Sunday, September 26, 2010

Martha Screw-up: The guilt of hiring help

So as the average reader may have noticed, posting has slowed down here. The main reason: I'm gone for 12 hours a day, and I tend to spend my weekend doing as close to nothing as possible.

Now as you may have noticed in my profile (or I may have mentioned it before), I'm a teacher. High school, specifically. The school is an hour away from where we currently live, so 2 of those hours are round-trip travel daily. I'm also teaching all low-level classes, which makes for a very demanding day - I literally do not sit down from when the bell rings to when the bell rings to dismiss class. Yeah. I come home EXHAUSTED, and it's been affecting our level of cleanliness like whoa. Not that I was that clean to begin with, but still...

Another concern with me being gone 12 hours a day, and The Hubs gone for at least 10 (he has a half-hour commute, and he carpools since we're down to one car), is our poor sweet Daisy dog. She was seriously staying in the apartment for 10 hours a day without a chance to pee! We noticed she was refraining from eating or drinking until we were home to avoid having an accident (which, while showing how smart she is, isn't good for her). We finally looked at our finances and managed to find a neighbor who was willing to walk Daisy for half an hour every weekday in the middle of the day. We're happy because it gives her some fresh air and a chance to take a wee, and since we're paying her, we also have her take her on a good 15-20 minute walk rather than just out to the grass.

The reason it took us so long was partly financial, but partly GUILT. We are perfectly capable of walking our dog ourselves, after all! We are lazy people by nature, granted, but we draw the line at paying people to do what we should be able to do! Well, the welfare of our dog is what pushed us to finally look past our pride and seek a dog-walker, and Daisy has never been happier. She is FULL of P&V every night almost, because she got some attention and outside time that we couldn't give her when she needed it, and are too tired to give her as much as she deserves when we are home (we take her around our apartment complex at night and play with her, but it's not enough when she's alone 10 hours a day).

The point of this is, why are we so prideful? I mean, in this situation, everyone wins: Our neighbor loves Daisy and is a somewhat-lonely retiree who now gets paid to spend half an hour with a cute dog everyday. We can work without the fear that our poor dog is sad and fighting off an exploding bladder. Daisy gets out of the house AND human company, and it breaks up the monotony of her 10+ hour day of loneliness. SO WHY DO WE FEEL SO GUILTY?

Personally, the freedom it gives me outweighs the guilt in this case, and it benefits our "child" the most which furthers smooshes down the guilt level. But any other kind of services, like housekeeping? OMG. The guilt at the mere idea of it is overwhelming... I feel like I should be at the point where I WANT to keep my house clean on my own. It's not like the want isn't there, it is, but the flesh is like, "Do I have to?" Or, since Hyperbole and a Half puts it so much better:
Artistic rendering of my sadness courtesy of Hyperbole and a Half. Please don't sue, I'm broke and simply wish I was as talented.
I have a feeling most of you feel my pain. xD The Hubs is becoming MUCH better about the cleaning than I am, which A. makes me wonder how he's a boy who's 1.5 years YOUNGER than me and yet maturing at a faster rate and B. also makes me feel WORSE. If we could afford it, though, even once a month... oh man, it'd be SWEET. I'd feel a little guilty, but ultimately the stress release would be worth it. The Hubs feels differently, though. He's very prideful, and the idea of paying someone to do something he can do himself makes me twitch. Maybe when we have a kid and are even MORE exhausted he'll consider a monthly deep-cleaning... as it is, we mainly deep-clean for company. (So come November, this apartment will SPARKLE for Thanksgiving!) But still, WHY DO WE FEEL THE GUILT? The cleaners are willing because they get paid, we don't have to stress about it and feel guilty for letting it get so bad... ugh. It's a vicious cycle... and a cycle that shall remain cyclical until I somehow convince The Hubs it's not such a shameful thing. ;D

Sidenote: My mom saw our messy apartment this weekend and said it actually gets better every time she visits, and smells better, too! I wasn't sure whether to feel proud or still embarrassed.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

The Non-Processed Project/ Meal Planning - less FAIL, more WIN!

The weird thing about having a job that actually pays money is that I assumed our finances would go back to awesomeness once we got my first paycheck (in addition to The Hubs paychecks, naturally). Twice the money = back to normal, right?

Well, wrong. Turns out we are not as good with money as we thought. Partly based on circumstances from this past year, but partly our own spendy natures. Our biggest issue, as I've mentioned before, is we eat out of convenience. A lot. However, I'm trying to get back on top of it - I've had good weeks and bad weeks. The "formula" I'm working with is slow-cooking on the weekend, 1 meal "out", and 1 meal "frozen" - that leaves 4 dinners that I need to be easy-peasy, as I'm still the only one cooking (while I'm also the only one gone for 10+ hours).

Last week was a BAD week. I had a great plan, but I just didn't take into account how TIRED I would be for a few of the days. I didn't get home until 8pm 3 times last week (on the plus side, two nights I also had free dinner provided for me, so that helped in the wallet area), and then the one day I was home early and PLANNING to cook, but I was emotionally exhausted. So I only actually cooked once. We still ate from home (sandwiches, leftovers from Sunday, frozen meals), so it was still cheaper than usual, but it made me feel like a failure.

Same with eating Non-Processed food. While I am still reading labels and have cut back on putting bad stuff in my body, I'm still purchasing without thinking when it's a last-minute/non-planned thing and eating out more than I'd like... and since my logical side is drowned out by my illogical side's yelling, I don't hear my logical side saying, "Calm down, you've been eating this way for 20+ years, it's going to take some trial and error" while my illogical side screams "OMG YOU SUCK, HOW DARE YOU NOT BE PERFECT ALREADY."

Well, I'm deciding I'm only a failure if I don't try, try again. That's where I usually fail as well - I'm not 100% perfect, so I settle for 100% failure instead of, say, the 65% of perfection that it was. So we're trying again! Continuing to purchase better-for-me foods, and being better about watching what I purchase on the run. For the meal planning this week, I followed the same formula and actually repeated a lot of what I intended to cook last week for this week (which is fine, 'cuz I don't have a TON of keeping-me-late things to do this week, thank goodness).

Since I'm always looking for meal plan ideas, I figure it would hurt to share my plan for this week with y'all! Here it is:

Sunday night (tonight):
  • Crockpot BBQ chicken for sandwiches (new-to-me recipe - a little heavy on the ketchup, but overall tasty!)
  • Garlic fries from Trader Joe's (pretty accurate to the ballpark version - Adding Parmesan cheese makes it delish)
Monday night:
  • Freezer food (I'm having dinner with a friend, The Hubs will fend for himself)
Tuesday night:
  • Pasta primavera using pre-made Alfredo sauce, broccoli/cauliflower, and shrimp. Been craving it something fierce.
Wednesday night:
  • Taco Soup! I FLIPPIN' LOVE taco soup, and I've been craving it. NOMNOMNOM.(I actually don't include the tomatoes or chillies, and add a can of black beans - still delish! NOM NOM NOM.)
Thursday night:
  • Oven-"fried" chicken (I prefer thighs, The Hubs prefers breasts - I make both)
  • Microwave mashed potatoes - I'm using Yukon Golds. I've yet to try it this way before, but I LOVE mashed potatoes; a chance to make them easily in 12 minutes as opposed to 30+? SOLD. 
Friday night:
  • Freezer or Night out!
Saturday night:
  • Crockpot layered dinner - steak and potatoes, mmm. Might make some veggies to go with it, haven't decided yet. And I feel we've earned some steak. 
As for breakfasts, still sticking with the fruit and yogurt parfaits (just bought some frozen berries to mix in with the frozen strawberries I still need to use up!), and for lunch this week I'm finishing up some lunchmeat and then sticking with PB&J's. I'm getting tired of sammiches, though, so any suggestions are welcome for other easy lunch options (other than leftovers).

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

iPhone Apps for the modern housewife

Ok, so I am totes addicted to my iPhone. A. Dict. TED. I don't have an iPhone 4 or anything, but I really, really like my 3GS. My main use of it (other than as a, you know, PHONE) is all the apps. The Hubs and I combined have over 100 in our iTunes. I'd say about 70+% are mine! I mainly use it for games, but there are some awesome "lifestyle" aids that I've come to love.

"Big Oven" - this one needs internet to work, but it's my favorite quick-recipe search. They're user-submitted, and so far every recipe I've tried has been simple and tasty, which is my kind of thing, esp. when I'm in a hurry!

"Real Simple To-Do lists" - Ok, I'll admit I don't use this one as much as I could (or probably should), but I will admit it's a good place to start when it comes to tackling big projects. They have a bunch of "to-dos" to start you thinking, and you can add your own. I used it to organize my 90's party, and it did help a bit! Plus it's free. Can't turn down free, right? Actually, all of these are free apps. Heh.

"Lose It!" - Now I will be the first to admit that I haven't used this consistently in a LOOOONG time. BUT when I was on track, I loved this thing. It's easy to add recipes and ingredients (if a little time-consuming - but not as time-consuming as other apps I've tried), and it has a chart in the app to show you your progress, which I kind of love. A good, long database of already-entered items, too! IF you feel your beautiful visage needs a little more beautification via weight-loss (I think you look great, BTW), it's a handy app.

"Mad Men: Cocktail Culture" - I think I've established that I'm a rabid "Mad Men" fan. Yes, I downloaded the free Mad Men app they advertised. Now, it actually costs money to "make" a drink other than a gimlet (but I love gimlets, so I'm set), but all the RECIPES for the cocktails are free! It's a GREAT retro cocktail resource, and every drink comes with additional trivia facts; I'm a trivia junkie, so I love that. I totally want to have a retro cocktail party and use this app to make all the drinks. xD

"Around Me" - My mom turned me on to this app. It's AWESOME if you're in an unfamiliar area and want to find a restaurant, gas station, library, WHATEVER. You can either search by category or the store you're looking for, and then it'll transfer to the standard "Maps" app for iPhones to show you how to get there from your current location! It's been a big help, I love it.

I didn't get paid to endorse any of these (and TBH, most of the apps I have are games, I use my iPhone like a Gameboy, haha), they're just a few of my favorites. Any fellow iPhone users have any apps I can try?

Sunday, September 5, 2010

The Non-Processed Project update 1

Ok, so this project is going to be harder than I thought, haha.

When I'm tired, I'm susceptible. For example, Monday I stopped for gas before starting my 1-hour commute home, and without thinking I grabbed a bag of Funyuns and a bottle of Diet Pepsi Cherry Vanilla. I looked at the bag of Funyuns, and OMG THE CHEMICALS. I was a little shocked and disgusted with myself, but the damage was done.

Also, now that I got paid, we've indulged in not cooking a little more than we should. So bad. I also forgot my breakfast and lunch one day, and ate the Instant Noodles I have in my desk as a backup for days like this. Again, CHEMICALS. But I'm not about to just waste them, either - they're there exactly for the reason I ate them: emergencies.

So, for this week the goal is to COOK AT HOME. We had our week/weekend of indulgence, and now it's time to get back on track - not just for health reasons, but for financial as well... I mean, really, eating out so much is throwing money away out of laziness, and now that we have two incomes we want to be responsible about it. Seriously, I could've bought the new book I want for the money I wasted on eating out - twice! Grr.

Which is part of why I'm attempting this non-processed project, to reassess my priorities. I put food over other joys in life, and I put BAD food over my health. Both are areas that need to change!


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