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Tuesday, January 29, 2013

DIY Boot Socks

Here's an easy idea to recycle an old sweater. Cut off the sleeves above the seam where the shoulder meets the sleeve. **Measure the length of your calf, and cut across the sleeve (at the top where it met the shoulder) to the desired length measurement. Embellish along open end where you just cut, stretching the sweater as you sew/glue the ribbon, lace, etc. along the opening. The end of the sleeve is already sewn, so really there is no sewing needed, unless you want to secure the top of the sock with stitching or sew on ribbon or lace. To measure ribbon or lace times the width of your sock by 2.5, because you are stretching the fabric as you embellish you will use more ribbon.

And viola... boot socks on the cheap.

**Tip 1: If you have wide calves you can cut rectangles of the remaining sweater fabric to the desired width. Measure the length and width of your calve then cutting from the bottom hem toward the neckline cut out the needed length and width. You now have two rectangles of the same size. Put "right" sides together and sew together on edges to form tubes. Embellish top end, stretching fabric as you sew on embellishments.

Tip 2: You can also use knee high or thigh high nylons and cut off the toe. Then embellish the top, remembering to stretch the nylon as you sew or glue.

Recycle, Reuse and Really Impress your kids, neighbors and friends!

Monday, January 28, 2013

Monday Money Advice

I heard something the other day that made me stop and think. "We should learn to live below our means." What? Below? OK, after a minute of panic I realized there is merit to this idea. Word from my accountant and realtor and mortgage guy are all saying the economy is on a much needed upswing, and people may be getting raises this year. I hope your employer is one of those who will start considering making up for the last few years and giving you a bump up. In either case, raise or not, doesn't it make sense to still cut corners and save money where we can? If you agree keep reading, if not, go get a latte and ignore the pending fiscal cliff that will be facing us again soon.

Still with me? OK, great!

Here's a few things that you may want to consider to live below (or at) your means. Pick and choose, this isn't a fail safe formula for everyone, but hopefully it will give you some help to becoming independent and keeping a little extra in your bank accounts.

1. Set a budget system that works for you. I know many people who have jumped on a money saving diet, following the latest budget guru just sure that THIS method will be the one to save their financial lives. Bottom line--if you can't pay for it right now, you can't afford it right now. Save up for it and if it's a necessity it will happen. We have need a new mattress for years. We have credit and could have plunked down our plastic and had said mattress years ago. However, we saved and after two years we have a paid in full King sized bit of heaven. It was worth the wait.

My husband likes to use Quicken to track our spending. I hate it! I hate that I am doubling my work--once in the checkbook and once on the computer. But, it works for him and has kept us in food, clothes and shelter for many years. I have friends who use the "envelope" system, dividing up their cash into said allotments for their needs. I hate having cash, enveloped or not, because it can get lost and I have no record. But, if it works for you, use it! I use a sticky pad, pen, check book register and receipts. I know-too high tech. I plan out my spending limits and deduct from my sticky note when I balance my checkbook weekly. I can see where my money has gone, what's left to spend where and thought it doesn't have a fancy bar graph or pie chart, I can see where I spend too much. It gives me a focus, and if I lose the sticky, I can easily replicate it by checking my register. It works for me and that is all that matters.

2. Use the want ads. Finding something new that someone else doesn't need can score you a new piece of clothing or furniture for a fraction of the cost. There's no tax to pay, and generally people are willing to negotiate the price a bit.

3. Put money in savings every check. Start small and work your way up. I don't know there's a magic percentage--some say 10% of your monthly pay--but something is better than nothing. See if you can live on 10% less than you get paid. My mortgage guy's advice to me was to save before I invest. Savings are liquid assets and if I need them I have automatic access. I agree, this makes sense.

It's the "new reality" for us to be prepared. Little changes this year may add up to a big pay off. Happy Savings!

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Frozen Fun

It's just plain old cold. It makes me want to stay in bed and hibernate 'til Spring. I can't, so instead I am doing the same-old-same-old and hangin' out with the kids, The Bachelor and my sweatshirt.

Our baby just turned three. Yes, Three! I can't believe it, and am not sure I like it. At this point, with all the other kids, we were having another baby, but not this time--much to LaLa's relief. The silver lining to the Baby growing up is that she decided "diapers are stupid" and has begun to close that long, 12 year old chapter of our lives. I don't even know what it will be like to go to Target and not buy diapers....seems like a fairy tale.

On the cusp of the Baby's birthday, we also have D. turning 6. I said I wanted to have another baby when D. was born, but I wanted the baby to be here before D. turned 3. So with 10 days to spare that all happened. D. is by far my most independent, honest, dramatic child--and that's sayin' something with 4 girls. She speaks her mind and does whatever she does with her own flair. I am sure this year will hold a whole lotta fun for (and with) her.

As the weeks roll by it will soon be time for the twins to turn 12. I told them they are not allowed, and they are going to be 11 again. They have a whole new world just around the corner. They have no idea how hard, trying, emotional, and heartbreaking it might be. For once, I am glad for the tender mercy of naivety. They are looking forward to Junior High, they won't admit they are looking at boys, but I know--I was 12 once. We've grown a bit more accustomed to girl world-and they are learning to navigate those shark infested waters beautifully.

J. Dog is just excited about the Pinewood Derby, beating his sisters at Wii Swordplay, and coming home to race cars with his Dad. Oh, how simple life is for an 8 year old boy.

Anyway, onto the point. Life is really short, and the older (and greyer) I get, the faster it passes. So this year will be the year I just do IT--I don't need a reason other that I wanted to and I did whatever IT turns out to be. I figure that we threw a few goals out there and achieved some of them last year. Why not do it again?

 This year we want to survive school; we want to skip the Christmas hustle and bustle and spend time on a family vacation--somewhere warm; we keep kicking around big ideas for the future--for now I want to put those on hold and just focus on what's happening TODAY. Being present is a hard thing for me, I am so focused on what's next, I forget about what's now. So that's my goal. This blog may suffer, my "responsibilities" that I deem important in the past, may fall by the wayside. Oh well! If I die tomorrow I want to know that I did all I could to really take a big bite out of life and seize every opportunity that came my way. Can't fault a girl for trying to enjoy life TODAY, can you?

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Less is More

I've been reading a lot, and I mean A LOT, of info. on healthy eating. I love food, and not to toot my own horn, but I can cook more than a decent meal.

So I need more time, less calories, more sanity, less stress. Anyone with me??

Here's a couple of easy guidelines to de-stressing and being a happier you.

1. Breathe- I know we all breathe, but take 10 great, deep breaths when you get up each morning, and repeat often throughout the day. This will give your brain a chance to get real oxygen.

2. Eat half of your take out meal. Again, simple, but we never realize what we are really eating when we go out. You can still enjoy the celebration, in fact you can do it twice because you have leftovers.

3. Eat whole food. We've started each meal this year with a salad, plated and ready to go before the meal. It fills you up, allows for a moment of peace (and conversation) before feeling the need to inhale the entree, and we know it's good for us. As a Mom, that makes me feel good that I am attempting to get kids to try, and sometimes eat, veggies. The little ones who don't eat salad have some cut up fruit.

4. Be Grateful. I recently heard that we, as humans, often minimize our successes. We are always looking at what we didn't do, or what we haven't done. Just for a moment realize all you have. Maybe even text, email or write to those who helped you get where you are. It will make everyone happier.

5. Plan simple meals, and eat them sitting down. Don't overlook how many veggies you can hide in soup or sandwiches. My new fave is Turkey, Bacon, Avocado. Turkey-healthy--breast meat is great; Bacon-you only need 1 or 2 pieces and that is a great portion; Avocado very healthful. I add lettuce, sprouts, purple onion and tomato on a whole wheat roll and dinner is easily served.

Happy, Healthy 2013!

Monday, January 7, 2013

The Perfect Purse

You know when you find "the one" that you've been searching for? How good it feels to hold it, and swing it around your arm, maybe admire it across a crowded room? That is how finding the perfect purse should feel....sorry if you were thinking I was going somewhere else with that.

Once you have the perfect bag it has to be filled with just the right thing. As a mom sometimes mine has old french fries, pieces of puzzles or gum wrappers. Once in awhile I get five minutes (like waiting for a doctor, or at a stoplight) and I clean out my purse. All this got me thinking..

Checklist for the perfect purse
1. Gum or mints-duh!
2. Lip gloss- double duh!
3. Small tube of Vaseline- this can soothe chapped lips or elbows in a snap. Also a good eye makeup remover.
4. Band-aids- they always seem to be the thing I don't have and always need.
5. Clear nail polish- stop a run in the nylon on the way to work or church in a snap; hold down a thread before it unravels or entertain your 3 year old in the doctors office without making a mess.
6. Safety pins- the can hold a split seam, shrink a baggy shirt or keep receipts handy in a hurry.
7. Elastics- great for a quickie up-do, or to hold together your toddler's pants that you didn't notice are too big. It's OK, she won't take them off anyway. At least the elastic will keep her pants on.
8. Mini notebook and pen- it's old school, I know. But you can play countless games, make notes or even do homework when you are waiting for a doctor, dentist, or the waiter to come.
9. Double sided tape- you never know when all Hell will break loose, so at least you are prepared. This can hold down that one place in your favorite shirt that just doesn't cooperate, also good for a quick hem for say, when your kids trip on the way out the door and rip out the seam in their skirts.
10. Tissues or Handi Wipes- sometimes you come across messes you didn't expect and someone has to clean it up. Sometimes that someone is you.
11. Tylenol or Motrin- cuz after the day you've just had, you're gonna need 1 or 2 or sometimes 10. **Disclaimer: Never take more than the recommended amount.

No wonder that Moms always have huge purses. The trick is keeping it all organized. So find a cute make-up bag (tons of cute styles are in many dollar stores) and throw together a Survival Kit for 2013. You're gonna need it. And you can thank me later.