Sunday, June 17, 2012

Strawberry weekend

This weekend will forever be marked as the strawberry weekend! Since Friday morning our house has smelled like strawberries and even now the sweet smell lingers.

Ever since I was a little girl I have loved picking and canning or freezing fresh fruit and veggies! And...I've always dreamed of doing it for my very own family...and that's exactly what I've been doing :)

On Friday morning we picked close to 60 pounds of organic strawberries. We are so blessed that our fruit season this year started early due to a very wet spring! Lucas washed the first box and we sorted them.

I had 3 grades. Eating (the almost ripe ones or, firm ones). Freezing (the ones that were perfectly ripe leaning to over-ripe) - they will go in smoothies or other yummy things throughout the year. Canning (the overripe and mushy ones) - they were for Strawberry Jam. I dreamed of a million things that I can make or can, but I'm trying not to bite off more than I can chew in the canning and freezing department my 1st year of marriage. (Pun intended).

So, in just about 12 hours time 60 pounds of strawberries were converted, with the amazing help of my dear husband and Mother in law, to 9 bags of frozen and vacuum packed berries, 23 pints of strawberry jam, and about 3 gallons of fresh eating berries.

This is the first time I've ever made strawberry jam, or actually jam of any sort.

Next on my list is apricots and cherries. And...I'm also very much looking forward to some fresh veggies soon.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

The 15-minute Goal

One of the things that blessed me as a young lady was reading blogs of young women who got married and would share tricks and tips about married life. So, I resolved that when I was a young married woman I would do my best to give folks glimpses into the new adventure in my life - both the failures and the victories!

My husband and I have more than one business. Combine that with the fact that I work a job where I have to carefully keep track of my hours and we knew that time management would be one of the keys to our success.

So, one of our favorite “rules” to operate by is what we call the “15 minute goal”. My husband and I actually started this before we were even engaged. Basically, we focus on one project or task for 15 minutes before switching gears. This has been especially helpful for me as I can so easily get sucked into a project and stay in a sedentary position for hours. This isn’t a good idea for anyone. With my job I do a large amount of writing and it is vital for me to keep my creativity tank full. Sitting still and doing the same thing over and over can definitely be an inspiration-killer, and I didn’t want that to happen! I know some folks might think that this sounds like multi-tasking and you’ll say “I can’t multi-task”. But, this isn’t multi-tasking. Let me give you a few examples.

On a typical work day, this is how I apply the 15-minute rule.

Wake up, take 15 minute or less shower & get dressed.

Spend 15 minutes making breakfast. Usually, breakfast is a milkshake and maybe some pancakes, eggs, or something.

Begin working. Spend 15 minutes checking & replying to email. Stop, even if I haven’t read every message.

Spend 15 minutes checking voicemails & replying to calls. Stop, even if you aren’t done. (Obviously, you can’t hang up on someone. 15 minutes is just a guideline to keep you going!)

Pull up 1st writing project of the day. Spend 15 minutes proofreading, editing, & writing. Stop.

Log in to social media outlets & check stats. Spend 15 minutes looking at posts, responding to messages & preparing your next post. Stop.

Research foundations & update database for 15 minutes. Stop.

Hand-write thank-you notes for 15 minutes. Stop.

At this point I’ve been at work 1.5 hours and made progress on 6 different things. If I did just 1 task, I would have spent my entire morning doing something like replying to emails. I would be tired of staring at one screen on my computer and frustrated that I’m not making any progress because every time I send an email someone replies and I would begin to feel I’m not getting anywhere. With my 15-minute strategy I know that I’m making some real progress in more than one area.

How about a weekend day, when I’m not working. Here’s how my Saturday last weekend started out.

Wake up, take 15 minute or less shower & get dressed.

Spend 15 minutes making breakfast. Usually, breakfast is a milkshake and maybe some pancakes, eggs, or something.

Spend 15 minutes rinsing dishes, putting them in dishwasher & tidying kitchen. Stop.

Go outside. Move rocks from where I’m going to plant my starts for 15 minutes. Stop.

Come inside and write wedding gift thank-you notes for 15 minutes. Stop.

Go in garage and assess which boxes need to be moved. Move them for 15 minutes. Stop.

Go back outside. Notice that the Christmas lights *still* need to be taken down. Take them down. Stop.

Go inside. Move load of laundry out of dryer. Move load of laundry from washer to dryer. Fold clothes. Stop.

Realize your pantry needs to be cleaned out so there’s room for all the things you want to can this summer. Organize it for 15 minutes. Stop.

Decide its time to sit down and you want to write a blog about the 15 minute rule. Grab laptop. Sit down & write for 15 minutes. Stop.

The hardest part for me is the “stopping” after 15 minutes. I want to keep going because I love seeing projects DONE. But, so many projects are easy to get burned out on or worse yet you have to rely on someone else to finish them. So, 15 minutes at a time actually makes it easier to get more done. Yes, sometimes it means you’ll have to come back to a project for 3 or 4 15-minute installments, but I think you’ll find you are generally more energized and enjoy the time you spend with each project.

Another advantage of this system is that It forces me to plan ahead. I can’t make a breakfast in less than 15 minutes if I don’t have bananas, berries, kefir, etc. already in the freezer for or morning smoothie - or at the very least have them easily accessible. It makes me think about what I have and (try to) plan meals ahead.

The main reason I love my (our) 15 minute goal is that It keeps me going. It makes big projects become bite-sized challenges. And, when I’m frustrated with a project not moving forward it makes me feel as if I’m moving forward if even just a little bit at a time. Try it out and let us know if it works for you!