January 29, 2015

the work/life balance battle

Now that I am working full time Monday thru Friday the juggle of work and life outside work has become a sometimes winning sometimes losing battle. I definitely haven't figured out a perfect balance and I am not sure I will, because I kind of think finding that perfect balance is impossible. The overall goal for me is to have an ever changing a balance, there are days where work trumps all, but I make sure the next day I make extra time for whatever was neglected the day before. A constant moving scale of balance.

Here are a few things that have helped level out the scale on a day to day basis...

The blog >>  
Scheduling ahead of time. This is something that takes getting used to, heck I am still pretty terrible but I am really working hard at getting better, because it helps SO much. I try to block out a chunk of time on the weekend where I crank out posts for the week. This clears up valuable time during the week and allows space for other things. I can't schedule more then a week out, it just doesn't work for me. A week seems to be my max. I am also one of those people that likes to write what comes to mind some days, so I either throw up a second post for the day if I really have the urge to write or I find gaps in content for the following week and save it for then.

Relationships >> 
I am a person that needs to have friend time and family time. Aaron and I do our best to have at least one date night each week, we tend to try to get out of the house but sometimes it consists of drinks and a game night at home. Having at least one date night allows for us to make sure we are spending time together and not getting caught up in everything else going on. We also try to spend a chunk of our weekends together, even if it includes running errands. As for friends and family, I try to schedule at least one day or night during the week to catch up with a friend or hang out with family, mostly for my own mental sanity.

Work >>
My work can kind of be all over the place, I have an office to check in at but I travel around to different areas during the day to work with kids so the hours are varying, technically I work 8-4 but this seems to rarely happen. I am hoping as I get more comfortable with the job I can keep my work between these hours with the occasional paperwork at home. If I do have to finish work at home, I try to do it right when I get home before Aaron gets home or before I get distracted by anything else. This allows me to work more efficiently and have time for other things during the evening.

Hobbies >>
This is the area that tends to get put on the back burner. I have a love of crafting and doing project life, but the whirlwind that life is tends to brush these aside. I am working really hard to start setting aside some time on the weekends and weeknights to work on projects, so far so good. I try to work on things in whatever room Aaron is on so that we can still talk and be together but we get time to do the things we love. My other favorite hobby is reading, I set a goal to read every day even if it is just a page, I am loving this goal and so far have been doing great! I normally set aside some time right before bed to read.

January 28, 2015

cooking with mom: homemade chicken and dumplings

I am not a great cook, I have a few go to meals that I can do but thats about it. One of my favorite things to do though is cook with my mom, there is just something about being in the kitchen together, cooking a favorite recipe or attempting a new one. We talk about life and past memories, we mix and prep and laugh. Saturday Aaron was supposed to be away so I suggested a girls night in of cooking and watching a movie. Well, the snow came and Aaron didn't go out, but he still made himself scarce so my mom and I could have some time together. We made a new recipe we found from The Pioneer Woman, chicken and dumplings. A perfect comfort dish for a cold and snowy day.











The Soup

2 Tablespoons Butter

2 Tablespoons Olive Oil

1/2 cup All-purpose Flour

1 whole Chicken, Cut Into Pieces (cut Up Fryer)

 Salt And Pepper

1/2 cup Finely Diced Carrots

1/2 cup Finely Diced Celery

1 whole Medium Onion, Finely Diced

1/2 teaspoon Ground Thyme

1/4 teaspoon Turmeric

6 cups Low Sodium Chicken Broth

1/2 cup Apple Cider

1/2 cup Heavy Cream 


Dumplings:

1-1/2 cup All-purpose Flour

1/2 cup Yellow Cornmeal

1 Tablespoon (heaping) Baking Powder

1 teaspoon Kosher Salt

1-1/2 cup Half-and-half

Sprinkle chicken pieces with salt and pepper, then dredge both sides in flour.
Melt butter in a pot over medium-high heat. In two batches, brown chicken on both sides and remove to a clean plate.
In the same pot, add diced onion, carrots, and celery. Stir and cook for 3 to 4 minutes over medium-low heat. Stir in ground thyme and turmeric, then pour in chicken broth and apple cider. Stir to combine, then add browned chicken. Cover pot and simmer for 20 minutes.
While chicken is simmering, make the dough for the dumplings: sift together all dry ingredients, then add half-and-half, stirring gently to combine. Set aside.
Remove chicken from pot and set aside on a plate. Use two forks to remove chicken from the bone. Shred, then add chicken to the pot. Pour heavy cream into the pot and stir to combine.
Drop tablespoons of dumpling dough into the simmering pot. Add minced parsley if using. Cover pot halfway and continue to simmer for 15 minutes. Check seasonings; add salt if needed. Allow to sit for 10 minutes before serving. 

** For a little less work we bought a whole chicken already cut up! It just saves some of the prep time. 

January 26, 2015

Weekend in Review

This weekend was a good one, there was lots of coffee and much needed down time with Aaron.

1// Buffalo Wild Wings for delicious margaritas and buffalo wings.

2// A breakfast date on a snowy Saturday morning.

3// We got hit with a kinda small storm Saturday which meant a lot of lounging around

4// Delicious hot coffee and blog reading

Saturday was mostly spent lounging around, mom and I made chicken and dumplings from scratch and watched Men, Women, and Children.  Sunday was spent catching up on laundry, working on our budget for February and cleaning up around the house.

Weekends are my favorite.