Messin’ Up the Kitchen

You know what I’m really bad at? Keeping a regular schedule. Life would probably be so much easier if I just scheduled regular times in the week to do household chores, plan a menu and go to the grocery store, or check in with my parents. I don’t check in on my parents often enough. And how hard could this possibly be? They live on the next block! But I think there’s some flaw in my genetic makeup that contributes to my habit of flying by the seat of my pants. I can’t tell you how many times there will be a thought in the back of my mind to get something taken care of , but I simply choose to ignore it because … I don’t know … because I’m either mentally or physically exhausted or maybe because I’m just that lazy. The flip side of this problem, though, is that I work well under pressure. I get things done best when there’s a sense of urgency.

I have the best of intentions to change my ways. It just hasn’t happened yet. There’s always that sense of guilt that accompanies the knowledge that I’ve sort of dropped the ball again. And I always vow to do better from that point forward. There just don’t seem to be enough hours in the day to accomplish all the things that I wish I could.

And so what happened on Friday is so very typical for me.  I was at work when I received a text message from my sister saying that we should probably talk soon, and seriously about our parents. My mom’s ongoing health problems are simply not going to get better. She has bad days and not so bad days, but she never has really good days anymore. Getting a full breath of air is a thing of the past for her. And as a result, she is often dizzy, sick, and utterly fatigued. Running errands, keeping house and cooking can seem like such daunting tasks for her.

My sis and I made a quick agreement to get over to our parents’ house this weekend to help take some of the weight off Mom’s shoulders. I had a quiet weekend ahead anyway, what with the kids back to school again and Lucy Pie healing from her hip surgery. Normally Friday nights are my lazy nights. I usually read or watch a movie and then do chores over the weekend. But since I had just agreed to squeeze in extra activities, I tackled as much housework as I could so as to free up some hours on Saturday.

I was up early on Saturday morning with the Girly Pies. I took them out in the backyard first thing, then passed out meds and treats and filled their food dishes. I did a few more of my own chores then before showering and heading over to Mom and Dad’s house to do whatever was needed there. My sister arrived not long after me and we were able to pare down Mom’s to-do list pretty quickly.

When Mom asked Dad what he wanted for lunch, he asked what the options were. She informed him that there weren’t many. The cupboards were getting bare. I remembered then that I had really been slacking off on my resolution to cook more and make enough to share with my parents. Even cooking on a regular basis is sometimes just too much for my mom.

I ended up running to the local McDonald’s and picking up sandwiches for everyone. Yech! That was motivation for me. As soon as I got back home, I started planning a menu and making a grocery list. It was a dreary, rainy weekend anyway. If I was going to be stuck in the house because of the weather and a recuperating dog, I might as well cook. My parents were my main motivation, but this would benefit my own family as well. Try as I might, I just cannot seem to get into a good routine of cooking. If I manage a home-cooked meal two or three times a week, I’m lucky. So while I doubted I would soon turn over a new leaf and start cooking every night, (I’ve proven myself incapable time and again,) I knew I could do a whole buncha cooking all at once.

I broke out the favorite cookbooks, checked the freezer to see what I already had on hand (lots of ground beef and lots of chicken,) paged through the cookbooks to find the tried and true favorites and whipped out a list. (Go figure. Having a grocery lists makes the shopping so much easier and cheaper!)

I started last evening with the family favorite Sloppy Joe recipe. I made four pounds of this – some for Mom and Dad, some for us, and some for the freezer (at Kacey’s request.) Next I made a big pot of White Chicken Chili, again dividing it into three portions. This morning I made a couple of meat loaves and a big pot of traditional chili and some cornbread muffins. And if my enthusiasm holds out, later on today I’ll make a big pan of lasagna to split with Mom and Dad.

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Yeah, so these aren’t the healthiest of meals, but they’re home-cooked and can be frozen for later use, so that’s half the battle right there. I may have bad habits, but at least I’ve figured out how to capitalize on at least one of them. And we’ll be eating happy this week!

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34 thoughts on “Messin’ Up the Kitchen

  1. Looking good Terri – chilli sounds like a great next idea for my kitchen… we made up chicken parmesan and chicken wild rice soup with some chocolate chip scones – keep in mind these are not for me!!! but everyone else will be happy and they freeze well. The sun is suppoze to come out later, so fingers are crossed.

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    • I don’t have a chicken wild rice soup recipe. I usually make cheesy wild rice soup with ham. The chicken variety would be a good change of pace. I’m liking this idea of freezing dinners so we don’t have to make them during the week!

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  2. We sometimes avoid chores/obligations like those. But, given what you’ve been dealing with lately, it is fully understandable. I hate seeing parents get older, becoming more dependent upon their children. Still, you and your sister are doing a great job of watching over them. It shows all the love you guys have for them.

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  3. I read this first paragraph and I thought, “wait, I thought I was at Terri’s blog, but why am I reading the inside of my head?” Nice job on the batch cooking! Your parents are blessed to have you as a daughter. And the photos – they could be in a food magazine!

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  4. I thought the same thing as Abby. I could post this exact blog on my own site and have it all be true! Right down to the meals you cooked. Honestly, I have white chicken chili, traditional chili, cornbread muffins, sloppy joe, and individual meat loaves, cooked up and stored in my freezer for the kids to heat up when they are hungry. I find it so much easier to cook everything in one day.
    And I, too, do my best work when there is a sense of urgency. Drives my hubby crazy that I wait til the last minute to do things, and then go full force at it.
    No sense trying to change now. You’ve got your heart in the right place, and when it comes down to it, you get done what needs to be done.
    P.S. Love the pic of the stained cookbooks. That’s when you know the recipe is good! :)

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    • I can see why you’d have to make a habit of cooking and freezing meals, with that crazy work schedule you have! I’m hoping I can make somewhat of a habit of doing this. It sure would help. I’m sure I won’t be cooking 5 meals every weekend, but now that I have 5 done, maybe if I keep up by doing 2 more each week, we’ll have more home-cooked meals around here – and for Mom & Dad.

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  5. I also love the picture of the stained cookbook pages. You can tell that’s a loved recipe! I agree that the pictures look as if they came from a magazine (except for the stained one-ha).

    Your family and your parents are going to appreciate all your hard work. I hope you all have big freezers:-).

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    • We all have basement freezers so storage isn’t a worry! :-)

      That stained cookbook is a church cookbook that my mother-in-law gave me in 1989. I love those church cookbooks! They are so full of “family” and regional types of foods. Most of my kids’ favorites come from one of the many church cookbooks in my collection.

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  6. You know that old saying “Misery loves company?” Well, you have no idea how comforting it was for me to read this post and see that there are others who procrastinate just as well as I manage to do that too! Welcome to the club, Kiddo! I always tend to work much better under stress than quiet and calm.

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  7. I am exactly the opposite. I HAVE to have a plan and a schedule. And when I don’t I feel lost and totally stressed out. That happened a lot during this latest trip!

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    • It’s funny because in certain areas of my life, I have to have a plan and a schedule. At work, I have a running to-do list and I constantly work from it. But in my personal life – I just take whatever comes my way.

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  8. I also work better under pressure and have a tendency to fly by the seat of my pants, even though I prefer a schedule and a routine, sometimes life just doesn’t allow it!

    “There’s always that sense of guilt that accompanies the knowledge that I’ve sort of dropped the ball again.”

    Yep. I totally relate to that.

    I am terribly sorry to hear your mom’s having such health issues. And you’re a wonderful daughter for taking such good care of them. Have fun cooking today!

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    • Thanks, Mel. I “drop the ball” too often where my parents are concerned, so I guess that’s why I had the manic cooking episode this weekend. I’ll still work on handling this part of my life better, but as ShadowRun said, some things are probably just too hard to change once they’ve been your way for so long.

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  9. Yummy, Terri! I’m like you when it comes to making a mess in the kitchen. However, I am big into routine and can’t stand waiting till the last minute to do things. Too stressful for me. My Sara is more like you. Happy Sunday, my friend. I really enjoyed this post.
    Hugs,
    Kathy

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    • Thanks, Kathy! Well at least you and Sara probably balance each other out! Mark and I are too alike in this part of our personalities and sometimes it ends up making me feel like we live in complete chaos.

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  10. Sounds like you found a way to kick it in gear and get it done!

    I vacillate between being really organized and somewhat … meh. But what I’ve done for a few years might help you: I always cook at least 2 meals on Sunday, I maintain a “general” menu and usually have the ingredients to throw something together last minute.

    Having cooked for my Mom when I was with her in August, I can tell you that it doesn’t matter what you fix, it matters that you did. They will love and enjoy every morsel. And don’t forget the sweets! :)

    Another great item that is easy to make and freeze is homemade meatballs: You can double the batch and freeze them in little baggies, 12 at a time. Buy some spagetti sauce or stroganoff sauce and she can add it later on.

    Peace to you, your sister, your Mom & Dad and the pie girls.
    Hugs
    MJ

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    • Great ideas, MJ! Thanks for the tips. I brought 4 meals over to my parents’ house and my mom was just gushing with thanks. I’m glad my efforts were so well received. I’ve just finished the lasagna and will bring that over a bit later. There’s a cookie recipe I found that sounds good, but I don’t think I’ve got any energy left to bake! Next time!

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  11. You are a good daughter. I know your parents will appreciate every bite. You live a busy life, so giving of yourself like this is loving and kind. You are teaching your kids by example and remember, some day that will be you needing some help.

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  12. Good job, Terri — I think as people age, they tend to do less home cooking, so I’m sure your doing this will be appreciated by your folks. Giving of ourselves makes for the best gift, don’t you think?!

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  13. Can’t beat a bit of home cooking – and good work with helping out your parents. Are they staying up north this year?

    I really don’t know how you work and do the family stuff too – always amazes me that women can do it! Most men certainly can’t!

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  14. I could So relate to this, my friend. I go from clicking along in a fairly organized way to total chaos and back. Of course I prefer when I am on top of things and have everything done “just so”. but I cannot maintain that consistently!! Would Love your meatloaf recipe and white chili recipe–and any others. We prefer a good homecooked meal but at times we, too have to do carryout because I haven’t stayed organized. Having something in the freezer to pop in the oven is good—and my crockpot is a true Godsend. Hope your mom is having a good day—and that you are too! Hugs to you my MN friend—from your friend the MN ex-patriate :-)

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  15. Those are definitely healthier than McD’s! I maintain that anything made at home is way healthier than the equivalent at a restaurant, and ALL of those things you listed sound delicious. I just made a bunch of guacamole yesterday for the first time. It was super easy to make and delicious to eat. I love making big pots of pasta though and then eating leftovers for five days. I call that efficiency.

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    • That’s true… while not truly “healthy” they are definitely better than fast food. And there’s home-cooked food in the freezer whenever someone is looking for something to eat. I’ll have to do this more often.

      I LOVE guacamole! I’ve made it a time or two and could just sit and eat it until it’s gone.

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