Follow the Decluttering:
I’ll try to write this without complaining.
A week before Easter our six-month old dishwasher broke. Typically when an appliance breaks in my house I attempt to fix it myself but since this was so new I called in for warranty repair. Unfortunately it took a couple days before someone could look at it and then another week and a half to get the part. I know there are people with a lot bigger problems but not having a dishwasher for our family of five was kind of a pain in the neck.
Our evenings are busy enough without spending time washing dishes by hand. My wife and I each pack a lunch for work everyday and the kids usually pack a lunch about once a week. The kids added to the problem by continuing to use dishes as if they didn’t care that we were hand washing everything. That’s probably because they really didn’t care.
The whole traumatic ordeal has forced us to think more about how many dishes we use on a regular basis. It’s a lot. I’m not sure the kids learned much since we didn’t make them help out with the dishes as much as we probably should have. It seemed like by the time we finished with all the craziness of each evening, they were going to bed late. Then my wife and I would end up doing the dishes later.
After two weeks of hand-washing, our dishwasher is repaired and we appreciate the convenience more. We used to get lazy sometimes and leave anything that couldn’t go in the dishwasher until we felt like washing by hand. Sometimes things would sit there for a couple days before we got around to hand washing.
I’m trying not to do that anymore by accepting the fact that the hand-wash items are just part of the evening clean-up routine. After I take care of anything that can go into the dishwasher, I just quickly wash anything that’s left. I love being able to go to bed without dirty dishes sitting around.
Now if I could just figure out what to do with all the papers and stuff my kids put on our kitchen island.
I once told my dad that when he died we were going to have a huge dumpster outside his house.
I recommend against saying things like that to your family. Even for me, it didn’t take long to realize how mean that sounded but it seems I still haven’t quite learned my lesson. My wife constantly reminds me that I need to bite my tongue instead of telling the kids I can’t wait to get rid of their toys.
Sometimes I’m a slow learner.
I know that if your family members are resistant to letting go of things, then the best way to convince them is usually to show them. You have to first purge your own excess stuff and hope they see the benefits of owning less. Then they will want to follow suit. Easier said than done.
We can look at someone else and wonder why on earth they’re keeping something as useless as a spoon collection. Yet, it never occurs to us to get rid of the dozens of shot glasses we accumulated in college collecting dust on a shelf. In the back of our mind we know we should get rid of those shot glasses, but it’s a lot easier to point out someone else’s junk than to get rid of our own.
Here’s a suggestion and I’ll try to follow my own advice.
The next time you’re looking at someone else’s stuff you think they could easily live without, instead of pointing it out to them, take a look around at your own things and find something you can purge. Keep doing that until you can’t get rid of anything else. Chances are, you’re still not done.
Hopefully, those around you will see you spending less time taking care of all that extra stuff. They will notice the extra space and free time you have that comes from owning less and will want that too. They might even ask for your help.
One thing I’m proud of is that even though we are a busy family always on the go, we almost never eat fast food for dinner. In fact, most evenings we still manage to eat dinner all together at the table. Of course, having a teenage son who seems to never leave the table except to find more food gives us more time to gather everyone else around. Last month, I discussed some of the things we do to keep our sanity through all of the running around but today I’d like to talk about some of the quick and easy things we keep on hand to eat.
We love almonds
and they are great for you but they can be expensive and the roasted/salted/flavored variety you find in the store are not exactly the healthiest thing for you. My solution? I buy 10 pounds of raw almonds at a time from D & S Ranches in California. I dry-roast about a pound at a time in the oven and keep them in a sealed glass container for everyone to eat. The extra is stored in the fridge to keep them fresh. It’s not easy to shell out that much money for almonds, but the bulk purchase brings the cost to about $7.50 per pound.
To roast them, I put them on a baking sheet in a 350 degree oven for about 6 - 7 minutes. Then I stir them up a bit and put them back in for another 6 - 7 minutes. You have to pay attention to because they can quickly go from perfectly roasted to having a burned flavor. When they are done, they should have darkened a little and you should hear a crackling sound. I just leave them on the baking sheet to cool. Keep in mind they will continue to cook a little more after you remove them from the oven. I eat them in my Greek yogurt every day.
If you buy raw almonds, you should know that the FDA requires raw almonds to be pasteurized. There are two methods to doing this and one involves a pretty nasty chemical that is banned in many other countries but allowed by the FDA. That’s why I order from D & S Ranches because they do not use chemicals for pasteurization.
We also keep a bag of baby carrots on hand.
We realized a long time ago that regular carrots by the bunch are cheaper, but we just are too lazy to wash, peel, and cut them. Now we just buy the baby carrots and I eat them every day. If we put them on the table at dinner time the kids will dig in too.
There is always a bunch of bananas on our counter.
They make a great snack or breakfast. If they get too ripe, my wife makes banana bread with them. If we can’t keep up on banana bread for some reason, we peel them and put them in a bag in the freezer to use for smoothies. We also keep frozen blueberries in the freezer for the same purpose. The fridge is also stocked with apples, pears, and oranges.
For breakfast, my kids seem to alternate between cereal and pancakes.
I’m not a fan of the cereal even though I ate bushels of it as a kid and usually added sugar to it. I have to admit though, it’s an easy breakfast that the kids can handle themselves. Our tradition is to make pancakes from scratch on Saturday morning. We cook a huge batch so that there are always some left over. Those go in the fridge and the kids warm them up in the toaster during the week.
The recipe we use is on AllRecipes.com but we double it (except for the sugar) and also use a mixture of white and whole wheat flour. We also thaw out some of those frozen blueberries and add them for blueberry pancakes. Occasionally, we mix it up a little and make waffles instead but the kids seem to prefer pancakes. I remember calling waffles “bumpy pancakes” when our oldest was young so he would eat them!
We also have a few go-to meals we seem to make frequently that I’ll save for some other time. We aren’t always the healthiest eaters, but I think we do OK. I think it’s important to teach kids early what is a good snack and what isn’t. I always have part of that song from the 1980’s stuck in my head: “The best foods come in wrappers of their own”. Enjoy.
My family uses Cozi for our calendar, shopping, and to-do lists. The best part is that it's free.
Copyright Dave Lubke and www.davelubke.com, 2018
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