April 20, 2011 § 4 Comments
I’ve had the unbelievable opportunity to be able to be a stay-at-home Mom for a couple of years now. I have (without a doubt) loved every minute of it. But alas, as all good things do, this precious time will soon be ending. Due to many circumstances beyond our control, I am going back to working at a job outside the home. In a twist of fate, my husband will soon be taking on my role and responsibilities as a stay-at-home Dad. We are both embracing this soon-to-be transition and are committed to jumping in with both feet.
One of the home responsibilities he will be taking on is cooking the family dinner. We are old school in tradition. Our family sits down and eats a home cooked meal almost every night. It is our time together after a busy day of crazy schedules. We love this time and truly cherish it.
Last weekend was my husband’s first opportunity to show off his cooking skills. For a man who had only cooked a handful of items in the past, he rose to the challenge and didn’t disappoint. Sunday morning, I ran to the store and picked up dinner items I knew were easy to fix. Timing is a big trick to cooking. It can be a challenge to get everything on the table, hot and ready to eat all at the same time. The outcome after his efforts – an amazing meal. The table was set with beautiful tulips. Everything was cooked perfectly and tasted like he’d made this meal a hundred times before. I would have never guessed this was his first time. I only gave him quick instructions for each item, he did all the rest himself. He has talents I never knew existed.
I’m looking forward to many more “meals a la Brian”. I’m thinking BBQ’d ribs…
Grilled Chicken Breast with a sweet dijon marinade
Grilled Adelle chicken apple sausage
Baby red potatoes oven roasted with extra virgin olive oil and seasoning
Tomato, Basil and mozzarella salad dressed with extra virgin olive oil
Artichokes cooked in seasoned water and served with mayo
Note: All recipes available upon request. E-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org for info.
April 6, 2011 § Leave a comment
Now that I have your attention, I thought I’d discuss that “dirty” word. You know…the word no one wants to address. You think if you ignore it then the problem miraculously goes away. But, it doesn’t. It can even wreak havoc on your life and if you don’t have it, getting it can seem overwhelming. I’m talking about…ORGANIZATION. Isn’t that what you were thinking? Okay, maybe it isn’t as “dirty” as it is “messy”, but I liked the title with dirty better.
Everyone hopes that one day the linen closet will fold itself or the medicine cabinet will automatically dispose of all the medications that expired 5 years ago. The unfortunate reality is…we don’t have the desire or, in many cases, time to organize. If you are like me, you probably have a place for everything, but finding it within that place can be somewhat of a challenge. I think most of us fall into the category of “somewhat organized”. I fall into this category more often than not; however, there is one place in my home that is organized to the nth degree. Where you ask? Where it matters most to many woman…my shoes! Who cares if my son can’t find his underwear or shoes. I can find my Kate Spade Espadrilles in less than a second. Now that’s organized. 🙂
Because my friends constantly are shocked at my shoe organization, I figured it should be something to share with everyone. It really is easy to do. Really!! All you need is a camera, bins, a good size closet and some extra time.
Step 1 – Go through your shoes. Get rid of shoes that are out of date, worn out or broken. If they are a great quality shoe and you think they can be repaired and are still in style, take them to a shoe repair to see if the cost of fixing them is worth it.
Step 2 – Now that you’ve weened out the old, count the pairs of shoes you have. Head to the store for bins. Buy one bin for each pair of shoes you want to store. It is almost impossible to put 2 pairs in each bin unless they are flip-flops. Boots will need a longer/bigger bin. You should be able to store more than 1 pair of boots per bin. I think I store 2-3 pair of boots per bin but will depend on the size of bin you buy for them. The small bins will typically range in price from .99 cents to $2.99. You might want to shop around for the best bin price, if you have a lot of shoes. I’ve seen them at target, walmart and the container store.
Step 3 – Take a picture of each pair of shoes. I’ve photographed them in various ways over the years, as you can see. I think I prefer to have both shoes in the picture. One laying on its side and the other on its sole (see picture below). This way you remember what they look like from different angles.
Step 4 – Print the pictures. I have put them into a collage and then cut them out so the picture come out 2 1/2″ wide x 1 1/2″ tall. I’ve also printed them as 3 1/2″ x 5″ and cut them to fit on the box. Do what is easy and works for you.
Step 5 – Tape them onto boxes using clear packing tape. This tape will secure the picture onto the box. With this tape, the picture won’t come off until you take it off.
Step 6 – Insert shoe into box and store wherever you have the space. You can color coordinate them, store them by season or style. It is up to you.
PLEASE NOTE: I started this when I had time (before kid), so just know I don’t expect any of you to following in my footsteps unless you really feel the urge. It is a great way to keep track of your shoes and keep them in good condition. If you do decide to do it, I want you to know that you will love it. I do.
March 21, 2011 § 1 Comment
Okay…so honestly, how many times have you heard, ‘why’ from your child? Seriously. How many times? I’m sure if your child is anything like most children, you’ve heard this more than you can probably count or really care to remember. This question can (in some circumstances) becoming irritating, especially when heard way too often. Some parents even say that they get sucked into the ‘why’ vortex when engaged with a child who continually asks ‘why’. I can see this happening. Too many ‘whys’ could send anyones head spinning. On the other hand, I love that children are so inquisitive and eager to learn. Most of the time, it is wonderful when everything around them is a question needing to be answered. This being said, I received a ‘why’ question from my son today. This time his question was, “Why do fingers wrinkle when in the bath tub?” Hmmm, since I’m not a master scientist nor ever googled this question before, I had no idea. So I thought, instead of responding with a standard answer like…”because they just do”, I decided to really find out why. Little did I know that his scientific question about water and wrinkled fingers would send me into a vortex of my own…
…the epidermis has cells called keratinocytes which form intracellular skeleton proteins called keratin…
If that is how it begins, you can only imagine where it goes from there. I was just looking for the Reader’s Digest version, not the version from The American Journal of Science. So I kept looking and stumbled upon this great little site called – Whyzz. What is Whyzz.com you ask? Whyzz.com describes themselves as a site that provides parents with kid-ready information about how the world works so they can satisfy their kids’ thirst for knowledge with read-aloud answers on endless topics. EUREKA! I hit the mother lode. I found my answer and so much more.
So now that I’ve peaked your curiosity about water and wrinkled fingers, here’s what Whyzz has to say:
“Sometimes after getting out of the bath, your fingers and toes are all shriveled up, like prunes! Scientists have a few different ideas about why this happens. One likely reason is that when you spend a long time in water, like the bath or a pool, the outermost layer of skin on your fingers and toes soaks up some of the water around you! By soaking up some water, your fingers and toes become a little bit bigger in size—so, the best way for the extra, water-swelled skin to still fit at the tips of your hands and feet is for them to squish up and wrinkle! According to this idea, the reason your whole body doesn’t shrivel up is because the outside layer of skin on your hands and feet is different (thicker) than the skin on the rest of your body. It’s the thickest outside layer that soaks up most of the water, so the thinner skin, like on your tummy, doesn’t act the same way in the water.”
What a great explanation for a child (or adult). Whyzz answers so many questions like this one. So the next time you are bombarded with “Why?”, know that there is a resource out there to help you and your child get through it. You may even learn something interesting along the way. Oh, and the phrase, “Just because”, will no longer be in your vocabulary. How do I know? Just because…
March 9, 2011 § 2 Comments
A few months ago, I turned on the TV to find a program on TLC/Discovery called Extreme Couponing. This program focused on using coupons in conjunction with store sales to get the best possible price for an item. The objective is to buy products that you would normally use/buy, BUT to not buy them at the time when you actually need them. If you buy them when you need or have to have them, then you won’t get the best price for that item thus spending more money. The trick is to buy what you will need weeks or months before you actually may use it and to “stock up” when it is at its cheapest price.
This couponing program aired at a time when my family needed a trick to saving money. This countries financial crisis has hit our home and taken a toll. We needed to find a way to cut costs. So after viewing this program, I came up with a new financial motto…”No Sale, No Buy”. Looking over last years household figures, I found that we spent (on average) about $550 – $600 per month on food and household supplies. My goal is to bring those figures down by half.
There are several ways to achieve this goal and everyone needs to find what works best for them. The following is my current roadmap:
- Clip coupons from every source possible. I find them in the newspaper, weekly circulars, on-line, at grocery stores, in local coupon booklets, and on store websites.
- Keep a coupon booklet where you hold all of your coupons. categorize them so that they are easy to find. Make sure you carry this booklet with you when shopping.
- Combine coupons when possible. Target has coupons on-line at www.target.com. They allow you to use one store coupon and a manufacturer coupon per item. Safeway also has on-line coupons through their “Just for You” program. If you haven’t already, you’ll need to sign up at www.safeway.com and have a club card to get their deals. Safeway will let you combine the on-line savings with a manufacturer coupon.
- Look for weekly sales in order to combine sales with coupons.
- Before shopping anywhere whether it be at an actual retail store or on-line, always check coupon sites or the store website to see if they have any current coupons available.
- Check with stores to find out about their current coupon policy. Sometimes it changes and their staff isn’t aware of changes. It is always good to keep copies with you of the store coupon policies. This way if there is a problem, you can show them the policy.
- Shop the Dollar Tree or 99 Cent Store whenever possible. I find good brand name items there that would normally be double or triple at a regular grocery store.
- Keep a shopping list and stay focused. When shopping, DO NOT shop off your list. This is how you end up spending too much money and blowing your budget. Only buy what is on your list for that store.
So far, I am on target for my goal. My hope is that these tips help you save money and become a better shopper. Shopping this way isn’t easy. It does take extra time and resources, but it is really worth it when you see the savings.
Related sites/links I find helpful and use weekly, if not daily: