Greetings!

Enemy of Mine

Don’t be afraid—you can handle this monster. It’s big, ugly, and seemingly hell bent on ruining your hopeful outlook for the future, but you can beat it to death and come out ahead. Come on; let’s get a stronghold on the beast sucking the life out of us all…the economy.

Take Charge

Keep in mind, fail to plan…plan to fail. Design a financial plan that will stretch the income you have and prevent wasteful spending. Start by examining every bill, fee, interest rate, etc. and look for ways to lower them or cut them out altogether. For example, consider refinancing your mortgage, switch to interest free credit cards, make sure your bank is not charging you ridiculous fees, and if you do use a credit card—use one that rewards you with cash back.

Compare costs for any service you use with competitors to save money. This includes services like water filtration services, garbage pickup, landscaping/grounds keeping, snow removal, annual pool openings/maintenance, driveway sealants, pest control, cable, Internet, and telephone services. Also consider taking time to compare your insurance needs with various companies. Auto, home, and life insurance are expensive, so get the most for your money. Some companies offer discounts if you pay for the entire year upfront.

Just Do It

Instead of hiring people to service your lawn, pool, and driveway, plus kill any pesky bugs on your premises…just do it and save money. For example, learn to trim your children’s hair. I’ve always done this and with six kids you can imagine the money I’ve saved over 23 years. Learn how to tile a bathroom, paint a room like a pro, clean carpets, or tackle simple home repair problems by renting or buying “how to” DVD’s. Utilize free classes at home supply-improvement stores and remember to visit your local library. The Internet is also a valuable resource for anyone looking to save money on home remodeling or repairs.

If the idea of cutting hair or tiling a bathroom seems overwhelming, then think about your circle of friends and the skills you all collectively possess. Trade time with each other, teach each other, and make good use of the skills you’ve all been blessed with.

Purchases

Groceries- According to my teens, Coca Cola is a necessity. If the dinner menu includes burgers or pizza, I agree, but any other time, it can be left out of the buggy and the world will not end. If you are living on a tight budget, use coupons if you would purchase those items with or without the coupons, but realize if you are only buying products because of coupons, then you’ve been tempted to spend money on things you would not have had on your grocery list. Too often, money is spent on snacks and sugary drinks, instead of nutritious food. Shop around, look for deals, and be cautious about over buying. No matter what I do, I cannot freeze bread or buns. They always taste awful if frozen for too long, so I never stock up on those items. However, go for it and stock up if napkins, paper towels, garbage bags etc. are on sale.

Meals- Rather than paying $2.25 to $3.00 for a can of soup or chili, make a huge batch. Soup can be used for several dinners, especially if you have soup and sandwiches one night, and then soup and salad another night. Tasty muffins or cornbread can be made cheaply and make dinner more satisfying.

If you do buy dinner as “take-out,” skip the drinks. You’ll get more for your money if you use the drinks you have at home.

Clothes- Great deals can be found online and coupon codes are easy to locate as well. Amazon, eBay, Eastbay, Kohls, Overstock, and Old Navy have amazing deals from time to time. Stock up at the end of a season and you’ll really see big savings.

Vehicles- The beastly economy has made it difficult for many to purchase a new car, so look online and locally at the used cars available in your area. Wheel and deal to the best of your ability and do this by knowing exactly what you’re looking for and what the book value is of said vehicle. Kelley Blue Book can help, plus visit websites like Carfax or AutoCheck to run the VIN numbers of any vehicles that catch your interest. Bear in mind, especially with used vehicles, if a deal sounds too good to be true…it usually is.

Holidays/Birthdays

This is a touchy subject for some people, but 2010 is the year to make major changes in shopping preferences for holidays and birthdays. Be brave and inform your loved ones you are cutting back and you honestly want them to do so as well. Gifts do not have to be expensive to be meaningful.

Internet Presence

For some small business owners, maintaining a web presence is extremely costly. Think about using free blogging sites and affordable website building sites, like Create Personal Websites, as alternatives to paying someone else to maintain your online presence. WordPress and Blogger make space available enabling any business owner to shine. Twitter is also another great marketing tool that can be used for free. Upgrades are available on these free options, but if you are just starting a business…get online, link with other businesses, fill your website with terrific keywords and content, and satisfy your potential customers by enticing them to come back to your website.

This may mean learning basic html, but nowadays, templates are used making it incredibly easy to get online and create impressive blogs and websites. Once again, I must stress if you need to learn about online marketing, but you feel intimidated, check with your family and friends for help. Today’s teens are connected to the Internet and almost instinctively know how to maneuver through the virtual world with ease.

Go Green

Go green, save trees…save money. If your business typically sends out paper correspondences, go green and make the same documents pdf files or accessible online instead. Newsletters, quarterly statements, and/or company magazines can all be web based and they will look stunning, plus save businesses money. Bank online and skip buying stamps too.

Entertainment/Family Time

During these tough times, using local libraries to acquire entertainment resources is a smart choice. Libraries today are nothing like the ones I frequented as a child. Movies, puppets and toy areas, group activities for both adults and children, and use of computers make them a wonderful place to visit. I was shocked when I visited our local library.

NETFLIX– So great to rent movies online and never have to pay late fees! Check it out and see if this online movie rental company can save you money.

College

Remember to take advantage of the lower tuition costs at a local community college. Make sure to investigate which universities will accept your credits as transfer credits. Online classes are wonderful for people who need flexibility in their schedules. Also, if possible, avoid out-of-state tuition. Apply for grants and scholarships in a timely manner, and bear in mind some local organizations offer fantastic scholarships.

If you served in the Peace Corps or the military, check to see if your college offers anything special just for you.

If you have a great money saving tip, please leave a comment.

Thanks for visiting!

Happy New Year!

Bye, Bye Blues

Winter blues may be triggering a sense of gloom and doom to hover about these cold, dark days. Less severe than SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder), the winter blues can still be bothersome if not tackled head on. Winter blues can rob you of energy, make cravings for unhealthy foods more intense, difficulty waking up in the morning is more noticeable, and a feeling of melancholy seems relentless. The holidays have passed, so now what?

Chin up, smile…and breathe easy because these tips will help. Keep in mind to always check with a doctor before changing your diet or exercise routine.

-Relax, a little: Why just a little? Let’s blame the holiday season for a few extra pounds that need to be banished. Exercise will help with the winter blues, especially if you’ve set your mind on a February get-a-way. Yes! Plan a trip somewhere warm and see how it makes you smile. A short term goal, like a reunion, vacation, or a party with friends helps winter days to pass like a breath of fresh air and it will motivate you to stay on track with diet and exercise goals.

-Plan a Party: Who doesn’t need a day with friends or family to enjoy all of the Christmas games and movies that have been received? A party will get you moving, help to clear out holiday clutter, and it will be a short term goal that makes many people smile. However, keep it simple! This is a party where all guests bring something to eat and some kind of entertainment. Card games, movies, music, etc. are all welcome. Then, in a few weeks…one of your friends takes a turn to make winter’s passing more fun.

-Eat healthy: I know! This one is easier said, and written, than done, yet it is vital to beating the winter blues. Foods rich in Vitamin D, which increases serotonin levels, like milk, soy milk and salmon are good choices this winter. In addition, foods containing essential B vitamins will keep you nourished, but if you live in a northern zone, then vitamin supplements may be an option. Speak to your doctor if you feel vitamin supplements will assist with the winter blues. Snack on nuts, eat fruit, and enjoy the delicious varieties of whole grain breads available to round out your diet. Shy away from sugary temptations that will only provide a short-lived gush of energy.

-Lighten up: This is a fun way to ward of winter blahs.  Grab a friend and catch up on things as you both get sunshine in your life by taking a morning walk or a late afternoon walk and do so knowing winter will pass. Knowledge is power, so knowing spring is on its way is comforting. Talk about your goals for 2010, trips to take, and your best memories of the holiday. If the holiday was not so great…never fear, discuss ways to make Christmas 2010 the best one ever.

-Get a new hobby: There is time to kill in the winter, so instead of watching TV, write short stories and poems, try finishing that screenplay you started five years ago, start a blog, or read your top ten favorite books. Watercolors are not expensive…go for it and paint something, wood crafting is…crafty, scrapbooking could keep you sane, or maybe learn how to cook Italian or French recipes.

-Connect with Friends: You are not alone! Too many people feel the doldrums of winter. So, take charge. Life is what you put into it…so put some time into reconnecting with old friends. Hearing that person laugh as you recall an old story will also bring much joy to you.

-eBay: Dive into your closets and organize your treasures to start selling on eBay. You’ll be surprised how much money you can make selling items that are in excellent condition, but are no longer needed by you. This is a tip that could turn your winter blues…green.

-Shop: Is that a bad word to use so shortly after the holiday? I believe not since deals are to be found. Stock up on gifts for upcoming birthdays and anniversaries. Picture frames, movies, music CDs, home accessories, and clothes are on sale. Get some exercise while you shop and walk a few, extra laps around the mall before heading out into the cold.

-Volunteer: This is the best winter blues tip. Once, I was told by a wise woman to always think about others first, and then everything else will fall into place. If you are feeling lost and a bit sad this winter, help someone else through it. Volunteer with the United Way, a local church, a local school, or any of the many organizations that are in dire need of support. The little bit of time you give will cover you in a warmth you’ve never known.

Greetings!

Let the Party Begin! The holiday is almost here. Are you ready to have the best holiday get together with your family and friends? If you have dinner and desserts covered, but are wondering how else to entertain your guests…then scroll on down.

First, a few tips.

-Relax! A host or hostess who opens the door with a smile on his or her face is the best asset a party can have. Things do not have to be perfect, but everyone can have a perfectly wonderful time if stress is banished from the party. At some point, nothing else can be done, so enjoy your guests.

-All walkways need to be cleared and salted for your guests. If this is something you are unable to do yourself, hire a teenager from your neighborhood.

-It’s fun to pass out Christmas party bags, plastic or paper, with candy as guests leave. These do not have to be enormous and children especially enjoy them. My favorite bags to use are the clear plastic bags that are decorated. Put a few Christmas cookies and a handful of candy in each one and you’re set.

-Extra ice is almost always a necessity at a party, so stock up. This is one item easily overlooked.

-Although your family pet is the friendliest animal you’ve ever known, it’s a good idea to make sure the party does not stress your best friend to the point where small children may provoke an incident. Allow your pet some quiet time for peace of mind.

-This is the most important tip. Invite someone to your party who would otherwise be alone. Do you know of a neighbor whose family does not have the opportunity to visit in December? Make their day with a holiday invitation.

Games/Activities:

Christmas Charades & Pictionary: Entertain your guests with Charades or Pictionary where all subjects are Christmas oriented. Great games for all ages and you can visit the link, purchase it, and be ready to play. $6.99

Christmas Jeopardy: Another printable game, this has 15 categories including Christmas trivia and Name That Tune. Christmas Jeopardy will be sure to get you’re your guests laughing while getting acquainted. $6.99

Holiday Memory Game: Place about 15 items, mostly holiday related, on a tray or in a basket. Pass it around for a few minutes. Then remove the tray or basket from the room. To make this game a true challenge, allow for some time to pass by asking each guest to say something he or she is thankful for this holiday season. Then, hand out paper and pens and instruct your guests to write down the items on the tray or basket. Provide a nice prize or special treat for the winner.

Bingo: Visit any toy store or department store and pick up a holiday version of the game or the standard version. For the winner of each round, make available a small basket of holiday lollipops. Choosing the perfect lollipop will delight that child. When the game concludes, make sure each child ends up with a lollipop as well.

Christmas Card Making: Kids can quicklyget bored at a party where adults are visiting, so why not set up a card table with crayons, washable markers, construction paper, and stickers. (Skip the glue and scissors if the kids are very young.) Ask the kids to make a few cards for people they know. Kids think it’s fun to use holiday cookie cutters for templates and/or pieces of holiday paper to cut objects from for decorating. This can keep kids busy for quite some time.

Movie Stations: If you have several places in your home where kids and adults can watch movies, place a basket at each location for people to choose from. This way, if some of your guests need a break from talking, they can relax and watch a holiday movie or an all time favorite of yours. This works especially well if your party starts early in the day and then carries on into the night.

Crazy Eights, Hearts, Gin Rummy, Scopa: This is a super way to keep your guests entertained. Provide a few card tables in various rooms and stock each table with snacks and different kinds of card games. It would be wise to have a table just for kids since they will want to get in on the action too.

Memories-in-the-Making: Since a host or hostess will not have much time to take photographs, provide some disposable cameras for guests to use so the party will be remembered by all. Kids love to document the day by taking pictures. Some older kids can make good use of a digital camera and upload the pictures so they are ready to print in no time.

Photo Album Look-Back: Such an easy thing to do! Place some photo albums filled with family/holiday pictures on a few coffee tables. Much laughter and many smiles will occur as your guests visit the past.

 Merry Christmas!

Greetings!

Three-Letter Word of Terror

Ice—black ice, need I say more? Is a wintery chill sliding down your spine? To me, nothing is more terrifying than black ice, which I had the misfortune of experiencing as my Durango gained velocity while sliding down a steep hill in Wheeling, WV on December 12th.  After a few twirls on the devil-glazed blacktop, I was lucky enough to skid off the road onto some gravel…unharmed, except for a near heart attack. A few seconds later, a white minivan crashed right next to me, and then a little silver car collided with another minivan broken down along the hill. Not a fun morning and we were all stranded for quite some time.

“It could never happen to me. I’m always the lucky one.” Yes, you may be a lucky one, but what if your luck is frozen as subzero temperatures speedily paralyze it making you vulnerable to Mother Nature? Are you prepared to be unexpectedly caught in a winter storm?

Traveling during the winter means packing for unexpected weather and vehicle complications because Mother Nature does not care if you have water, food, or flashlights. She’s a cruel adversary who is beautifully deceptive as her chilly breath delivers dangerous snow and ice. Please take the time to prepare for your winter traveling destinations.

Winter Traveling Tips:

-First and foremost, do not travel if treacherous weather is on the brink of befalling your route.  Wherever you’re heading will still be there when the storm subsides. Common sense is absolutely your best defense when winter weather is planning on taking a bite out of your plans. And do not use excuses like…but Christmas is special, Mom will be so disappointed, or Uncle Charlie will never forgive us if we miss dinner to validate putting yourself and your loved ones at risk. Your family and friends will understand if bad weather changes your plans. Chill out and stay safe.

However…

-Keep in mind all vehicles must be in good working order to be dependable in the winter. This includes making sure your battery, lights, ignition, fluids, brakes, exhaust, heating and cooling systems, and tires are ready for the winter roads.

-Try as hard as possible to maintain at least ½ tank of gas in case a breakdown occurs. If a breakdown happens, use the gas sparingly to run the heater. Check to make sure the tailpipe is not blocked with snow, ice, or dirt. Carbon monoxide poisoning can happen if you’re not careful. Another important tip is to crack a window and allow fresh air to circulate.

-An emergency travel kit including flashlights, water, food, a first aid kit, extra coat, gloves, and hats, plus blankets, real boots…not just a pretty pair, extra ice scraper and brush, jumper cables, flares or distress signals. You may want to consider an emergency generator since a car’s battery is crucial to staying warm.

-Basic tools for changing a tire…and of course, a spare tire is always a smart thing to have. Pack a product like Fix-a-Flat and be sure to include a small bag of sand in case traction is needed.

-Charge all cell phones! Carry an extra one if possible. Too many people travel with their cell phones on a low charge.

-Tow rope is an item to be tossed in the trunk too. A friendly by-passer may be able to assist pulling your vehicle out of a ditch, but not everyone carries this.

-Coffee can, matches (small lighter), and candles to use for melting snow in case extra water is needed.

-A shovel could be your best friend, so take it along for the ride.

-Extra batteries for the flashlights, but watch for the expiration date.

-If you wear contacts, make sure your glasses are packed as well. It’s also a fantastic idea to pack an extra pair of glasses just in case of breakage.

-ChapStick and body lotion for extremely dry winter skin is an added bonus if you remember to pack it.

-Sunglasses are important since you may be blinded from the glare of snow and ice. Any digging or repairs will be made easier with them.

-In addition, make sure to call people at the destination so they will know approximately when you should arrive. Update them as you get closer so if something happens, your location can be easier to find.

Check out these helpful links:

Auto Barn 

Survival Supply

AA Communications

Greetings!

Dashing to the Laptop

Now weeks away, Christmas and Hanukkah may be on the minds of many as the task of gift-giving draws near. Do not fear. No need to drive to any outlet or mall—dash to your laptop instead.

Remember, gift-giving can be as easy as eating pumpkin pie if you take note of these tips and visit the links below.

 -Shop according to your budget. This is vital for good mental health during and after the holiday season. If your budget is tight, relax. Go back to the way things used to be. Bake some goodies for someone or offer your time as a gift; just show you care. That’s what really matters.

-Make a list and check it twice. It’s easy to forget who you’ve shopped for and who is left on your holiday agenda.

-Write down everything purchased and keep all receipts in one place. Get gift receipts if possible.

-Consider a person’s age, job, hobbies, and entertainment likes and dislikes as guides to shopping for him/her. Toys have labels noting the appropriate ages for that toy. A person’s job could inspire a desk accessory or wall décor item as a gift. Do you know an artist? Get some top of the line brushes and paint for him or her. Or if you’re not sure of the specific items…organizational items for a person’s hobby are cool too. Movies, books, and the latest in music releases are all terrific sources to start, but keep in mind what genres your recipients prefer. Some people would be horrified to receive a horror movie no matter how much it was praised.

-Keep in mind what guardians/parents will permit as gifts. (This relates to ratings on video games, movies, etc. A six-year old child should not be playing “M” or “mature” rated video games. Be careful! Some covers look innocent. This is also relevant when purchasing music for young people.)

-Compare prices with shopzilla.com, and/or pricegrabber.com, plus go directly to Amazon, eBay, and Overstock to make sure you’re getting a deal. Watch out for shipping charges and remember Overstock has low, everyday shipping. Some websites offer free shipping depending upon how much is spent.

 Click Away for a Perfect Shopping Day

American Museum of Natural History (AMNH): Find educational gifts that are truly beautiful. Check out Deck of Stars which opens up 40 major constellations, plus other stars, galaxies, and mysteries of the night sky with glow-in-the-dark spotter cards. The Universe in a Nutshell by Stephen Hawking is also a brilliant choice for gift-giving. The AMNH offers up awesome calendars and posters, plus many other gift ideas as well. Just imagine how pleased a teacher would be to receive a gift from the AMNH.

Zazzle.com: Visit this website to buy stunning photography and posters that will surely please your recipients. Zazzle.com offers custom postage stamps that ship in 48 hours and their gift ideas start at $5.00.

SERRV: Handcrafted items like tapestries, wooden bowls, jewelry, baskets, and serving trays…absolutely different from what you’d pick up at the mall. Make a purchase from SERRV and help artisans in developing countries. Read about their mission to eradicate poverty. SERRV is a nonprofit organization.

 Container Store: The deal is sealed tight at the Container Store. Check out various gift ideas including containers for the kitchen, storage, and office. A favorite is the Salad Blaster Bowls.

 Personal Creations: They specialize in gifts personalized with initials and names, which definitely make a gift memorable. They have doormats, wall décor, apparel, jewelry and many other splendid gift ideas.

 eBay: Great website to find gifts, but consider sellers’ ratings and read the reviews posted about him/her. Also take a look at the sellers’ refund policies, shipping costs, and notice if the item in question is new, refurbished, or used.

 Amazon: Shop until your face hits the keyboard! Amazon’s prices are worth checking.

 Overstock: Let your fingers do the walking on the keyboard and try Overstock. Stress free shopping at its best with low shipping costs. Do remember to check if your electronic device is new or refurbished.

 Enjoy the holiday season!

 

 

 

Greetings!

Nightmare before Christmas

A blazing fire warms the TV room while Notting Hill loads in the DVD player. Cinnamon scented candles glow as a huge bowl of popcorn, lightly dribbled in butter and salt, is placed on the coffee table. Eight of us rush to find a seat, but Mushu, our black Shih Tzu/Chihuahua has gone nuts and leaps from the couch onto the coffee table…whereby the popcorn takes on the appearance of snowflakes as it scatters about. Tashi, the older Shih Tzu barks loud enough to scare Brenna resulting in her hot chocolate to spill on the end table. The carpet feels neglected, so it demands some of the hot chocolate to moisten it, which is an easy request for the hot drink.

Twenty minutes later, the popcorn is cleaned up and the carpet is denied a lovely stain. Both dogs are sitting on top of the couch looking relaxed. Eight of us rush to find a seat. Notting Hill loads as my family settles down to finally watch a movie.

Ah…nothing beats this. We’re all together on Christmas Eve. After grabbing a handful of popcorn, I cover up with a thick blanket feeling happy, because I’m ready for the holiday.  

Out of nowhere, faint light from a distance catches my attention. I stand up as my heart pounds. Do my eyes deceive me? No. The light magnifies, until two beams of light flood the TV room.

Then I hear that sound.  You know it, I’m sure. It’s the hushed, yet alarming sound of car doors as they shut.  

The popcorn falls from hand as my thoughts race. Company, tonight? Seconds later, I open the door to see my lovely guests have arrived and they’ve brought the most beautiful presents.

My eyes open. Relief replaces the fear that I’ve forgotten someone during the holiday.

Yes, that is a nightmare and one that I don’t want to happen. However, it could manifest all the same if I’m not careful. To prevent this nightmare, I must put on my soothsayer cape and predict the future. Usually, two, or three, unexpected…but absolutely wonderful guests, holding beautiful gifts, will pop in over the holiday for a short visit. They are thrilled to catch up on family news, eat with us, and even tolerate the crazy dogs.

These surprise visits add excitement to the holiday season and I welcome them. People are more important than things…but I feel better knowing I have something unique for them as well.

If this nightmare looms in the back of your mind, take charge. Prepare a few, extra baskets with wine, treats, and a great movie to give away when needed the most. The baskets look fantastic if you wrap them up in shrink plastic and place a huge bow and ribbons on them. Tie some Christmas ornaments around the bottle of wine. Baskets are always a good choice, but extra holiday bags will work as well. Use your imagination to create just a handful of gifts that will provide peace of mind.

Most importantly, expect the unexpected with a cheerful heart. If people drop by for a visit, that is what they need the most.

If you have any holiday tips, fell free to leave a comment.

Thanks for visiting!

Thankful for Thanksgiving Day

On November 26, 2009 something wonderful happens. Nowadays, it rarely occurs so it makes me particularly cheerful. I get to stay home and spend time with my family. Yes! My husband, six kids, and two dogs, plus any other family members, or friends, will find me at home in a somewhat delirious state of mind as I enjoy my loved ones on Thanksgiving Day.

 It’s widely accepted Americans celebrate Thanksgiving Day because the Pilgrims of 1621 got together with the Wampanoag Indians to give thanks for a bountiful fall harvest. A delicious meal, games, and socializing had to mean the world to those people since so many Pilgrims died the first year after they arrived in Plymouth. However, it’s also known by many that even earlier than the Plymouth Pilgrims, European settlers in North America, like British settlers, had a banquet of thanksgiving at Berkeley Plantation, Virginia in 1619. Their feast included a prayer and thanksgiving to God because they had traveled the treacherous Atlantic and survived it. In 1863, President Abraham Lincoln selected a day of thanksgiving as the last Thursday in November.

 Now, back to present day where the turkey, sides, and desserts…plus lasagna made for my beautiful gypsy-girl, Rachael, will soon be made. Thanksgiving Day can be stressful, so let’s highlight some ways to make the day easier.

-Make a list of everything you’ll need for the holiday or holiday weekend, especially if company is arriving. Check items off your list as you purchase them…so you don’t end up with twenty cans of pumpkin or 50 sticks of butter. Remember: cool whip, canned milk for pumpkin pie, extra paper products…like napkins and paper towels, containers and/or storage bags to send leftovers home with guests, snacks for before and after the meal, plus extra garbage bags. Also, have some buns available for the next day so sandwiches can be made and that means ketchup, mustard etc. is needed as well.

-Are young children coming to your holiday meal? It would be prudent to have a few baskets of toys or books for them placed away from the kitchen. In addition, you could set up an area for the kids to watch some holiday movies. A friend of mine is setting up a table with washable markers, crayons, and construction paper for the kids to make cards for a few soldiers they know. That’s one of the best ideas I’ve heard.

-It’s important to remember if you have pets or a guest is bringing a pet or two—keep young children and the animals separated unless adults are overseeing things. Pets, who normally love just about anyone, can get scared and possibly nip or bite if they feel threatened. Events like the holidays can be stressful for pets, so be sure to watch young children.

– The day is about caring and sharing, so back to young children…ask a few adults or older children to keep a watchful eye on them while the meal is finished. The kitchen will be busy and any number of accidents could happen if a toddler runs in and accidently bumps in to someone.

-This brings us to the next tip, sad to say it, but do make sure you have a fire extinguisher that works and you know how to use it. An old neighbor of mine got caught up in a conversation and left a skillet on the stove and it did catch on fire, but she had a small fire extinguisher. She added this tip for everyone. It’s a marvelous idea to check your medicine cabinet for first aid supplies. I don’t know about you, but I would be left without Band-Aids on a holiday and that’s when someone would need one.

-Provide healthy snacks before the meal. Veggies and dip, maybe a yogurt dip, or fruit, but nothing too filling because the meal is special.

-If possible, help moms and dads with babies by borrowing a swing or portable crib if you don’t already have these things. Thanksgiving Day is fun, but caring for a baby when you are not at your own house can be trying.

 Happy Thanksgiving Day!

 

Do It in November 

We are what we eat. That’s sad, but true. November is the month to start making healthy lifestyle choices. No way should you wait until January 1, 2010, because you matter too much for time to be wasted. I’ve found the safest way to approach one’s diet, is to be sensible. First, make healthy choices before you go to the grocery store. Do not starve yourself because our bodies are machines and we need fuel, so let’s get the good stuff in us. Eat a balanced diet, watch portions, and get physical. Come on…do it in November.

Start by speaking to your doctor. It’s also important to know how many calories you need to maintain or lose weight, however if you are too thin, then make an adjustment as well. Go to Americanheart.org for examples and to do some research. Then, make a healthy grocery list and you can do this at checkmark.heart.org, which allows you to click healthy choices and print them out. Keep in mind, if your kitchen is filled with processed food items, then most likely, you will cook them. If some fruit, chicken, and vegetables are available, then go for that. Dessert? Try one of the tempting yogurts available. The joy you’ll feel from making a healthy lifestyle choice is amazing. It beats the guilt you’ll feel from a not so great lifestyle choice.

Tips

Park as far from the store or mall as you can; burn calories by staying there and walking an additional 30-40 minutes. If you do walk those extra minutes and burn some calories, do not reward yourself by indulging in an ice cream sundae. Get an ice tea or flavored water and smile. And be careful with your snacks since some pretzels and popcorn are loaded with calories. Read the nutrition labels and notice the servings in that package. You could grab a snack bag and read the calories as 110 per serving assuming the entire bag is the serving…yet 2 or 3 servings could be in that snack bag.

I asked some people what provoked them into making unhealthy lifestyle choices. All too many answered, sleep deprivation and stress. Well since stress is heightened when we don’t take care of ourselves, try as best as you can to stay conscious of that fact. Many of these same individuals said when they wake up in the middle of the night, feeling starved—they indulge in whatever they can find. Once again, make healthy choices available and keep some in plain sight. So, it’s better not to eat during the middle of the night. Try to read or listen to some music, whatever will relax you.

Another thing to keep in mind is we are humans…not perfect and making healthy lifestyle choices is not always going to happen. Accept sometimes things won’t go as planned. If you have a bad day, let it go and the very next day get back on track. Stay positive! Don’t allow a bad day turn into a bad week…or month.

If exercise for the sake of exercise is difficult for you, then clean, organize, go sightseeing, do yard work, but use the beautiful body you have. Also use your precious mind; educate yourself about the basic food groups, calorie intake, and the marvelous benefits that will come your way from getting healthy.

A Side of Lasagna

Does the thought of a juicy, golden-brown turkey, mashed potatoes, green bean casserole, homemade stuffing…that’s crispy around the edges, cranberry salad, warm dinner rolls, and of course, pumpkin pie with a huge spoon of whipped cream on it sound mouth-watering? Yes, it sure does. Thanksgiving Day is special.

Preparing for the upcoming holiday is no easy task, yet I believe my family thinks this wondrous meal magically appears on Thanksgiving Day.

My daughter is coming from Boston to celebrate with us. We were discussing the meal. “Hey,” I said, “anything sound especially good to you? Are you looking forward to the mashed potatoes, or the stuffing more? I can’t wait to have turkey and mashed potatoes with gravy.”

“Um, well…turkey is good, but could we have a side of lasagna?” Rachael added, “Pepperoni rolls would be welcome as well.”

“Lasagna? You want that on Thanksgiving?” I asked trying to not sound surprised…but I was. We continued to discuss the holiday and how much fun it will be to have the family together.

A few days later, I asked my other daughter, Brenna, what she was looking forward to on Thanksgiving Day.

“Oh…hanging out with everyone. I’m happy Rachael is coming home. We all miss her,” said Brenna. “And you know, we haven’t had lasagna in a long time, mom,” she added.

“What! Are you kidding me?” I mean, seriously…my kids don’t want the traditional Thanksgiving meal? “I thought you liked turkey and mashed potatoes,” I mumbled heading out the door.

Well, it was confirmed the next day. Brenna spoke to Ryan. Ryan mentioned lasagna to Brandon, who in turn informed Jordan, that a side of lasagna would be a real treat for the holiday.

However, things are never that simple at my house. I asked my third grader, “So what do you want to eat on Thanksgiving Day?”

Aaron replied, “Ah, I guess turkey, stuffing, some corn would be good, pumpkin pie…you know the usual.”

Needless to say, my family will be helping to prepare the juicy, golden-brown turkey, mashed potatoes, green bean casserole, homemade stuffing…that’s crispy around the edges, cranberry salad, warm dinner rolls, pumpkin pie with a huge spoon of whipped cream on it and that side of lasagna Rachael is craving. Lasagna is tasty, but it’s the memories attached to eating the saucy dish that are most desirable. Italian food is on the menu frequently at my house. Rachael reminded me—giving thanks for family and friends as the spirit of Thanksgiving touches us all ensures a bountiful harvest of joy.

Greetings!

Veterans Day: November 11th, 2009

This week, Veterans Day is the topic of interest. Veterans Day, which used to be called Armistice Day, became a legal U.S. holiday to honor the end of World War I and it is officially recorded as November 11, 1918. Legislation passed in 1938 stating November 11th was “dedicated to the cause of world peace and to be hereafter celebrated and known as Armistice Day.” (military.com)

In 1954, veterans service organizations urged the 83rd Congress to amend the holiday due to our participation in World War II and the Korean War. As a result, the Act of 1938 was changed and the word Armistice was replaced with Veterans. Veterans Day honors all American veterans in wartime or in times of peace.

Teachers/Guardians/Parents: Check out this link for a Teachers Resource Guide. While teachers may find this helpful to celebrate Veterans Day, any adult could utilize it to enhance a child’s understanding of Veterans Day.

Celebrate Veterans Day

  • Send a card, or email to veterans you know.
  • Check out websites like Treat Any Soldier or Soldiers’ Angels
  • Call a veteran you know and ask him/her questions about the military
  • Put your life on hold for a short speck of time to be grateful for our brave veterans

(Military.com. 9 Nov 2009. http://www.military.com/veteransday/History.htm)