Contributed by RL

It's that time of year when Christmas is over and the clean-up begins. We know getting rid of all those wrappings from the presents, putting the furniture back into place and deciding when to take down the tree. Then you look at that horde of stuff everyone got and wonder if we are going to have to go and get a storage facility because we are sure we don't have room in our home for all of these things.

Let's not over look the refrigerator with that over flow of food and snacks that we just had to have for the big day. Now this is one we really have to address since the new year is just around the corner and those goals for the coming year may get in the way of our using all of those items before they go bad. You know those goals we all have about losing weight and getting fit. But before we do that we should look at using up those items in that ice box.

One of the things we like at our house is pot pie. It's easy and uses a lot of what we need to use up before we start trimming up. So lets use up that turkey, ham or what ever meat you may have leftover by using 2 cups chopped meat with 3 tablespoons of olive oil, 2 teaspoons real salt, ½ teaspoon black pepper, 2 ½ cups of meat stock or bouillon, 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, 1 cup chopped onions, ¼ – ½ cup Clear Jel (hot), ¼ cup thick cream, ½ cup diced carrots, ½ cups diced celery, 1 cup diced potatoes, 1 teaspoon thyme fine chopped. Mix items together and cook until soft. While this is cooking get your pastry crust ready for the filling you are cooking. Preheat oven to 375 degrees and cook pot pie for about 1 hour or until top is golden brown with the filling bubbling hot. Then enjoy. For other different left overs ideas check out: (https://www.bbcgoodfood.com/recipes/collection/christmas-leftovers)

Of course losing weight is not the only thing that we can set goals for as we approach the new year. Although dropping a few pounds is one of the most set goals each year along with getting into shape; there are more goals we should have in mind. Many set goals of going to bed earlier, giving up soda pop, eating more salad, become a volunteer, quit smoking, read more, reduce social media time, join a gym, quit alcohol,get out of the house more to enjoy nature, make new friends, learn how to cook, take a vacation, and learn a craft. The list is endless and should include such lofty goals of getting out of debt, saving for a home, car, money for the future and retirement, which always comes sooner than we think, as time has a tendency to get away from us.

(https://www.verywellfit.com/goal-setting-for-the-new-year-strategies-that-work-3144928?print) We all want to make a difference in the world and be useful and a big part of that is how we budget our time and resources. But no matter how hard we plan, a wrench can be thrown in that will dishevel our lives. We don't know what it will be, and from my experience, it always comes without warning. (https://www.ready.gov/) So that is why we need to prepare ahead.

That is why it is recommended to have an emergency fund (a one month cash supply in the bank of our monthly income) to use if we are unable to work or our family can use if we are incapacitated when disaster strikes. We should also have adequate insurance to help out with these special problems. Plus we should have stored in our homes specialty packaged food storage units for our families of long term storage food to tide us over during these emergency times and don't forget those emergency water filters or straws if water gets cut off or contaminated. Plus we should always have in our homes emergency 72 hour kits and first aid kits, for we never know when we will need them. This will help us in times of need for things that may happen like power outages, earthquakes, flooding and even winter weather which we know can cause a lot of headaches.

These preparations are not always easy to do, especially all at once, so we need to work on them over time to be prepared. Small acts bring big dividends as we sacrifice that break time doughnut or that future cottage by the ocean or in the mountains. Or maybe something more realistic like a new bike for that special someone or just being able to rest at night knowing we have stored up for the future.

During times of emergency we often do not think clearly which can make things even worse. Winston Churchill said, “Want of foresight, unwillingness to act when action would be simple and effective, lack of clear thinking, confusion of counsel until the emergency comes, until self-preservation strikes its jarring gong - these are the features which constitute the endless repetition of history.” I have repeated history enough to know that it is far better to prepare ahead of time because even then it is a rough road. And I know that when we are young and just starting out it is especially hard to prepare because that pay check only goes so far. But somehow we need to plow the field and plant the seed to bring us that harvest we all want to see when we are older, so to speak. Its all about taking that first step, which gets us moving, which is the hardest for us to take. (https://www.ready.gov/financial-preparedness)

After we have selected our goals we need to set a plan in action to achieve them. Its great to have support in these goals, someone like our spouse, or friends who are working on the same goals. The point is you can encourage each other in your efforts and get praised for your achievements in following through. And be sure to always have check points to review these goals you made for the year to help in staying on track, like rereading the goals every 3 to 6 months or at a time frame that makes sense to you. (http://www.nyu.edu/students/academic-services/undergraduate-advisement/academic-resource-center/tutoring-and-learning/academic-skills-workshops/time-management.html)

I believe that we all need to set goals in our lives. You can call it a self improvement option but it is so much more. It is so fun to look at goals from last year and see how much you have gotten done or not finished. In my case it is both but I really do feel pretty good looking back and seeing what I did get done. So before we throw on our party hats to bring in the new year, we will be setting our goals again for the coming New Year and I hope that all of you will be setting some goals as well. 'Til next time RL