Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Wellness Wednesday #14 and Home Management Binder

Hello Everyone! I bet half my readers are surrounded by snow and the other half are in pouring rain! We are in the second group. I don't mind too much, because soon enough we will be facing that triple digit mark on the thermometer again!

Today I am excited to announce that my weight is at 317#! Yeah! Finally I am seeing a drop again, although I shouldn't complain since I am still not dieting. However, it was really disappointing to see the scale go up 5# last week. In all honesty, it was tempting not to report it. But I started blogging this as a way to work through my weight, health and past weight loss issues and to encourage others along the way. With that in mind I thought it would be best to be honest because I know I am not the only one that will face that. In reality, it looks like my weight will probably go up once a month whether I like it or not. The victory for me through this experience was not giving up after seeing the weight gain. In the past I would have thought to myself, "What's the use? I might as well eat what I want!"

So, has anyone else hit a plateau in your weight loss, desire to exercise or ambition in cooking healthier? I know you are all pursuing different health goals - how are you coming along in yours? Are there any topics that we should discuss here on Wellness Wednesday that would be encouraging to you in your journey? I have many ideas for here and my Journey blog that I would like to explore further. Don't forget to visit My Journey To Wholeness if you are interested in further discussions or Recipes! My brain has been full of ideas but not enough time!

Where I could use prayers and encouragement is to keep going with my exercising. The exercise is not too strenuous, but getting up at 5:30AM to accomplish it, is! LOL I have a hard time getting to sleep early enough and so find myself dragging. I have continued my daily morning Bible readings and do find that that will make a difference in my attitude for the day.

The next couple Wednesdays I would like to talk about economical and practical ways to work healthier eating and living into your lifestyle. That is the biggest complaint I hear: "Gee, I'd like to, but I just can't afford it!" Well, it would be easy for me to say, "Can you afford chemotherapy?" "Can you handle your children if you are chronically ill?" "Do you want your children to be poisoned?" All these things are true and bear a large price. However, they don't help when your are a stay at home mom making the buck stretch until the next pay day.

Reality is that organic and "natural" products do cost more, sometimes 2-4x the amount of their non--healthy alternatives. On the other hand, junk foods and packaged foods add up. What we have found is that some things in our budget have "flip-flopped". We pay a little more for one thing but we use something else less or not at all. In the end our food budget remains the same even though we have been shopping at Whole Foods Market, our local Natural Food Co-Op and other local healthy resources.

What makes it all work, is careful planning. This will take some extra time in your day, but it will help keep the cost and waste down. So today I want to talk to you about my home management binders. What works for me may not work for you. I spent time on the web looking at different ladies binders. It was really interesting surfing as I looked at books from women of all different faiths and backgrounds - amazing how much we share in common in our daily lives! I'll include some links at the end of the post. Remember, don't throw out the baby with the bath water, glean what works for you!

Here is a picture of my three binders. I find that I am an "information gatherer" so I knew I would need more space than just one notebook binder. I decorated my binders with scrapbooking paper I had at home and printed out my titles and other information using a font called CK Windsong which came from my Creating Keepsakes font CD for scrapbooking. You probably already have a font you like. You don't have to get too fancy. Using what you have is very practical and you can still personalize it.

This is our family binder and I won't go into details on this today as it doesn't relate to our topic. But, in this binder I keep information on each person in the family (birth certificates, important paper, medical info) and our cat, Abbie. The binders are made by Avery and are the "deluxe" ones which have a D ring. If you are purchasing a binder that you will use on a regular basis, you really don't save money getting a cheap O ring binder. You may already have a binder at home, especially those of us who home school and have kids. Another great idea would be to make a fabric book cover. I coordinated my three binders with a similar style and the same font. This is just personal preference and stems from my journalism and scrapbooking training.

Are you still wondering how this applies to saving money and creating a healthy life? Well, professional planners and organizers recommend planning out your food and meals, coordinating them with your recipes, to make a concise and accurate shopping list. How many times have you gone to the store and purchased repeat items but forgotten something that you really need? This happens to me, even when I do have a shopping list! Truth be told, I don't have a good grasp on what is really available in my own pantry.

Many people will recommend that you go through your pantry before starting a weight loss diet or a health transformation and remove all the "sinful" items. I half agree! We removed items that were really obviously bad - loaded with MSG, chemicals, high fructose corn syrup etc. The reason we removed those was that not only were they bad for us, but they make chemical changes in the body that even sometimes make you eat more or negate the healthy changes you make. Who wants to work hard to be "good" only to find your work ruined? On the other hand there were many products that we will not replace again but were not real bad offenders, e.g. non-organic products and canned foods.

I feel this is a personal choice that each must make. We have been eating more out of the pantry and using what we have and that saves money too. I tend to be a hoarder and that has both good and bad side effects! It is going to take some practice for me to get used to planning out my meals ahead of time and shopping according to a specific list. Unlike moral rules, which I believe are absolutes, some of these organizing rules are okay to be broken. For instance when one of your favorite products is on sale for 1/2 off, it would be prudent to purchase some even if it is not on your list this trip. Another example would be walking through the produce department and finding something fresh and lovely that is in season. These types of variances do not make a huge impact on the budget. What does is purchasing "willy nilly" without intent, having too much of some things and not enough of others, leaving you sometimes without the necessary ingredients to make normal meals. Then you have to go and spend more money to make up for your lack of planning.

In the real world, does anyone follow their monthly menu plan to the T? I doubt it and I seriously doubt that I will ever accomplish that. But I do think it will give me some structure and a framework within which I can work to create consistently healthy, balanced meals for my family while keeping an eye on the budget. Also being organized in general saves time. I don't know anyone who can't use more time!

In the front of my binder and in certain sections I have placed these special sheet protectors which are made to take things in and out easily. I plan to use this for pages that need to be filed, coupons, recipes to try etc. The sections are made using Avery sheet protectors with divider tabs. They are hard to find and cost a little more, but they are wider and can be used when your pages are in sheet protectors (which makes them wider). Normal tabs do not work when using sheet protectors. These come in 5 and 8 subject packages. For my kitchen binder I used 8. Another Avery product is an extra wide tab divider, which is paper and the tab can be written on with a Sharpie. I chose the sheet protector format because then I can put a picture in.

One of the funnest, but time consuming parts of setting up my binder, was choosing the pictures. There is a lot of clip art and different types of art on the net. I chose some paintings by Carl Larsson, one of my favorite artists. Recently I saw a post on Little Jenny Wren where she had received a Larsson calendar and was reminded of how much I like his watercolors. He was a contemporary to my great, great Grandma, Hilda Augusta Landgren Jansson/Johnson who came to America as a young mother from Sweden, so I feel like I get a little glimpse into what her life must have been like before she came to Michigan and later Washington. You can purchase his art at Scandinavian Treasures. The first picture on the front is titled "God's Peace" which I thought was appropriate. It is his wife and child in their kitchen.

The first section will be for meal planning and menus. This picture is called "Boarding House" but I felt it was appropriate as she is setting the table.

Next comes shopping information. This will include lists of what products I purchase where and other information related to how and where I shop. There is a protector sleeve here for coupons, store ads etc. and I will also put my shopping lists here until I go to the store. This picture is "Christmas".

This is another painting of the Larsson kitchen and is the divider for my recipes. In this section I will keep my constantly used recipes in sheet protectors. At the bottom of each recipe I will write out a shopping list, listing how much of certain ingredients are necessary to purchase. e.g. 3 cans tomato sauce, 1 onion etc. So that when I have that recipe on the menu I can look at a quick glance and see what I will need to buy for that recipe and add to the shopping list for that week.

Currently I am learning a lot about bread baking so I will include helpful information and recipes here.

And something I am working on is making up a master pantry list. That is, a list of every seasoning, spice, condiment or food that we ever use. I have found different pantry lists online but none seem to suit. For example, Martha Stewart's list has things like Vodka and different types of wines that we never use in cooking. Other home maintenance binder sites list processed food products on their lists, which we also don't use. So, I am trying to gather a list from what I see in my cupboards and anything on these other lists that is appropriate. In addition I am looking at what is necessary to have in advance for a family of five in case of emergency or disaster.

There are so many tidbits, equivalency charts and different kinds of information that are helpful, so I made this reference section.

This section might be wishful thinking at the time, but I do hope to one day have my own organic fruit and vegetable garden. I am starting the research now and this section will be for when I plan that.

And the last section, in my Kitchen binder is the "Idea" section. I always have them floating around in my brain but this will help contain some of them!

I know this is a long post, but I wanted to go quickly through my home binder as well since good planning overall helps with time/money management and the ability to develop a healthy lifestyle. It does take time to implement changes!

Here is the opening page with Larsson's "Outdoor Breakfast" painting. I forgot to mention that I printed out the tabs on the same vanilla heavy paper that I used to print out the divider pages and I used the same CK Windsong font.

On the left is a sheet I printed out with our address and phone number along with some verses of Scripture that are guidelines in our family life. The right side displays the divider section for calendar pages and schedules.

Here is a neat picture of Larsson's wife ironing linens and it marks the beginning of the Cleaning and Chores section where I will put out the lists of all the work I need to get done, the kids' chores and other information I need for cleaning.

The contact section will contain emergency numbers, numbers of frequently called people and others such as businesses and church numbers which we use all the time. As I typed this I realized I should put one of those special protectors in here to place the church directory in for easy access.

In the reference section I will keep information such as cleaning formulas (we are working on "going green" this year) and any other household helpful information.

The last section is for all the things that don't fit into the other categories. One thing is a gift list. I think it will definitely save money if I plan ahead on gift giving when possible.

Phew! If you are reading here, you should be congratulated. This was the longest post I've ever written - I'll try not to do that again. Next week I want to talk about a few more practical ways to change over to a healthy lifestyle more economically. If you have any suggestions or ideas, I would love to hear them too! And as usual, if you leave a comment, I will be praying for you in your wellness journey too. Thanks for reading. Information links listed below:

Sparrow's Nest Book Shop has forms and planning ideas. This is a Lulu shop for The Sparrow's Nest.

Making 72 Hour Kits

With The Fruit of Her Hands Individual Pages (free pdfs)

With The Fruit of Her Hands Whole Notebooks A completely organized package of pages that you can purchase reasonably. They are nicely done and I purchased them in black (costs less to print). I have only used some of the pages, but they did help in organizing the order and what type of things I want in my binder. As of today, they are still 40% off.

With The Fruit of Her Hands personal notebook This is a nice tour of a notebook which helps you see how to set one up.

Susan Godfrey She also sells ebook forms which you can find on the left hand side of her blog. There is always something interesting on her blog related to frugality, homemaking etc. She also has an ebook of recipes based on the concepts of Nourishing Traditions, which I might try out.

Treasure In Earthen Vessels A beautiful example of how you can make up your own forms and binder.

Mary Ann Therese She has three good posts on how she organizes her binder. Follow the links at the bottom of the post to go to part 2 and 3.

Donna Young If you have not found this site, it's a treasure trove! I have printed all kinds of calendars and schedules from this site. They are FREE pdfs! Look on the upper left for a link for household planners. There are also a lot of helps for homeschooling here as well.

Organized Home A commercial site with free forms.

Home Management Binder A site with tours of different ways to do a notebook and lots of links. I think this is a part of the Organized Home site.

Large Family Mothering This site has an excellent example of how to make a fabric cover for your notebook, similar to a Bible cover. Click on the pics to see larger.

Lizzie's Home This binder has a lot of different categories, samples of schedules and includes a weight loss section and a family cookbook.

Noble Womanhood This is an article on how to use the notebook concept for different facets of your family life and keep a lot of stray stuff corraled and organized.

If these ideas were not enough, just try "googling", you will find more! The idea is certainly not original with me. I frequent many homemaking blogs because I feel like I am filling in the gaps in my own home education and want to pass on good things to my three children, my son included. Some of these blogs and sites hold different ideas than I do, but as I said earlier, glean what is good to use for you as well all have different needs. If any of you have home binders/notebooks - I would love to see them!

Now, if I can get off this wonderful machine, I can put to use some of those new home making skills I'm learning! :-)


Teresa said...

I do a monthly menu and a once a month shopping trip. We do end up going to the store for milk, fresh fruits and veggies, etc, but it helps so much to do monthly shopping!

One thing we do is keep a running grocery list on the refrigerator. When we run out of an item or are running low, we add it to the list so we don't forget. This helps a lot!

I enjoyed looking at your binders. You are much more organized than I am! I'm really enjoying your blog and finding new ideas!

Thia said...

As for those page protectors, I love them b/c I can use a dry erase marker to write on them and it wipes off when I am done! My binder is ready for an update, so I thank you very much for all the links! Right now, it's just the bare minimum needed to keep the house clean and running, but I know it could be so much more.

Lynette said...

Congrats. on your weight loss!

Love the binders. So pretty...I think my CM Binder needs some sprucing up, since I lug it around everywhere I go. That is house & church.

Amy said...

You are doing so good and such an inspiration! I love the books!!!

I came to tell you that I tagged you - hope you find time to play! :)

Charlotte said...

Way To Go!!!
You are doing a super job, and I'm inspired.
Arch, I didn't exercise this week. It's been below zero and my fingers are always cold. I've been curled up under blankets...but maybe that's OK as it's just this week (rationalizing, are we?)
Praying, prayers appreciated.

Theresa said...

Thank you so much for the great information. I don't know that I'll ever get that organized, but it was inspirational!

Danielle said...

Wow! That is a ton of great info. I'm going to have to look into it. There are so many ways I'd love to be more organized and working on some of this could be just the right thing.

Tabitha said...

Wow, you are getting so organized. The notebooks are lovely. Don't let the plateau worry you. It is necessary for your body to have these times of readjusting to the lower weight. Plateaus can be so discouraging though. Hang in there. You have encouraged me to work harder to improve my health.

Elizabeth Joy said...

I love your beautiful notebooks. I'm inspired. I"m going to have to update the look of mine.

Lizzie said...

Hi! It's Lizzie from Lizzie's Home - I just found your blog via a link in my stat counter.

Thanks for mentioning Lizzie's Home - I love to discover new places that link back to me. I noticed you were linking to my first post on my Home Management Binder. I've since upgraded (it's a continuous process, LOL) if you want to pop in and say hi :)

(if this doesn't wrap properly you might need to cut and paste into your address bar)

Your blog is lovely, btw :)