The Almighty Girl

I talk pretty regularly to McK about the things she enjoys, what she loves, what she is currently obsessed with and what she might want to be when she is older. Last week it was an author. This week it is a producer. Next week? Who knows.

I have never told her that she may make less, or have to work that much harder, simply because she is a girl. I have never told her because, knowing her, she would find that to be a ludicrous statement.

I certainly haven’t told her that if she enters a male-dominated field, like technology, not only will she get paid less, but she is more likely to be harassed and pushed out than many other fields. The GamerGate situation is one that leaves you feeling pretty hopeless for women in tech yet it is a topic I will likely have to broach with my 12 year old.

I’m not sure how to tell her about that.

How do you tell a 12 year old girl that simply because she loves video games and is amazing at them and might entertain working in that field, that she will be subject to potential ridicule, abuse, threats and constant intrusions into her life and the lives of her friends and family, just because she is a girl who can do what boys can, and do it better.

I know there are champions, both male and female, fighting the good fight for equality in those situations. And I can only hope that the boys she is in school with now, who grow up playing these games alongside her, will understand and promote that the tech sector is for everyone. I can only hope that if she chooses a field like tech, that by then the allies outweigh the bullies.

But more visible than that, and more talked about, is the equality in pay in virtually every professional field. I read an article today that detailed the fight that the US women’s national soccer team has taken on. I can only imagine the Canadian women’s team has it even worse.

“The World Cup pay skews so dramatically, the men earned $9 million for losing in their round of 16 in 2014, while the women earned $2 million for winning the entire tournament.”

Billie Jean King fought for equal pay at the US Open and in 1973, she got it. Venus Williams fought for equal pay at Wimbledon and in 2007, she got it.

The recent stories prompted by the Erin Andrews lawsuit. The Ghomeshi verdict. The comments on articles and tweets. They don’t give a gal much hope.

But I will continue to tell my girl, as I often do, that she can be and do anything she wants to. I will continue to foster and support her endeavors and her dreams. And I will continue to hope that the more Billie’s and Venus’ we have out there, the more USWNT voices that aren’t afraid to shout out loud, the less explaining I’ll have to do to my daughter.

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Meal Planning for Dummies

I am not a chef.

I believe I referenced this in my last post where I highlighted my ability to melt chocolate chips (honest moment: it took awhile to learn how to do that successfully without burning them or making them into solid, gritty piles of nothing).

So when I think of what to make for a weeks worth of dinners, I flounder a little. Add to that my child exists on pasta and my husband has the stomach of a most delicate flower, my options shrink.

I have a roster of “hits” that I can make knowing they will be eaten and appreciated. But even the most steadfast repeat-eater (def: one who can eat the same thing regularly and not get sick of it) will eventually tire of the same 5 meals rotating through their belly.

Every now and then I try to get a little fancy. I attempt to broaden my horizons, expand my reach if you will. Once, I even made mahi-mahi. That’s right. (It’s a fish, I had to look it up back then too). Upon completing the mahi-mahi masterpiece, I was asked if it should be given to the dog or just thrown out. (For real, this happened, and yes, we’re still married.)

Keeping that SUPER successful experiment in mind I occasionally have to reign myself back in and abandon the crazier looking results from my Pinterest searches. These searches now typically involve the keywords gluten free, easy, quick, three ingredient, slow cooker, picky, did I mention easy?

When I meal plan there are two rules:

Keep it simple.

Know your audience.

We typically will have something with beef, something with chicken, something super fast, something that doesn’t require cooking, and something that is typically a little bit piece meal.

This week, for example, we will have:

Chicken, gravy, potatoes and veg (yes, I buy the pre-cooked rotisserie chicken, SO EASY!)

Beef tacos with all the fillings on GF tortillas.

Homemade pizza on GF crust.

Italian sandwhiches on GF sub buns with salad.

End of week usually nets you a grilled cheese and some potato chips. Its Friday. Live a little. Or we’ll pick up some Thai. Either way, low effort, bits and pieces, easy for me.

By adding these meal ideas to my Meal Planner Worksheet I can begin to see what I already have in the house versus what I need to add to my grocery list for the week. Knowing this, I can then determine where I will go to get my groceries. While just about every grocery chain has a plethora of gluten free foods available, there is just one nearby that has the GF tortilla brand that doesn’t crack into a million pieces when you try to actually roll something up in it!

So with my meal plan prepared I can now add the “needs” to my grocery list and I am good to go. Grocery shopping becomes quick and easy and I don’t end up with an abundance of things we won’t use before they go bad or multiples of things we already had tons of in the pantry.

Keeping things on the simple side, knowing the likes and dislikes of who you cook for, being aware of the inventory of your fridge and pantry, these things give you back time in your week and contribute to a smooth transition into dinner time.

No matter who in your house does the cooking, spending a few moments getting prepared each week is something worth investing in. Some people plan a week at a time, some plan a month at a time, some use spreadsheets, some use meal planners like the one I made.

However you choose to equip yourself for the meals ahead, know you are adding efficiency into your life. By doing this one step prior to the start of your week, you have taken an often frazzled and stressful task  and turned it into a simple undertaking.

Simple is good.

Especially when they want to eat every night!

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Meal Planning for Dummies makes dinner easier!

 

What do you do to make your mealtimes a success? Any pre-cooking tips? Found any great recipes? Share in the comments!

And download your own copy of my Meal Planner Worksheet! Save yourself some time each week!

Kit Kat Copy Cat

Now, make no mistake…

 I am no chef.

I am not someone who loves to tweak recipes and play around with spices and spend all day in the kitchen.

I will not be posting copious amounts of styled food photos or fabulous dinner party images.

I am a meal maker by necessity and have researched and attempted a plethora of different things because I have a gluten free husband and a picky kid. But I do not like it. It is far from a passion.

Every once in awhile I find a wee little recipe that sounds both easy and delicious. And before you say anything about this one, know this: if you can’t simply take it out of the package or wrap or peel and pop it in your mouth, or you have to add at least one item to one other item, that, my friends, is a recipe.

This particular recipe has a mere two ingredients. That’s how I knew I’d love it.

I found it while cruising around on Pinterest for easy GF treats that I could contribute to our Easter dinner at the pa-in-laws. And lo, the Kit Kat Copy Cat appeared. I clicked on over to the Boulder Locavore site and found what is possibly the easiest and yummiest treat I’ve yet to make. And I’ve made some easy, yummy treats!

I realize now that the photos I took to document the process are virtually identical to the ones on the website, though hers are more stylistically appealing. But hey, chocolate is chocolate and delicious is delicious so whatever.

Pat and McK were my testers and I actually got a “Holy s*&t, you actually made kit kats!” from Pat. So it’s a keeper. A sugary, bad for you, but oh so delish keeper.

 

Got any great quick and easy recipes you can share Drop the link in the comments! Happy to try new things if they are easy and delicious (gluten free preferred). Thanks!

Embracing Less Than

I’ve learned a little something that seems to get me through a run with a touch more of a spring in my step. A bit of a jedi mind trick, if you will.

I used to trudge along, doing my best to not fixate on the clock but the second I did I was simultaneously shocked at how little time had passed and dismayed that OH MY GOD I HAVE 7 MORE MINUTES OF THIS?!?!?

Now I am well aware that the fascination with checking the time/distance is an instinct that is likely to remain to the end of time with anyone who sets their running shoe clad feet on a treadmill. However, I have figured out what to tell myself when I find my eyes wandering from the muted hosts of Sports Centre down to the little digital readout that screams at me in glowing green.

I no longer look at the time and think awwww man 7 more minutes of this pure and absolute torture. Nope. I now look at the screen and tell myself “Less than 7 minutes to go!”

Somehow looking at it as though there is less than X left to go makes completing said minutes so much easier than fixating on how many (or how few) minutes have passed and how many are still to be dealt with.

Calling it “less than” in some way makes the number seem smaller, makes the minutes you have already logged seem greater, makes the remaining effort seem more palatable.

It also pumps your tires a little to think you have already done 23 minutes and oh looky here, less than 7 to go! When you view it as still 7 minutes to go, or even saying only 7 minutes to go, it diminishes what you have already accomplished, as though yeah yeah, you ran 23 already but dude, you’re going nowhere for the next 7. Now move it!

I know, I know, its all in the mind. But sometimes, the mind knows just what to do to power you through that last leg without making you want to give up.

You’ll finish stronger when you change your mind to a positive view of the end result.

More vs less than?

Always choose less than.

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Positive mindset brings success!

 

How do you get yourself motivated to finish strong? Do you use the “x more to go” method or have you tried something different? Do you think the less-than-x style of thinking can help? Do tell!

Keeping Up Appearances

The word multitasking has become such a catch phrase that everyone and their dog thinks it needs to be on their resume, in their everyday terminology and their biggest sell feature when selling, well, themselves.

But the word has been mangled and misinterpreted for some time now.

People are confusing the word multitasking with “looking busy”.

Running around, pretending to be putting out fire after fire, frantically fixing issues and taking longer than you should for things is not multitasking. It is an inefficient use of time.

What multitasking used to mean was the ability to work on multiple things at once. Which, when you break it down, is actually kind of impossible. But it sure sounds good.

What multitasking actually is, is somewhere along the lines of being able to be fully engrossed in one project while having the ability to stop if something comes up that requires your immediate attention, deal with it, and then return to your original project without skipping a beat.

When you look at it like that, and realize it does not mean jumping from one thing to the next without prioritizing or actually completing a task, you realize a good number of people need to go and do some deleting on their resume.

Stop confusing busy with productive.

Multitasking is not the ideal quality that we have all been led to believe if you are defining it the way we used to. Busy is not the ideal way to run your day. If you can be organized, plan for certain things, allow flexibility and agility when things change, you will be a thousand times more productive than you will be busy.

When you allow yourself the ability to learn how to effectively multitask when the need arises, you will find less fires and less issues. And you will discover more time and more successes.

The glorification of busy ends here.

busy vs productive

Looking “busy” doesn’t mean you are accomplishing things!

 

How do you organize your day so that you are effectively using your time and able to properly multitask? Are you able to stop one project and go to another task or do you lose all track of what you’re doing? Comment above, lets help each other out!

If You Do One Thing…

Making the bed. Emptying the dishwasher. Putting your lunch bag away at the end of each day.

We all have that one thing, that one little annoying task that we know, if we do it, we will feel a million times better than if we left it. There are things I have gotten in the habit of doing, things like making the bed, that I do daily because I like the way it looks and I like the way it feels when I get back into it at the end of each day.

But there is one thing that I negotiate with myself about week after week. I promise myself treats and good things if I just do it and do not procrastinate. I even use positive self talk to convince myself that doing said task now will save me precious time later and will send me into the week on a positive note. I tell myself if I DON’T do it, I will feel like there is always something left to be done, always this nagging little voice saying hey you, yeah you, you forgot about me, I’m still here and I’m not going anywhere.

I’m talking about the dreaded putting away of clean laundry.

Believe me, I can stare at that full basket of clothes for DAYS.

I can pick out just what is needed if anything is required from it.

I can live out of it like a freaking suitcase if I have to.

I start out with good intentions, doing all the laundry on a Sunday, load upon load. And typically, right up until that last basket, I get everything put away, ready for the week ahead.

Until that last basket.

My nemesis.

So my new promise to myself is this. Finish what you start. Don’t leave it for later. Save your precious “later” moments for things that count.

The odd dish or two? They can wait.

The messy blankets all over the couch? They can wait.

If you do one thing…make it something that will affect the rest of your week in a positive way.

Go put the laundry away.

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The dreaded laundry basket…just DO IT.

 

What is the one thing you know you should just do, and yet you still manage to talk yourself out of it week in and week out?

How do you get yourself in the mindset of just doing it and getting it over with? Tips and tricks to share? Comment above!

The Misconception of Clean

A clean house means a boring life.

That’s what a number of memes and other little quotes and sayings would have you believe. A clean house means you pay no attention to your kids or do not allow anyone to have any fun because you are too busy scrubbing and mopping.

I am here to challenge that.

My house is clean. It is always tidy. Our idea of messy is drastically different from others.

That does not mean we are neat freaks (ok maybe my husband is), or that our daughter is not allowed to be creative, or things do not get out of control.

Au contraire. These things happen. They just happen in certain areas and when they happen they are cleaned up before moving on to the next thing.

We have a craft area in the basement. We go nuts there with glue guns and paint mixes and creations of giant accessories like chainshaws and over-the-top signs for football games. We also tidy up when we are finished.

We have a well-used kitchen that sees chopping and dicing and experimenting and recipes gone bad. It also sees proper clean up and re-organization once we are done.

Is our house spotless? No.

Is our house always tidy? No.

But we do our best. We know where things are and where they belong. We put laundry away when it’s done (most times). We tidy up when we make a mess. We bring things upstairs instead of adding to the pile of items on stair number 3. It has become habit.

If I straighten up the blankets on the couch before I go to bed, do you care? If I wipe up any signs of crumbs on the counter or floor after preparing a meal, does it really affect you? If I tidy up the craft area when we are done with our latest masterpiece, does it matter?

Nope.

It only matters to me. And I would rather do little tidies throughout the week than dread a giant clean up on the weekend.

Clean does not mean spotless. It means maintaining a tidy existence that does not suit all, it just suits us. I don’t wipe the baseboards or wash every window or wipe out the fridge drawers. I put things away. I straighten. I organize.

McK is no less creative because she is expected to clean up after herself. She is no less expressive if tidying is an expectation. We are no less interesting.

A clean house is a contributor to an organized mind.

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I disagree.