Friday, September 26, 2008

Christmas Gift Ideas-Christmas Tip #5

This is one of the nicest and most meaningful gifts I have been given. My daughter saw this idea at someone's house and made one for me on Mother's Day. She later gave one to her dad. I have them both hanging in my bathroom.
Here is how she made it. She printed out words about us in different sizes and fonts and printed them. She cut them out and glued them on a piece of scrapbook paper and framed it with frames that were in my basement. It didn't cost her any money and it was a big surprise. It is fun to see what she thinks of us and the spelling makes it that much cuter. If you click on it, it will enlarge.
I think adding one of these pictures to a kid's bathroom would be a real self esteem booster. I know it makes me feel good every time I read it.
Hanging above my son's bed, where only he can see it, are vinyl letters that say We're Proud of You. I thought that when he saw it, that he might take it down but it has been up for 3 years. He gets made fun of a little when friends see it but it is still there. Every one thrives on love, attention, affirmations and good words said about them.
This would be an easy, inexpensive gift to start working on for Christmas gifts.

I know there are some really creative people out there. If you do this project will you send me a picture? I would like to do some of these for my kids. Thanks!

This is one of my favorite "neighbor" gifts. It is a scripture printed on top of a printed flower picture. It was made on the computer and printed on nice paper. I put it into a fancy frame and it sits on a table in my entry way.

I love these inexpensive vinyl letters.

Here is a list of games my family likes
Apples to Apples
Whoonu? (We played this last night. Fun for anyone who can read. You get to know what each other likes.
Phase 10

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Gift Exchanges- Christmas Tip #4

This year what if you tried to simplify a few things. If you normally have to buy everyone you know a gift, what if you picked names this year? What if you were able to buy less more meaningful gifts?
I was in an extended family gift exchange for years.
At one time I was doing a gift exchange with my mother in law's family (7 gifts) and my father in law's family (7 gifts). I not only had to buy 14 extra gifts, but I had to wrap them and mail them all over the country. I did this ritual every year. Why was I buying a gift for an uncle in Florida and a cousin in Iowa?
I finally got brave and told the people in charge that I wasn't going to be in the gift exchange anymore. WOW! What a relief!!! Did I really get away with it? Yes,...... Nobody cared! ..... I would stress myself out every year and all I had to do was say NO. It's amazing how that little word can work.
If you love that type of thing do it. If it is a headache and makes your holidays no fun, opt out.
So far I have not changed my mind, but if I ever do, I'm sure they will let me back in. Maybe it is time for you to step out of a few of your have to's.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Neighbor Gifts-Christmas Tip #3

In my area we exchange gifts with other families. Some are my husbands friends, my friends, neighbors, people at church, piano teachers etc. These gifts are usually either homemade plates of goodies or a gift for $5.00 or less. This year I really hit the jackpot! My daughter was in Chicago shopping at a Bath and Body Outlet Store. She called me and told me about these ceramic gingerbread houses that have 2 different oils to make your house smell good. They were regularly $24.50 and were selling them for $3.99. I called the store and asked if they could mail them to me and so they did. They sent me 24 of them. Here are the boxes. I can't show you what they look like because my friends read my blog and I want them to be a surprise.

How easy was that?? No thinking, no driving, no cooking. They are super cute, nice and with shipping comes to $5.00 each. One huge headache off my shoulders.
Today's tip is to decide on the "neighbor" gifts. Buy them, wrap them and put them away. If you make goodies for neighbors, you can buy the plates, ribbon and even write the cards.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Pictures and Cards-Christmas tip #2

This would be a great week to pick out Christmas cards and schedule your pictures to be taken (If that is a tradition of yours).
The first 12 years of my marriage I had our family pictures taken like clock work and sent out the cards on time. It was a real struggle getting my husband and some of the kids to go along every year. I would have to cancel the appointments and reschedule them at least once. It wasn't enjoyable for me, so I let that go. I gave up the perfect family routine. You know there is no rule that says you have to do pictures and cards. If you enjoy it and like it, do it. If you are doing it out of obligation or perfectionism, give it up for a year or two. No one will care. It is your joy and happiness that matters.

My friend Launette bucked the system a few years ago. She sends out her family newsletter every Valentines Day. It looks like the ones you see at Christmas but it is on heart or love paper instead of Christmas paper. I wish I had thought of it. She sends her love and I catch up on her life. When I receive several family letters and card in the mail on the same day in December, I have a hard time sitting down to read and enjoy them. It is such a hustle and bustle time of year. I don't savor and appreciate the cards as much as I do when I get Launette's Valentine letter.

What time of year is best for you to send out pictures, cards or newsletters (if at all). It is important to stay in touch but who says it has to be in December.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

100 days Till Christmas-Tip #1

We have 100 days left until Christmas. This may sound like a lot, but not for me,
I celebrate 2 daughters, a son in law, a husband and a son's birthday within 2 weeks of Christmas. I can get stressed out if a don't do a lot of pre-planning. This means doing everything I can before December. If I am worrying about Christmas duties, I can't celebrate birthdays and the true meaning of Christmas.
One year I got my Christmas shopping done in August and I didn't step foot in the malls all of December. It was too weird. It didn't even feel like it was Christmas. So in my opinion, that early is a little extreme.
I do think it is nice to get as much done before Thanksgiving as possible. So I have between now and Nov. 27 to get everything done. I like to mail my Christmas packages out the day before Thanksgiving when there is no line. I also like shopping in the stores with few people and easy parking.

For the next 6 blog posts I am going to give you tips to prepare early so you can enjoy time with your family.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

72 Hour Kits

I was watching CNN this morning speaking about the hurricane that just hit Texas. They said that 4 million people are without electricity. They mentioned that when Katrina hit some didn't get their power back on for 3 or 4 weeks.
I heard the frustration in the leaders voices about the people not evacuating and now they have to spend there time rescuing people.
He also mentioned the fact that FEMA has told ALL Americans to have 72 hours worth of bottled water and food in their homes. He said that Salvation Army and the Red Cross and the government cannot do everything for everyone.
To me it is common sense to have this on hand. We see everyday somewhere in the country catastrophes happening. We need to do our part to help ourselves.

My mother made these kits at her church. These are 72 hour kits. If you have one of these for each person in your family, 2 liters of water, and cash tucked away, you can rest at ease.
(Click on the picture to see them up close)
This is what is in the containers.
Day 1
2 granola bars
1 juice box
1 pkg soup mix
1 pkg crackers (peanut butter or cheese)
1 beef jerky
1 pkg. ramen noodles
1 pkg cocoa mix
5 pcs candy
3 pcs gum
1 fruit roll up
Day 2
2 pkg.oatmeal
1 pkg cocoa
1 beef jerky
1 pudding cup
1 can soup
1 pkg crackers (peanut butter or cheese)
1 fruit roll up
5 pcs candy
3 pcs gum
1 pkg peanuts
Day 3
2 pkg oatmeal
1 pkg cocoa mix
1 beef jerky
1 pudding cup
1 can soup
1 pkg crackers (peanut butter or cheese)
1 fruit roll up
5 pcs candy
3 pcs gum
1 pkg peanuts

My daughter, her husband and baby were in Oahu, Hawaii when an earthquake hit on the Big Island. She heard about it on the radio. At the time I was speaking to her no one knew if it was going to turn into a tsunami.
She was very nervous because they had moved from one apartment and was heading to another. She had thrown away a lot of food and hadn't had much in the refrigerator because she didn't want to move it. They had only $17.00 cash and all the stores were closed and the power was out. The gas pumps didn't work and they could only pay with cash because the credit card machines didn't work.
She had a cell that could be charged with the car so I could talk to her, but not help. She bought junk food at a gas station and was very worried about the baby with not much formula.
If she had these little kits, the water and cash she wouldn't have been so panicked.
Lucky for them the power was restored in about 24 hours. She and I learned a valuable lesson to be ready in case of unexpected emergencies.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Fast Way to Cook Bacon

Open a package of bacon and slice the whole block up and put in a pan to cook. As it gets warm the pieces start falling apart. I stir a little but don't really have to turn it.

If you are cooking bacon to use in a salad or even a sandwich this method saves a lot of time. If you cut it up and put it in a pan it all cooks evenly and you don't have the messy job of crumbling it after.

Can you see that each piece is crisp and there are no burnt pieces and no raw pieces.

When I cook for my family, I am looking for speed and efficiency over how pretty it looks. If you think it looks tacky on the plate you could throw it in scrambled eggs.
I cook the whole pound at once and can use it later in the day or week. This cooking method can save 10 or more minutes.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Proper Portion Sizes

What a great idea Amy Roskelley had when she invented this simple plate. I saw this in a magazine a few weeks ago.

We have been conditioned to put a large piece of meat on a plate and add a roll and small portion of vegetables. When in reality it should this way, large portion of vegetables and small portion of bread and meat. After seeing this, when I dish up a plate of food, a picture of her plate pops into my mind. I think she is onto something.
Teaching our children proper portion sizes will help it become natural for them to eat this way.
Amy, owner of was quoted in the Utah Valley magazine below.
One of her habit changes was not so much about the food she served her children but the plates she served it on. Amy found that she was better able to teach proper portion sizes by giving her kids sectioned plates."A balanced meal should be half fruits and vegetables,"Amy says. "I didn't want my kids to grow up with mac and cheese as the main part of their meal with a couple piesces of broccoli on the side."
And then she took the sectioned plates one step further.
" I thought, 'It sure would be nice to have pictures on the plate,'"Amy says. 'That way the kids are the ones to say, 'Hey mom--I need more vegetables on my plate,'"

Even if you don't buy one of these plates, it is a good idea to teach our children the message, and maybe even have a picture like this on the table for a while as a reminder.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Naomi Judd

I enjoyed reading Naomi's Breakthrough Guide. Naomi Judd is such a sweet, unpretentious woman. After high school, life got really rough for her. This is page 24 of her book.
In that moment of truth in front of the mirror, I saw that I was more than a battered face; my life had a greater meaning than the choices I'd been making up to that point. I began to see that choices are sacred. God created us and gives us the opportunities to make choices. This means that we can become cocreators with God in deciding our future.
I didn't fully realize it then, but I've since come to understand that there is an invisible, spiritual world. As we make inspired, conscious choices, we're opening up to infinite possibilities.
There was another Mirror of Truth the night of my beating. Behind the front desk at the sheriff's station where I went to seek help was a two-way mirror. I could see only myself, but on the other side was an invisible source of help and support. I found this out only a few weeks later when I took Wynonna's Brownie troop on a field trip to the station.
So it is true with God. He is always there, invisible but all knowing and available for us to turn to.

This is now one of my favorite books. I highly recommend it!!!!!!

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Words to live by

These words of wisdom were written by Barbara St. George.

"To celebrate growing older, I once wrote the 45 lessons life taught me. It is the most-requested column I've ever written. My odometer rolls over to 90 in August, so here goes: " -Barbara St.George, aged 89.

1. Life isn't fair, but it's still good.
2. When in doubt, just take the next small step.
3. Life is too short to waste time hating anyone.
4. Don't take yourself so seriously.  No one else does.
5. Pay off you refit cards every month.
6. You don't have to win every argument.  Agree to disagree.
7. Cry with someone.  It's more healing than crying alone.
8. It's OK to get angry with God.  He can take it.
9. Save for retirement starting with your first paycheck.
10.  When it comes to chocolate, resistance is futile.
11. Make peace with your past so it won't screw up the present.
12. It's OK to let your children see you cry.
13. Don't compare your life to others'.  You have no idea what their journey is all about.
14. If a relationship has to be a secret, you shouldn't be in it.
15. Everything can change in the blink of an eye. But don't worry; God never blinks.
16. Take a deep breath.  It calms the mind.
17. Get rid of anything that isn't useful, beautiful or joyful.
18. Whatever doesn't kill you really does make you stronger.
19. It's never too late to have a happy childhood.  But the second one is up to you and no one else.
20. When it comes to going after what you love in life, don't take no for an answer.
21. Burn the candles, use the nice sheets, wear the fancy lingerie.  Don't save it for a special occasion.  Today is special
22. Over prepare, then go with the flow.
23. Be eccentric now. Don't wait for old age to wear purple.
24. The most important sex organ is the brain.
25. No one is in charge of your happiness except you.
26. Frame every so-called disaster with these words. 'In five years, will this matter?'
27. Always choose life.
28. Forgive everyone for everything.
29. What other people think of you is none of your business.
30. Time heals almost everything.  Give it time.
31. However good or bad a situation is, it will change.
32. Your job won't take care of you when you are sick.  Your friends and family will.  Stay in touch.
33. Believe in miracles.
34. God loss you because of who God is, not because of anything you did or didn't do.
35. Don't audit life.  Show up and make the most of it now.
36. Growing old beats the alternative--dying young.
37. Your children get only one childhood.  Make it memorable.
38. All that truly matters in the end is that you loved.
39. Get outside every day.  Miracles are waiting everywhere.
40. If we all threw our problems in a pile and saw everyone else's, we'd grab ours back.
41. Envy is a waste of time. You already have all you need.
42. The best is yet to come.
43. No matter how you feel, get up, dress up and show up.
44. Yield
45. Life isn't tied with a bow, but it's still a gift.

Wouldn't it be great to take the word or an 89 year old and not have to learn all of these lessons the hard way. I found some of them to be very profound