Thursday, May 30, 2013

Simplified Dinners/Paperless Home Organizataion

A homeschool mom's dilemma~ what to do with all the stacks of paper, notebooks, home management journals, to do lists, shopping lists, menu plans... you name it and it's in paper form, I know that *I* at least, am oftentimes SWAMPED with it. Even electronic to do's like my email inbox are out of control.

Thankfully, a kind and organized soul has created an ebook manual to help tame the paper monster (and yes... the electronic monster) by utilizing some fairly simple methods, and apps. Mystie Winckler (Author of the Simplified Pantry ebooks below) gives us Paperless Home Organization.

I have to admit that it has taken me quite awhile to get going with this system (in part because I get hung up on things like "why isn't my iCal on my computer syncing with the iCal on my iPad with the iCal on Google correctly! I have duplicates, and then I have nothing! ARGH!!! ... see.... sidetracked... whoops!), but even in spite of my sidetracks, I have been able to see some success in paring a few things down through following the tips and ideas in Mystie's book.

True Confession: I am an email hoarder~ I almost NEVER delete emails (Because I might need it some day, right??? Right! It has come in handy being able to pull up a 3 or 4 year old email upon the rare occasion). As a result, my inbox would terrify a truly type A person, while it sometimes causes me to miss an important email amidst all the "stuff." Mystie shows how to use filters and labels and tags to organize even the "junk" that I might want to read if I have a minute, as well as the essential emails. In the space of oh, 30-45 minutes I whittled my "unread inbox" from 131,170-ish emails down to 127,128 emails. (That was just creating filters from emails on my first page. Pretty nifty, right? If I can keep it up, one day I might have a sleek, slim inbox as well (While still keeping those essential archives, just in case... :) )

So~ different things will have a greater impact on different folks. For me, that was a big one. The calendar~ well.. if I could only get the technology to play nice, that would be good as well. Mystie gives more tips and instructions on using the electronic calendar to a much greater potential than I have tried so far.

Now, one thing that I am still working on wrapping my head around is the "Home Organization" part of this system. It entails the use of a couple of applications, with fairly detailed instructions, but I have bogged down in a couple of places. Evernote is the major application being used, and I have only just begun to utilize it, with help from Mystie, whose organizational skills far surpass my own.
She details how to set Evernote up to store homeschool information and even portfolios, recipes and menu organization and so much more.

For someone who has been bogged down for years I can almost promise that it's going to take *me* months to get things all in place and organized, because it DOES take some time to implement any sort of "organization" virtual or otherwise. I am hopeful that this is a system that might work for me (*if* I can get into the habit of doing certain tasks every day~ yep... that's definitely a part of my problem~ consistency). ;) Having this manual is like taking a class in electronic organization~ without having to find childcare, or leave your home!

The  Review Crew received a couple more ebooks from Mystie to review and check out~
Simplified Dinners and
Simplified Dinners Gluten Free/Dairy Free

These are  both fairly concise ebooks (30-33 pages) but they are jam-packed with some great ideas~ the basic concept is to "simplify dinner" by using a basic type of meal, and then giving variations on the dishes, so that you don't feel like you are cooking the same thing over and over.

If you want to get a feel for the way the books are set up, you can download a Simplified Dinners Sample and a Simplified Dinners Gluten Free/Dairy Free Sample. The samples include
  • The introduction
  • The master pantry list
  • Recipe variations for one of the 16 meal types
The meal types included are:
Slow-Cooker Roasts                                 Slow-Cooker, No-Defrost Chicken Pieces
Chicken-in-a-Pot                                      Skillet Cutlets with Pan Sauces
Marinades for Grilling or Broiling           Foil-Packet Fish
Stovetop Pasta                                          Bean Pots
Lentils over Rice *GF only                      Fajitas
Quesadillas                                               Taco Bar
Burritos or Enchiladas                              Taquitos
Frittata                                                      Oven Omelette
Pizza *not in GF                                       Simple Stir-fry
Potato Hash                                              Baked Potato Bar
Bean Soups                                               Stews
Blended Vegetable Soups                         Quick Soups
Main Dish Salads                                     Vegetable Side Dishes
Side-Dish Salads                                       Starchy Side Dishes
Gluten- & Dairy-Free Desserts*GF only

Many of the ideas (For instance, the Stovetop Pasta Dishes) are ones that I already use, but I sometimes get in a rut, and this is a handy little resource to have around to make it a little easier to help the same meal not taste the same 3 weeks in a row. ;)

I also appreciate the brevity of the instructions~ for the same basic meal (Say, "Blended Soups") the basic stovetop process and the slow cooker process are written down first. They are  followed by each variation. If a certain step is skipped, it tells you, and the only the specific variations are included.  This is how it is possible to get 5 (or more) recipes on one page! Yes short, yes, concise, yes simple, but NOT skimpy! 
I will mention that many of the recipes are duplicated in both books, but if you are GF/DF, you will definitely want to check out that option. Be sure to explore the Simplified Pantry site~ there are a few more recipes included, as well as some techniques and such.
Not So Nutty Nitty Gritty 
For those who purchase both Simplified Dinners and  Paperless Home Organization, Mystie has Simplified Dinners in an Evernote Stack that she will share upon request. If you use Evernote (or decide to after reading Paperless Home Organization), simply email her and ask for the Evernote Simplified Dinners and she will send you the invitation (she can only do it manually from Evernote, so she needs individual requests). 

Mystie is offering a TOS Review Crew discount: when readers enter TOS2013 at checkout, they can receive 30% off! That discount will work on any or all of her eBooks, through June 3rd.

Please click the banner below to visit the TOS Review Crew and see what others had to say (They may have gone more in depth on the Simplified Dinners options, I chose to focus on the HOme Organization). As always, I hope that this review was useful to you as you choose where best to spend your homeschool budget.


1 comment:

  1. I really need something like this. I am super unorganized when it comes to meal planning, grocery shopping, etc.


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