Chapter 693 Book Fair Preparation Means Preparation At Home

Good news! Fine Books & Collections reviewed our collectively-produced catalogue for the February book fairs! We are so pleased to have this jointly-produced catalogue featured on their blog. You can click here to see what FB&C had to say.

I’ve spent this week doing much of the same thing I did last week — preparing for the San Francisco and Los Angeles (Pasadena) book fairs, though a few unexpected events have cropped up to try to distract me.

Here are the unexpected “events” that cropped up during the past 10 days:

1) The transmission on my mini-van (aka The Bookmobile) died. At 107,000 miles, we’re trying to decide whether the car will do ok with a new transmission (quite a costly repair) or whether we will be better off replacing the car (even more costly).

2) Our roof started to leak into the living room during a recent rainstorm. (Thankfully, the leak is small and no books were harmed or are stored anywhere near the leaky area. Fortunately, it has not rained since we discovered the leak.)

3) The tile floor in our bathroom started to crack and pull away from the wall. We suspect potential dry rot underneath the tile.


Despite these unexpected problems, which are, I suppose, common problems for an older house and an older car, I’ve decided that in order to keep from completely losing my mind, I MUST focus on the upcoming book fairs. They will be a fun and welcome distraction from all of these problems. (And they will give me the opportunity to earn some money towards making all these repairs.)

I spent most of the weekend at my “Command Central”, making plans for both the book fair and my household.

Here’s a photo of my “Command Central” (aka The Dining Room Table):

You don’t see any books in that picture, do you? That’s because I’ve spent a good deal of my work time this past week preparing the household to run smoothly while I’m away at the book fairs. Getting this household planning done over the weekend means that this week, the final week before I head off to the fairs, I can focus on packing books in boxes. Thoughtful Husband will be here with Tom and Huck while I stay in The City for the San Francisco Antiquarian Book, Print, and Paper Fair.  After that, he’s driving down to the 45th California International Antiquarian Book Fair in Pasadena with me (we have to take his car since the van isn’t working properly) while my parents stay with Tom and Huck. Thoughtful Husband, who has business of his own to conduct in Southern California, will then be flying home ahead of me. I’ll drive home after the fair. In all, I will be away from home for 10 days — the longest I’ve ever been away from my kids. I do get a brief, one-day stop at home in between the two fairs, and I know that both Thoughtful Husband and my parents are perfectly capable of running things just fine in my absence, but I’m trying to do as much advance work as possible before I leave to make their jobs a little easier.

Here’s what you see in the picture of “Command Central”. I suspect that those of you readers who are parents of school age kids or who otherwise have to manage the schedules of a group of people might be familiar with all of these things. If so, I’d love to know how you organize yourself and your family. Feel free to leave a comment, below, if you’re in the mood.

1) Top:  Home phone on the left. Business phone on the right.

2) Top left:  My grocery list for most of next week’s meals (still in the planning stages) and my coupon organizer. Yes, I use coupons! While I’m not an “Extreme Couponer”,  I spend about 15 minutes per week looking at what will be on sale at the store and matching that sale with a manufacturer’s coupon and planning my menu carefully. When I take the time to do this, I save between 25-30% on our weekly grocery bill. This savings is very important when you are feeding two constantly hungry, growing boys and often a few of their friends.

3)  Top right: My calendar. Thoughtful Husband wishes I would switch to some kind of electronic calendar we can all access from our computers, but, old fashioned girl that I am, I still like my great big wall calendar. It’s in our kitchen, on the refrigerator, where I can quickly jot down notes or change plans.

4) Bottom Left:  My Kitchen Binder. I tend to plan our dinner meals about 5 – 7 days at a time. On Friday, I look at the calendar for the week ahead and note what days will allow me time to cook a good meal for dinner. I shop for most of our groceries over the weekend. Often, things like basketball practice, guitar lessons, or Boy Scouts interfere with the idea of cooking a good dinner on a week night, because those activities frequently occur right at the time I should be home cooking. In the binder, which I put together myself, I have listed favorite recipes, organized by type of food — beef, chicken, fish, pasta, vegetarian, snacks, breakfast, etc.  I also have an index in the binder that divides the recipes into the type of cooking required — Easy Weeknight Family Favorites, Dishes That Can Be Cooked in the Crock Pot/Slow Cooker (good for days when I’m out driving kids to activities in the afternoon and want dinner ready when we get home), and Dishes That Can Be Cooked In Batches And Frozen. In each index, I’ve written the name of the recipe and the title and page number of the cookbook in which it can be found. Sometimes the recipe, if it’s a favorite, can already be found copied into my binder.  The last thing I have in my Kitchen Binder is a Freezer Inventory. When I’ve cooked food that can be frozen and eaten later, I write it down on the Freezer Inventory. That way I always know what (if any) dishes I have ready to go in the freezer. As of tonight, I have enough different dinners cooked and stored in the freezer for 9 nights. I did this by doubling the recipes of some of the dinners I cooked in December and January. This week, when I am busy trying to get ready to go but still need to provide a meal for four people, I can rely on those freezer meals.  Someday, when my schedule is less crazed, I look forward to doing less advance planning. For now, though, this system works well for our busy family with busy kids.

You might be thinking that this binder, which I put together myself last summer, sounds like a lot of work. It did take me a while to think about how to organize it and put it together, but once I did that, the binder became a time-saving tool for me. During our very busy school year, I look at that binder when I prepare my grocery shopping list on Fridays.  Each week, I choose one meal to defrost from the freezer and one meal to cook in the Crock Pot/slow cooker for the evenings when we are busy with sports practices and the like. One night a week, I choose to cook a recipe that can be doubled. I freeze the extra portion for a meal on some future night when we are busy, so I am always gradually replenishing our freezer meals.  On the other two nights of the week, I cook simple and easy dishes. My main goals are for us to limit going out to dinner and to eat a homecooked meal together, regardless of how busy we sometimes get.  Lucky for me, Thoughtful Husband often cooks on the weekends. 🙂 Also, I give myself total freedom from the binder and from advance planning during the summer, when we tend to grill most of our dinners.

Bottom Right:  My Household Management binder. This is another binder I’ve created with weekly and monthly to-do lists, chore lists, phone numbers, school, sports, and scouting information, holiday planning, etc. On this week’s to-do list, in addition to packing books for the fair are things like:  find Tom and Huck a ride to and from basketball practice when I am away at the book fairs, call a friend for her birthday, return overdue library books (!), and a list of the dinners I plan to cook this week.

If you come here mostly for bookish news, you might be wondering why I’m writing about how I manage my domestic duties. I’m writing about it because doing all of these things in a (somewhat) organized way allows me to be efficient. And perhaps I do it because it gives me the illusion of control over problems like a broken down car, a leaky roof, and dry rot.  Because of that attempt at efficiency, I have a little bit more time to devote  to working on books. Also, a few of my fellow working mothers have requested that I write up a little post to share about how to manage household duties and a home-based business, so for those of you who did so, here you go!

So that’s a quick tour of home preparations that help me to prepare for a book fair. More bookish posts to come soon!

See you in the stacks!

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