Using Google Calendar for My Menu Planning

Menu planning has always been a pretty big deal at our house – even when I had less kiddos to cook for. I enjoy the process of menu planning to an extent (finding new recipes, dreaming about how much my family is going to love the meals, etc.), but it is a big chore that typically takes several hours to complete.

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I’ve also found that no matter how great my plan, it ALWAYS changes.  I have to cross things off the list, move them to another day, or sometimes just skip the meal altogether.  After reading Mystie Winckler’s Paperless Home Organization, I decided it was time to ditch the pen and paper when it comes to menu planning and find a better way.

(See my full review of Paperless Home Organization HERE.  Use Coupon Code: raisingarrows for 25% off through Sunday 3/22/15)

How I Use Google Calendar to Menu Plan | RaisingArrows.net

Mystie introduced me to using Google Calendar to handle my menu planning, and I LOVE IT!  It has fixed a lot of the issues I was having with menu planning, and has simplified the process altogether.

So, let me share how I do it…

I use Gmail, so the calendar is built in to my email program, and I have it set up to sync to all my devices (my phone and my iPad – this is important for reasons I’ll explain in a moment.)

If you click the squares in the right hand side of your Gmail screen, you will get a drop down menu in which you will find your Calendar.

Using Google Calendar to Menu Plan | RaisingArrows.net

Using Google Calendar to Menu Plan | RaisingArrows.net

A large calendar pops up and you can add all sorts of things to it.  I have a household calendar, a blogging calendar, an appointment calendar, and my menu planning calendar.  I usually have all of them together where I can see everything at a glance; however, you can turn on and off whatever calendars you would like.  You can also share the calendars with anyone who has a Gmail account.  When I am menu planning, I usually keep all the calendars on, so I can see what might be coming up that week and plan my meals accordingly.

I only put in lunch and supper on my calendar.  Breakfast is almost always the same – whatever you can find!  Actually, I keep cereal, bread, yogurt and fruit on hand as our staple breakfasts every day but Saturday, when we make a bigger hot breakfast.

As I work through my Pinterest boards and cookbooks, I am able to add the meal to the calendar and add a link if need be into the description section of each calendar item. (Read more HERE about how I do this – you will notice I was not using Google Calendar when I wrote that post.)

Using Google Calendar to Menu Plan | RaisingArrows.net

I can also make notes and set timers for anything I need to do to get the meal ready…thaw meat, start sourdough, etc.  I can set the calendar to sound an alarm, put a pop up on my screen, or send me an email.  This is a great feature for me because I am forever sidetracked it seems!

The great thing about syncing the calendar with my phone and iPad is that I can use those devices in the kitchen to cook.  I can simply click on the link in the calendar and it opens up to my recipe!  If the recipe isn’t online, I can make a note of what page and what cookbook it is in.

And the best part?  If I don’t use a meal that day, I just drag and drop it to another day!  It really has taken a lot of the headache out of meal planning for me

If you need a little more information on using Google Calendar itself, Mystie has a great tutorial to help you:

And if you are interested in learning more about managing your home in a paperless way, take a gander at Mystie’s ebook Paperless Home Organization!  Don’t forget to use Coupon Code: raisingarrows for 25% off through Sunday 3/22/15!

Why Single-Serve Coffee Makers are Large Family Friendly

Are Single-Serve Coffee Makers worth it for the large family?  I would have said no way...until my in-laws bought us one.  Here's why I've changed my tune and would go so far as to say they are actually PERFECT for the large family! | RaisingArrows.netI need to start this post by telling you that for several years my personal opinion of single-serve coffee makers has been that they are frivolous, non-essential kitchen gadgets. I would see a giveaway for one online and think, “what a waste…especially for a large family.”

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So, when my in-laws bought us one (a Keurig, as you can see from the photo) for Christmas, I was thankful, but really not sure I wanted to give up counter space for a “toy.”

Now, don’t get me wrong, I like coffee…a lot.  In fact, my coffee and creamer is one of the few things I haven’t been willing to give up for Trim Healthy Mama.  But one cup at a time?  Just make a whole pot!  My philosophy has been whoever gets to the coffee maker first, has the right to choose the coffee that gets brewed.  Deal with it.  But, I have to admit when Ty gets there first and makes that nasty chicory stuff, I’m sorry I’ve held to such a philosophy.

But, is that really a good reason to own a single-serve?

Are Single-Serve Coffee Makers worth it for the large family?  I would have said no way...until my in-laws bought us one.  Here's why I've changed my tune and would go so far as to say they are actually PERFECT for the large family! | RaisingArrows.net

And what about the price of those single serve cups (K cups as Keurig calls them)?  My husband really likes his Caribou Coffee – something we can’t get where we currently live – but is it worth it to buy the K cups?  No, not really…but it sure is fun!  However, that said, we’ve found a way around this by using reusable cups…more on that in a moment!

My 10 year old daughter prefers tea over coffee.  She likes fruity blends like Grandma’s Garden.  Several others in the family have started drinking tea as well – some loose leaf, some tea bags.  Oh, and don’t forget the hot cocoa drinkers.

After mulling this all over, I decided to embrace this whole single-serve thing.  It didn’t take my husband nearly that long to decide it was pretty awesome.  Guys like gadgets. ;)

Now that we’ve had the Keurig for several weeks, I must say my poor coffee pot NEVER gets used.  Having a single-serve coffee maker has made it where everyone can have exactly what they want, and switch it up as often as they’d like.  I also don’t have to worry about a scalding hot tea pot on the stove or a wasted pot of coffee because it took too long to brew or we just plum forgot about it.

Let me give you an idea of how we’ve made it work…

For the tea bags and hot cocoa, the children simply push the button and run hot water through the machine.  This is also how we brew our iced tea.  Drop the bags (or powder) into the hot water and steep.

We do have some K cups, but we also purchased a reusable one (I want to get another one and keep our tea and coffee separate which is why I’m recommending this 2 pack).  Having a reusable cup means you can use ANY coffee or loose leaf tea.  We can often get 2 brewings out of each round as well, saving even more.

One quick note for you tea lovers…the Keurig doesn’t boil the water, so it doesn’t hurt the tea.  We brew the tea and then let the cup sit for a bit to “steep”.  It’s not a “perfect” cup of tea, but it’s pretty good.

We do have a K cup holder, but I wouldn’t recommend the one we have.  The two shown below would be much better than what we have because they hold more, are more compact, and the cups are less apt to fall out all over the place.

Other Resources: (some just for fun!)

*How to Clean Your Keurig
*The History of Coffee from International Coffee Organization
*Coffee Unit Study
*How to Make Your Own Loose Leaf Tea

Homemaking Podcasts

Need encouragement?  Need motivation?  Need a fresh perspective?  Here are some great FREE podcasts and mp3 downloads just for the homemaker! | RaisingArrows.net

A lot of women consider homekeeping drudgery.  It is something that must be done over and over.  It’s not like a project that has a beginning and ending point.  It isn’t something that earns you accolades or gets you published.  You aren’t going to become famous keeping a home, and most of the time no one is even going to notice what you’ve done throughout the day.

I’ve written before about the monotony of homemaking as well as homemaker burnout, but this post isn’t about breaking up the day or even how to be a good homemaker.  It’s about being encouraged a little bit at a time.

One of the best ways I’ve found to be encouraged in my homemaking endeavors is to listen to audios that are specific to homemakers.  I may not have time to sit down with a book, but I can put on a podcast and keep going with my day.  Even now, as I’m recovering from having baby #9, I’m finding great encouragement in listening as I nurse my little one.  In fact, last night I sat on the floor outside my toddler’s door and listened to a podcast as I kept watch over his nighttime escape attempts.  (He is almost 2 and naps and bedtime have become a struggle because he’s too busy to sleep!)

I thought you might be interested in what is currently in my podcast queue as well as some free downloads I’ve found online that are specifically geared toward the homemaker.

Virtuous Woman

I was only able to find 16 of Melissa Ringstaff’s podcasts on iTunes, but after searching a bit, I found 65 Days worth of her From Calm to Chaos podcast series on her blog, AVirtuousWoman.org.

Heavenly Homemakers Podcasts

Laura’s podcasts cover everything from homeschooling to freezer cooking to teaching Scripture to your children!  She currently has 11 podcasts available for download on her website.

Biblical Womanhood free mp3 downloads

The link above goes to all the free downloads from Sovereign Grace Ministries on the topic of Biblical Womanhood.  I love Carolyn Mahaney’s down to earth practical speaking style!

Homemakers By Choice

Donna Otto currently has 301 podcasts available with topics on everything from Scripture to communication in marriage.  The link above (and all following) are iTunes links.  You can listen via the Podcasts app on your Apple device or download the iTunes app to your computer or other device.  Many of these podcasts are also available on Stitcher.

A Happy Home

I heard so many good things about Keri Mae’s podcasts, I couldn’t wait to add her to my queue.  I am currently listening to the Downsizing Our Home series.

FLYlady Tools

Years and years ago, I took the information on FLYlady and ran with it, transforming my home in the process.  As our family grew, many of FLYlady’s tactics didn’t work as well as they once had, but still today, I use things I learned from her to keep my home running smoothly.

Organize 365

Lisa has some great information on organizing.  I enjoy reading her blog, but it’s especially nice to be able to listen to her organizing tips when I don’t have the time to read.

 Making Our Home a Haven

Topics on organizing your closet to finding the time to cook!  The audio quality isn’t the best, and there are only 10 very short episodes, but they were very good.

Domestic CEO

Over a hundred episodes, all nice and short, so you don’t have to carve out a lot of time to listen.  Topics range from how to clean a washing machine to how to make your home smell good.

A Slob Comes Clean

I know Dana (aka Nony the Slob) personally, and just love her!  She has been blogging through her personal deslobification (as she calls it), and encourages other women to learn to keep a decluttered and “clean enough” home with practical real-life tips.

By the way, Nony’s 2 ebook set (affiliate link) is on sale all of January for $5 total (usually $5 a piece!) – no coupon code needed.

CLICK HERE TO LEARN MORE!

Cleaning & Declutter ebook sale

Who knows, maybe someday I’ll make a podcast!  Until then, I hope you enjoy the ones I’ve listed!

Did I miss one of your favorite homemaking podcasts?  Know of any free mp3 downloads that would encourage the homemaker?  Let me know!

Get Your Home in Order with Mystie’s Help! (Coupon & Freebies!)

If you feel you need to get your home in order this year, Mystie Winckler’s products are some of my favorites!  In addition to her ebooks Paperless Home Organization, Declutter Your Head, and Simplified Dinners (which also comes in a gluten- and dairy-free edition), she now has a self-paced course that will help you organize not only your home, but also your head and your heart: Simplified Organization: Learning to Love What Must Be Done

Simplified Organization eCourse Discount

You can read my full review of the Simplified Organization ecourse
HERE

Simplified Organization: Learning to Love What Must Be Done contains videos, audios, worksheets, and action items, as well as access to a private community where you can get support and accountability from Mystie and others working through the material. The course is now also available in a module-by-module format, where you can pay $17 per module, one at a time.

Now, for the deal you don’t want to miss…

During the month of January, you can use the discount code:

startnow
for 25% off
any of Mystie’s products!

But if you buy the full Simplified Organization course in January, you’ll also receive a free copy of Paperless 125Paperless Home Organization

and

SimplifiedDinners125Simplified Dinners!

Read my review of Paperless Home Organization HERE,
and my review of Simplified Dinners HERE.

Simplified Coupon & Free books!

CLICK TO ORDER!

Tools to Get Healthy in 2015 Coming Soon!

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Several months back, I chose not to participate in the Ultimate Healthy Living Bundle Sale.  I was coming off morning sickness with Baby #9, and was more in “survival” mode than “get healthy” mode.  But, here at the end of my pregnancy, I am ready to jump into 2015 with the tools I need to become a healthier me.

Thankfully, Ryan, Stephanie, and Erin of Ultimate Bundles are making the Ultimate Healthy Living Bundle fully available again for 48 hours starting on December 29 at midnight!

The bundle sold almost 20,000 copies in the previous sale, and Ryan, Stephanie, and Erin worked hard to get permission from all the authors of this amazing collection of books, courses and resources to allow for 2 more days of this bundle to help transform your family’s health!

So, mark December 29 at midnight on your calendar!

As soon as that window opens, you will be given all the information you need to order during this 48 hour sale.  I’m looking forward to grabbing my own bundle this time!

Oh, and while you wait for the sale to start, sign up for the FREE guide:

Four Steps to Your Healthiest Year

P.S. In case you haven’t seen these already, here are the testimonials from the people who bought the Ultimate Healthy Living Bundle in September.