Goals for September

I probably should have shared this on Saturday, but the idea didn’t occur to me until after I had already posted and I didn’t want to have too many posts overlap, but I have seen a few bloggers post monthly goals and thought it was a neat idea. As someone who teaches productivity, I know that writing it down makes you more likely to follow through and if you are to share the goals, that makes it even more likely that you will achieve your goals. Creating SMART goals strengthens the likelihood even more, but well, let’s not go too far…

So this is what I hope to achieve this month, I will do a round up post at the end of the month to see where I stand on those goals:

1. Pass the IRB Committee Review

If you have been reading for a while, you know I am a doctoral student. I am at the final stage of my education: the field study. However, before I can send out my survey and schedule my interviews, I have to pass the institutional review board for my university. Basically, proving that I am not doing unethical research on humans. Usually, the process doesn’t take that long, but for some reason, my university has a backlog. So it took two months to hear that they needed me to make some edits to my study proposal. I am hoping that I hear that I am approved this month because well, I still have to pay tuition even though I am just waiting. Sounds fair, right?

2. Contact all the doctors

We actually have three doctor’s appointments just this week alone! And when I say “we” I mean my husband, but I go with him for most of his appointments because he has memory issues. Total this month I think there are five appointments not counting the weekly checkins with his counselor and the nurse practitioner. My husband has an autoimmune disorder on top of many other conditions, but we live in an area that doesn’t exactly have the best medical options. So we are trying to get him into a special clinic up in Baltimore that specializes in his condition. However, they won’t even schedule an appointment until they have all your medical records sent up to them. So we have a cardiologist, a rheumatologist, a pulmonary specialist, a neurologist, and his primary to contact to get his records. I have to say that the nurse practitioner at his primary’s office is awesome because she has helped me figure out the process for getting all these records released and who I need to get them sent up to.

3. Post at least one blog post a week

I know I have been slacking, but it has just been an overwhelming summer between the dissertation edits, being short staffed at work, teaching my summer graduate course, and a whole bunch of other things happening all at once. So I would like to get back into the swing of things. I really do like writing and I feel like as much as the statistics show you all like when I post my Instant Pot recipes, those post can be a little bit of a cop out because they don’t take much time or thought to put together (well, the cooking does, but I am just reporting on what I did). So I hope to get some more substantial stuff up on a more regular basis.

4. Upload a short story to Kindle Direct Publishing

I noticed the other day after looking at all my unfinished works in progress, that my inspiration tends to fizzle out once I get to twenty five pages or so. So I think I need to start smaller. I have been toying with the idea for a while of uploading something to KDP and I have a story that is almost ready to go. So after a couple more edits, I will try my hand at self publishing. Once I do, I will create a post here detailing how the process went and what my progress looks like. Might as well do it while I am twiddling my thumbs waiting for that IRB approval, right?

So fingers crossed that the next 30 days go smoothly! Stay tuned for updates and if I can keep to my monthly goals.

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5 More Products to Make the School Year Easier

My previous post mentioned some of my go to items to make the school year a little easier. Well, after having open house bright and early this week, I realized there were some more items to add to that list. So here are five more items to help your school days go a little easier.

1.Hanging Sweater Organizer
You may even have one of these around the house which is awesome! That means you are one step closer to being organized, but are you using it to its best advantage? Most of these organizers have at least five shelves. There are five school/work days in the week…do you see where I am going with this yet? You may have heard the advice to lay your clothes out in the evening before going to sleep to save time on getting dressed in the morning. Well, this system recommends laying out the full week on Sunday night. Another advantage to saving time is that kids can gain a bit of independence on putting outfits together and mom is saved from those “Where is my red shirt? I need to wear a red shirt today!” desperation calls when you only have ten minutes left to make the bus in the morning.

2. Snack Size Baggies and Sliced Lemons
I actually use these in my freezer. Maybe because I grew up on city water, I need lemon and ice in my water. So I will typically fill a stainless steel tumbler with ice water and two slices of lemon wheels. The rest of the lemon is also sliced into wheels and placed in these snack size baggies 2×2 and placed in the freezer. In the morning on work days, I add the frozen lemon along with my ice and some unsweetened tea. Then take that to work. When I run out of tea, I refill at the office water cooler, but by this time, my lemon is melted enough that I get a nice citrus dash to my water. It is also perfect to add a frozen lemon wheel to hot tea as it cools the tea without watering it down. Since these are in the freezer, I prep everything on Sunday night to last all week. If citrus is on sale, buy a couple of bags, slice, and freeze on sheet trays. Then you have plenty of frozen lemons ready to go. I have also been known to do this with cucumbers, oranges, and strawberries for jugs of spa water.

3. Blutooth Trackers
These small tags are a lifesaver if you are one of those people who misplaces things. The most popular brands are the Tile ones that you see in BestBuy or other computer stores, but I didn’t like that they stop working after a year unless you resubscribe. Unfortunately, my husband has memory issues as part of his medical condition. He misplaces his phone and wallet frequently. It only took a couple times of this happening at restaurants for me to know we had to do something. So I purchased a small plastic device that fits in his wallet and is connected via blutooth to an app on his phone. If he loses his wallet, the app tells him the last location it was at. If he loses his phone, he can hit a button on the device and it sends out a beep on his phone. It is also rechargeable and lasts for about two months on one charge. So far we are doing good on it and it takes hardly any room in his wallet. I wish we had known about these when my son lost his glasses last year. After two weeks of looking for them, we purchased new glasses only to find his old ones in the lost and found at taekwondo.

4. White Boards
We use the Amazon Alexa for reminders, but there are still things we need to write down. For example, I use a small whiteboard as an inventory list of what is in my freezer in the garage. We also have a big one that contains our son’s chore chart. Granted, he is almost thirteen and we don’t pay him an allowance allowance. It is expected that he help out by feeding the dogs, emptying the trash, and unloading the dish washer. In turn, I will give him money when he is going out with friends to the movies, the amusement park, or school events. He also gets to keep any change from these events. He loves food shopping because I tell him to grab what he wants (it is Aldi’s, so snacks are cheap though he tends to gravitate to the fancy cheese and bread). However, if there is something big that he wants (like a PS4 game), he does extra chores to help pay off whatever it was that he wanted. Like $10 for mowing the front yard or vacuuming the living room (we have three dogs, so this one is actually a big one). He also has to clean before friends come over which means making a list of the things he needs to pay special attention to…like cleaning his room.

5. Ice Packs
We have several ice packs of various size in our freezer. This year lunch is not until 7th period! So those ice packs are going to get a lot of use this year. We also have the flexible ice packs that are used for things like sore knees and shoulders. I have used this on my head too when migraines or sinuses have been bad.

I am sure there are many many more things that can be added to this list. Life is hectic, but why not try things that might make it just a little easier? Remember that we might not be able to be superhuman, but we can certainly try!

A Back to School Must List

Our district goes back to school next week which means time to change our summer routine. While the school may have their official supply list with the notebooks, pencils, hand sanitzer, and the hundreds of dollars worth of other necessesties (seriously, our list ran us about $150…middle school), there are still some other items that can help the mornings run a little smoother.

1. Amazon Echo

This is my go to device for helping me stay on track. We use it for a timer, alarm clock, to check the weather, reminders of things to grab before walking out the door. Alexa helps to keep us organized and running on time.

2. Bento Boxes


My son actually picked this out for his lunch box. The one he has features flexible dividers to separate food like a traditional bento box. It also includes ice packs to keep food fresh. The best part is that it is dishwasher safe!

3. Academic Planners

I bought one of these for my son for school and liked the layout so much that i bought one for myself. This planner comes in two sizes making it perfect for a backpack or purse. It is an academic planner so it runs from July to June. There is plenty of room on the Monthly grid or the Week at a glance pages to keep all of your tasks, appointments, and lists well organized.

3. Bins & Totes

Grab a couple of these totes and some snack size or sandwhich bags. Fill them with things like bulk pretzels, popcorn, raisins, etc. Refresh your bins every week and you will have snacks ready to go to throw into a bag on the way to the bus stop or to grab as an afterschool snack. By buying snacks in bulk (or even making your own) and divying it up, you can save some change to help defer the costs of all those gluesticks.

4. Reusable K-Cup Pods


If you send a kid to school before the sun is up, chances are you are going to need some coffee. And if you are the only one in the house who drinks coffee, chances are you are going have a Keurig in the house. And if you are worried around all those plastic pods filling landfills, well, then these pods are for you. I buy my coffee by the canister, but use the reusable pods instead of the pricy k-cups.

5. Sharpies!!

Your child’s school list might already have Sharpies on the list, but these are for you. There will be gym uniforms, brown bag lunches, and so many other things that are going to need a name written in them…don’t find yourself lost without a permanent marker on hand. Stock up at the beginning of the year and if you are lucky, you will still have some by the end of June.

What other items would you add to this list? Leave us a comment through the link at the top of this post.

Cranberry Pecan Chicken Salad (no mayo!)

I cannot eat mayo. I am not sure what causes the intolerance, but I have been that way since I was a kid. If I eat it, I get a rather queasy stomach. So I often look for ways to substitute sour cream or cream cheese in recipes instead. Today for lunch I made chicken salad. My son had a friend over and they both had some. I can say this has the thirteen (well almost) year old boy seal of approval.

Materials:

  • Large Spoon
  • Bowl Scrapper
  • Measuring Cup

Ingredients:

  • 3 Chicken Breasts
  • 1 cup Chicken Broth
  • 8 oz Sour Cream
  • 16 oz Cream Cheese block
  • 1/4 cup Craisins
  • 1/2 cup chopped Pecans
  • 1/8 tsp Garlic Powder
  • 1/8 tsp Salt
  • 1/8 tsp Pepper
  • 1/8 minced Onion
  • Crackers (optional)

Procedure:

  1. Cook your chicken and broth in your Instant Pot. Mine was frozen, so I cooked it on Poultry on High for 20min. NPR…actually I forgot I was making it, so it naturally depressurized because it was out of sight out of mind.
  2. Place your chicken in your mixer bowl. Turn on low setting. Let your mixer do the work of shredding your chicken (I wish I took a picture of this! It was the first time I tried, but it worked perfectly).
  3. Add your sour cream, cream cheese, and seasonings. Turn mixer on low setting. Scrape sides if needed to make sure it is mixed evenly.
  4. Add your fruit and nuts. Fold in.
  5. Enjoy with crackers or alone.

This turned out so well. Like I said, the boys enjoyed it too. I have extra in the fridge so lunch for tomorrow is taken care of as well. You can add more seasonings or extras as you want. I think next time, I will add some diced celery for some extra crunch.

Instant Pot Beets

I love beets in salad, but I am not always a fan of the beets you get from a jar or can. So when I saw a bunch of fresh beets at my local grocery store, I decided to try cooking them in the Instant Pot. Perfect!

Materials:

  • Ingredients:
    • Beets
    • 1 cup Water
  • Procedure:
    1. If your beets have stems, discard those. Some people like to eat them, but I am not one of those.
    2. Place your beets whole on a trivet in the Instant Pot inner pot with 1 cup water.
    3. Close Instant Pot lid and the vent. Set on Manual on High Pressure for 20 min and QPR when done.
    4. Peel beets. You will find that the skin almost slides off. Be careful though cause these will be hot and will stain your hands bright pink if not wearing rubber gloves.
    5. Enjoy!

    The beets will keep for a few days in your fridge. I tossed mine with some salt, pepper, and butter. I ate them with some lettuce, tomatoes, sprouts, and blue cheese as a salad. Yum!