Monday, November 16, 2009

Planning and List making

***Be warned: I was so excited about this entry that I got carried away. This is a looong blog entry. I didn't realize how much I felt like talking about my planning and list-making. You don't have to read it. Plus, it makes me seem like a crazy person.***

I love my planner. It's a beautiful red leather book from Franklin Covey. Sean gave it to me for Christmas in 2007, and each year he supplies me with a new calendar insert. The red planner stays a home because it's my Life Planner...not to be mistaken with my Work Planner. Anyway, the feelings I get when I crack open my planner are comfort, peace, and calmness. Even if there are a million things for me to do, I find comfort in seeing them all laid out for me. Ahhhhhhhhhh...I love planning.

My planning is not a mental thought process. Well, obviously that's where it all starts...but really, my planning consists of one thing and one thing only: LISTS. Lists, lists, and more lists. Sometimes, even when I have the list squared away in my head, I still want to write its contents down on paper so I can look at the list...and be proud of the list...and feel comforted by the list. Wow, I am an honest-to-God crazy person, aren't I? It's just that, I have a major fear - Forgetting. What if my brain forgets the list? Or forgets one piece of the list? If I write the list down then I can see it. And if I can see it, I can't forget it. (unless, of course, I forget what I did with the list, but that's another story...)

Oh, I make lists of everything. Here is a list of some lists that I like:

- Weekend plans, which can include everything from cleaning to errands to dinner plans. On busy weekends I have to fight myself from doing and hour by hour agenda...because that would be TOO crazy.
- Christmas Lists - things I want, things I want to buy for other people. It's pretty straightforward.
- Party Planning Lists. There's nothing that makes me happier than planning a party! Listing out the menu is my favorite. I've gotten quite good at mapping out the buffet, showing exactly where each dish should go on the table. And I always list out the guests. You know, just so that I can SEE their name and so I don't FORGET anyone.
- Budget List - a spreadsheet of all our monthly expenses, estimated gas, eating out, groceries, etc. I check our bank balance almost's more of a compulsion. I know what it's going to say, but I check it anyway. And I try to balance the checkbook once a week. I edit the budget quite frequently. Each time we pay a bill, I mark it BOLD so that I know we're paid up.
- Purse List. This is the ongoing list of to-do items and tiny reminders that lives in my purse. Current contents of the Purse List are as follows:
. Scarf for ____
. Hat for ___
. Target - CD for ____ for ___
. Drywall repair @ Yellow house
. Paint stairwell @ Yellow house
.401k vs IRA
. Carroll address card
. Dad's videos
. Ann's pictures
. new ___ for Sean
. Transmission - replace a gasket on the pan (whatever that means...)
. Rent Public Enemies
. T-shirts for Alfred A.
. Etsy bridesmaid dress - 'amandaarcher' pleated collar dress
. yellow shoes
. replacement seal for under the doors
. socks
. CK free
. black shoes

BUT - the best list of all...the list I've kept going on a weekly basis for the past 2 years is my beloved List of Meals. I owe my sanity to the meal planning list! After a crazy day at work, I can stumble through the door and go straight to my List of Meals. Everything is there for me in black and white. No worrying about what to cook. No wondering what random items are waiting for me in the pantry. I know exactly what to make for dinner, I know that I have everything for the recipe, and I don't have to think twice about it. I don't even think ONCE about it! I don't think about it at's so wonderful.

I take time on Saturdays (or sometimes Friday night...such a party animal!) to think about proteins, carbs and vegetables. What type of fish do I feel like eating? Will we have red meat this week? What's a good meatless meal? Is asparagus in season? Can I sneak in some cous cous into the menu without Sean noticing? Do we have pre-arranged dinner plans already? After I've thought it all out then I start building my grocery list (another favorite list of mine). My grocery list is categorized by department. I would never list broccoli next to butter or frozen brussels sprouts next to bread. No siree! The list must be in sequential order based on the store layout. I mean, why would you do it any other way?

Not too long ago, I had my trusty grocery list with me at Publix. A man actually said to me, "You're using a list? Now there's a concept!" Um, hello Jerk - who DOESN'T use a grocery list?

My favorite magazine REAL SIMPLE stole my heart when they featured an article on One Month of Dinners. What? You're kidding me! One month of meals already planned out for me? Yes, and complete with a grocery list. I was in hog heaven...

My List of Meals is never set in stone. Just ask Sean - I cross things out and rearrange them all the time. Sometimes unexpected things come up that interfere with dinner - an emergency, a last-minute invite from a friend, or I just don't feel like cooking after a bad day at work. And so, I stay flexible with the meals. Here's what we're looking at for the next week or so:

. Perogies w/ warm apple & onion slaw
. Cranberry stuffed pork chops w/ roasted carrots and red onion
. Salmon w/ cous cous (Yes, I did it!) & lemon-cilantro vinaigrette
. Cuban braised beef w/ red peppers and rice
. Beef soft tacos w/ Spanish rice
. Italian-herb sauteed chicken w/ pasta marinara
. Date night - Dinner & Movie (We're going to see The Blind Side...and I'm going to cry...)
. Trey's Birthday dinner - bring a salad and rolls to go w/ the steaks
. Nonnie's Thanksgiving Feast - can't wait!

If you made it this far, then God bless you...and thank you for reading about my lists. I really do love them. If you aren't a list person, then maybe I inspired you to start a list of your own. It can change your life!

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