Sunday, September 28, 2008

Sunday Shoutout

Inspired by a couple of different bloggers who give link love out once a week, I am going to attempt something of that nature myself...but I will call it Sunday Shoutout so as to be a bit different. I haven't heard that term used for a theme amongst the blogs that I frequent...though I would not be surprised to find it has been used somewhere in the blogosphere as there is nothing new under the sun...but I like to think I'm at least somewhat original!!

So, as referenced in a previous post, I have been attempting to wrangle all my favorited links into some semblance of order. The following are some lovely links found in my "Keeping the Home" document. Enjoy!!

*Amy at MomAdvice gives a nice roundup of online family planners.

*Over on Momaroo, Mama Fox gives some tips for more efficient grocery shopping.

*On PaidTwice there are some handy tips to help you avoid that takeout urge.

*FlyLady gives you a rather thorough routine to follow to get things done around the house. (I simplified and personalized this in an earlier post).

*From the surprising place of a Scott brand website...a veritable smorgasboard of handy online tools.

*Finally, last but not least... SimpleMom has a handy-dandy e-book for sale to help you with that dreaded chore of "spring cleaning"...no matter the season.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Coming Soon!!

I am in the process of redesigning this blog with a simple 3 column design, and some nifty widgets and gizmos. I'm also working on getting a regular posting schedule worked up where I have at least 3-4 entries to post each week...more if inspiration strikes!!
I'm hoping to have it all up and running by the first of October...but for a quick preview look here...then come back and let me know what you think of the test blog design. Thanks, and here's to really getting this crazy blog going as a regular thing!!

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Organizing Links

Ever since seeing the Amy's Notebook posts on momadvice.com and the Wednesday Wonderfulness posts on a friend's Xanga blog...I have liked the idea of saving links of things I like, want to try, or want to save to refer to at some point in the future.

I had starred so many things in my Google Reader and had created so many folders of saved stuff in my Bookmarks that I started trying to get it all in some semblance of order lately and I used Google Docs to do it.

What I did was to create a document in Google Docs for each folder I had in my bookmarks. Currently I've got documents labeled: Pets, Keeping the Home, Recipes and Food, Organize, Faire, Frugality & Finances, and so on...

Everytime I see something I want to be able to reference back to, I save it to one of my Bookmarks folders...then every few days I go thru the folders and transfer the link to the appropriate Google document with an accompanying bit of text explaining what it is about...then I delete the link from my bookmarks. I am also in the process of doing the same sort of sorting thru of all my starred items in Google Reader.

The beauty of saving all this on Google Docs is that I then can access this from any computer with internet access, it's got notes of explanation as to what exactly this link is about, it's organized into categories by document, and to top it all off...cause it's in Google, I can do a search on any topic and pull up exactly the links I need!!

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Simplicity and Keeping it Green...

I like to think of myself as someone who wants to help keep our planet beautiful for future generations without being fanatical about it. I admit it...sometimes I just want the simplicity of grabbing an Ozarka or Fiji water at the corner gas station to quench my thirst instead of making sure to take my Sigg of filtered water with me everywhere. Sometimes I forget to carry my reuseable bags into the store when I'm buying more than I can carry out without a bag...so I end up with a few plastic bags. But all in all, I do try to do my own little part to at least TRY to keep the planet clean and healthy for a bit longer.

Here are some ways that I've thought of for cutting down on the consumption of disposable goods:

*Start using handtowels, washcloths, and napkins for cleaning things up...versus always grabbing a wad of paper towels.

*Buy a splatter cover for use when heating things in the microwave...versus covering things with paper towels (or having to clean up the spatters with paper towels after the fact!!).

*Go ahead and splurge on that Sigg bottle and then remember to fill and carry it with you...instead of always buying bottled water.

*Buy (and then remember to use) those reuseable bags for the grocery store. If you are just buying a couple things, refuse the plastic bag and just carry it out in your hands.

*If you regularly have folks over, buy some inexpensive plastic cups at Walmart or Target. When company comes over, tape a piece of masking tape on each cup and write names in Sharpie on that. It'll only take you a few extra minutes afterward to wash those cups out...but they will last you so much longer than that jumbo pack of disposable cups will...and save space in the landfill as well.

*If you think you can do it...try to get your office as paperless as possible. Use e-fax and hard drives to cut down on your use of paper. It helps the planet AND makes it easier to find stuff when you need it!!

*Use homemade cleaners with natural ingredients. You will be able to breathe easier without the chemical fumes, it's safer for the environment, and your children and pets will live healthier lives!! (I will try to post some natural cleaning recipes here in a coming post).

The next two ideas are a bit more radical and are not for everyone...but bear with me...as I think those that can do this are to be admired!!

*Cloth diaper your babies. Modern cloth diapers are not like those our mothers used on us. The newest cloth diapers are ALMOST as convenient as disposables. Think about it, at least!!

*Feminine hygiene products. I think this takes even more fortitude than cloth diapering, truthfully. But my hat goes off to any of you girls who choose to use cloth menstrual pads and/or a Diva Cup or Keeper instead of disposable pads and tampons. I'm sure it's better for both your body and the environment.

What ideas have you come up with for "greening up your life"? Please leave a comment and let me know.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Old Fashioned Skills become new again...

As things change for Americans in regards to the economy...and we tighten our belts...it seems that some of the old skills that our grandparents knew and used daily as a normal part of life are coming into vogue again. Haven't you noticed how knitting, sewing, gardening, cooking, canning, etc. have all had a bit of a resurgence lately? It's almost the "thing" now to wear an apron and be a housewife!!

I found a very cool blog post from a while back that dealt with a lot of these practical skills...why they were dying out and why there is now a bit of a resurgence...and gives helpful links to those interested in keeping these skills alive. The blog where I found it is called simplemom.net and here is the link to that post.

I have to say that though I enjoy getting into the kitchen occasionally and trying out new recipes, I am not too skilled at cooking. I can sew up simple things without a pattern and somewhat complicated things with a pattern, but I'm no seamstress. I have a black thumb when it comes to keeping plants alive. Yet I am very interested in being a thrifty, crafty homemaker and am constantly trying to improve my skills. What sorts of old-fashioned skills do you enjoy?

Monday, September 1, 2008

Establishing a staging area in your home...

I subscribe to a lot of blogs and so am always reading things that either inspire me to try something new...or make me grin cause it is something I've already made a habit in my life. One such thing I've read a lot about recently that is already a habit for me is having what I call a "staging area" near to the front door.

How many times have you gotten off away from home and realized that you forgot a library book or video that needed to be returned...or mail that needed to go to the post office...or donations to be dropped off at Goodwill? How many times have your kids got out the door without books or papers that they needed? If any of this has happened to you, then you need to set up a staging area in your own home.

What should be in this staging area? Well, you need some kind of surface (a table or closet shelf) that is between waist and eye level right near the outside door that you use the most. For some that would mean by the front door...for others, by the garage door. In any case, you need a designated spot to collect anything that needs to head out the door.

Use your area for any and all of the following: Library books, movie rentals, borrowed items needing to be returned, bought items that need to go back to the store, letters to mail,donations to drop off. Make sure that anytime you run across something that needs to head out that you immediately put it in the staging area...and then when you head out make sure to check your staging area to see if there is anything there that you need to deal with while out. Doing this will make getting out the door so much easier!!

Long time, no blog!!

Okay, it's been forever since I last blogged!! So, last time I blogged we'd just been to Lubbock. Since then, my parents and younger sibs came for a day of museums and fun...and then my sisters stayed for a few extra days. It was fun to hang out with my sisters...we even ate one night at Spiral Diner (a vegan restaurant I like that Brack doesn't)!!

My maternal grandmother passed away a few weeks ago. Since she was 98 in February and had been bedridden for the most part for the last several years, we were all somewhat expecting it to happen one of these days...but we will still miss her. She was a terrific lady who left behind a great legacy. If all counts are accurate, she had 9 children, 28 grandchildren, 41 great-grandchildren, 5 great-great-grandchildren, and 1 great-great-great-grandchild...with 4 more descendants on the way (and that's not including anyone's step-children)!!

We've also done a LOT of looking at houses in the last month and a half. Starting out it was just curiousity, then we got stuck on a house...even going so far as to put down earnest money and signing papers...but in the end we pulled out of getting it. We've decided to really concentrate on getting the credit card debt dealt with first, before we go adding a mortgage into the mix. Sad, yes...but it's better for us in the long run.

So, I found out yesterday that it's the end of an era!! My favorite comic strip "For Better or For Worse" has ended it's regular story line!! I grew up with Elizabeth and Michael (the older two kids) and was sad to see the end of the series. Wiki does say that there will be some new strips focusing on the next generation along with older strips and flashbacks mixed in, but the characters will no longer age along with me. Gah...now I really will feel old!!

Alright, I am a bit behind on posting this mosaic thing that's been making the rounds, but here is mine!!

mosaic4596406

Here are the directions if you wanna make your own mosaic.

a. Type your answer to each of the questions below into Flickr Search.
b. Using only the first page, pick an image.
c. Copy and paste each of the URLs for the images into fd’s mosaic maker. Choose 3 columns with 4 rows.

The Questions (with my answers):
1. What is your first name?--Julie
2. What is your favorite food?--Fresh fruit
3. What high school did you go to?--Homeschool
4. What is your favorite color?--Green
5. Who is your celebrity crush?--Matthew McConaughey
6. Favorite drink?--Water with lemon
7. Dream vacation?--Greek islands
8. Favorite dessert?--Cheesecake Factory (kahlua cocoa coffee cheesecake)
9. What you want to be when you grow up?--Mommy
10. What do you love most in life?--My husband
11. One Word to describe you?--Loving
12. Your favorite animal?--Kitten

So there ya go...a quick peek at what's been happening in my life lately!! I will try to be better at keeping up with my posting, but we'll see how long that lasts!!

Operation Christmas Child: A Rebuttal to Unsolicited Advice

Since that blog post (of what one person thinks you should and shouldn't send) is making the rounds AGAIN, I thought I might sha...