mood, since I’m definitely a person who needs outer order for inner calm. Then we all went out to lunch, which I love doing as a family on the weekends. After lunch I ran a couple errands, and bought the boys new basketballs. This was a strategic move on my part – when I got home from running errands they were thrilled to have new balls and spent the next 2 hours outside playing basketball wearing themselves out while I sat on the couch and read a book. When they came in, I spent another hour or 2 on general housework, and then a delightful hour cooking dinner while watching college basketball.

By evening, I felt a million times better. The house was back to general order, I’d had some downtime, and I’d had the double treat of a lunch date and a couple hours to myself reading.

When you’ve had an unusually exhausting week, how do you recharge to get your energy back?


A Different Way to Meal Plan

by Lark

For years I have done our weekly meal plan around our protein. Each week I jot down a chicken dish, a beef dish, a pork dish, a soup or seafood (depending on the season), and a pasta dish. We have pizza once each week, and that just leaves one night to go out, get take out or eat cereal for dinner. After I write down the main dish, I fill it in with whatever sides/veggies I can think of. It has been my standby system for at least 10 years, maybe more.

Lately, though, I’ve switched it up. Winter in the South has some of my favorite vegetables, and I’m finding that I’m planning more around what vegetables are available rather than the old system. I find I want to eat as many of my favorites as I can before the season passes. So, this week’s meal plan started like this:

Monday – Kale salad
Tuesday – Roasted Brussels sprouts
Wednesday – Black beans (okay, not a vegetable but one of my favorite foods, and I have such a good recipe for homemade, I love them)
Thursday – Sweet potatoes
Friday – Caesar salad

Once I knew what veggies I wanted to eat, I filled in the rest. Now the meal plan looks like this:

Monday – Kale salad, pan seared tuna, garlic rice
Tuesday – Roasted Brussels sprouts, pan fried chicken thighs (this meal needs something else – will probably add sweet potato biscuits because I have some in my freezer)
Wednesday – Black bean soup and cheese quesadillas
Thursday – Sweet potatoes, grilled pork chops (will probably add green beans this night as the boys don’t like sweet potatoes)
Friday – Caesar salad, pizza (will do homemade salad and DH will pick up the pizza on the way home)
Saturday – Oyster roast with friends

Next week I want to fit in broccoli and winter squash.

Totebaggers (that does NOT roll of the tongue as easily as “Jugglers” used to): what’s for dinner tonight at your house? Any great recipes to share? What are your favorite vegetables?

Sunday To-Dos

by Lark

As I’m typing this it’s early Sunday afternoon, and I’m working my way through my usual Sunday to-do list. We try to have a fair amount of downtime on Sundays, but I also try to spend at least a couple hours getting ready for the week. Here are the things I routinely do on Sunday to make the rest of the week easier:

1) Finish up the kid laundry. Adult and household laundry gets done throughout the week, but I try to make sure all kid laundry is done by Sunday afternoon, so they can put it away before bed. Because they wear uniforms, I’ve learned the hard way to start the week with a full supply.

2) Clean out the fridge. After breakfast on Sunday, I do a big clean out of the fridge, getting rid of all the bits and pieces from the previous week, and adding to the grocery list for things we’re running low on.

3) Meal plan and grocery shop. These days I sketch out a meal plan on Sunday morning, and it goes Sunday through Friday. Then I do a big grocery run. As soon as I get home, I season and prep any meat that will be used over the next few days, and have it ready to go in the fridge.

4) Prep smoothie bags. Our kids love smoothies in the mornings, so I make a week’s worth of pint sized ziplock freezer bags containing sliced bananas, strawberries, blueberries, and spinach. Those go in the freezer, and all I have to in the morning is grab a bag, dump it in the blender, and add yogurt and almond milk.

5) Long run. I try on Sundays to do my longest run of the week. (I use the term ‘long’ loosely – anywhere from 4 to 6 miles). This is the one time each week I run on my own (weekday runs are with a couple of girlfriends), so I use the time to think about the week ahead and generally get my head in the game for the upcoming week. It’s really a nice way to get that ever-elusive thinking time.

6) Work e-mails. Fridays are the one days my kids never have sports (at least for now, this could change for the winter season), so I actually like to work late on Fridays and make sure the week is completely put to bed before checking out. However, if something prevents that, then I do spend about an hour on Sunday cleaning out my inbox, attending to any small tasks, and preparing the Monday morning to do list. Then when I get to my desk on Monday, I’m ready to hit the ground running.

Do you guys have regular things you do on the weekends in preparation for the upcoming week?