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Organizing part 1

As part of my efforts to organize and streamline my house and life. My mother and I are planning a freezer cooking session for next Friday. It should be a good thing for the both of us. My recipes are for six servings and she only needs one or two servings. Often at our house we only have 4 or five eating dinner as the older kids have work and activities. Do they eat the good home cooked dinner when they get home? No, they often eat at work. This plan should work as we will add up the receipts and then divide by six so we know the cost per person.

I used to cook freezer meals all the time when the kids were little. It sure cut down on the pre-prep mess and saved a ton of time. I don’t need to have freezer meals all of the time just two to three meals a week. We enjoy cooking so the other meals aren’t going to be a problem. Just the times when we all leave at 7 and don’t get home until 5 and head out again at 6 or 7. That is currently about  three days a week. So this will help Mom and I have hot nutritious food when we don’t feel like cooking. It is a huge peace of mind thing! lol

Our recipes and shopping list are from the http://www.saving dinner.com website. I am not clear headed enough to plan menus, make the enormous shopping list and then head to the store and do the shopping to cook the next day. I have done the meal planning, menu writing, recipe hunting, grocery shopping, and grocery list making for 30 freezer meals in one cooking session for the month in the past. I know my time limitations and that will not be happening this time.

We bought the 20 meal plan so we will have a variety to pick from. As one of the kids has food allergies we will drop all the recipes that have tree nuts  and fish unless it is salmon or tuna or we will make substitutions.

I will e-mail mom the recipe names and quantities of some ingredients so she can chop veggies and get a few of the items at her country grocery store. I will get the rest the day before while the kids are in classes.  I think that this is going to work well it will give us twenty freezer meals for about three a week for 5-6 weeks. A huge time and budget saver for the both of us. Stay tuned so you can see how this works out!

Here are a couple of websites for you to try for yourself!

http://www.dinnersinthefreezer.com/

http://www.amazon.com/Dont-Panic-Dinners-Freezer-Great-Tasting/dp/0800730550

http://www.southernliving.com/food/whats-for-supper/easy-freezer-meals-00400000009133/

http://food.yourway.net/my-plan-for-stocking-the-freezer/

talk to you later,

Karen

Do you cook and put meals in the freezer for meals later in the week or month? How many do you prepare at a time?

I am just curious!

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Happy New Year: Resolutions, do you make them?

Year after year, since I was an early teenager I have made and broken more resolutions. They started simple and impossible at the same time. Resolutions  like be nicer to my brother, not to drink so many cokes, get more exercise, etc… They progressed to keep my house cleaner, loose the extra pounds, be more careful with my money, and the list is endless. I am sure that you have done this as well.

Here are my New Year’s promises to myself and my loved ones that I hope are measurable and able to graph or chart. Of course the deeply personal ones I am not going to list on the internet for everyone to read! :0) But I will share the others with you.

1.  To read the three non-fiction books about internet marketing that my DH. has bought and are sitting around the house. Yes, they are technical books about twitter, blogging, and marketing but there has to be some good in there that I will share with you! I hate reading non-fiction so this will be the medicine in the whole picture. I would rather eat parsnips (which I personally loath) than read a technical book. He is an engineer so I am sure you get the picture of the kind of book he would buy.

2. To blog on a more consistent basis, Maybe nothing more than a few pictures of what I am currently working on but fun things to share at least three times a week.

3. To continue the Eat to live variation of dietary changes we are pursuing to fight the fibromyalgia and arthritis that I currently live with.  The side benefit of loosing weight is always a good thing, which means shopping and new clothes! How can I not smile at that :0).

4. To increase my product line to include different kinds of items that still carry the Chocolate Dog Studio look!

5. To continue to promote my home state of Oklahoma and to show off our creative people and products.

6. To do better record keeping for my business!

7.  To do a craft show and maybe three or four.

Ok that is the business promises.

Since like you I wear several hats here are my personal and family goals.

1. to do a better job at recycling at our house

2. to have family nights once a week for those that can be here! Our teens are working and their schedules and social lives interfere with this on a regular basis.

3. to help them to keep their schoolwork organized much better (yes, we home school!)

4. to think of myself as an artist and to get over my self consciousness of using that label. Yes, I create artsy things and art encompasses a large variety of  items. Surely there is room for me and the things I create in the art world.

5. to garden more and spend more time outside

6. to make things beautiful, again. I guess that this would mean cutting down on clutter, cleaning, sorting, organizing, rearranging and sharing things with others. Things have fallen into disrepair the last two or three years before diagnosis.

7. to find a way to share my gifts with others in a way that is tangible to me. Hmmm, what does this mean?  I believe that God created us and knows our gifts so He must have a way for me to share my gifts with those around me. As these giftings evolve and change according to the seasons of our lives, I think what we share with others also changes and evolves.

8. to find ways to tangibly show love and appreciation for those that my life touches. Another way to put that would be to appreciate those around me and show that appreciation in ways that they will find special, meaningful and encouraging.

9.  To do a better job at planning for everyday living. Quite simply this means to do what it takes to keep the house organized, laundry done, people and pets fed and me reasonably rested and cheerful. This is a juggling act as I am still learning to live with some limitations. It will mean saying no and yes, keeping scheduled with our activities and preparing for the future weeks when I feel good. Things like bulk cooking or once a month cooking, shopping lists prepared with menus in mind, short cut cooking, keeping the kids working on their chores to cut down on the daily chaos that living with three dogs, four kids and four different work schedules (possibly five) and four different drivers can do to a family. Wow, that makes me tired just thinking about it.

10. to keep the family calendar updated and running in full view of everyone.

AH HA, I made it to ten, so I can stop now because you and I know the list is endless.

Now off to accomplish something so that the New Year actually comes in with a good hot meal and reasonable clean clothing! lol

What are you resolutions or promises to yourself and your family? Care to share them with me.

’til later,

Karen

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Christmas gifts for teachers

Do you ever wonder what to give people that you don’t know very well? People that you see every day but you really don’t know. People that deserve recognition but you do not know well enough for a more personal gift choice. There are many options out there for you to explore.  People like your children’s teachers, co-workers, music teachers, the list is endless.

http://www.etsy.com/listing/59512672/bird-in-flight-swallow-necklace

Jewelry is usually a good choice. Gift cards or gift certificates are always a good choice.

http://www.etsy.com/listing/58720437/black-and-white-crochet-fun-fur-ladies

Scarves are also a great choice, hand made scarves are a wonderful way to show that you care about them.

Candles are a great option for most women, especially hand made candles from a small artisan shop.

You know that these candles are made in America.

http://www.etsy.com/listing/63455425/chocolate-chip-pecan-cookie-soy-8oz

I have purchased from Monicandles and she has great candles.

http://www.facebook.com/pages/PepperCrate-Candles/107192129350104

PepperCrate candles have a great scent and her candles are local! So for a quick gift (for those Oklahomans) her candles are a great buy.

Last but not least for the Coffee addicts in the world.

You can also buy a cup of their favorite brew wrap a fun cup cozy around it and present it with a cheerful Merry Christmas!

http://www.etsy.com/listing/62060050/santa-cup-sleeve-or-cosy-with-red-button

Stay out of the big box stores and buy from artists and artisans that take pride in their work. You will be glad you did, so will the gift recipient.

Have a very merry Christmas this year and don’t stress the gift buying.

’till next time

when we talk about inexpensive Christian gift ideas!

Karen

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The Studio at Chocolate Dog Studio!

I know that you are wondering what the studio look like. Well, I recently  moved the studio into it’s own room and here it is; a few camera shots of the true studio (well, minus all the projects that normally sit out on the counters!)

 The Studio at Chocolate Dog Studio!

The yarn bin was made out of old coffee cans. It works quite well. The dolls were given to me when I was little by my Dad. Underneath this is my cutting and packaging center.

The Studio at Chocolate Dog Studio!

  The blue trays work well as organizers for all of the tiny pieces I put on gift tags and cards.

The Studio at Chocolate Dog Studio!

 The sewing center is full of fabric organized by color. These are the cozy fabrics. The larger pieces are in a big 50 gallon plastic bin.  My studio doubles as our guest room so you don’t see the futon on the opposite wall, nor do you see the computer station on DH’s computer desk. These photos were taken by OldHound.etsy.com. He is our oldest son, he also painted the large painting of the cat you see in one of the photos.

Thanks for reading!

’till later, Karen