Monday, January 01, 2007

Two Things to Start 2007

I suspect that 2007 is going to be one of those ‘build a foundation’ years. A slogging kind of year. A year of knuckling down and taking care of (sorely neglected) business.

Oh, joy.

However, as Edison pointed out, genius is only 1% inspiration – the other 99% is perspiration. When it comes to having Great and Glorious Plans, what this means is, for example, that in order to achieve {angels singing, light streaming from heaven} Early Retirement {/angels singing, light streaming from heaven}, one must have a weekly meal plan, a well-ordered pantry and not run around eating take-out when there’s perfectly good food bowing the shelves of the pantry. **yawn**

(This leaves aside the considerable health benefits of eating carefully planned, healthy meals as opposed to Chinese noodle dishes and pizza – another factor to consider when planning a successful early retirement. Would it not suck to work so hard for early retirement, only to start it out with triple bypass at only 50 due to excessive junk food consumption?!)

This mundane stuff is exactly the sort of thing I’ve been cheerfully ignoring all year. Things I’ve ignored because they are ‘boring’ or ‘tedious’ or ‘whatever’. Things that I’ve groused about, things that I’ve decided someone, uh, else should be dealing with, for me.

So I have two things with which I want to start 2007. Two things that I think, regardless of what my final plan may be, will fit in perfectly. The first is both the easiest and the hardest: the basic household chores that are “mine”.

I used to handle them with a kind of catechism, familiar to others who read Laura Ingalls Wilder’s books: Wash on Monday, Iron on Tuesday, Clean on Wednesday, Shop on Thursday, Special Projects on Friday, frolic on weekends.

Since I have the luxury of working from home about 95% of the time, I’m planning to use my lunch hour to do my chores. This does two things: it makes me take a lunch hour, which is something I haven’t necessarily been doing all year, and I have a crick in my back to prove it, and it lets me be done when I’m done.

I don’t want to be spending my precious weekends and evenings on {groan} housework. They are better spent doing anything from hanging out with the Denizens to reading a good book to doing something Big like clearing out the crawlspace (which, by the way, I make my husband do, because I have a completely irrational yet thoroughly engrained belief that if I ever, even once, poke my head up into that crawlspace, every black widow spider in the San Joaquin valley will immediately attach itself to my head and begin biting) or painting a bedroom or two.

The other thing I want to do is take monthly challenges. There are many, many areas of Den management that could use a little spit-n-polish, from the grocery bill to the way I’ve been stuffing toys into the toy box when it is so full it can be seen from space.

Which brings me to my first special challenge for 2007.

My pantry is a mess. I’ve got That Thing going, where I’ve bought a box of canned green beans about sixty times when what I was lacking was corn; oodles of sponges but no cleanser; cans of cranberry sauce which expired in 2003.

I want to spend the month of January clearing out the pantry. We spent the day today organizing and tossing out the stale, expired and otherwise nasty items. For the rest of the month, I’m going to arrange my menu plans around things we already have, using up all the meat and vegetables in the freezer, the canned beans, the dry beans and rice, and so forth and so on (and on, and on).

For the month of January, I’m on a food-buying diet. No matter how good the sale, I will resist the urge to stock up on anything. All meals are to be planned around what I already have in store – from the freezer to the garage shelves. Instead of spending $100+ a week on yet more canned beans, I hope to drop that down to under $40 for the next four weeks. The extra cash will be welcome right about now, as we enter a new year under-funded (as usual).

There is a strict “absolutely not and I don’t care how busy you are at work” kibosh on ordering in (or driving through, or picking up, or otherwise whipping out the wallet for) food not cooked in this house.

It’s ridiculous, it really is. People, I have so many bags of frozen peas-n-carrots out there, it defies the imagination. Not to mention how many one pound packages of ground beef I discovered lurking beneath a huge stack of hoagie rolls…

The problem is that I’ve become rather out of touch with what I have, and have been basically on auto-purchase (similar to auto-pilot, only costlier) for the last year. A month of buying nothing should fix the problem pretty darned fast, as well as helping me with my organizational issues out there.

I’m off to a good start. Today, for the first time in well over a year, I did the laundry from start to finish. From washer to dryer to final resting place, it’s all put away.

Tonight, we had a beer-basted beef roast (using up a roast and some of the Guinness left from Himself’s Big Birthday Bash) with hot buttered noodles and (guess what?) canned green beans. Tomorrow night, we’re having beef pot pie with (guess what?) peas-n-carrots and potatoes. I have a tiny smidgen of ironing to do (ah, the joys of holiday not-going-into-office-ness!) tomorrow, leaving plenty of time to read blogs and play Solitaire online make a menu plan and shopping list for Thursday.

This is the perspiration that ‘suddenly’ and ‘overnight’ results in miraculous result.

…I just hope I can keep up the momentum beyond these early days of 2007…


Anonymous said...

Ah, apparently I'm not the only mom with 4 children and the exact same housekeeping problems. I think I'll copy your food-buying diet, hubby will love me for it. Hopefully I can get my house in order for 2007--I have the same kind of goals. Enjoy your blog.

Kris said...

As usual, you manage to sum up my life quite neatly. However, hubbo is taking over grocery shopping and it should be quite interesting what it does to the finances. Oh he with no impulse control and a new freezer.