Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Tune in for tips and tricks...

Welcome to Tuesday, dear reader.  Yep, that’s right, Monday has finally moved on, and we’re one step further into the week.
I was hoping to start teaching some neat crafts this week, but as you can see from Sunday’s blog (because you did read Sunday’s blog, right?) my craft table is currently drowning under a sea of miscellaneous debris.  It became a “catch-all” in the garage, especially after we emptied out our storage unit and brought all that crap home.  “My side” of the garage now contains less than a quarter of the actual square footage in said garage.  But it’s okay, we’re saving money by not having the storage unit, and making money by selling some of the stuff we were keeping in the storage unit (anybody in the market for a brand new electric double oven?  anybody?), so I’ll hang in there and slowly but surely get my crafting area back to its former glory.
So, since I don’t have space to make things, I thought that for today’s Teachin’ Tuesday post, I’d share 25 clever ideas to make life easier.  Some of these you may love and use, some of them may not apply to you.  That’s one reason I’m including so many; everyone can find at least one tip or trick in this list to help in their own lives.  These ideas came from an e-mail I received last year, and most of them sound amazing.
1.  hull strawberries easily using a straw 
 (seriously, so easy!)

2.  rubbing a walnut over scratches in your furniture will disguise dings and scrapes

3.  remove crayon from your t.v. or computer monitor with WD-40
(anybody have kids? write this one down...you will need it eventually)

4.  stop apples from browning in a lunch box by securing them with a rubber band

5.  store bed linen sets inside one of their pillowcases so there won’t be any more hunting for a matched set
(I know, right?!  simple, but brilliant!)

6.  amplify the volume of your phone or mp3 player by placing the device in a bowl

7.  re-use a wet wipes or anti-bacterial wipes container to store plastic bags
 (these work GREAT in the car)

8.  use baby powder to get sand off your skin easily

9.  attach a velcro strip to the wall to store soft toys

10.  use wire to store gift wrap rolls up against the ceiling, rather than on the floor
(seriously, another simple yet brilliant space saver)

11.  find tiny lost items like earrings by putting a stocking over the vacuum hose
(no more low-crawling through the house looking for that earring back!)

12.  make an instant cupcake carrier by cutting crosses into a box lid

13.  pictoral directions on how to fold a fitted sheet!
(finally, someone gives us directions we can follow!! you know you needed this)

14.  use magnetic strips to store bobby pins, tweezers and clippers in the bathroom

15.  put shoes into plastic shower caps before packing to stop dirty soles from rubbing on your clothes
(and these are free at most hotels)

16.  use a muffin pan, plastic cups and magnets to create a craft caddy
(the magnets go inside the cups to keep them in place)

17.  bread tags can be used as cord labels

18.  bake cupcakes directly in ice cream cones for easier eatting
(can't wait to try this one out)

19.  microwave your own popcorn in a plain brown paper bag
(we use an air popper, but this would work, too)

20.  install a tension rod to hang your spray bottles

21.  turn your muffin pan upside down and bake cookie dough over the top for fun cookie bowls
(cookie bowls! you could fill them with ice cream...yum)

22.  freeze aloe vera in ice cube trays for soothing sunburn relief

23.  create a window-box veggie patch using guttering
(trying to get hubs to let me do this...gutters are super cheap and easy to put up)

24.  use egg cartons to separate and store your Christmas decorations

25.  rinse fresh strawberries with vinegar before you put them in the fridge to keep them from molding
(did this, and my strawberries lasted over 3 weeks in the fridge with zero mold!)

There you have it, dear reader.  25 great tips and tricks to use around the house.  I’ve tried some, and have several more that I can’t wait to have the opportunity to use.  Hopefully these ideas will help you, as well.  And then there will be a purpose for you having visted here today.
Stay tuned, friends…I’ll be posting a chapter of my novel-in-progress tomorrow to see if I get any feedback.  Until then, keep a smile on your face, and another in your heart (bleh, I’ll try to come with something cool to use at the end of my posts.  It just hasn’t come to me yet.).

Monday, January 30, 2012

It's my sexy body, I'll do what I want...

Oh, goody, look at that.  It’s Monday again.  Happy, happy, joy, joy (a little old-school reference thrown in there, raise your hand if you’re too young to get it…okay, put ‘em down, you’re making me feel old).  Again, nothing against Monday as a day, I just hate having my weekend end because it never feels quite long enough.  Isn’t there a holiday coming up or something?  No?  Bummer.
So I fell off the proverbial wagon last week, and missed a couple blog posts.  And last night’s post was hardly up to par.  But it was the best I could do, considering the environment in which I found myself.  Dinner was eaten late because the kids napped too late in the day, and because the hubby insisted on watching the first two episodes of Dexter while the kids were asleep.  It’s a good show, don’t get me wrong, but there are a million productive things I could have done during those two hours other than watch television.  And then the kids were grouchy and tired, and so was the hub, so I was dealing with that, too.
But I digress (get used to it).  Manic Monday posts are a place for me to rant if I want to, and today, I want to.  It’s not a mega-rant, just a little one based on some stuff I’ve seen online recently.  I cruise Yahoo occasionally for random bits of news and entertainment “news”, and have happened upon two separate articles in the last two weeks discussing the trend of mothers in Hollywood getting tattoos.  The articles don’t bother me a bit; they’re fluff, and seem to be supportive of these stars getting inked.  What gets under my skin (pun totally intended) is the rude comments made by some other readers of these same articles.
People can be so hateful and disrespectful when their identities are concealed by avatars and fake personal information.  It’s really a sad thing to see in this country.  But it really pisses me off when these mean-spirited, close-minded commentators start going on and on about the kind of “trashy” people that get tattoos.  And I take their insults personally, because I have two tattoos currently, and hope to get several more, and I don’t for a second consider myself a trashy person.  I don’t think anyone that knows me would consider me trashy, either. 
There’s a very distinct difference between someone who gets tattoos because they commemorate something or have a true meaning to that person, and someone who gets a tattoo “because everyone else has one”.  Both of my tattoos mean something to me, and I believe that’s the way it should be.  I’m not going to say that someone who gets a tattoo on the spur of the moment is trashy, because that’s not a fair assessment of their character.    They may be a truly nice and compassionate person; I just think they probably made a bad decision.  Aren’t we all guilty of that at some point in our lives?
Here comes your history lesson for the week:
Tattoos have been around as long as mankind has used tools.  For thousands of years, tattoos have served as “amulets, status symbols, declarations of love, signs of religious beliefs, adornments and even forms of punishment”, according to researchers at the Smithsonian.  Tattoos can be dated back to 5,200 BC.  That’s a long freakin’ time.  Archaeologists have found tattooing tools used in ancient Egypt, and mummies with tattoos.  In Egypt, women were tattooed to protect them during pregnancy and childbirth.  As reported by ancient Greek writer Herodotus, "tattoos were a mark of nobility, and not to have them was testimony of low birth” among the Scythian and Thracian peoples, two lands near Greece.  Tattoos were common among Romans, as well, until Constantine came to power and made Christianity the officially accepted religion of the country.  Tattoos have also been found on preserved bodies of ancient South Americans, American Indians, and Canadians.  So it wasn’t relegated just to Europe and surrounding areas.
Tattooing has also been popular in China, Japan, Polynesia, and New Zealand for literally thousands of years.  The word tattoo actually comes from the Polynesian word “tattau”, which means “to hit”, a description of how their tattooing process works.  So pretty much every inhabited continent on this earth has a long history of its people receiving tattoos.  Which means every person alive today has tattoos somewhere in their family tree.
With that said, anyone who starts talking about how “trashy” tattoos are needs to grow up, get a life, and read a little effing history.  Tattoos don’t make people trashy; trashy people sometimes get tattoos.  How dare you lump me in with people simply because we both made the decision to get permanent marks on our skin.  I’m a mother of two with a great job at an engineering company, working in an office every day.  And most people around me don’t know that I even have tattoos.  And that’s my choice.  My tattoos are for me, not for the world.  I don’t mind sharing them, and I love that I have them, but I know that for what I want to do with my life, there’s a time and a place to show them off.
And it doesn’t bother me that my kids know I have tattoos.  My tattoos have meaning to me, and my kids will understand that when they’re old enough.  And if they come to me (after they’re 18, of course) and want me to go with them when they get their first tattoo, I’ll feel honored that they included me.  I’ll coach them on taking time to decide what they want on their bodies (if they want anything; I certainly won’t pressure them into getting any tattoos…unmarked skin is just fine, too), because whatever they pick becomes a permanent part of them.  But I won’t discourage them from getting inked, any more than I’ll encourage them to do so.  Getting a tattoo is a personal choice, and everyone should get to make that choice for themselves.
So yeah, it makes me angry when I read some ignorant comment about how low-class and trashy tattoos are, and that people who get them are trashy and low-class, too.  Tattoos are an ancient and beautiful form of self-expression, and anyone who doesn't get that can kiss my tattooed ass.

(these are my two current tattoos; and no, I don't actually have a tattoo on my ass, thanks for asking)

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Mea culpa, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa...

What's that?  You don't speak Latin?  And you're not Catholic?  Then I guess you'll just have to use the Google machine and look it up.

So I missed a few days of posts.  Life sorta of snuck up on me.  The weekend passed me by before I realized what had happened.  Bummer.

So here's what I'll do for you, dear reader.  I'm going to use two different kitchen gadgets this week, and I'll post about both of them.  That'll cover my missing Friday.

I haven't decided how to make up for Saturday, yet.  Maybe I'll submit a second post later tonight with some blast from the past pictures.  We'll see.

As for today, this post will contain some brief updates to my 2012 goals.  Here's where I am so far:

Goal 1 - be a better role model for my kids
Progress - we're instituting a swear jar in the house, and I think the hubby may go broke in the next week

Goal 2 - get back in shape
Progress - it doesn't feel like much yet, but I'm down 5 pounds in the last two weeks

Goal 3 - stick to a budget
Progress - I've budgeted through the next 3 months, and I think we'll at least make it that far  :)

Goal 4 - finish a novel
Progress - I'm 10,000 words into one of them, and have most of the plot and characters set up for a second

Goal 5 - have another baby
Progress - we're not even going to start trying til next month

Goal 6 - spend more quality time with my kids
Progress - we went to the Snake Farm yesterday, it was super fun!

Goal 7 - make progress with my scrapbooking
Progress - none yet, haven't had time to set stuff back up as of yet, but I'll start planning for it next month

Goal 8 - take E to church
Progress - we went to mass Saturday night  :)  and actually made it through the whole thing!

Goal 9 - read 26 new books
Progress - I'm on page 301 of 416 of Dead Witch Walking by Kim Harrison, book number 1; so far, it's really good

Goal 10 - organize my side of the garage
Progress - haven't had much time to work on it yet; here's what I'm fighting against

Goal 11 - make and keep a schedule
Progress - I've actually started writing things down in my planner again, so I consider that a positive first step

Goal 12 - live the life God gave me
Progress - this one is the hardest, and I'm working on it...it'll take some time

 So that's where I am, dear reader.  Making progress, even if it's slow.  I'll make up the missed posts, I promise.  Unfortunately, right now I have to go take care of a crying toddler.  It's late, and he's tired, which means lots of tears and noise for no real reason.  Yay for parenthood!  :)

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Love me some Jess...

Do you ever feel like watching television has become a chore?  There are so many “real-life” shows on now, from cop dramas to military dramas to more cop dramas.  T.V. has become so heavy, it’s almost disheartening to watch these days.  If I see another dead, bloated corpse, or beat-up teenage prostitute, I might actually scream.

Thankfully, there are actually some shows that are simply enjoyable to watch.  One of my favorites is The New Girl.  It stars Zooey Deschanel, sister to Emily Deschanel of Bones fame.  I enjoy her as an actress anyway (loved the Wizard of Oz miniseries she was in!), and when you pair her light-hearted, good-natured, lovingly-naive character Jess with the mish-mash of her endearing male roommates, you get a show that makes me glad I have a television to watch.

The show is poignant, without being melodramatic.  It’s a comedy, and knows it’s a comedy, so it doesn’t pretend to be something else.  You fall in love with the characters, and their interaction are so seemless and perfect you’ll find yourself wishing you lived in their apartment.  That’s how t.v. should make us feel.  We get enough crap and death and destruction in the real world.  We don’t need it for our evening entertainment, too.

Don’t get wrong, I love a good CSI episode (Vegas or NY, never Miami), and I’m a sucker for Alex O’Laughlin (Hawaii 5-0, in case you didn’t know – how dare you not know, btw) in a wet t-shirt.  You’ll find me glued to the set to watch Castle and Beckett every Monday (when will these two finally connect?!), and I wouldn’t dare miss Booth and Brennan on Thursdays (pregnant what?).  But it’s nice to have nights when I just get to laugh, and watch characters whose jobs don’t depend on other people dying, you know?  

There are other shows on t.v. right now that leave watchers with a warm–fuzzy  when the credits roll (raise your hand if you love Big Bang Theory!), but there’s just something about New Girl.  I can’t explain it, but trust me; watch the show, and you’ll find yourself humming…

Who’s that girl? It’s Jess!

…with a smile on your face.  Happy watching, dear reader.  And here’s to smiles.  There just aren’t enough of ‘em in the world today.

A story of starfish...

I know, I know, I missed the first Wingin’-It Wednesday.  The easiest day of the week, and I dropped the potato.  But can you blame me?  It was hot.  Seriously, though, fell asleep with the kids while trying to convince them to fall asleep.  I honestly don’t know which of us fell asleep first.  My life is so exciting, I know you can hardly contain yourself.  Try though, because otherwise you make a mess.  And no one likes a mess (okay, some people like a mess, but those people are on a special show called Hoarders).

Anyway, I’ll make it up to you today, dear reader.  I’ll post the Wednesday blog (the one you’re currently reading) AND the Thursday blog before midnight tonight.  I tried to get them done during the daylight hours, but you know how life goes.

For the first Wednesday blog, I decided to share a story with you, dear reader, that animal rescuers have to tell ourselves over and over again.  I was inspired to share this by those stupid ASPCA commercials with Sarah MacLaughlin in them that always leave me in tears.  I usually change the channel or leave the room, but I couldn’t find the remote last night and then both kids were transfixed by the “sad animals”, as E calls them.  She told me last night that they were sad “because they don’t have a mommy”.  If that doesn’t pull on your heartstrings, you probably don’t have a heart.

So here goes (mind you, this is my adaptation, everyone tells it just a little differently).

A woman was walking along the beach when she noticed a man walking her direction farther down the sands.  The man would walk a few steps, stop, bend over and pick something up, then throw it out into the water.  The woman was curious, so she walked towards the man.
As she got closer, she realized the man was picking up starfish from the sand, and tossing them back into the ocean.  The woman approached the man, who stopped walking when got close enough to speak to him.
“Excuse me, sir, but what are you doing?” the woman asked the man.
“The tide has gone out, and these starfish are stuck on the beach,” he responded.  “If I don’t throw them back into the ocean, they’ll die.”
The woman was stunned.  “But there must be hundreds of starfish on this beach alone, not to mention all the starfish on the thousands of beaches all over the world.  How can you possibly expect to make a difference?”
The man reached down, picked up a starfish, and tossed it into the salty water.
“It made a difference to that one,” he said.
This is based on “The Star Thrower”, by Loren Eiseley, and it tells the real reason why so many people get involved with rescues and charities, and why people become social workers and volunteers.  If you worry that you can’t make a difference, you never will.  You have to stop yourself from looking at the whole picture, and focus on the one detail you can change.  If you make a difference in just one animal’s life, or one child’s life, then you’ve changed the world.

We don’t have a lot of extra money these days, so we’re very limited on what we can do to help.  But I’ve learned that there’s always something you can do.  We share our home with 3 beautiful rescue dogs, and one semi-psychotic rescued cat.  Allow me to introduce you.

This is Copper:

Copper was found with his mother and 6 littermates abandoned in the backyard of a house in Austin after the owners moved out.  Yep, that’s right, they moved away and left their dog and her puppies because they didn't want them.  Luckily, a neighbor saw the dogs and called a rescue group who came and picked them up.  Copper, his mom, and his siblings lived with a foster family until the pups were weaned and ready to be adopted.  The rescue group found homes for all of the puppies and their mom.  Copper came to live with us.

This is Charlie:

Charlie was dumped in front of our house in McQueeney when she was just about 8 weeks old.  We never found out where she came from, so she stayed with us.  Charlie has her issues, but she’s a sweet, loving dog.

This is Marla:

Marla was picked up in the street in Austin when she was a little pup.  She was all alone, with no collar or tags, so she was taken to Town Lake Animal Shelter.  We saw her pic online, and fell in love.  We went to Austin, filled out our adoption paperwork, and after the customary checks, took Marla home.  No matter what people may tell you about pit bulls, they’re actually really great dogs, and Marla takes more abuse from the kiddos than either of the other two, and she loves it.  E drags her around the house by her collar, and Marla goes along for the ride.

And this is Kodi:

We found Kodi when she was about 5 weeks old.  She was all alone in the yard at a storage facility, and crying loudly.  I couldn’t help but pick her up and take her home.  She was a bottle-baby, and we weaned her onto canned kitten food.  We were supposed to find a home for her, because the hubby “doesn’t like cats”, but after a few weeks it was obvious she was a part of the family.  She’s a little nuts sometimes, and doesn’t like a whole lot of people, but when she wants to be she’s very affectionate.

So those are my personal rescue stories.  I also help out with home visits for rescues, and with transports.  It’s amazing how hard people will work to get a dog or cat into a good home.  I’ve picked up dogs from San Antonio that were headed to Michigan and Florida and Ohio.  I’ve also been on routes with dogs coming from rescues out of state to be adopted here in central Texas.  It’s a wonderful thing to be a part of.  And all it costs you is a few hours and a couple gallons of gas.  If anyone is interested in becoming part of a rescue/transport group, please let me know.  I would love to pass your name on to some of the groups I volunteer for.  We’re always looking for people in new areas, to make the transport runs easier and to be able to transport to new places.

So there you have it, my first official Wingin’-It Wednesday post.  I’d like to point out that I didn’t actually intend for it to be this long, but apparently I had a lot more to say on the subject than originally anticipated (and I cut myself short, to be honest; I could talk about rescue for hours).

Don’t worry, dear reader, I’ll make sure the Thursday post isn’t quite so long (1200 words, are you kidding me?!), and I’ll keep it more uplifting (ok, at least not quite so serious).

Preview for next week…maybe the first chapter of one of my novels?

Stay tuned!  Theatrical Thursday is comin’ atcha!

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Aw, pretty jar...

Sorry the first Teachin' Tuesday is so late, but I had to work late.  Bummer, I know.  But sometimes you just gotta do what you gotta do, right?

So I found this craft at one of my all-time favorite websites, Chickens in the Road.  This woman is a (wait for it) mazing!  She puts so many great things on her site, you'll always find something awesome to make or cook.  Or you can just pass the time reading about the totally cool old farmhouse she and her family moved into.  The woman makes her own cheese.  It's ridiculous (but in a good way).

Anyway, the craft is making a colored mason jar.  You've all seen the old mason jars that are tinted blue or green.  Well, they're hard to find and expensive.  So here's a super cheap way to make your own.

Start with the ingredients:

1 teaspoon of water
2 teaspoons of Mod Podge (this is a craft glue that you can find at any Hobby Lobby or similar craft store)
food coloring

Preheat your oven to 200 degrees, then line your pan with silver foil and wax paper.  Mix the water and Mod Podge in a bowl (I used a cheap bowl the kids used to use), then add food coloring until you get the color you're looking for.  I decided to try an amber color.

It tooks kind of orange here, but the color in the bowl isn't exactly the same as the way the jar turns out.  I didn't have any pint jars, which is what Suzanne used on Chickens in the Road, but I have a TON of half-pint jars for making jelly.  So that's what I used, since I had them on hand.

Pour the mix into the jar, then twist the jar around to coat the entire inside of the jar with the color.  Pour the remainder of the glue/color back into the bowl, making sure to coat the jar all the way to the lip all the way around.  Then put the jar upside down on the wax paper and put it in the oven.

Leave it in the oven for 3 minutes.

Take the jar out of the oven, flip it over and wipe any excess from the lip of the jar.  Then put the jar back in the oven right side up.

Leave the jar in the oven for about 30 minutes.

Take the jar out of the oven and let it cool.  Here's how mine turned out.

And here's the finished product compared to a non-colored jar.

Because the color is basically just glue, you can't put any liquids or foods inside the jar.  But you could use it to hold silk flowers or pretty stones or even just as a pen/pencil holder.  I'm sure you can think of plenty of uses for a pretty colored jar.  And since it's so easy, you can experiment with color combinations.

Anyway, that's our craft of the week.  Let me know if you try it, and how it turns out!

Monday, January 23, 2012

Case of the Mondays?

I hate Mondays.  It’s not Monday’s fault, really; it’s just another day in the weekly calendar.  Monday didn’t choose to be the first day back to work/school after the weekend.  I don’t think Monday wants to be the much lamented “weekend-ender”.  But some day had to shoulder that responsibility, and Monday was called up to the plate.  Bravo for your bravery, Monday.  I salute you.
But I still hate you.
Know what else I hate?  The news.  Seriously.  I mean, you’re watching your favorite evening programs, feeling good, got a belly full of dinner, the kids are winding down (or maybe actually asleep!), it’s nice and peaceful in your house, then…BOOM!  The news comes on. (dammit!) Death, destruction, mayhem, more death, and all the terrible things humanity can inflict upon itself shoved right in your face.  Do they always have to open with the most tragic events of the day?  I’m betting the answer is “no”.  I’ve watched the news before.  I know they have nicer stories they can share during the half hour they’re involved in your life (bastards).
Why not open with the pictures of the birthday party thrown for the local woman who just turned 105?  That’s a nice story.  Or shots from the recent dog show, or some other feel-good, fluff story?  Tell me about some local hero.  There are LOTS of local heros, and we all love to hear about them.  I hate that sudden let down I always get when the news comes on.  Usually I remember to change the channel to something entertaining just before 10 pm.  But sometimes I forget.  Those are not good nights for me.
I suppose there are people who like to watch the news.  Kudos to them for being able to stomach all that death and despair so late in the evening.  Me, I prefer to go to bed with happy thoughts in my head.  Happy thoughts lead to good dreams.  Crappy thoughts lead to no sleep (and with two small children, sleep is hard enough to come by). 
The news should really go like this – happy opening story, local upcoming events, weather, sports, more positive stories, then end with the tragic sadness of humanity.  That way, those of us that would like to know what’s going on can find out without having to be dragged down by all the murder-death-kills that transpired recently (yay for movie references).  We can watch the good stories, see the upcoming weather predictions (which we’ll promptly ignore…how often are they right, anyway), check in on the sports scores, and then turn off the television or change the channel.
I know what you’re thinking…why don’t I just change the channel first, during the crappy news, and then come back for the rest.  Well, genius, here’s why – you never know how long they’re going to talk about horrible stuff.  It could be five minutes (if there was only one murder and three fatal car wrecks), or it could last for 15 minutes (you know the days, there were people found dead in three different houses, two gang-bangers were shot in downtown, three break-ins occurred overnight with one resulting in the death of the homeowner, and on and on and freakin’ on!).  See, I hate the news!  It makes me sad, and scared.  I don’t particularly care for either of those emotions.
So who’s with me?  Boycott the news?  Yeah, I know, it’ll never happen.  But regardless, I’ll boycott it in my own special way by running for the remote every night at 10, tripping over toys, dogs, children and a cat in a blind attempt to get to it before the first murder can be reported, and quickly change the channel.  Who’s up for a little Conan?

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Resolutions are for pussies...

When the new year rolls around, you hear lots of talk about New Year’s Resolutions.  A lot of “I’m going to change”, or “I’m going to do better”.  People swear the minute that clock strikes 12, they’re going to drastically alter their personalities and lives and remove or change whatever part of their body or personality or life they think is holding them back.  I call bullshit.
I hate resolutions.  I’m just as guilty as the next guy or gal about making resolutions, and the same thing happens to me that happens to all of them.  I fail.  They fail.  Resolutions were made to be broken (and all this time you thought it was rules).  Because it happens more often than not, people have begun to expect failure when a resolution is made at the start of the new year.  It’s sad (like bummer-sad, not boo-hoo-sad), and I refuse to play the resolution game for another year.
This year, instead of resolutions, I have set goals for myself.  Calling them “goals” makes them sound more real (and who doesn’t like to score, nudge nudge wink wink), and eliminates the stigma that comes with “resolutions”.  A resolution is a thought-process; a goal is an end result.  So here are my goals for 2012.  I’ve made 12 of them, symbolically one for each month of the new year, and because 12 happens to be my favorite number (although I’ll be working on them at the same time, of course).
1.  Become a better role-model for my children.  This means taking better care of myself, and better watching what I say and do, and not just when the kids are around.  If I’m a better person, I can raise them to be better people.  And positive role models are crucial for young children.
2.  Get back in shape.  I don’t want to say “lose weight”, because that isn’t my end goal.  I want to be able to play at the park with my kids for hours without feeling completely exhausted afterwards.  I want to be able to wear the clothes I owned when my husband and I met.  I want to feel attractive again, and maybe even be considered a MILF (racey, I know, but who wouldn’t) by some random dude.  Marriage doesn’t equate to complacency, so I’m going to get off my ass this year and get back in shape.  I’ll post starting stats in a weight-loss blog later.
3.  Stick to a budget.  We have one, and I update it frequently, but we’re not great at sticking to it.  Debt is dumb, and our debt is a rock around our necks these days.  I don’t like it.  I’m sick and tired of being sick and tired, as the saying goes (Dave Ramsey, anyone?).  This year, we’re going to stick to the budget, start using cash instead of a debit card, learn to shop wisely (coupons, coupons and more coupons) and pay down our debt snowball.  We won’t eliminate our debt this year, but by adhering to a realistic budget, we might at least make a dent in it.
4.  Finish a novel.  I have at least three separate novels in progress at the moment, and I’d like to aim to finish at least one of them.  I’m not saying they’re great, or even publish-worthy.  But I’ve written them, and they deserve to be finished.
5.  Have another baby.  This one is pretty self-explanatory.
6.  Spend more quality time with my kids.  This means less television (already making progress here, since we got rid of our DVR – I know, ouch!), more reading, less computer, more outside, less “me”, more “them”.  They’re only little once, and I want to enjoy it.
7.  Actually make progress on my scrapbooking.  I’m behind, and it sucks.  It’s time to dedicate real time to getting caught up.  My memory sucks, so my scrapbooks are the only thing that help me remember great times that have come and gone.  Plus, my “to be scrapbooked” pile is getting stupidly large.
8.  Make a real effort to take E to church.   V is still just too little.  He doesn’t enjoy it, and I can’t enjoy it when I have to spend the whole service in the cry room in the back.  I might as well be watching it on television.  We’ll have to take turns between the hubby and me, each taking her on alternating weeks, but we can make it work.
9.  This one I’m stealing from the friend who inspired me to start blogging again, but modifying slightly.  I want to read 26 new books this year.  That’s one every two weeks.  I can probably read slightly more than that, but sometimes life gets away from me, and goals that set you up to fail are crap.  So 26 is the magic number.
10.  Organize my side of the garage.  I have craft stuff like you would not believe.  It’s gone haywire, though, and I can’t even sit at my craft table to work.  So I’m going to spend actual time getting it cleaned up and reorganized.
11.  Make and keep a schedule.  I function better with a schedule (I can be very linear sometimes, which I prefer to being called "anal"), and my life seems to go more smoothly with a schedule.  Plus, without one, I’ll never fit in time for all the goals listed above.
12.  Live the life God gave me.  Things don’t always work out the way we think they should, or the way we want them to.  I’m going to stop envying the lives of others, and learn to truly enjoy the life I was given.  I have a lot of great things in my life, and it’s high time I stopped and really looked at them.

So there you have them.  My 12 goals for 2012.  I'll be sure to post updates on Shake-it-off Sundays to let you know how various parts of the goal list are progressing.  Feel free to hold me accountable, dear reader. Lord knows I need all the help I can get.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

And if you'll all just follow me...

Please keep your hands and arms inside the ride at all times.  Please stay on the designated path.  Don't eat the daisies, please.

So in keeping with my need for structure, I've compiled a schedule of subjects for my future blog posts.  You can find that schedule here (and yes, I did actually name the days...my psychosis knows no bounds):

Manic Mondays
Mondays will be about things that piss me off, or upset me, or stuff that happened over the weekend.  I hate Mondays, so this is my chance to rant.

(no, that's not me...but it would be a lot cooler if it was)

Teachin’ Tuesdays
Each Tuesday blog will be devoted to teaching some skill or craft that I’ve tried myself.  I’ll try to post pics of every learning experience, and will take suggestions or requests.

Wingin’ it Wednesdays
Wednesday blogs will be whatever I’m in the mood to write.  I may talk about my kids, my job, my novels-in-progress, politics, religion, or anything else that pops into my head.

(I like penguins; they're cute and they walk funny) 

Theatrical Thursdays
Thursday blogs will give me a chance to review tv shows and movies, or plays I’ve seen or want to see.

Fricasee Fridays
Weekly blog devoted to all things kitchen and cuisine.

Sentimental Saturdays
Saturday blogs will be spent remembering fun times from the past.  Not necessarily my past.  But definitely the past.

(okay, so maybe not THAT far into the past)

Shake-it-off Sundays
Sunday is a day of rest for some people, a day to unwind and relax and prepare for the week to come.  If you’re anything like me, that does not sound like your Sunday.  So on Sundays I’ll post stuff like my menu for the upcoming week, my reviews of the last week’s menu choices, funny stories I heard, funny stories I made up, things my kids did during the week, whatever I feel could make your upcoming week a little easier.  I’ll also occasionally recap my progress on the 2012 goals, which I will post tomorrow for the first-ever Shake-it-off Sunday.

(come on, we've all had weeks like this, right?)

So there you have it.  My schedule of blogs.  Will I stick to it?  Well, I'll certainly try.  If I miss a day, try not to berate me too severely, and I'll make it up to you, dear reader.  And prepare thyself, because this blog is gonna be "off the chain", yo.  Wow, that feels ridiculous even to type it.  But seriously, it's gonna awesome.  Or at least pretty cool.  Maybe just in my own opinion.  Okay, so it'll be a blog.  Take from it what you will, and feel free to leave your comments.  I read them, I promise.

Some photos courtesy of worradmu, Ambro, and John Kasawa. (got them from a website, had to give credit, you know?)