Archive for the 'Lifestyles' Category

Total Mom: Total Advice for Today’s Women

The bookstore is stocked with more self-help books than anyone could possibly read in a lifetime. But every once in a while, a book fills an important niche in a way no titles before it have. Such is the case with Hannah Keeley’s Total Mom Makeover. Subtitled The Six-Week Plan to Completely Transform Your Home, Health, Family, and Life, this book promises a lot—and delivers.

Keeley, a gorgeous blonde with a psychology degree and seven kids whom she home-schools, is a bundle of inspirational energy. “Average? women may wonder how they’ll find the time, energy, or confidence to execute her life improvement plan. But the book lays it out in such easy-to-follow baby steps that anyone, no matter their situation, should be able to see how small changes build on each other to make a big difference.

Drawing on her psych experience, Keeley takes Maslow’s hierarchy of needs and transforms itinto a pyramid custom-made for moms, building up from Starter Mom, to Basic Mom, Secure Mom, Nurtured Mom, Confident Mom and finally, Total Mom. Daily exercises and weekly plans help readers climb the pyramid gradually.

In Week 1, readers develop a vision of what they want their lives to be like. Keeley breaks it down into four areas: Home, Health, Family and Life.

By Week 2, a mom’s “basic? needs (for food, clothing, and shelter) have been met, and it’s time to work on meeting these needs in the best ways possible—with the healthiest food and clothing that makes you feel good about yourself. You’ll even begin to get your house in order, making it the home you’ve always wanted to live in. I found the home organization tips particularly useful!

Each lesson builds on the ones before it until you reach Week 6. Here, readers are urged to fulfill their spiritual side to reach “Total Mom? fulfillment. Keeley also presents tips to keep the program going long-term, to continue living the life you want to live everyday.

Don’t believe it can be done? Think six weeks is not enough time to improve your life? One of the tenets of the program is to maintain a journal and to communicate with friends and family about your plans. Jenn Hollowell, a mom in Richmond, Maine, is taking it further and inviting blog readers to hold her accountable for her progress, or even to join her in the Six-Week Total Mom Makeover.

Why not give it a try?

Posted in Uncategorized, Daily Living | 1 Comment »

Snow Angels!

Winter is still going strong here in the Northeastern U.S. and being from the Southeast, the snow each year is a treat. My children enjoy bundling up then making snow angels. I think that is their favorite part of playing in the snow. Last year we had a giant fort, complete with a snow slide!
I thought I would share a few pictures of my children making snow angels.

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That’s Amber, she has already made 6 or 7 snowangels by the time I had snapped this!

Teesie
That’s Terisa. She’s 3 and if you look at her boots, you’ll notice they’re on the wrong feet. Ah, toddlers and their ‘I can do it myself’ phase.

We came inside and had some hot chocolate after this afternoon of winter fun. What does your family do in the winter for fun? Care to share?

Posted in Uncategorized, Outdoors | 1 Comment »

Winter Preparation

It has been snowing and blowing here in New York. I have a lot of people ask if we really enjoy the cold and the snow.

Yes! We adore it. I love the snow each winter, I grew up in an area that did not have much snow and before moving here to New York, I had never experienced a White Christmas. The children are adorable in their snow pants and jackets, bundled up against the cold.

It isn’t always fun. Be Prepared.

Sometimes, the snow is not so fun, though. Occasionally storms roll through and take the electricity out for a while. It can become freezing inside of a home then. Careful stocking of clothing ready for such an emergency is critical. If a strong storm is headed towards your area you should always have plenty of warm clothing ready, in case you need to bundle up.

Thermal underwear is a great investment. Each person in your household should have two pair in case one gets wet. Thermal socks are also available and work great inside another pair of thick, warm socks. Another thermal item that has become an essential in my home is a thermal blanket. Each bed has one and it really makes a difference. Just be sure to sandwich it between other blankets for the best effect.

Food Stocking!

Food and drink is very important. But, don’t follow suit of many other people who rush out to the grocery store and buy all the milk and bread available. There is no reason for that. Come on, what in the world are you going to do with milk and bread? Milk is not that healthy for humans to start with and plain old white bread is going to make you feel full? Buy canned food and an extra hand operated can opener. Canned soups, vegetables, and meats are the best thing to have on hand in case of a power outage. If the meat is processed, more than likely it is ready to eat out of the can.

If you have small children, stock up on baby food and ready to eat toddler meals. Most of these do not need to be heated to be edible. Some may be expensive, but in the case of an extended power outage, this is much healthier to eat than fast food.

Water.

Water is very important. Try to have enough water for three days per person. A good formula to remember is 3 gallons per day per adult and two for children. I have heard as little as one gallon for children, but since children are growing, they need hydration. Extra is preferable over not enough.

Have a safe winter and take heart, spring will be here soon.

Posted in Uncategorized, Personal Safety | No Comments »

V-Day Aftermath: Love Day!

In the aftermath of Valentines’ Day, I am wondering how many people are glad it is over.

I spoke with a few people yesterday who expressed that. Either they were sick of the media hype, hated how the holiday was portrayed as for women only, or just had no one to spend it with. All of those are valid reasons to not enjoy Valentines’.

It can be frustrating to try to pick the perfect gift. In the weeks before the 14th, ads showcasing jewelry, candy, and teddy bears are all over the television. Oh, and roses. Flowers are purchased by the millions for V-day alone. Personally, I think that buying a rose bush to plant in a pot or outside the home is a better, more eco-friendly idea.

You have men rushing to buy their wives or girlfriends presents, just not to be glared at or thought of as an ogre. Then you have women who are looking at the gift their man gave them with distaste. What a vicious cycle. The men are not sure what to buy, the women think the men should know, and in the end, everyone ends up with hurt feelings.

And then we have those who do not have a Valentine. What greater tragedy on Valentines’ Day? To be alone, with no one to cuddle or to give one of those gifts to, then be given a dirty look?

Bleh. I am sick of the hype as much as anyone else. So, I declare Feb. 15th to be Love Day.

What? Yes, I have just made a new holiday. Everyone in the world can share in it. For today, don’t go out buying gifts or cards, don’t take your Love out to dinner, and definitely do not buy them roses. A rose bush would be nice, though, just be sure to plant and water it.

Today, give all the love you have in your heart to everyone around you. Forgive arguments. Forget about missed holidays. Spend some quality time with your family, and call a friend you haven’t spoken with in a very long time.

Just give some love, it doesn’t cost a dime.

Posted in Uncategorized, Holidays | No Comments »

Is There Room Here for a WAHM-to-Be? *Waves*

I don’t know anything about parenting. Yet.

So what am I doing as a guest blogger on a families and parenting blog? That’s easy. Just five weeks ago, I got some information that told me I had better learn—quickly!

The very same day I found out I was pregnant, Julie Fletcher invited me to be a guest blogger on Family Resource. I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to learn more about pregnancy, childbirth and parenting—and pass my knowledge on to Family Resource’s faithful readers.

Lest you think I’m some bachelorette noob who knows nothing about running a household, parties every weekend and lives on pizza (you’d be right about the last part), I’ve been married for five years. My husband and I have been living successfully as a couple (and raising four cats) for the past decade. For almost exactly a year, I’ve been a full-time, work-at-home freelance writer or, as Julie calls me, a Future WAHM.

Stacey Graham left some big shoes to fill as a guest blogger. But I’d like to think, over the past decade or so, I’ve accumulated some advice and knowledge to share on the topics of cleaning; cooking quick, healthy meals; organizing a home office; green living; saving money; and of course, most recently, conception and pregnancy.

Who knows? I may even post some interviews with real-live Moms here in this space.

Right now, I’d like to share a few of my favorite places on the Internet for moms-to-be.

Babies Online – This is one of my first stops when I want to track the stages of my pregnancy, find out odd facts or research the latest myth. Today, I discovered that, at 5 weeks into the pregnancy, the baby’s major organs are starting to develop, but the little one is only the size of a grain of rice! That’s simply mind-boggling to me, that something so small can have a heart, lungs, and even a little-bitty hand!

FitPregnancy – This sleek Web site, companion to the print publication, features great breaking news articles. Planning a move and wondering what the best city is to have a baby? Portland, Oregon, ranks number one on FitPregnancy’s list. Click here to find out why.

ePregnancy.com – I know a number of freelance writers who got their start here, so, of course, I had to check it out when we first started trying to conceive. The articles are well-researched and fun-to-read, and the site features a lot of great videos, too. If you’re pregnant and debating between a hospital, home birth or midwife in a birthing center, check out this video.

I’m still surfing around for smaller, personal pregnancy blogs. Feel free to share the links if you know of any good blogs written by pregnant women, who are letting us share their journey.

Posted in Uncategorized, Writing, Guest Blogger | 2 Comments »

Once A Month Cooking and Oatmeal Bars

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In the essence of keeping to our healthy resolutions, hubby and I have been moving our diet to a more plant based one. We have cut out all red meat and pork, leaving only seafood and fowl. We feel better and have found that our grocery bill is lower, giving us extra money to spend on the other items we enjoy to eat.

One of my favorite bloggers (and a great person to know), Marye Audet at Baking Delights posted a really comprehensive How-to on Once a Month Cooking. This is probably the best guide with a realistic approach I have found. I’m not saying that just because I like her, it’s really that good.

Since we can buy more, we can put away more. Freezing and dehydrating are two of the best ways to keeping food fresh longer, though I have not tried dehydrating a whole meal yet. That will come eventually! As a work at home professional, it is essential for me to be able to throw together a meal quickly. Healthy meals and fast healthy meals are exactly what we need! I need something quick for the mornings, one child off to school and the two others small enough to be starving to death before their sister is out the door.

Our children do like to eat some sweets and my mother in law would bring the kids doughnuts occasionally for a morning treat. Even once in a while is too much when the doughnuts in question are covered in chocolate glaze and stuffed with whatever can fit inside.

So, I experimented with a sweet but healthy breakfast treat. Pre-packaged oatmeal squares and other types of breakfast ‘bites’ are available. I tend to avoid these because of the preservatives and other unnatural ingredients. So, this morning we had home-made oatmeal breakfast bars with fruit. So tasty and very filling!

I can post what went in, but not the exact amounts, because when I experiment, I throw caution to the wind! You can experiment with the ingredients on your own, I will try to estimate the amounts to give you a better chance of duplicating my results. These bars took about half an hour to bake up, your time may vary. You can place these in the fridge and keep for up to a week without freezing. Make a double batch and freeze a whole pan!

Super Oatmeal-Fruit Breakfast Fuel

2 cups Oat meal, plain (the kind in the big cylinder)
¾ cup flour (all purpose)
1 ½ cup low fat granola (I just used some from a cereal box with almonds and raisins)
½ cup raisins
2 bananas, sliced thin
2 eggs
1 cup milk (more or less)
3/4 cup brown sugar, packed

Preheat oven to 400 F.
Mix everything in a large bowl. It will be slightly ‘goopy’. The milk will not completely absorb, but try to get all of the flour mixed into the liquid. If the mix is too dry, add a little more milk. Once it is all completely mixed, pour into a pan that has been lined or oiled well.

Bake for 25-30 minutes. Check at 20 minutes for browning. The top of the bars should be dry with spotty golden brown areas. Remove from oven, cool until you can cut and handle the bars without being burned. Serve warm!

Posted in Uncategorized, Cooking, Healthy Living | 2 Comments »

Bad Valentine’s Day Gifts

This year, when your husband hands you a gift that you would rather not have, restrain yourself from giving him the look of death. I know, I know, many women will wonder why they should not tell him to take that emergency car survival kit and put it where the sun doesn’t shine.

“Julie, don’t you watch television? Look at all of the diamonds! Chocolate! Roses! Shouldn’t he know better??

The straight answer is, “Yes, he does.?

Now, before you get all smug and think that I agree with the media’s over exposure of candy and flowers, I do not. Men know better than to fall prey to the marketing campaigns. At least, in their minds. You see, will a few flowers or chocolates keep you warm if your car breaks down in a freak winter storm? Can a diamond jumpstart your battery? God forbid you need to change a tire! What man in their right man would leave the woman he loves without a safety net?

Men think differently than we do. Often, when a man buys a gift, he has practical thoughts. ‘Can she use this?’ is probably the top question in his mind when looking for a gift. Your husband (or boyfriend) is really not trying to insult you. He wants to give you something that he found himself, something that you will use for a long time and maybe, just maybe think of him when you do.

Chocolates and roses will be eaten and die. Heck, you might leave those chocolates in the kitchen and forget about them, especially if he buys a huge box. A diamond, while beautiful, might just be left in a jewelry box to gather dust. If you have children, often this is exactly what will happen to any jewelry that mothers receive. I do not know how often my friends with small children have told me they loved the gift their husband or boyfriend purchased, but could not wear it.

So, in a mans mind, what is the point?

This Valentine’s Day, take a deeper look into that gift that you normally would scorn. Think of the motivation behind it, smile, hug your man, and tell him how thankful you are to have a husband thinks of you.

Posted in Uncategorized, Relationships, Holidays | No Comments »

Would You Pay To Work?

If you are a Work At Home Mother or Father, then you have read about many scams that focus on your group. Envelope stuffing, product building, mail order, and quite a few others. The latest that I have learned from is from an organization called Articles and Content. It seems that they actually charge their writers a $10 a month fee to work for them.

With content writing jobs, basically, the writers will write specific articles or other filler content for a website based on the needs of that site. Most are keyword rich to draw in search engine traffic. This type of work is very low paying in the majority of the ads and offers I have found. I did this word for a bit and while it did bring in extra cash, I did not feel appreciated, nor did I enjoy contributing to a client that was taking advantage of writers by paying slave wages.

That’s right, slave wages. A writer should never settle for $1 for 500 words. Not $2. If you are accepting work that pays this low, you should take time to think on why. There are higher paying jobs out there, many who do not require that a writer have been published before. It takes a lot of work to find these jobs, but easily 80% of freelancing is looking for and applying for jobs.

Do not get trapped in the vicious cycle of accepting low paying content bulk work. You are worth more than that. Never, ever pay someone to work for them, you are defeating your own goals if you do so.

Deb Ng from Freelance Writing Jobs, a blog that lists jobs for writers and great tips for learning the ropes covers this story well. Give them a visit if you are a freelancer or are interesting in becoming one.

Pay $10 A Month For Work? Not On Your Life.

Posted in Career Minded | 4 Comments »

A Journey Into The New Year.

It is New Year’s Eve, the time for clearing out the old and making resolutions for the new year ahead. Normally for a holiday, I would post some recipes, party ideas, and the like. Since this is the time for new beginnings, I thought I would bring my readers (you guys!) into my life by making my resolutions public. This will make it harder for me to fail, because I am making a proclamation to everyone of what I wish to do this coming year and hopefully, many of you will join me. Consider me a partner in your own journey to betterment, I will share my own successes and yes, even my failures.

You will find that you are not alone in your quest! If you would like, post a comment with your resolutions, or even one resolution. Spend a moment to share your progress each day, week, or month.

Here are my own resolutions.

1. Lose weight.
This is probably the most popular resolution. Many of us would like to lose weight for better health or to look and feel better about ourselves. I have recently written an article on losing weight after pregnancy and most of the tips it contains can be used by anyone. I will also post my own diet advice that I find works the best for me and my body type. Much of what I write will be geared towards women, because I am a woman and I know what works best on a woman’s body. My husband is interested in gaining more muscle mass this year, so stay tuned if you are male, because I will be gathering information from my husband ,Rob Fletcher, on great body building and diet advice for men. Before you use any of the advice I provide, check with your health provider. While I have many years of health, herbal, and other training experience, I am not a doctor, nor should my advice be considered medical advice.

2. Stop smoking.
Yes, I write almost exclusively on health and family topics, but I am addicted to tobacco. The first step anyone can make in their lives to beating an addiction is to admit they have a problem or addiction. Well, guys…I just admitted it. So can you! No matter how long you have been smoking, you can stop. Smoking contributes to so many health problems, it boggles the mind that those of us who smoke haven’t given the nasty habit up yet. If you are a smoker and are ready to quit, join me in this very hard road. If you need someone to talk to, email me or use instant messenger to find me. I will be posting links and information to help you (and me!) kick this habit. We can beat this together!

3. Get organized.
Oh, my. This one may be harder than quitting smoking! I have just taken pictures of my horrible workspace. Being a writer, most of my work is performed in one small area, but if you are a home worker, you know how the rest of your home can fall into shambles. A huge focus of this year will be on learning how to, not juggle, but to balance your work and home. Juggling leads to stress, stress leads to anger, and anger leads to the Dark Side. Oops, I sound like Yoda…let’s just focus on learning to balance, I will leave the light saber lessons to Lucas.

There you have it. My three huge resolutions for this coming year. I promise to give you the inside track to all of this, no ‘expert’ sounding articles, just straight, honest, and personal accounts of what we can do to move our lives forward in the most efficient and beneficial manner. An entire year of hope, laughs, maybe a bit of crying, but in the end, I hope we can all look back and see just how far we have come.

Posted in Uncategorized, Daily Living, Holidays | 3 Comments »

Leftovers!

Leftovers, leftovers, leftovers! What in the world am I going to do with all of these leftovers?

I am not sure what it is about leftovers, but for a day or two after a holiday meal people love to munch on what is left behind. Then, it gets boring. In some cases there is enough to last for a very long time, in others the food is gone by day two after the holiday. So far we’ve had potato pancakes, ham and cheese omelets, and killed off the rest of the vegetable platter. But, what in the world to do with the rest of it?

If you still have enough of each food, you can make your own TV dinners. On a paper plate put a portion of each item, just as if you are going to serve it. Wrap with plastic wrap, then aluminum foil. Freeze one plate each for your family members. Next month, you can have a mini holiday flavored feast. If you have odds and ends, toss it all into a large Ziploc bag, freeze, then add vegetables leftover from other meals during the next few weeks. Soon you will have enough frozen vegetables and bits of meat to make a soup or stew. Do not mix meats, as this may cause a weird flavor in your resulting stew. Ham and other pork, beef with beef, turkey with chicken, and so on. Use your imagination when it comes to cooking up the soup.

Something I plan to try today is sweet potato balls. The sweet potatoes were flavored with cinnamon, cloves, cherry, and pineapple. To this I will add a touch of flour, an egg, then roll in graham cracker crumbs. I will drop these in the deep fryer for a few minutes until they are golden brown. Served with honey, I can only imagine how great they will taste!

What do you do with your leftovers? Do you have a special treat you only make after the holidays?

Posted in Uncategorized, Cooking, Holidays | No Comments »

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