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Thursday, January 31, 2013

Thrifty Thursday - Try before you buy

Don't you just hate it when you spend a goodly amount of money on a DVD that seems so promising from the previews only to find that it is a dud?  Or, how about you hear about a great book but you aren't sure it's good enough to buy?  Luckily for us, there are ways to try out the latest DVD or video game without spending little more than a dollar.  I'm talking about Redbox.  And most communities have libraries that not only have books but other resources as well.

If you haven't tried Redbox and there is one close by, you will be surprised by the large selection and ease of use.  You can reserve movies from home and then just go pick them up.  Or stop by their kiosk and browse.  At only $1.20 + tax per day, there is no reason to ever buy another movie unless you really, really like it and want to have it in your collection.  Also, they have regular specials where you can rent movies free.  We have definitely saved money since discovering Redbox. 
A great way to spend a cold winter afternoon!

And the library...I have always loved libraries and probably always will.  Thousands of books just waiting for you to check out and take home.  And most also have audio books  and movies and games and classes and story hours and more.  I love finding a treasure of a book and then going home and looking it up on Amazon or some other online bookseller and buying it really cheap.  Again, this way I only have the books I really want and use in my collection.  Even with the popularity of ebooks and iPads, I can't imagine them replacing a good old hardcover book.

I hope your children are well acquainted with your local library!

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

What's cooking? Wednesday - Soft sugar cookies

Super easy soft sugar cookies!
Chuck and Lilly helped me make cookies today!  We chose a real simple recipe that used white cake mix and we used canned frosting to top them.  Here's the super easy recipe...hope you like it!

Soft sugar cookies

1 package white cake mix
2/3 c. flour
1/3 c. oil
2 eggs
2 T. sour cream or plain greek yogurt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  In bowl, combine the cake mix and flour.  Add the oil, eggs and sour cream.  Mix well.  Mixture will be stiff.  Drop by spoonfuls onto lightly greased cookie sheet.  Flatten slightly.  Bake for 10 minutes.  Cool.  When cool, top with frosting and sprinkles.  Enjoy!

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Tidy Tuesday - A room a month

I read about a great way to keep track of home projects that need to be done in a blog entitled Clover Lane (  Sarah keeps a small notebook that is divided into each room of her house.  She takes a critical look at each room and writes in her notebook the repairs that need to be made and the purchases she wants to make.  Measurements are jotted down as they are needed for each project.  Then when she goes to the store, she can see exactly what size (whatever) she needs and how much of (whatever) she should buy.  What a wonderful way to organize house projects.

I am taking her idea and working on one room per month.  In my notebook, I also taped a sample of fabric, carpeting and paint colors for each room so I can get the right color to match the room.  Some rooms are in pretty good shape right now and others have some work to do.  Some projects have been put off for too many years than I care to admit.

I figure that there is no project that will take longer than a month, even if I have to learn how to learn a new skill to complete it.  As Sarah said, there are numerous resources available to help learn how to do just about anything.   Yay for youtube and how-to blogs and super-awesome sons-in-law!

Monday, January 28, 2013

What do you want to be when you grow up?

During a Primary class, my 6 year old daughter's teacher asked each child what they wanted to be when they grew up.  There were the usual answers of teacher, mommy, fireman...and then my daughter answered.  She said she wanted to be ruler of the world.  :)  That's my daughter!  The same one later wanted to be a flagger (you know, the person at a construction site who flags cars through the construction zone) and then an Olympic figure skater!

The world is full of endless possibilities for our children.  One day they want to be an astronaut and the next day it's a ballerina.  Let them dream.  Encourage exploration of their hopes and dreams (that is, unless what they want to be is illegal!)

Someday they will grow up and hopefully, choose a profession that will be fulfilling and challenging.  Maybe they will become something they always wanted to be or maybe it will be something completely different. Only time will tell...

My future ruler of the world is now an ICU nurse and an amazingly confident woman.  I'm so proud of her!

What did YOU want to be when you grew up?

Sunday, January 27, 2013

The Arsenic Hour

Between the nap and the twilight
When blood sugar is becoming lower,
Comes a pause in the day's occupations,
That is known as the Arsenic Hour.
   -Marguerite Kelly and Elia Parsons,  The Mother's Almanac 1, 1975

Although the above "poem" is a play on "The Children's Hour" by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow,  the sentiment is real.  For some reason, the hours between approximately 4 pm and 7 pm are usually the hardest time of day for both parents and children.  Kids are hungry, cranky and restless and parents are ...well, hungry, cranky and restless. 

So, what's a mom to do?  Feed the cranky kids a good, healthy snack.  Find an outlet for their energy (physical activity like a walk or trip to the park).  Don't bring up potential explosive issues.  Remember that your tolerance level is probably pretty low at this time too (along with the chaos of crabby kids, there is dinner to get ready and who knows what else is calling for your attention!).

If you are worried that by giving your kids a snack, they will spoil their dinner, consider planning for that snack to be part of the dinner.  A little more at snack time and a little less at dinner time might work better than a big dinner served to your famished family later in the evening.

You are not alone if the worst part of your day is the late afternoon and early evening.  You are experiencing that universally known phenomenon called the Arsenic Hour.

Friday, January 25, 2013

"How do you get the kids to go to bed earlier?"

Nothing sweeter than a sleeping child  :)
The question was asked, "How do you get the kids to go to bed earlier?"  Isn't that the mother's dream?  Well, it IS possible but it won't happen overnight (no pun intended).

Let's face it - there's a lot going on in the evening.  There are shows on TV,  Dad is home from work, and of course, homework to complete.  If you can reduce the number of distractions in the evening, you will have more success in establishing an earlier bedtime.

Making the hours after dinner a winding down time rather than an active (or hyperactive) time will also help transition from activity to sleep.  Reading scriptures and saying prayers together after dinner followed by bathtime and more quiet reading is very relaxing.  If possible, make the hours after dinner and before bedtime a TV or game free time.

The one things mom's hate to do when establishing an early bedtime is waking the kids up earlier in the morning.  Sure it would be nice if they slept in and went to bed early but I think that's asking too much  :)  If a child (age 5-12) needs 10-12 hours of sleep each night, that translates into a 7 am to 7 pm wake time or 7 am to 9 pm.  Anything shorter than that isn't healthy to their growing bodies.

Being consistent is the key to all successful endeavors.  Sit down with the kids and tell them your plans for a new bedtime and getting up time.  Explain why you are doing this but don't go into too much detail.  You are doing this because it is good for them and good for you and your sanity (but you don't need to tell them that!)

Thursday, January 24, 2013

One Year!!!

Today I'm celebrating!  One year ago, I wrote my first blog post on Momcoach!  I had hoped to hit 10,000 pageviews by my first anniversary but I actually have over 10,400 and counting!  Thank you everyone for your support and suggestions.  There are many things I'd like to do for this next year, including increasing my "followers" and organizing and indexing my posts.  Is there anything else I can do to make this blog more readable?

I haven't been aggressive about soliciting followers but if you read this fairly often, I would love it if you became an official follower.  Just hit the "join this site" box on the right side of the blog and follow the instructions.  If you have a google or yahoo account, it's really easy.  I promise not to use your name for anything!

As far as organizing the posts into categories, I will get on that this week.  Hopefully, my super awesome son-in-law can help me with that.  Please, super awesome son-in-law???  :)

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

What's cooking? Wednesday - A Pinterest failure

Trying something unfamiliar is risky but without taking that risk, you don't discover new likes (and dislikes).  So, even a failure can be considered a success, if only to eliminate something you  don't like  :)  Does that make sense?

I love pinning good looking recipes on Pinterest but rarely try them out so today I decided to pick out a recipe and report on it.  I must have been really impressed with this muffin recipe because I pinned it 3 times.  Here is a copy of the original recipe... (unfortunately, I couldn't get the original picture to copy)

Triple Chocolate Chunk Muffins

           1 3/4 c oats
           3 egg whites
  •  3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt (or regular plain low fat yogurt)
  • 1/2 tsp cream of tartar (or 1-1/2 Tbsp. vinegar)
  • 1-1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1-1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1 cup hot water
  • 1 cup sugar substitute (like Splenda granular) OR 1/4 cup + 2 tbs stevia
  • 1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips (or use white chocolate or peanut butter chips!)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line 2 (12-cup) muffin pans with foil cupcake liners, or spray muffin tin with non-stick cooking spray. Set aside.
In a blender, (or food processor), mix all of the ingredients together, except for the chocolate chips. Blend until oats are ground and mixture is smooth.
Place mixture in a bowl and gently stir in 1/2 of the chocolate chips (set the rest aside). Scoop mixture into prepared muffin pans.
Place muffins tins in the oven for 10 minutes.  After 10 minutes, remove muffins from the oven (but don’t shut oven off), and distribute the other half of the chocolate chips on top of each muffin.
Place  the muffins back into the oven and bake for an additional 2-5 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean. *Note, you could skip this step by putting all of the chips in the batter, and baking the muffins for 12-15 min straight, but this method gives the muffins the traditional ‘VitaTop Muffin’ look with the chocolate chips on top!Cool muffins before removing from pan. ENJOY!!!
Servings: 12 Big Muffins or 24 Smaller Muffins
Calories: 116 Calories Per Muffin

 My results...
Muffin on left is from the first batch, muffin on right is after adding flour to the batter
The muffin on the left sure doesn't look like the Pinterest picture!

After following the directions (with the exception of using real sugar (a modest 1/2 c.) instead of sugar substitute, it was obvious that my "mixture" was a little LOT runny.  The recipe said to scoop the mixture.  I poured it.  It seemed like too much liquid compared to dry ingredients but being a dutiful follower, I assumed it looked like it was supposed to and poured it in the muffin cups.  Because I was skeptical, I only baked one half the recipe, just in case they didn't turn out right.  The recipe said to bake it for 12 minutes.  After 12 minutes, my muffins were still liquid in the middle.  Not a good sign.  I ended up cooking them for 23 minutes and they still were a little too moist in the middle.  From the picture above, you can see that they didn't turn out very well.  So, for the second half, I added 1/2 c. flour.  The mixture looked more like traditional muffin batter now.  I baked them for 13 minutes and at least they looked like normal muffins.  They still needed more sugar in my opinion and I used probably 1 1/2 c. chocolate chips instead of 1/2 c. but all in all, they were passable.  Not great and I won't be trying this recipe again but passable if you're desperate for anything chocolate.  Personally, I find a handful of chocolate chips more satisfying.  I guess I was expecting too much from a recipe that is "healthy".  Oh, and the recipe said they were triple chocolate chunk muffins.  Triple means three and I only counted the chocolate chips and the cocoa.  Hmmmmm...

My suggestion with new recipes, is to try them out first before you plan on serving them to friends.  Hopefully, your kids will eat anything  :)


Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Tidy Tuesday - Dirty clothes

My husband and I recently moved our bedroom from upstairs to downstairs.  One of the perks of the master bathroom upstairs was a really cool laundry chute where all we had to do was open it up, drop in dirty clothes and they'd end up in the laundry room downstairs.  So, with this new change, I put a new laundry hamper in the laundry room so hubby and I had a place for dirty clothes.  Sounds reasonable, right?  Well, dirty clothes were showing up in a corner of the bedroom and in the bathroom and I was finding myself gathering them up every day and putting them in the laundry room.  Finally, I got the idea that I should just forget about the hamper in the laundry room and put the hampers where the clothes get the bathroom and in the bedroom.  What do you know?  I no longer have to clean up after the person (who will remain nameless :) ) who kept dropping his dirty clothes where it was convenient.  No nagging, no complaining, no sighing.

Wouldn't it be wonderful if every annoyance were that easy to fix?  

Monday, January 21, 2013

Flu season...cough, cough

Flu season.  Cold season.  Everywhere you go, someone (friend, family or complete stranger), is sneezing, coughing, moaning, throwing up or showing you in disgusting ways just how widespread all these nasty viruses are this year.  As I write this, I am curled up on my couch, wrapped in a cuddly blanket, coughing and sniffing.  Ugh.

Poor little guy isn't feeling well  :(
When it comes to your kids, often it's very obvious that they are sick.  When they are listless, feverish, throwing up or their noses are dripping all over the place, there is no question that something is wrong.  What isn't so clear is when they wake up in the morning and say their tummy hurts or their head aches.  You hate to send them off to school and have the school nurse give you a call in a couple hours telling you that your child threw up.  On the other hand, you don't want them to get the idea that all they have to do is tell you that they don't feel well and they get to spend the day at home, watching movies, playing video games and eating special treats.

With my children, I followed the example of my wise mother and the way she dealt with me as a child.  It was fairly common for me to use any excuse possible to avoid going to school.  :)  I tried everything.  And she calmly and firmly told me that if I was too sick to go to school, I was too sick to play, watch tv, have friends over or go anywhere.  No fun for me that day and only bland, boring food.  If I were truly sick, those things didn't matter anyway but if I was faking it, it was a fitting punishment for me.

Trust your instincts on this one.  Take your children to the doctor if they exhibit severe or extreme symptoms.  Keep them at home if they might spread their illness to others.  And don't be taken in by little con artists who don't want to go to school.  :)

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Dinnertime with Chuck and Lilly

Chuck - "I'm hungry!  What are you making for dinner?"
Me - "Ravioli"
Chuck and Lilly in unison - "Ewwwww!  I hate ravioli!"
Me - "Let me see if I have anything else to feed you."
Me - "How about cheese pillows with dipping sauce?"  (in other words, ravioli)
Chuck - "I want that!"
Lilly - "Yummy!"

And they proceeded to eat them all up. 
The end.  :)

Friday, January 18, 2013

The "Other" 10 Commandments

This has been hanging in my hall for years and years.  It still applies.  Author unknown.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Thrifty Thursday - Being resourceful

It seems like the less money a person has, the more resourceful she learns to become.  Think about it - if you have the money to buy the things you need, you have no reason to make-do or try to figure out an alternative solution.

I think that's one of the reasons I like Pinterest.  There are so many resourceful women who do such amazing and innovative things and I can use their ideas or use them as a jumping off point to come up with my own ideas.   Take the simple humble canning jar...otherwise known as a mason jar.  It's no longer used just for canning.  If you type mason jar in the search bar in Pinterest, you will see hundreds of creative uses for the jars.  My post last week using mason jars for my spices is just one example (which surprisingly, I came up with on my own!).
I needed the drawers (which hold winter hats and gloves) but the unit didn't fit where I wanted it...
so I took out the drawers and they fit perfectly in this shelving unit!
When you have a need, before you go out and buy something, look around your home and see if you can come up with something that will work as well.  But be realistic - don't save every little cardboard box, Cool Whip container, and rubber band because it might be useful someday.  That's called hoarding and you don't want to do that  :) 

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

A house of learning

First, I'd like to apologize for being so sporadic with my posts in the last couple of weeks.  This house renovation thing has taken more of my attention than I thought it would.  It looks like we're winding down now on the work (thanks to my saintly son-in-law and his father) so I should be back to normal real soon...I hope  :)

She's reading Miss Spider on her daddy's iPad
I was talking with a friend about learning and education a few days ago and have a few observations to share.  It seems like a lot of moms are concerned about what their kids are learning and yet they're forgetting something very important.  Each one of our homes is a house of learning.  Our homes are the first place our babies and toddlers learn.  They're the places our children come home to after school each day.  Regardless of what they learn at school, you are providing a learning environment for them, whether you realize it or not.  What kind of things do you allow in your home?  What kinds of entertainment are you letting your kids watch and interact with?   You may not have control over what goes on in the world but in your home, you determine the kinds of activities, toys, movies, games and books your kids will be exposed to.  That means if you think that reading is important, you will provide lots of books in your home and will encourage your kids to read by both word and example.  If you think there is too much violence in the world today, you will probably be very careful not to let violent movies and video games into your home.  You decide.  It's your home.  There are so many options to choose from when it comes to toys and entertainment, that there is no reason to allow anything into your home that doesn't fit with your standards and values.

Remember that your home is a house of learning.  What your children learn in your home will depend on what you provide.  So choose with care.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Miracles do exist!

My husband and I are in the middle of renovating large parts of our home.  You'd think it would be fun and exciting but it's just stressful.  When I wrote a few days ago about picking your battles, I was speaking from recent experience.  :)

The projects were supposed to be completed at the end of December and as of today, we still have lots to do.  Unfortunately, my husband is back to work after a lengthy holiday vacation and the work is going even slower.  There is nothing more frustrating than seeing work at a standstill and not being able to do anything about it.

So yesterday I was grumbling to myself and trying to hold my temper when there was a knock on the door and who is standing there but my saintly son-in-law and his father who had driven over 900 miles in sub-freezing temperatures to come help us finish our projects!  They immediately got busy, assessing the work that needed to be completed and getting to work.  They are an amazing team!

Who said miracles don't exist? 

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Pick your battles

Where's your bowtie?!
My daughter worked in an ice cream parlor and she came home one day upset because the boss wanted all the employees to wear BOWTIES!  She ranted and raved at the indignity of such a hideous requirement.  I listened to her go on and on and sympathized with the injustice of it all.  The next day when she was in a better mood, I reminded her that the owner had the right to dictate the dress code and that maybe she'd survive if she complied with the request.  I told her that some things are worth fighting for and some things just aren't.  She had the option of quitting her job if she felt it was the right thing to do or she could let it go and not make a big thing of it.  She grudgingly agreed with me even though she grumbled every time she put on her bowtie.

Learning which battles to fight and which to let go is a hard thing to do whether you're a teenager or an adult.  Yet the people who are able to discern between the two are less stressed out and happier than those who get upset over every annoyance that comes into their lives.  Let's face it - if we wanted to get mad, there are opportunities every day to justify our anger.  But is it worth it?  Does it make us feel better?

According to Dr. Richard Carlson, author of Don't Sweat the Small Stuff ... and It's All Small Stuff, "Often we allow ourselves to get all worked up about things that, upon closer examination, aren't really that big a deal. We focus on little problems and concerns and blow them way out of proportion."   So, how about it?  Before you pick a fight, can you ask yourself if it's worth it?  Could you respond in a different way?  Do you have to prove yourself right at the expense of the relationship of a loved one?  Sometimes even if you "win" you lose.  That's why you might want to consider picking your battles carefully...even if it means wearing a bowtie.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Thrifty Thursday - Make cleaning easier

I don't usually get excited about a cleaning product but sometimes I find something really useful and I'm glad to share the info with you.   So, bear with me...

A few months ago, I needed to find a product to remove some floor adhesive residue and Home Depot carried a product called Krud Kutter that looked promising.  It is non-toxic, biodegradable, doesn't have nasty fumes and claims to cut grease, grime, oil, tar and wax.  I thought it might work on my floor.  Well, it didn't work to dissolve the adhesive and I thought I was stuck with a gallon of worthless concentrated cleaner.  Being the frugal person I am, I couldn't throw it away.

Fast forward to the beginning of January.  I got ready to do a deep cleaning on my kitchen cabinets and decided to give the Krud Kutter another chance.  I diluted it and squirted it on a cabinet.  To my amazement, the dirt and grease and grime immediately started dissolving and I just wiped it up.  It was that easy.  The dreaded chore was completed with very little effort.  Now that's my idea of cleaning  :)  A gallon goes a long way too.  I am now a fan.  And to think that I found it quite by accident.  Not bad!

P.S.  I'm not getting paid to endorse any product.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

What's cooking? Wednesday - Comfort Vanilla Pudding

Sometimes on a cold winter night, you just feel like something warm and comforting.  This pudding is so easy to make, takes just a few ingredients and is a great comfort food.  I'm going to give two versions of this using regular milk and one using non-fat dry milk.

Microwave Vanilla Pudding (using regular milk)

3 c.  milk
4 T. cornstarch
1/2 c. sugar
2 t. vanilla

Pour milk in large microwavable bowl.  Mix the sugar and cornstarch together and stir into the milk (a wire whisk works well for this).  Microwave on high for 2 minutes, stir.  Return to microwave and do the same thing...high for 2 minutes and stir.   One more time for a total of about 6 minutes total (might be 7 minutes, depending on individual microwave).  Pudding should be thick at the end of cooking.  Stir in vanilla.  Let cool for at least 1/2 hour.  Eat warm or refrigerate and eat cold.  I like it best warm.

Microwave Vanilla Pudding (using non-fat dry milk)...the way I usually make it

3/4 c. non-fat dry milk powder
3 c. warm water
4 T. cornstarch
1/2 c. sugar
2 t. vanilla

Put all the ingredients (except vanilla) into blender.  Blend for about 30 seconds.  Pour into large microwavable bowl and continue with the directions above.  If you have non-fat dry milk powder and don't like the taste, this is a good way to use it.  :)

You can top with chocolate syrup or chocolate chips or fruit or whatever else sounds good.  You can also use brown sugar instead of white sugar and have butterscotch pudding.  Or add a tablespoon or two of cocoa powder and make chocolate pudding.  You get the idea...

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Tidy Tuesday - A fresh look

Mason jars to the rescue!
Sometimes, I just feel like changing things around so yesterday I tackled my spice shelves.  They looked haphazard and I wanted a more unified look for them.

Even though I don't have unlimited money to buy matching containers, I do have unlimited canning jars leftover from the days when I would can up to 1,000 jars of fruit and veggies each year.  At least a few of them can be put to good use  :)

I wanted to buy the storage lids (NOT the lids used for canning) that fit the jars but it isn't exactly canning season so it took me a while to find them but I eventually did at Walmart.  They also had labels so I splurged and bought those too.

Then it was only a matter of cleaning the jars, labeling them and transferring the contents of the old grubby containers to my new shiny glass jars.  I think they turned out quite nice!

Monday, January 7, 2013

Teaching gentleness

Four year old Chuck was quietly playing with Legos when his one year old sister, Ellie, toddled up and grabbed some Legos.  Chuck just shoved her away, causing her to lose her balance and fall on her face and start crying.  Let's look at what happened.

First, Chuck was playing nicely by himself.
Second, Ellie isn't old enough to understand that she was interfering with Chuck's play.
Third,  Chuck's response to Ellie was not intentional.

When dealing with young siblings, you have to consider both the older one's immaturity and the younger one's safety.  Chuck understandably didn't want anyone messing with his Lego creation.  Ellie understandably was interested in the bright colorful bricks.  Because Ellie is so young, her safety comes first.  While it's impossible to hover over a one year old constantly (and you wouldn't want to do it anyway), you have to ensure that she is in a safe place.  Sometimes that means that you put her in her crib if you can't give her your total attention.  Sometimes, that means you have to set your older child up in a different room to play uninterrupted.

At the same time a four year old is not too young to be taught to be gentle with smaller children.  Encourage caring and gentleness by your own example.  Look for times when he IS gentle and praise his efforts.  Have him practice with a baby doll or stuffed animal.  Be mindful of the types of movies, books and video games he is exposed to and cut back on those that are primarily violent.  Let him know firmly that pushing, shoving, or any other destructive action towards another person (regardless of age) is unacceptable. 

Chuck is usually gentle with Ellie but he does need to understand that he could hurt her if he's not careful.  And Ellie will soon be old enough to teach that she needs to be nice to Chuck too.  Lay the foundation now to have a more peaceful family later.

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Taking care of you

Life is so busy, raising kids, taking care of house and spouse, and all the other outside commitments we take on that it's easy to forget about one of the most important obligations we have...that of keeping ourselves healthy.  Sure, we try to eat well and exercise (chasing after kids counts!) but how about the other things, like annual physicals?  Ugh!  Nobody wakes up on a beautiful sunny day and says, "Wow!  It's so nice out, I think I'll schedule my mammogram!"  And really now, the names of some of the procedures...for example, pap smear...yuck!  Can't they change the name to something a lot less disgusting sounding?

Anyway, if you are regularly having babies, you probably get those annual exams because you see your doctor fairly often.  For the rest of us (those whose babies are spaced far apart or who are finished with having babies), this dreaded chore takes will-power to schedule.

One way to accomplish this is to schedule your appointment around the time of your birthday.  After all, everyone has a birthday every year  :)  Call it your birthday present to yourself.  Yeah, sure.  But taking care of your body really is a gift you can give to yourself. 

So, if your birthday is in April or September, just file away this information.  If your birthday is in January or February, it's time to schedule an appointment with your doctor.  Have fun  :)

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Thrifty Thursday - Out with the old, in with the new

January usually means getting my finances in order.  My college-age kids want to get their FAFSA applications (financial aid) submitted to their schools early, taxes need to be completed, and last year's bills and receipts need to be put away to make room for this year's financial papers.

So, yesterday I worked on my filing system.  One thing I learned years ago was to keep my files simple.  The more complicated they are, the less I use them.  Why make things harder than they need to be?  I also don't worry about making fancy labels or decorating my files to be Pinterest worthy  :)  They're going to be shut up in a drawer.  Functional is fine with me.

So, I start January with labeling new file folders for the new year's receipts.  I will keep 2012's around until I complete taxes for last year but I don't want to mix up 2012 with 2013.  Each category of folder is fairly broad.  The Automotive folder holds receipts for repairs and maintenance.  The Utilities folder holds receipts for electric, heat, garbage, phone and cable.  Other categories are Contributions, Bank, Insurance, Investments, Medical/Dental, Business, Home Improvement, and Education.  I also keep ongoing file folders for important medical information, past tax returns, equipment manuals (staple the original sales receipt to the front of each manual), and insurance policies.

One thing that is fairly common is to keep too many receipts.  In general, you only need to keep receipts and records that you will need for preparing taxes.  For most of us, that means you don't have to keep grocery receipts, gas receipts, receipts for household items and clothing...unless any of these are part of your work or business.

I'm not an accountant or professional financial planner so if you need specific information or you have unique situations, talk with a professional or read up on the subject.  But everyone, regardless of situation,  needs to take some time in January to get their financial paperwork set up for the new year.  Better earlier than later!

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Today is the first blank page...

A friend posted the following quote on Facebook this morning and it was so good that I decided to base today's post on it.  (Thanks Amie!)

"Today is the first blank page of a 365 page book.  Write a good one."  author unknown

Isn't that profound?  What kind of book is your life going to be this year?  Will it be an adventure?, a romance?, a drama? a comedy?  I hope you plan for a happy ending  :)  Books aren't any fun when they end badly.  You don't want a blank book either!

If you start out with a plan or a goal or several goals, you can greatly influence how your book will end at the end of 2013.  Writers call this an outline - a roadmap for the upcoming story.  Do you want to have a better relationship with your spouse or your kids?  Do you want to fix healthier meals?  Do you want to be more organized?  Have a goal, make a plan and get started.  There's no better day to begin than today.

Good luck writing the best book of your life this year!  I think I want mine to be an adventure comedy   :)