Wednesday, February 27, 2013

"I Stopped Crying!"

"No! I don't want to!"
"I want the other one!"
"I want you to stay!"

You mothers of toddlers know what it's like to hear whining, griping, complaining, and crying all the time.  Oh, the crying!  It's a struggle to try to figure out how to placate them while still maintaining your authority.

Several months ago, when Gracie would cry, I might offer an alternative.  She could turn the tears off like a faucet, and she would say, "Mommy! I stopped crying!"  I found myself making sarcastic comments in return.

Then, one day, it occurred to me that for Gracie to stop crying was actually a good thing.  That's what I want: for her to learn self-control and to adjust her thinking and attitude to being happy even in less-than-desirable circumstances.

Now, I still try to offer alternatives or things to think about or sometimes I just ignore the tears.  A few minutes later, when Gracie has directed her attention to something else, she will happily say, "Mommy, I stopped crying!" and I will happily praise her for being a big girl.  Now we both have smiles on our faces!

"...but David encouraged himself..." I Samuel 30:6
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Monday, February 25, 2013

Protect Your Identity

When I was first married, Robert told me to use his shredder to shred anything with any kind of personal information on it.  I regularly fill up and dispose of several bags of shredded paper each year.

I have recently been wondering should I bother with shredding the address labels from magazines and other pieces of advertising that I get.  I did a search and came up with these helpful articles:

Learn What to Shred

Secure Paper Shredding to Prevent Identity Theft

How to Shred Documents and Stop Identity Theft

8 Things You Should Shred Right Now

One surprising thing I learned is that it is perfectly legal for people to dig through your garbage.  The short answer to my question is this:  If in doubt, shred it!

One tip to help with cleanup is to keep an appropriately-sized trash bag in the shredder can.  You can keep empty trashbags under the one being used so that you always have another one hand to replace the one being disposed.

Another tip is to go to to remove yourself from mailing lists.

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Menu Planning

What takes up the most time, or what do you dread most, in meal planning? For me, it's figuring out what to cook.

All too often I feel uninspired, and I fall back on the too-easy, no-brainer, not-exactly-healthy meals such as oven pizza, chili dogs, oven fish, or tacos.

I have tried planning for each specific day only to have my plans messed up. It may be that my schedule unexpectedly changes, I have had an exhausting day, or I am not able to buy the groceries on the day I want to.

I think I have finally found a system that works.

Let me go through what I've done for March. This is not a typical meal plan because I decided not to use any of my Keeper recipes this time. Otherwise, that would be the first thing I would look through.

On a small piece of paper, I mark column headings for main dishes and extras divided by the four weeks in March (Week 4 is on the back of the page).

My goal is to find six main dishes and about as many extra dishes such as sides, snacks, and desserts for each week.

First, I look through my collection of keeper recipes to see what I want to make. (I did not do this for March.)

Then, I look through Pinterest and will move pins from my recipe boards to my Do in March board to make them easier to find. On the paper, the name of the recipe is preceded by "P" for Pinterest. (This is also a good opportunity to cull pins that I'm not interested in anymore.)

Then, I look through my paper files of recipes to try. I put "New" before the title on the paper, and I put those recipes in my desk drawer so they are easy to find.

If I had easy access to my cookbooks I would look through there as well. (Here's why I don't.)

Once I have my meals planned for the month, I keep the list on the side of my fridge.

My Walmart Shopping List
Each week, I look at the recipes and make out my shopping list. I have a form that I use that allows me to write in items for each area or aisle of the store. It helps save some time.

As I make a recipe, I cross it off my list. In general, I try not to serve two similar dishes in a row (chicken or beef, for example). I also like to do one crockpot meal each week, usually on Thursdays.

I like this system because I don't feel locked in, and it offers some flexibility. Sometimes I'm not always able to make all of the meals, but I try not to let it bother me. I just have to be careful about taking care of the perishables so that they're not wasted.

You may wonder about breakfast and lunch. I am very casual about these meals and usually eat cereal, leftovers, or canned foods (like spaghettios). I eat out for lunch once or twice a week. My husband usually takes leftovers to work (which is great if I didn't care for a meal).  My daughter has a repertoire of snacks (both healthy and not) that she eats.  She is getting better about at least trying the food that we have.

I also have a "groceries to check" list on my fridge of items we use on a regular basis like bread, milk, juice, fruit, and granola bars, among other things.  I check the items on this list and add them to my shopping list if we are running low.

I don't like to cook on the weekends, especially on Sundays, so we usually eat leftovers or will go out to eat. We are trying to cut back on eating out to help our budget and having a meal plan definitely helps.  It also helps to be able to only go grocery shopping once a week.  When I feel up to it (which isn't often), I will shop at Aldi for some things before going to Walmart.

Do you have any tips to share with me that have helped you?

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Saturday, February 23, 2013

Feed Your Book Addiction

My name is Ava, and I am addicted to books.  There, I said it.

It's all my mother's fault.  She started putting books in front of me to play with when I was could sit up as a baby, and she read to me every night until I was in grade school.  She did the same with my brothers, and we are all avid readers.

Even though I have purged books in the past, my husband and I still own quite a collection of books.  Last May when I went to California for my nephew's graduation, Robert decided to surprise me by making a book nook in our garage to hold our books.  As you can see from the photo below, he kinda misjudged whether they could all fit.  Most of the shelves are full and the boxes in front of the shelves are the remainder of our books!  "One day" I will go through the boxes again and see what I can part with.  Robert wanted me to tell y'all that he has plans of putting cabinet doors on the front, but that was a year ago when he built it.  I like the idea (that's the first I've heard him mention it) because it would keep the books from getting so dusty.  (Fortunately, I haven't had to dust them, because I can't even get to them!!)

Our Book Nook in the Garage
One reason why I am a book hoarder is because I have noticed a downward trend in book quality.  Twenty years ago (and maybe even 10 years ago), you could walk into a book store, find the young adult (teen) section, and find some decent stories.  Today, over 90% of the books are about witches, vampires, and other evil topics.  Now that I have a daughter, who I hope will be as much of a reader as I am, I am concerned about what will be available for her to read as she gets older.  Perhaps the library will still have good books, but I don't know how much we can depend on that.  So, when I find good quality books at yard sales or thrift stores, I will buy them.

Not only do I hoard books, but I hoard e-books as well.  To date, I have over 1,300 e-books on my Kindle app.  I have probably only paid for about 20 of them (and some of them by accident because I thought they were free, but they were not).

My E-books as of today.

I follow several blogs that feature free e-books.

Free Kindle Books and Tips is the blog I've been following the longest.  Michael lists free books (along with free apps for the Kindle Fire) several times a day.  His lists show a variety of books, many of which I am totally not interested in.  Now that I've found other blogs that list free e-books, I depend on it more for the list of nonfiction/reference books.

Inspired Reads (Christian Kindle Books on a Budget) lists Christian ebooks that are free or have been discounted.  I was really happy when I found out about this blog.  They post once per day and will list about three or four free books along with two or three discounted books.  If a book is one of a series, they will list all of the books in the series along with the links so that you can check to see if you have all of them.  The Gone to Green series, for example, have all been free at one time or another.

eReader Girl is a new blog authored by the Money Saving Mom.  Not only does she feature Christian fiction, but she also features various nonfiction books that are not necessarily Christian in nature, and free ebooks for children!

Christian eBooks Today is the latest blog that I follow.  Like the other blogs, they feature both Christian fiction and nonfiction.  Just a week or so ago, I started following all of these blogs by email rather than using Google Reader.  I had a difficult time finding the follow-by-email feature (down the sidebar on the right); when I tried it, it gave an error message.  I contacted them, and they fixed that problem.

Contented at Home
Just recently, I have found some posts about free classics on the Contented at Home blog.  She has links for such authors as Louisa May Alcott, Charles Dickens, and Jane Austen.  I do not follow her blog right now, but I may follow her in the future.

I am hopeful that Amazon will be around for a good long time because I also hope to exchange many of my physical books for ebooks.  1,346 books on an iPad takes up a whole lot less space than my only-several-hundred books in my book nook!

Do you have any book blogs that you follow?

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