- Posts for Monday Musings tag
Gratitude 2020 Edition | Our Prairie Nest
Gratitude: 2020 Edition

It’s been a hell of a year for most people and I am well-aware that we lucked out in our household. We have a roof over our heads, income, food, and the ability to meet our needs. Not everyone can say that.

There are certainly things we’ve personally lost, not to mention the greater losses that touched most of us over the year. No matter how difficult this year has been, I’ve also tried to remember that I’m privileged in so many ways. I’m grateful for my privilege and have tried to use it constructively. Unfortunately, what I have can only go so far. But it’s the little things, and we are all capable of something.

Here’s hoping 2021 brings all of us health and safety, love and joy, and more.

Our Meal Plan | Our Prairie Nest
Our Meal Plan

Right? RIGHT?!

This has been me for my entire adulthood. At least, until last year when my husband and I finally decided to get a handle on meal-planning. If you’re the same way, flailing at the grocery store or home about what to eat, here is one way to make it much easier.

Create a Spreadsheet

We created a spreadsheet with two tabs – Month One and Month Two. The plan has four weeks per month, and we don’t fret too much about a week five.

Each week has meals planned for Monday through Sunday, with a hyperlink to the recipe. When it’s time to place my grocery order for the week, I work off a handwritten shopping list where we write things that are low or we’ve run out of, and then the recipes that are linked for the week. It makes placing my grocery order so much easier!

That’s all there is to it! We started small, with the things we normally like to make, and slowly filled in the weeks as we found recipes we liked. It took time, so I want to emphasize that you don’t need to feel like you have to fill in the entire two months, or one month, or even every single week!

Start with what you’re accustomed to cooking. It doesn’t have to be anything fancy. If your first week is hot dogs, hamburgers, fried chicken, and spaghetti, so what? Just put the information in there.

Then think about how you might want to space out your meals. Are you looking to add more vegetarian dishes? More seafood? Lighter meals?

Google is your best friend. Enter the search terms you want and get started. For example, I find myself looking for new recipes often and my searches are always driven by the season. Summertime usually means I’m looking for “light summer meals” and winter puts me in the mood for “comfort food” or soups or stews.

It’s also important to think about who is doing the cooking. My husband cooks five nights a week. I only cook on Saturdays and Sundays. So I like to make sure he has a balance of “easy” days with the more complicated meals. There’s also the option for frozen pizza at all times. Not as delicious as homemade, but sometimes the primary cook needs a break!

I like to have soup as a weekly option, because it usually makes plenty of leftovers for me to bring to work throughout the week. I also have tried to group certain foods together, so some weeks might include more sweet potatoes, for example, or more beans. It makes the shopping even easier.

But there’s no need to get that complicated or detailed from the get-go. Start with what you know, figure out what you want to eat, and then start adding recipes little by little.

For me, it’s just nice to open the spreadsheet on Friday night, and do my grocery shopping off it from the comfort of my own home. And I never have to ask, “What are we having for dinner this week?” 🙂

Releasing or That night Daniel saved me from prom | Our Prairie Nest
Releasing (or the night Daniel saved me from prom)

Blame the New Year, blame 2020, blame the eclipses, but here’s the truth: it’s not them, it’s me. And I realized I tried to do and be too much last year.

Late last year, I started getting headaches, something I don’t generally suffer from. I had more sleepless nights than ever, and I lost about 10 pounds because… Well, I don’t know why, but it happened and I know it’s not a good thing.

The first weekend of December, I went to Midwest Furfest with my husband and son. We’ve gone in previous years, but not the past couple because A. it was getting a little stale and B. renovations took priority. But this year I had a little bonus from doing some editing work on the side, so off to Chicago we went for MFF 2019 and I am so glad we did. We chilled. We laughed. We raved. It was fantastic and it was eye-opening.

What I realized that first weekend in December was that there were things I didn’t miss back home. Things I was doing because I did have an interest at first, only to find out they brought on more stress than satisfaction.

Maybe some people are stubborn and will push through that, but not me. It took another month to realize my body was telling me something: to stop, fall back on what I truly care about, and let the other stuff go.

I want to spend time with my family and my birds, get back to writing (which has been going slower than I want), focus on genealogy again, spend more time gaming (we’re going weekly with D&D), go out with friends for coffee, and have the freedom to sit down and watch TV at the end of the day. I’ve actually been pining to watch Turn since I saw the first episode, but every weekend I think I’m going to get back to it, something happens.

The entire month of December was full of highs and lows, which is pretty normal. However, the lows of 2019 were some of the worst. I’m burned out on the things I’ve tried, from socializing at the Mom Prom to being a Girl Scout co-leader. They’re all great things and I’m glad they exist, but they aren’t my things.

This sense of burn out has been acute since October, when I lost someone who meant a lot to me. It hit hard and there are times the grief still makes me feel incredibly alone in social situations. But that compelled me to drop the things in my life that don’t do me any good or stress me out, and spend more time smelling the roses (so to speak… it is winter, after all). So I’m in the midst of releasing physical things, commitments, and other things that literally cause headaches.

Last year, I found a job outside the home that I love, and am back to working in a law office, like I did for the first 15 years of my adulthood. I’ve committed myself to writing fewer books per year, but that’s still a priority because I love doing it. And, of course, I’m as passionate as ever about genealogy. I want to get more into the family history aspect of it, and I still get so much satisfaction and energy from teaching writing and genealogy classes at the local community college!

This year, I also want to make more time for doing what I want to do. Like taking an impromptu trip to Carhenge. Or spending a day cross-stitching with my daughter. Or finally visiting an archive in Nova Scotia.

The thing is, we’re in a place that isn’t permanent for us. I don’t just mean Nebraska, but life. So we ought to live our lives, our way. Yannowhadimean? Yeah, you do.

To the Cass County Fair | Our Prairie Nest
Many Things & Not Enough

So I need to write this now or forget entirely. Though there is no forgetting how remiss I’ve been in giving my blog love. I have this beautiful website and haven’t posted in an age. Not that it matters to anyone but me, but I do like sharing, especially when it comes to genealogy and witchcraft. It needs to happen more often.

Summer isn’t an excuse. Yes, I slowed down and enjoyed every moment until recently. In fact, I think I’ve learned to slow down in general. At least a little…

If you look at what I do – work full time, write full time, lead Girl Scouts (and I’m probably going to flail helplessly there for the next few years – eek!), and find time for family and hobbies – you would probably disagree. But, honestly, that’s “slow” for me, even if you include binge-watching “Outlander” and cross-stitching and trying to read a book a month.

Fall hasn’t gotten off to the best start, either. My beloved great-aunt Jo passed away on August 30. Simply put, it sucks. Aunt Jo meant so much to so many people. She never married or had children of her own. In a way, all of us were her children and grandchildren. She was the keeper of the family history, one of the people I picked up the genealogy bug from, and the person who wanted to keep family together.

I got the news on Friday when I got home from work. When I did, I closed the bedroom door and cried. I hate grieving in front of people. Ever since then, I’ve had a lump in the center of my chest. Sometimes, it loosens and I can breathe. Other times, it’s so tight, I can’t help but cry. I know it’ll come and go, and the idea of Aunt Jo being gone is surreal at the moment. If I could be in Massachusetts for her funeral, I would. But I can’t and that sucks, too.

Life doesn’t really slow down until you die, does it? Maybe there’s a trick to it or maybe all we can do is pretend to stop and smell the roses, all the while knowing time is doing its own thing, whether we like it or not.

Daniel asked me earlier this year when I’ll “stop” doing genealogy. I couldn’t help but squawk back at him, “When I answer all the questions!”

I guess that’s what keeps this inquisitive Sagittarius pushing so hard from day to day. That’s how I live my life – trying to answer the questions. What about you?