Thursday, March 07, 2013

Margin multiplies

Maybe the book will talk about this. I don't know. But what I do know is that margin multiplies.

It does. It is rather amazing.

It started with just thinking about margin and realizing that I needed it. Over a couple of weeks I planned in project time and empty time, among the hustle of work and other activities. Putting OPEN time on my calendar meant that when things happened during the week and ate up my project time, I still had my Sunday afternoon that was for whatever: a nap, a project, reading, cleaning. Whatever.

I chose to use the free time to clean my pantry, a task that had been bumped by a couple of unexpected trips across town earlier in the week. This picture is the after. The before had me embarrassed to have anyone in my house,  completely clueless about what was in my pantry, and completely incapable of finding anything that I was fairly certain was in there.

Besides, I LOVE this room. It holds some of my favorite things. It is a beautiful space. I'm lucky to have it. And I want to enjoy it.

But that isn't what this post is about. It's about margin multiplying.

Since I got the pantry cleaned and organized, I was able to fix dinner Sunday through Wednesday without making a trip to the grocery. (Which means I got to miss the beginning of the month food stamp crowd and the oh-no-a-snowstorm! crowd.)  This also meant that I didn't have to squeeze a trip to the grocery in and that I got to use the time for other things.

Since the pantry was done, my Wednesday afternoon project time was spent on paperwork. I got bills paid. Looked at budgeting for the next couple of months. Balanced the checking account. And I got most of the papers that we need for our taxes pulled together over two weeks before I meet with the accountant. (By the way, talk about a decision that gave me margin!) I identified two things that I am missing while there is still plenty of time to get them.

I have margin at work. I am now consistently working at least two weeks ahead.

Knowing what was in my pantry alerted me to some things that need to be used up. This is going to save us money in the long run. More margin.

For me, one huge benefit that I am already seeing is a reduction in worry. This means that I slept like a baby last night. Nothing was nagging at my brain. Good sleep means waking up ready to go. I was able to move through a very busy day feeling like I was firing on all cylinders. Today was incredibly productive. Productivity means that I got more done today than I had planned at work, so I don't need to work tomorrow. More margin!

For some of you, all of this is going to seem so obvious. But for me, with my ADD brain and my heretofore chronically over-committed life, this is a revelation.

Pray for me, that I will be able to maintain it.

Tuesday, March 05, 2013

Curried Sweet Potato Shepherd's Pie

5 med (12 oz) sweet potatoes, baked and slightly cooled
2 T vegetable oil (I used coconut)
2 lbs ground turkey, chicken, or beef (we've only used beef)
2 t salt
1/3 c flour (we used coconut flour to avoid the wheat, and it worked well)
1 T curry powder (we use Madras curry)
1 3/4 c OR 1 14 oz can chicken broth
1 1/2 lbs carrots, peeled and chopped
1 1/2 lbs parsnips, peeled and chopped
1 med onion, chopped
1 T grated fresh ginger
1 package (10 oz) frozen peas
1 c milk, warmed
2 T butter

1) Preheat oven to 375. Heat 1 T oil in 12" skillet over med-high heat. Add meat and 1/2 t salt; cook until no longer pink.
2) Stir curry powder and flour into meat; cook 1 minute, stirring. Add broth and heat to boiling. Cook 1 minute or until mixture thickens slightly. Divide between 2 1/2 or 2 quart baking dishes.
3) In same skillet, heat 1 T oil. Add carrots, parsnips, and onion, and cook about 15 min, until vegetables are browned and tender, stirring occasionally. Stir in ginger, frozen peas, and 1/2 t salt. Divide vegetable mixture between casseroles.
4) Coarsely mash sweet potatoes. Stir in milk, butter, and 1 t salt. Mash until well blended, and spread over vegetables.
5) Bake, uncovered, 35-40 minutes or until top is browned.

Makes 2 casseroles, of approximately 6 servings each.

From the Good Housekeeping Cookbook.