Huzzah! I am officially back into the full swing of life as a college student! After taking a year off to embark on the process of finding out what was causing my health problems and adjusting to the addition of C-PAP machine therapy to treat my sleep apnea, I am embracing the feeling of exhaustion that naturally occurs after a long day of teaching, learning and getting ready for the upcoming High Holy Days. It feels wonderful to be tired because I've been so busy as opposed to the all-encompassing fatigue that used to linger over every moment of every day, seemingly no matter what I did. My days are filled to the brim right now, and I'm loving it! Having such a full schedule means I must organize my days carefully, though the incredible thing about having less empty time is that I seem to get a lot more done!
One of my favorite discount store finds was this plant rack, which creates a wonderful storage space in my kitchen for cookbooks, my recipe box, plastic & reusable shopping bags and--of course, my dinosaur lunch box.
This time of year can be a balancing act for many of us. For some, kids are back at school and extra-curriculars are up and running. Others are students like myself and nose-deep in textbooks, essays and exams. Many of my friends and family are also preparing for Rosh Hashanah (which begins at sundown this Wednesday) and the holiday-packed Jewish month of Tishrei. I recently read a wonderful post on JewishMom.com by a guest blogger, Rivkah Slatkin of Jewish Life Organized. Mrs. Slatkin comprised a list of 10 Organizing Secrets for a 3-Day Yom Tov that covers every aspect of holiday preparation from cooking and cleaning to decorating your home, hosting guests and religious observance. Her ideas are concise, complete, and comprised in a way that is not overwhelming (which is hard to accomplish!). Since I am single and not hosting any holiday events this year, my To-Do list is quite a bit less involved, but many of her suggestions could still be useful this time of year and beyond.
Efficiency in cooking and food prep (not to mention disaster-avoidance) is dependent on utilizing minimal counter space well! I love having a spice rack for my most-frequently-used dried herbs and spices. Having some of my cooking utensils and good knives out and handy is helpful, too. I especially love that wooden box, which I found at a thrift store last year for storing things like olive oil, salt & pepper shakers, vinegars and my oil mister where I can quickly get them (and put them away) while I'm using the stove.
I specifically found her suggestion of using a slow cooker to prep and freeze meals very appealing. There is nothing more satisfying than coming home after a long day to a hot meal—and when you live alone, your slow cooker is likely the only means by which this will occur! Lately, my freezer has become a dear friend! Making large batches of soups, casseroles, even baked goods and freezing leftovers has allowed me to thaw out meal options for those days that are just too jam-packed to start from scratch.
Speaking of reusable containers, I love these working glasses with lids for storing dry goods like sugar!
My first few days of school made me keenly aware of how important it will be to have to-go options ready for packing along during the week. Reusable containers and baggies of ready-to-munch veggies, fruits, nuts, granola, etc., will all help me stay nourished and energized from the preschool classroom in the morning to the college lecture hall at night.
Another habit I’d really like to further develop is the ever-useful List. To-do lists, shopping lists, wish lists, agenda lists—I love lists. My sister turned me on to this meal-planning & shopping list template via the Real Simple website.
Even with best laid plans (and Lists), it's always important to recognize that sometimes, for various reasons, everything will not get done when or how we would want it. In those times, we are called upon to develop our ability to be flexible and compassionate with ourselves. I love to end my days with a bubble bath, a favorite magazine, and maybe even breakfast for dinner. In fact, after I accomplish some of today's to-dos I think I shall make myself some gluten-free Doughnut French Toast for dinner and curl up with a mug of apple cider.