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Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Streamlining Your Digital Life - Facebook

I know for one, that I spend too much time online, on the phone, on social media, etc.  So I set out to decide how I was going to streamline my digital life with regards to these things.  Here are the thoughts I have had and plan to implement.  I hope they will help you to create an Action Plan for streamlining your digital life.  This first post, will deal with Facebook.

Periodically go through your Facebook account and do the following:

1.  Delete people you friended but don't really know.  It might have been for a limited project that you worked on together or to get an urgent message to someone whom you didn't have an email address for.  If that purpose has been served and you no longer interact with this person, why have their notifications and wall posts clogging up your news feed?

2.  Unlike pages that you thought seemed interesting at the time because someone else posted them, but really aren't.  Perhaps you saw a neat giveaway and had to like a page to enter for their drawing.  Maybe you saw a product that sounded neat and you thought you would like to try.  Ask yourself if you will ever buy from this company or if you would have liked the page had there not been a giveaway.  If the answer to either question is no, you probably don't need this. 

3.  Decide if you really need to put your interests out there on Facebook.  In case you haven't noticed, the ads in the sidebars are based off of your interests and comments you make.  If you are talking about politics, you will get political ads.  If you are talking about paleo foods, you will get food ads. If you are talking about running, you will get specific athletic ads.  This will clutter up your feed with Suggested Pages and Trending Articles.  The fewer you have listed, the fewer you will be bombarded with.  

4.  Determine if you really want to stay in any facebook groups you are members of.  Have these groups served their purpose and you don't need them any longer.  It might be time to rethink them.  I know that I have started several for various purposes.  Some are still active and some are not.  Some have flurries of activity from time to time.  You need to decide if they are still worth your time.
5.  Remove yourself from groups that others added you to and you now find that you don't participate in.  If you find, you don't read them or participate on these, then by all means, get rid of them.

6.  Determine if the groups you want to stay in, really serve the purpose you wanted them to serve.  Some might be nice to be in, but do they enhance your life or take your precious time.

If you have any other ideas, please post in the comments section.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Five Favorite Things - Food

Since I loathe Mondays, I thought it might be a good thing to actually post something positive on my blog to change my state of mind.  I don't know if I will get to it every Monday, but I will try to post on what my Five Favorite Things are, at least a couple times a month.  Some may be themed, some may be a mishmash, whatever floats my boat.  Today's theme will be food:

  1. Chocolate - of course (see my blog name).  I really love dark chocolate but am not opposed to milk chocolate or white chocolate either.  My favorite is Green and Black dark chocolate in the 60-70 percent cocoa range.
  2. Lemons - I love lemon EVERYTHING!!!  I used to eat a lot of lemon drops but chomping on them I chipped an already fractured tooth and decided I better not do that anymore.  Then my sister gave me a bag of Lemonheads.  Well it was all over after that.  They are a little crunchy, but not nearly as hard as regular lemon drops.  I have to get my fix every couple of days.  Thankfully they are only a dollar per bag at Dollar General.  I think I should probably create a separate Pinterest board for all the lemon things that I have pinned.
  3.  Avocados - What can I say?  I had never eaten an avocado until about 10 years ago.  A doctor friend and his wife (foodies) invited us over for lunch when we were in town and made some sandwiches complete with sliced avocado.  Well, I was hooked!!  I crave these like I crave lemon.  She grew up in California with avocado trees in her yard (man am I jealous!!).  My favorite way to eat them is to mash up two of them and add half a can of Rotel for a quick guacamole with tortilla chips.  I have been known to make this and eat it in one sitting or as a meal for myself or even a bedtime snack.
  4. Brownies - I have always loved brownies, no matter the ingredients, moist and fudgey or cakelike, nuts or no.  I always used the recipe I grew up with from my mom until a couple of years ago when my friend Wendi shared her recipe for Speedy Brownies.  Oh.my.word!!!  Love these.  About 12 years ago or so, we started using coconut oil in place of vegetable oil in our cooking and baking.  Well using coconut oil, these are heavenly!!  Think Mounds Bar Brownies.  Or add Almonds and you have Almond Joy Brownies.  Yes, they are that good.  One of my daughters' friends go crazy for these whenever we make them for an event/fundraiser.
  5. Mint - just about anything Mint is good in my book.  It goes really well with chocolate (see #1 above).  It goes really well in Mojitos, etc.  Awesome in York Peppermint Patties (see #1 again)

Sunday, May 12, 2013

The Many Uses of a Repurposed Piece of Furniture

I have always been one to try and figure out how to use what I have when a new need arises rather than purchasing something.  I can think of lots of examples but one sticks out in my mind that I thought I would share. Even when something seems on it's last leg (pun intended - you'll see why), it can be repurposed.

When we found out we were expecting twins the shock of needing two of most things was a little overwhelming.  Two car seats, two cribs, two high chairs, twice as many diapers, etc.  One thing that we did not need two of was a dresser and changing table to begin with.  We were gifted my husband's bedroom set from his parents and so decided to use the mirrored dresser to hold abundance of clothes that we were gifted with through 3 baby showers and many, many gifts.

We still needed a changing table and with two babies, wanted to keep things close at hand.  We had an old 6 drawer dresser on legs (much like couch legs), but one of them had broken off.  Other than that minor problem, it was still very functional.  It had a shiny veneer finish so painting it really wasn't an option for our nursery.  Even if it had been an option, I was not going to be painting while pregnant and secondly, I ended up on bedrest by my second trimester.  My husband and mother in law were both working full time and I was working part time.  There really wasn't time to ask them to sand it and paint it for me.  Once the twins arrived, I would be too busy anyway.

So my husband bought wood and enclosed the bottom of the dresser so it wasn't going to wobble (the last thing you need with a squirmy baby).  He also enclosed the top of the dresser with wood about 3-4 inches high.  We purchased a changing cushion to fit on top and then he put a wood divider at the end of the cushion, leaving a smaller section on the right end where we kept diapers, wipes, lotion, baby monitor, etc.  We used cloth diapers except for when we were away from home and for two babies there were quite a few, so those filled 2-3 drawers.  Other drawers contained towels and washcloths, onesies and pajamas.  We used this changing table/dresser combo for several years including adding another baby almost 2 years later.

When it came time to move in a bigger dresser and we no longer had a need for a changing table, we moved this piece into our play area used it for books, toys etc.

When we outgrew that need it moved to our school area, where we used it to house math manipulatives, craft supplies, crayons,  construction paper, etc.    Eventually we put up some hanging cabinets and we transitioned those supplies to that location for storage.

Again, we had a piece of furniture that was still function, while not pretty but hated to just toss it and we knew that no one would buy it.  So this time we moved it into our utility room in the basement.  It tucked nicely under existing open shelving and we were able to finally corral all the tools and household maintenance items that find their way to any house.

To say we have gotten our money's worth out of this piece of furniture would be an understatement.  Too many times in our disposable society, we think nothing of discarding something when it no longer fits our needs.  I, too am guilty of this - particularly with regards to electronics, which have planned obsolescence.  I, for one, am going to try to think of more ways that we can use what we already have.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

What Happens When You Cut Back on Social Media - You Get Things Done!!!

I know I spend a lot of time on social media.  Finally being home for many days in a row and working on cleaning and decluttering the house for Confirmation last weekend, I was forced to get off social media and do more things that were on my to do list.  The house got mostly cleaned (except for a couple non-public areas), more real meals were made (with the help of my daughters and MIL and even today (our crockpot and stockpot)).

Having moved forward this week, we are trying to finish up school for the year, get the filing under control and decluttering some more before we have another weekend activity.  For my birthday I got a new label maker (handheld) because my old one only printed half of the words and I have been using it to label files and set up a filing system for all my homeschooling information and ideas.  About 1:30 today,  I ran it completely out of label tape.  Hoping I can find some at Shopko this afternoon so I can keep going with this project.

Next up is the office purging and filing.  Better get two label refills for that one.  Once the office is doing better,  Also making a list of curriculum to purchase for next year at the homeschool conference that is next weekend.  Always feels good when I have purchases our curriculum and can start planning out our next year.  Hard to believe but I have one graduating in 2 years and all three kids will graduate within 4 years.

Sadly, I have not posted on my blog for over 13 months!  Vowing to change that and hopefully spend a  little less time on Facebook.  I have always dreamt of writing and while I still want to write a book (I have ideas and notes started for two of them), I think blogging is a great foray into that realm to see if I really have as much to say as I think I do.

Hoping to set up a blog calendar of topics so I am reminded to blog more regularly.  Look for more pictures, more recipes (LOVE Pinterest ) and maybe even more political commentary (you can skip if you don't want to read it).

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Spring Cleaning

Technically it isn't Spring till later this week, but with the weather we have been having, I am in the mood to get some cleaning and decluttering around here.  I felt under the weather yesterday, so I didn't attack it as much as I had hoped, but made progress nonetheless.  Kids have 4H and band practice this evening so will be running them around a bit, but feel better today and need to get back at it while I have the motivation.

Hoping this week to list items that I have for sale on the local swap site and get donations to Goodwill when I get near one.  Guess it is best to start with the smallest piles and get those taken care of, then move on to the larger projects right.

We have had such a mild winter and then summer like temps for the last couple weeks, that normally the time spent indoors would have been used to go through things and weed out, give away, sell what was no longer needed.  Areas to attack:

1. Bedrooms
2. Schoolroom
3. Storage Area
4. Under the Stairs
5. Utility Room
6.  Laundry Room

If I get all that done, maybe I can get new shelving put up in my pantry and linen closet to  hold some things.

Better get going.  In less than 2 hours the kids need to be somewhere and I will be playing chauffer. :)

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Incredible March Weather

This entire week has had temperatures in the 70s.  It has been incredibly beautiful out, feeling much like later April, rather than early March.  With the great weather, my neighbor and I resumed our walks at least a few day a week.  The snow is all gone and the rain has washed away a lot of the dust.  The grass is greening up and it feels like spring has already arrived.  Officially, it arrives next week some time.

We actually got to sleep with the window open all night last night (March 14th).  That is unheard of!!!  It ended when the moon aligned such that it was beaming into our bedroom and woke both of us up.  Looking forward to more nights of sleeping with the fresh air flooding our room.

Amazing Book

I just finished reading the biography of Steve Jobs.  A tome to be sure, a whopping 571 pages of reading, not including notes, bibliography, appendices, etc.  I did not get it finished in the 2 weeks that I had it checked out from the library and had to renew it yesterday, but I did get it finished in 15 days which isn't too bad.

I did not care for the curse words peppered throughout (which were quotes by Steve Jobs), but other than that, the book was well written, the author's style was an easy flowing narrative and covered his entire life in a detailed manner covering his personal and professional life.  The biography really gave the essence of who Steve Jobs was and what drove his passion to create incredible products that were the intersection of art and technology (a phrase repeated throughout the book).  His insistence on pushing people to create things that they thought impossible drove them to imagine and then create things no one had ever imagined and be able to engineer them

I plan to have my kids read this book.  It is a textbook example of thinking outside the box, something that we strive to model to our children.  If you don't have the time to read that many pages, I would suggest getting the audiobook.  I think everyone can learn something from this book.

I would give the book a 5 stars out of 5.

Now on to my next book - we'll see which one I can get from the library or borrow from a friend next.  That will determine what I read next.  It sure feels good to read books for pleasure again!