Thursday, July 10, 2014

Freedom!

So today was another one of those days where the minute I left the office, I felt the heat in the air begin to stifle all my energy.   The outfit I had on didn't help.  I was wearing one of those 3/4 sleeved, slightly see-through prints with a tank top underneath, and jeggings.  I'm loving this new style by the way.  It's very comfortable- except when you walk out of work for the day with a smile on your face and a skip in your step, only to be slammed in the face with a wall of sticky hotness that radiates through your whole body and makes you quite cranky by the time you have finished picking up kids, and taking them to their classes.

And honestly, even if it wasn't another extremely hot day, I would have still done the same thing I always do the very first minute I get home, which is to immediately strip out of my work clothes and settle into either my snuggly pajamas, or a pair of shorts and a tank top.  It usually just depends on whatever I find the quickest. Today, that was black shorts and a loose, green ribbed tank top.  After I felt more relaxed, I got to work pulling out all the ingredients I needed for my special dinner- Cajun Chicken Pasta.  It is a family favorite around here.

Just as I was about to start, I realized I was missing a vital ingredient, the wine!!  And besides the fact that a dash of wine adds an important element to the dish, how could I possibly cook pasta without sharing a glass of wine with my husband??  It is a tradition! I'm reminded of Fiddler on the Roof when I say that, "Tradition!"  Anyway, I was very annoyed because I had already changed out of my office- pro clothes, and that meant no bra either!

"Well, darn it!  I don't have any wine!  I'm gonna have to go get some, and I just took my bra off," I told my husband.

"So?  I don't think women should have to wear bras.  Unless they actually need a bra, there is no reason why it should be expected.  It's ridiculous," replied my husband.

Bless him!  My husband is a huge advocate for banishing the dreaded bras!  I love him so much.  I'm just a big prude in general, and though the idea seems fantastic, I just can't see myself going sans bra everywhere. And honestly, after having kids, the breasts just aren't quite the same as they used to be.  But after giving his statement some thought, I decided, "By golly, I am going to the store without my bra!"

I confidently marched to the car and drove to the store, all the while thinking about what I'd heard about the bra-burning days of the 60's and 70's.  Yes, I could see why they did it.  I could totally understand!  I found a parking space, turned off the car, and my confidence began to waiver.  I picked up my purse and feigned rummaging for a list while some people walked by.  Were they looking at me?  Could they tell I wasn't wearing a bra?  Oh well.  I was already there, and I was going to buy that wine!  There was no turning back, so into the store I went.

And ten minutes later, with a bottle of Moscato Allegro in hand, guess what?!  My bra-less store trip felt liberating.  Such freedom!  The breeziness!  The naughtiness.  Yes, this was my act of social defiance against the great injustice of being expected to wear bras!  And when I got home, I happily announced this might just become a regular thing-  but not at work, or around friends, or at any special events, or any social gatherings, and not out shopping.........  
 



Thursday, July 3, 2014

Nostalgia

PreComputer1000, July 2014, by Amanda Razani



I've always had an affinity for older things, used by other people and/or myself in the past.  The memories I have about certain objects makes them special.  And being able to say I still have them, and am able to use them satisfies my feelings of nostalgia for my childhood.   Something about them makes me feel as though I'm a kid again.  For a few minutes I am not an adult, and am living in a simpler time.  My husband feels this way too.  And in fact it reaches beyond our own use.  It is extremely special to us when we are able to pass our old toys, books and games to our kids.  It's a warm and happy feeling to see them playing with the same things we played with as children.  So let me just exclaim at the tops of my lungs how totally overjoyed I was a few weeks ago!

It all started last month, when my husband, daughter and I were helping my mom organize and clean out a bedroom, and I suddenly found the old Super Nintendo-oh yeah!  My face lit up, and I could tell my husband looked very interested too.   We were both excitedly wondering if it still worked.  As we turned back to the task at hand- cleaning out the bedroom to have a garage sale,  we slowly uncovered more and more items from my childhood.

"Oh my gosh!  Here is my talking Geo Safari world globe," I exclaimed.

Yes, you heard right!  Does anyone else remember those?  It's a globe that asks all kinds of Geography questions, and then you look for the answers.  Next came the PreComputer1000.  Oh my gosh- I thought this was the greatest thing ever!  Well, the more we organized, the more we found.  And soon, the keep pile was just a smidgen larger than the garage sale pile.

As we drove home, all we could talk about was seeing if any of this stuff still worked!   A week later, after finding an adapter and games for the Super Nintendo- which by the way I discovered could not be found at Radio Shack, Hastings, or any other normal box store- and after purchasing the proper batteries, we got to work testing our treasures.

Well, praise goodness, they all worked!  The globe made its way into my son's room after the kids, my husband and I formed a circle around it and tested the buttons.  Then, it was on to the PreComputer1000 where we all crowded around it, and waited for each and every quiz question to slowly crawl its way across the screen at two miles an hour- and we enjoyed every minute of it!  It made its way into my daughter's room.  And lastly- the prized Super Nintendo!  It is now a coveted possession that proudly sits by the television in our bedroom.  So maybe the teams on the Super Techmo Bowl game are from 1993.  Maybe the Tennis game is a little slow, and maybe the Tetris display screen is minuscule, so I have to sit really close to see it.  These are the reasons we love them-  the simplicity, the joy and the fond memories.

Can you relate?  I'd love to engage in a dialogue with my readers.  Please feel free to leave comments and like my page if you enjoy it!  Have a wonderful Fourth of July weekend!!!
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Sunday, June 29, 2014

We Are Never Too Old to Need Our Mothers


Luggage, June 2014, by Amanda Razani



As I rushed around diligently, checking off my kid's packing lists to be sure they had everything they needed for our weekend trip, something kept nagging me in the back of my mind.  I couldn't quite put my finger to it, but it is a common feeling I think all mother's get when they are planning to go anywhere-  Surely I must have forgotten something.  But after grabbing another bag and stuffing in tennis shoes, flip-flops and lake sandals, I put a big fat check on the last item and was satisfied we were set to go.   Then I rushed to pile all the bags of various sizes and colors, including grocery sacks and backpacks, in a giant mountain pile in our living room. (We like to call our luggage eclectic.)  Anyway, once the bags made it to that check point, it was my husband's turn. It is customary in our household that once the bags are there, my husband takes over.

"Okay kids.  It's time to go!  Chop, chop.  We've gotta get on the road,"  I excitedly yelled.

We all settled in for the first part of our trip, which would take us to our hometown, where we would stop and visit our families for the evening.  An hour and a half later, as we were happily unloading our luggage, I realized I had done such a wonderful job packing everyone else's luggage, I forgot just one thing-my OWN!

"What in the world?  I cannot believe I freakin forgot my luggage," I exclaimed frantically.  "Did you not see I didn't have my luggage," I asked, glaring at my husband.

"How was I supposed to know that none of these bags were yours," he responded.  (I think we need a better system.)

I got on the phone and proceeded to call my mother and share my sad story.

"Well it sounds like we have a shopping trip planned," replied my mom.

I hurriedly jumped in my car and drove to meet her at the one trusty and reliable store in town, Bealls Department Store.  Walking in, I was on a mission.  Making a beeline for the "90 percent off" clearance racks, I started loading up on clothes to try on.   My mom was amazed at my sudden speed-shopping skills. (And so was I.)  In thirty minutes, I found two outfits, flip-flops, all the necessary undergarments and a lovely giant beach bag to put it all in.  Thanks to my mom for finding the awesome bag!

As we made it to the register to check out, I rummaged in my purse for the coupon I had stashed in my purse from a week ago.  If I could just find the coupon, I would feel a little better about my mother bailing me out of this dreadful situation.  I pulled it out joyfully, handed it to the cashier, and realized it couldn't be used until the next week.  Darn it!  A line had begun to form, and I had the sudden urge to make sure everyone knew and could sympathize with my situation.

Smiling at the lady behind me, I announced, "I forgot my luggage!  Can you believe it?  I just feel ridiculous about it!"

I hugged my mother tightly and said in my loudest, yet normal sounding voice, "Thank you Mama.  I love you!"

A few more explanations to the customers behind me, and a few minutes later, we were out the door with a beach bag full of clothes, ready for our trip to continue.  Needless to say, our trip was full of excitement from the get-go!  And in the end, while driving home, I had these three thoughts:

1.  We are never to old to need our mothers.
2.  Isn't it funny how we can remember everything, but forget ourselves?
3.  And lastly, nothing really beats listening to the Greatest Hits of Van Halen with your family on that last stretch home.  Seriously, I could listen to it again Right Now!

Thursday, June 26, 2014

How to Add a StumbleUpon Badge to Your Blogger Page

Setting up a blogger page requires quite a bit of work.   More than I expected when I made the decision to proceed with one.  And if you're like me, in serious need of taking an HTML course, you might be just as confused as I was when it came to adding a stumbleupon button to my blog.

Blogger already offers a variety of easy to use templates with several social media icons, but stumbleupon is not one of them.  And in doing some research about how to increase my blog readership and followers, I discovered the stumbleupon site. It is a cool site indeed!  However, the instructions offered on their website about how to insert a badge on your blog was very confusing to me.  At first, it appeared simple enough, but after following the instructions a bazillion times with no luck, I was ready to scream and pull my hair out! Here are the instructions from their site:

Blogger
From your blogger dashboard go to Template and click Edit HTML.
Check the box for “Expand Widget Templates”.
In the template find (you can do a text search with Ctrl+F) <data:post.body/> and right below it add:
 
 <div:if cond=’data:blog.pageType ==”item”‘>

        <div style=’clear: both;’/>

        #textcode_from_above#

        </div:if>

        Of course replace #textcode_from_above# with the code displayed under “Widget Code”.
 
Click on “Save Template”.
Click on “View Blog” to see how your blog looks now with the widget on it.

Maybe these instructions will work for you.  But if you end up in the same boat as me, here is what I finally figured out!  Click on design and then click on layout.  Click on an "add a gadget box" in your layout. Choose the basic list, and click on HTML/Java.  Insert a title if you want to, and then paste the stumbleupon badge code from their website into the content box.  Save.  Then save the arrangement on your layout. View your blog to make sure it looks good.  There you have it in layman's terms!  Now please wish me good luck with the rest of my blog, and have a wonderful day!

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Help! My Kids Are Picky Eaters.




  How many times have you heard the expression, "I am NOT a short order cook"?  Well folks, I used to claim I was that expression.  It was one motto I swore to live by.  In fact, just yesterday, I was having a conversation with my co-workers about this very topic.  As I stood there listening to their dinner table woes, and giving my two cents, I thought that this was one issue I had completely under control.
   I popped out my hip, placed my hand on it, tilted my head and announced, "I just tell my kids they can either eat what I worked hard to serve them, or they will have absolutely nothing else the entire night.  No snacks, nada!"
   I felt very proud of myself until I got home last night and neither of my kids wanted my favorite dish, sour cream chicken enchiladas.  Before I even began making it, my daughter asked if she could just make herself french toast.  Okay, that was fine.  I already knew this was a meal she didn't like, and she is old enough that I allow her to make her own meals if she doesn't like what I cook.  Well, a few minutes later, wouldn't you know, my son began whining about how much he doesn't like enchiladas either.  Of course the first thing I told him was that he doesn't know if he doesn't like them because he has literally never tried them.  Then I started thinking that it wasn't fair if I let my daughter eat something else, but he obviously could not make his own dinner.   Hence the game of twenty questions began...
   "Would you like chicken nuggets?  Would you like a peanut butter and jelly sandwich?  Would you like soup?  How about pizza?  Well what would you like?"
   I ended up giving him cereal and a banana.  Let's fast-forward to scene two, this evening at 6pm.  I took out the leftover chicken enchiladas for dinner and proceeded to heat them up in the oven.  Whenever I make this meal, there are leftovers that we eat the next night.  However, tonight, knowing my kids did not want enchiladas, I already had a plan in place.  I got out the leftover half of a grilled cheese sandwich that I had prepared for my son's lunch the day before, warmed it up and told him dinner was ready.  I asked my daughter what kind of sandwich she wanted me to make for her.  She made a disgusted face and told me she wasn't in the mood for sandwiches.  I told her she knew the drill then.  She could go and make her own dinner.
   "But Mom, can you please please make me some eggs tonight?  I am so tired," she said.  Meanwhile, my son was throwing a fit about eating an old sandwich.  He wanted his Luncheable.  It's technically not a Luncheable.  I had him pick from these new organic versions that I discovered at the store. Honestly, I think Luncheables are crappy, and I don't know how much better an organic version is, but I've become an all organic food snob these past few months.   Just watch a few Netflix documentaries, and see what happens.  I warn you that switching to all organic foods can become addicting!  Eventually you find yourself ignoring the fact that the organic peanut butter you just purchased was six bucks.  How much better is the organic food?  That's a whole different topic I'll have to talk about later.  I sure hope it is making a difference!
   Now here is where this evening started getting really crazy.  The events unfolded like this.  My son didn't want the sauce on the cheese pizza that came in his organic "Luncheable."  No problem.  I threw the sauce away.  He wanted the pizza toasted in the oven.  Okie dokie.  In the oven it went.  I pulled out the pan to make my daughter's eggs.  She ran in, scarfed them in 3 seconds flat and asked to be excused.  I pulled my son's pizza out and placed it before him.  He looked at it as said it looked weird and gross.  It didn't look like pizza.  He wanted pepperoni pizza.  I told him it was because it had no sauce.  He wanted the sauce. How unfortunate.  Well he didn't want the pizza anymore.  I asked if he wanted me to cut the pizza in slices. No, he didn't want the pizza.  What did he want?   He wanted scrambled eggs.  That wasn't happening.  I already made eggs and put the pan in the sink.  Ten minutes of this, and I was about to blow my gasket!
In exasperation, I finally told him that if he didn't want any of the food I had given him he could go grab a banana and that was it.  He could have nothing else the rest of the night.  He screamed.  He wailed.  He finally grabbed a banana.  I had stuck to my guns.  I had held firm.  Yeah right!!  I ate my dinner and realized almost every night this week, dinner had followed the same pattern.  Was it right to let my son have a banana for dinner two nights in a row?  Was it good practice to let my daughter cook her own dinner every other night, or give in and make her something special?  How fair was it to let her have her own meals, but continue to try and force my son to eat the meals I originally prepared?  And when and where did I lose control of dinner and become the very thing I swore not to be, a short order cook?
   I'd love to hear from my readers on this topic.  Please share your thoughts in the comment section below. Meanwhile, in my very first blog post, I said I would begin doing something extra every weeknight in an effort to get caught up and get more things accomplished in my free time.  This evening I did some more laundry, watered all my plants, played a game with my husband and kids and worked on this blog.   I hope this inspires my readers to strive to do a little more also.  Until tomorrow, have an absolutely wonderful day!    

Monday, June 23, 2014

15 Easy Ways to Save Money





Today I have decided to list several other ways to save money that have worked for us. Secondly, I added another page dedicated to fun and easy projects I have completed that are inexpensive, and can save you money and time while adding character to your home.

1.  Shop garage sales and thrift stores.
2.  Always head straight to the clearance sections of any store.
3.  Be on the lookout for other people's "junk" that might be your treasure.
4.  Learn hobbies that are not only fun, but can save you money too!  For example: jewelry making, crafting, art, sewing, decorating, woodworking, beer brewing, leather working.  These are all hobbies that either I or my husband and kids enjoy.
5.  Either work out at home, or find a gym with no contract and extremely cheap monthly fees.  We do both.
6.  Cut off your cable and just use Netflix.  Goodbye commercials and goodbye having to plan your day around a show time.  We love Netflix!
7.  Save grocery sacks to use for trashcan liners.
8. Cut toothpaste bottles in half once you think you have run out.  You will discover enough toothpaste for several more brushings.
9.  Borrow a pop-up camper from a friend or buy a tent for trips instead of staying in a hotel, or find better rates through Hotels.com or similar sites.  But seriously,  kids love camping, so try it!
10.  Take home any leftover shampoos, conditioners or soaps from your hotel stay.
11.  Put an agreed upon amount of money from each paycheck into a savings account.
12.  Plant a vegetable garden.  Our kids enjoy helping with the garden.
13.  Wash your own vehicle.
14.  Sign up for email memberships on restaurant websites.  You will receive coupons throughout the year.  And on your birthday, you will be showered with free meal coupons from places like IHOP, Denny's and Chili's.
15.  Clip coupons from the paper, or search for them online and print them.

These are several of the things we do to save money.  I hope these ideas will help other families as well!  If you have ideas that have saved your family money, please share in the comments below!  And please fill out the survey I posted at the very bottom of my page!  Tomorrow I will move on to a different subject.  If you enjoyed reading my blog, please subscribe/follow my posts!  I hope you all have a wonderful day!

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Ways to Save Money




So yesterday I discussed evaluating priorities in order to eliminate stress and find a good family/work balance.  Today I will share the things I and my family have done to help ourselves financially.  These are not things that everyone would choose to do, and they may not work for everyone.  But I'd like to open your minds to the possibilities that exist and hopefully get you thinking outside the box.  A couple years ago, my best friend gave me a very helpful book by Dave Ramsey called Total Money Makeover.   It helped them, and I had expressed interest in it.  This book had us thinking right away!  I highly recommend this book, and no, I am not getting paid to endorse it!  Once our way of thinking was changed, our brains started ticking.  Now, I consider ourselves to be upper middle class, but the life we were trying to lead at the time was more suited for a higher income bracket.  Our house payment was so high, that all of our bills had to be set on a monthly rotation for which ones were to be paid late.  We were stuck in a seemingly endless cycle for which we could not see a way out, living paycheck to paycheck.  Our stress level was through the roof.  This was not a healthy way to live.   In our situation,  I realized that one of us would have to bite the bullet and get a second job for a while.  It was a tough decision because I didn't want to lose my family time, but I did some research and found a weekend job as a gatehouse clerk at our state park.  Let me just say, if you decide on a temporary part time job, definitely pick one that is fun like mine was!  I think a job at Baskin Robbins would be fun too, but I'd probably gain 15 pounds.  Eek!  Anyway, I took the job with the goal of saving every penny to pay off our credit cards, and to help with our house payment.  After 6 months I was able to put in my notice.  Around that time, we also decided to sell our house.  Now this was a matter of pride for us.  It was very tough to give up what we considered the perfect home and downscale.  What would people think?  But in the end, it was the best decision we could ever have made.  We sold our house and moved into a house literally half the size and half the house payment.  We had two garage sales and settled ourselves in.  Did you know a family of four could actually live quite comfortably in a 1200 square foot house with one full bathroom?  Neither did I, but yes it is possible!  Just adjust shower schedules and it's all good!  We were also able to pay off the rest of our debts with the money from the sale of our old house, and suddenly financial relief settled in and all our stress was swept away.  Since then, we have been saving money back every month, and being extremely conservative when it comes to shopping.  Want to know a good way to curb your spending?  Buy a tiny house!   Every once in a while, we will choose not to buy any groceries, and use up all our food we have before buying anymore.  This saves a few hundred dollars.  It's amazing how creative you can be with dinner.  Lunch meat, rice and cherry tomatoes is a perfectly fine meal.  Or how about buttered macaroni noodles and apples?   It works!    Along with all this, we've simply changed our way of thinking.  From now on, no matter our income, we will always live below our means, not at or above it.  No more stress, no more worry about losing our jobs.  Hello financial freedom!  If you can relate in any way, or if you have found ways to save money, please share it in the comments below.  And please subscribe/ follow my blog if you enjoy it!  Hope everyone has a wonderful weekend!