Monday, September 29, 2014

Weekend Recap

It seems to have been a few weeks since I did a weekend review. This was our first quiet weekend after having family visit for the past few weekends. It was the perfect fall weekend for me, complete with a visit to the pumpkin patch, sleeping in, football, and homemade applesauce.

When I say sleeping in, our daughter actually slept to 9am and 10am respectively over the weekend. I can't remember the last time I got to sleep in like that! It was great!

Isn't she a doll? I love sleeping babies.

This week is a big one at our house! I turn 27 (gulp). Every birthday after 19 has been a bit challenging for me to accept! In any case, here's to another good year!

How was your weekend?

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Work From Home? How Do You Not Get Bored...

Since graduating college (debt-free I might add), I have been employed at jobs where I work from home most (if not all) of the week. Combine that with having a child and you get a stay at home/work at home mother of 1. What a mouthful!

A few weekends ago, we hosted a football party and I was asked, "how can I be home so much without getting bored?" I get this a lot. All the time actually. 

First, I will give you my perspective. I absolutely love this arrangement! I get to be home with my child but even before that, I was able to make running my household a priority. Before my child, I could get laundry done in the middle of the day between online meetings or during breaks from office work. I could take a random coffee break with a friend. Sure, the downside is I may be making up that time by completing office work at 8:30pm on a Monday night, but I love the flexibility!

I also want to mention that, despite what most people seem to think, I actually do get out of the house and/or socialize regularly during the day. Since my child's birth, we typically have been dedicated to 1 activity/week (swimming lessons, story time at the library, mommy and me classes). We also have frequent play dates. That doesn't even cover any of my work related meetings/phone calls/chats. Although we aren't outside of the house as much as I would be with a traditional full-time job, we stay very busy.

So, to answer the question I frequently get: 

How do I not get bored and/or go stir-crazy? 

Here are some of my secrets to give you an idea of how you can, too:

1. Plan
Although there is great flexibility in setting your own schedule, you should still set a schedule. The beauty in this type of job is that I can rotate that schedule as I see fit (I can't work today due to a sick kid, no problem, I will work tomorrow). If you don't set a schedule it can be hard to keep yourself accountable and too easy to never work.

2. Routine 
Try to find a "typical work time." Again, this goes with having a plan. We are routine by nature so try to fit in work time when it works best for you. Find what works for you and normalize that as your work time.

I typically work in the mornings because that's when I feel like I can focus the best and am the most productive.

3. Flexible Schedule
As I already mentioned, this is the most wonderful perk to the type of job I have. I can take that lunch date with a friend, no problem. Part of being flexible though can also mean planning to work a few evenings to make up that time! 

Don't put yourself in a position where you are locked into working certain hours, with this type of job you will work a variety of hours. You can't always rule out working nights, weekends, and maybe even (dare I say it) a holiday.

4. Relax
Life isn't about work, work, work. I struggle with this. With a work from home job, you must work relaxing into your daily routine. 

I typically get up earlier than my child to enjoy even a few minutes of alone time. I like to just sit, drink coffee, and breathe.

5. Close the Door
It gets too easy to fall into the trap of working every free second you have. I mean, that stack of paperwork eyeballs you from across the room. To make a work from home work, set boundaries for how much work you will do and close the door at the end of the day.

With closing the door behind you, that also means no more thinking about work until the next time you are in "your office." Period.

6. Track Your Hours
Whether you are paid by salary or hourly, document somewhere how much you are working. Then, evaluate if that is not enough/too much of your time. Your time is valuable and you should know how you are using it.

I have had both hourly and salaried positions. I track my hours regardless of pay because I tend to overwork. Tracking my hours helps me acknowledge when my work week MUST end. 

7. Organization
Keep your office area organized. We want to work smarter, not harder. Believe me, you will spend less time working if you know where everything is and put everything away. 

Working from home is a balancing game. Sometimes, I do really well and sometimes I struggle to make it all come together. But, hey, that's the beauty of life!

In any case, my best cheerleader keeps reminding me that it's all worth it!

How do you manage work/home life? I would love to hear from you!

Monday, September 15, 2014

Saving Money: Freezing Apples

When we moved into our new home this summer we were shocked to discover we had apple trees on our little acreage. Not 1 apple tree, but 3 apple trees! Best little surprise ever... Or so we thought.

We were eating apples daily off the tree. This was an activity my daughter loved immediately and I will cherish these moments around the apple trees with her forever. There were just so many apples and I didn't want to see them go to waste. Thus began a nightly activity that kept me busy for weeks!

My husband and I (along with some help from my mother-in-law when she visited over one weekend) picked, peeled, cored, and sliced about 80 pounds of apples. We then packaged and froze about half of these. They are ready to go whenever we want to make apple pie or apple crisp. 

With the other half, we made apple sauce, apple butter, and apple jelly. It was a lot of work and we are exhausted! See here for the links to the recipes I used.

For us, all this project cost was time. We had everything on hand. I know not everyone has access to apple trees but consider making fresh apple goods from scratch the next time apples are on sale or a local vendor offers a great deal on apples. The extra time invested will save you money in the long run.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Labor Day Weekend Recap

For the last several years while many people enjoyed the long 3-day Labor Day weekend relaxing our household has been known to work harder than ever.  This year, we didn't disappoint. My in-laws came to stay with us and here is what 4 adults and 1 toddler completed in 3 days:

1. Apple picking

We were surprised to find 3 apple trees at our new house. One tree has been producing very well and we picked 20 pounds of apples. My husband and I picked and processed 33 pounds last week (more on that coming soon). Of the 20 pounds, we processed half for the freezer. The other half? See below:

2. Apple Jelly

I have never had homemade apple jelly and I may never buy it at the store again! It is so delicious! We made 4+ jars of apple jelly. I used this recipe I found via Pinterest.

3. Apple Butter

I also made apple butter (entirely with the crock pot) for the first time. I used this recipe and it turned out great. I will cut down the cinnamon and cloves amounts slightly next time. It was just a tad strong for our taste, but didn't keep us from inhaling!

4. A New Deck

We built a new deck on the front of our house. It's actually still incomplete as we are still waiting on the railing to come in. I couldn't be happier with the project so far.

Here is the before:

And the after:

5. Crown Moulding

I personally stained the crown moulding on Sunday to put up on the main floor of the house. On Monday, we put the crown moulding up and are loving how it's changed our living room. We still have the rest of the main floor to go but it's a great start.

We are so tired today! I think we need a vacation to recover from the 3 days! Okay, we did find some time for fun! We watched our favorite football team play on Saturday and ate like kings the whole weekend! I think we earned spending the next few weeks relaxing. 

How did your Labor Day weekend go?

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