Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Mommy Budget 101!

The Headlines:

Here are 5 tips to Make More Money

Which is really more about managing it

Sorry, no get rich quick scheme here

But a bonus round - your kids can learn this stuff too!

Who wants to talk about this subject?  Ahhhhhh no one.  Money is a touchy subject.  Do you have it?  Is there a lot of it?  Not enough of it?  Is it being spent wisely?  Or... is it kind of "thrown" away?
When you grow up… (and possibly more importantly) when you have a family… the budget you keep becomes tied to the person you are.  Money matters.  It's the world, like it or not, that we live in.  When a family forms, things become expensive really fast.  It has been my experience that, sometimes at that point, wives turn to their husbands and say: MAKE MORE MONEY.  Seriously.  It's an actual phrase that some use as a directive to their spouse.  I have a friend whose sister in law (now ex-sister in law) wanted her husband to "make more money" and when he didn't she just ran up the credit cards, found another man, divorced her husband and left him with the mounting debt.  Unbelievable.  But it happens.  Sadly.

So this is a post that embarks on a subject people don't want to talk about but probably should: Living on a budget.  Living within your means.  (Almost) Everyone has to… this topic came up last year when I had two friends, both at the tame time, say to me that their husbands wanted them to "reel it in" a bit and they were scared out of their minds.  It was then I mentioned, unbeknownst to them, that I was on a budget.  They were impressed.  However, it was not a road either of them wanted to go down.  If they had budgets then they would be accountable.  But, then again, that's the point.

First of all, the fact that I'm writing about money is funny.  At least to BP (the husband).  I'm just not good with numbers.  BP does it all.  I am grateful for that since math was my absolute worst subject in school and, thankfully, I didn't even have to take it in college.  I could manage my own, very simple, money matters before marriage but once I got married complication crept in.  I slithered out.  BP now handles all the balancing and I'm completely okay with that.  But here's the thing: I'm not talking numbers here today, I'm talking management.  Money Management.

Here are 5 tips which will help you Make More Money (by managing it).

First things first...
1. Know Where Your Money's Going 

Start by writing all your monthly essentials down on some sort of a chart:  mortgage (rent), set healthcare costs, water bill, electricity, gardener, school tuition, savings, whatever fixed amounts that need to come out of the monthly dollars.  Do not include things likes groceries because the cost is variable.

Next, for one month spend like you normally do but this month keep all your receipts, every single one!  Get a manilla envelope and a piece of paper and list everything you spend during that time period.  I will tell you this… it's a lot more than one would think.  Groceries, clothes, trips to Target, lunch out, COFFEE, gas, it all adds up fast.  Your eyes may pop out of your head when you see it right there in black and white.   Get used to this, because it should continue when you set your real budget into motion.  More on that in a bit...

Now take your fixed cost of living and what you spent on all your receipts and see how that compares to what you pull in every month.  That's the moment of truth.  Because there might not be much left.  In fact, there could be a deficit.  Next, based on that…

2. Set Your Savings Amount.

This is not easy.  But it has to be done.  Carve out some money, after you pay "fixed bills" and before you set your monthly spending budget.  Not too much but enough.  You need to save for college, retirement and your "cushion"… which includes family vacations, christmas presents, major car expenses, stuff like that.  They're the things that pop up that don't have a place in your monthly budget but they still need to get paid for.. somehow.  This is how.  Please know, college, retirement (which is obviously often done via 401k) and your "cushion" each deserves its own "account" - they're that important - so treat them that way.   Once that's done…

3. Set Your Monthly Spending Budget.

Meaning, after "fixed bills" are paid and savings is taken out, what's left?  That now needs to be divided between the 2 spouses.  Do this according to however the family functions.  Mom buys all the groceries, she gets more money.  Who pays for sports, buys clothes, birthday presents?  It all comes out of one or both of those budgets.  I will admit at first I was afraid but I quickly embraced it.  During the month, write everything down and check it several times to make sure you're on track.  It may feel painful but you will get used to it.  It may even become a kind of game!  Hey, no one wants to pay 18 percent to a credit card every month as you "borrow" their money… it's just not smart.  I use my credit card only so I can keep all my purchases on one account, accumulate "points" ( it's basically "free" money) and to build my credit score (if you pay these cards on time and in full every month - scores rise).  So aim high.  Be strict.  Tighten the purse strings at first.  You can always give yourself a raise later.  Every time BP gets one at work, so do I!  After all that is said and done... start to live your life differently.  Nothing extreme.  Just changed.  Don't live for your budget but  

4. Live With Your Budget in Mind

What does that mean?  Just start thinking more about what you're spending money on everyday.  Instead of going out to coffee (and spending $8 after a coffee and cookie) invite a friend to your house.  It's not only cheaper, but in my case,  I love my house, I constantly decorate and change it so I want people to come over.  I always have bottled Frappuccino's in the fridge and cookies in the pantry.   It's my own little coffee house!  I also always think about what I NEED versus what I want.  It's a hard lesson to learn.  Our society is so, "I want it - I must have it - buy it now"  but is the super necessary?  Of course not.  I've been wearing the same workout/yoga clothes for a tad too long now - it was time to invest in more but I waited a while until I felt I absolutely needed some.  December was an expensive month!  I pulled the trigger on New Year's Day.  Yes, I'm far from perfect on this matter.  But I do think about my budget.  That's more than some people.

If you're doing all of the above… you're in good shape.  But the last thing I would advise is to communicate.   At the beginning of each year, for the past several years BP and I

5. Have a Yearly Financial Summit

It helps us get on the same page.  During that time, we decide what (or if) we'll be spending our major money on this year.  What projects, what trips, what remodeling or fixes?  Then, the designated money gets sent in that direction.  Where does this money come from?  That depends on your family.  Is there a "bonus" that comes in?  Tax returns?  Bottom line, the 2 spouses have to talk.  It's not a fun topic but with a little work and communication, in the end, you can Make you More Money - together!

Here's the bonus round:  if all of the above is happening and you had those expensive kids we talked about earlier?  Guess what?  They'll learn all this by osmosis.  Of course, you have to help the process a bit.  Here's what we did with our little girl at age 6… maybe 6 and a half.  We started holding her accountable too.  All that chore money and some family gifts coming in… she needed to budget. And not just through that bank account she has but knows almost nothing about.  That's just far too removed.  She needed something she could physically see and touch.  Like this.

One mason jar for College, one for Savings and one for Spending.  Kind of like Mom and Dad.  Every time she gets money she puts it where she wants.  But if she puts money in the College jar - we match it.  Oddly, from the beginning she started putting most of her money in that one.  How did hat happen?  I have no idea but one would guess - common sense?  Now don't get carried away, she puts money in her Spending jar and she buys herself a little something now and again… but she's learning the concept of money just how I hoped… naturally.  I always say

 Kids go where you go - not where you point.  

I think this plan has her heading in just the right direction.  Now if I could just get my son to stop losing his money.  I have NO IDEA where he got that from?!

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Super Bowl: Best Party Dip Ever!

The Headlines:

It's Super Bowl.

You need a good dip to serve the masses.

Everyone loves this one!

The time has come.  The most exciting moment of the year.  For all of our husbands at least.  Okay, that's sexist.  Yea, I'm the wife who always loves a good Super Bowl for the yummy dips and occasional memorable commercial.  Not a huge fan of all the tackling and hits.  Just sort of hurts my eyes to watch.  But nevertheless, I will watch, like the rest of the world!

But let's face it - we could all use a fabulous dip for the day.  If you're staying at home or heading to a party - you need to make this.  It's the Best Spinach & Artichoke dip ever!

Clearly, not a new concept… no clever surprise or twist here.  Just an oldie but goodie.  But better than those other oldies.  And not store bought.  This is so easy it will make you never want to buy store bought again!  It's better tasting and way cheaper.

Here's what you need:
1 cup low fat mayo (or full fat - that's what I used)
1 cup shredded parmesan cheese
1 9 oz pkg frozen spinach
1 can quartered artichokes
1 tblspn (plus) minced garlic

Here's what you do:
Ready?  Because it's like 2 steps.  Drain spinach and artichokes and chop as finely as you can.  Mix all ingredients together and spread in your chosen baking pan/dish.  Bake at 350 for 30-35 minutes or until it has a golden brown bubbly look to its top.  Tah daaaaaaah!!

It comes out of the oven like this and people will be waiting with bated breath to dive right in.  Let them… and then be prepared to make another one, just in case.

Use pita chips, bread or even carrots to complete this puppy.  It's so good no one will care about the game going on.  Seriously.  Because we already know the Panthers are going to wipe the floor with Bucking Bronco Dung. Wait... did I just say that?  

Since I did... read why I think they already won the game HERE!

Now, pass the dip please. 

Monday, January 19, 2015

Why Looks Matter When the Honeymoon is Over!

The Headlines:

The "Marriage Matter" is is a pet peeve I've had for a very long time.

Is love blind?

Heck no!

I get it - it has been a a very long 20 or 30 something years.  You have kept your appearance since the first time you realized you wanted to be found by your very own Knight in Shining Armor.  You worked hard to maintain those looks by the right shoes, clothes, the right purses not to mention the most fabulous hair and make-up.  But now you've tied the knot and you're letting your hair down.

Or rather, cutting it.  But why?  Is that, potentially, the opposite of what you should do?

This is a topic I have long thought of… I have no idea when it occurred to me, maybe it was at my first high school reunion, maybe it was just through the course of life as I would watch people get married and change.  Now, to be fair, every marriage will change you.  It should.  Significantly.  Sometimes for the better but other times for the worse.  However, this is not what I'm talking about.  I'm talking strictly looks here.

No, I won't be winning any Pullitzer's for this puppy, this is a post which some could classify as purely shallow though others may contend the Marriage Matter - matters more.  Which at its core is simply this:  what matters in marriage is what you see on the inside AND (dare I say it?) on the outside.

It came up as I was answering some questions last week for a fellow blogger friend of mine.  Kristen Hewitt did a piece on "Why We (Intelligent people) Watch The Bachelor…"  you know the Monday night series on ABC?  I'm not afraid to admit I watch the show - BP (the husband) won't go near it but my brother -in- law does!  Sorry bro.  Anyways, you can read the fun and light hearted piece, in which she quotes me several times, by clicking here.   I've watched it religiously since it first began years ago.  And I haven't stopped tuning in.   Anyways, she asked me if it bothered me that all the women are a size 0.  My short answer was "no, they're trying to put their best foot forward.  What bothers me more are the women who get hitched, cut their hair and put on some pounds because they're no longer on the prowl."  And a blog post was born.

So why do women (and men to be fair)… do that?  Everyone agrees,  you have to put the best version of yourself to nab "your person."  But what happens after?  The wedding may be over but the party isn't.  The beautiful bride doesn't need to hide.  So why does she?  Now, let me say there are some serious and very real reasons that something like that can happen (death, illness, addiction) - all of which I am not addressing here.  This is for the other people.  You know who you are.  So, here's a light hearted look at 3 reasons a woman (or perhaps a man) changes her look and the counter effect that goes with it.

You Have Your Man

It's been my experience that you look at a bride on her wedding day - gorgeous and stunning - and  sometimes (NOT ALWAYS) you can almost bet on the fact that's as good as it's gonna get.  But it shouldn't be.  Yes, she radiates on her Wedding day.  She works out, grows her hair, she (gasp) tans, diets, she is the queen of the ball and she's prepared for her role.  Then she goes home, cuts her hair, stops working out, puts on sun screen (which is actually a good thing), eats pizza and expects her husband not to notice.  Newsflash ladies, he does.  He may not say anything but he's noticing.  You attracted that man with the way you looked then.  You will age, given, and that's okay but I believe you have a responsibility to try to keep what you sold them on that special day.  Otherwise, it's like buying a new car that gets in a severe accident after 6 months.  You turn it in for a new one.

You Are Overwhelmed

With marriage usually comes a lot more responsibility.  Often times, you buy a house, you get a dog or a pet of some kind.  You still have that job and now you have to take into consideration all of those things plus the new person in your life.  It is a lot to juggle.  Going to the grocery store, making dinner for 2, the list of chores never ends, exercise escapes you, money is shared ("how much is that hair salon visit dear?")… a lot is happening and last on the list is watching what you're eating or sometimes taking care - of yourself.  But you need to remain on that list.  If not first, just somewhere.  It is a slippery slope here and if you're not ready for it, it will get away from you fast.  But you have to keep it under control for what could happen next.

Kids Creep In

Many of us get married with the strong intent to have children.  Heck, it's WHY some of us get married!  But surprise to all of you "Mommy in the Makings…"  those little darlings will DRAIN YOU DRY!  While those precious and perfect bundles are the most amazing things in your life - they're also a heck of a lot of work.  Honestly, you gain 30-60 pounds making them, lose only 15 to 20 birthing them, you sleep just a couple of hours each night after they arrive, they take every bit of your once very full bra size, feeding them is non-stop - in short - all of your money, energy and time goes to those tiny specks of glowing light and you now have an even longer list than before.  Some women react like this: get rid of the hair, eat whenever you see food and shop for clothes when the kids turn 18 - years old.  But that's not good for anyone.  Not for your kids, not for that husband of yours and certainly not for you.  When you put yourself last on the list the rest of your family will too.  You are queen of the castle in your little home.  Give yourself that and they will too.   

I believe marriage will change you in certain ways.  All stages do… we grow and learn and evolve… but it shouldn't completely alter the person you were before.  Looks or otherwise.  I'm far from a perfectly beautiful and gorgeous wife and mom... but I do try to be the best version of me possible (which I've discussed here before).  I don't wear yoga clothes 7 days a week.  Though, man, they sure have some cute ones out there these days!  I keep my hair appointments (granted, they're 10 weeks in between), I shop for myself.  And the woman I am on the inside matters.  It matters a lot.  But what matters - arguably - equally (and sadly - sometimes more to some people) is who you remain on the outside.  It says a lot too.  Your spouse did marry you for you.  All of you.  Including that long hair.    Hey we can only keep it so long!  (Almost) Never good to see a 65 year old with long hair.  Just no  bueno.

When I got married I was working as a morning reporter in Phoenix, Arizona and I had 2 photographers that I worked with daily.  I shared my whole "Marriage Matter Theory" with them and they both knew exactly what I was talking about as they had witnessed the same scenario in action too.  Including their own.  And the bottom line, it bummed them out.  They married one woman but she became another.  And these are men remember, very visual and literal people.  There's not a lot of between the line stuff.  They didn't want their wives to become Victoria Secret Models (especially with 2 kids in tow) but they did want them to stay somewhat true to who they were on the day they got married.  But because of the three reasons listed above, their wives did not.  It's a very real situation that Matters in Marriage.  Even though some would argue - love is blind.

Now with all of that said, as I mentioned before, this by no means is across the board.  No question about it, there are many other reasons people stop caring about looks.  Really big, valid and serious reasons that go way beyond this puny little blog post.  This has nothing to do with the people who suffer from mental illness or have health problems, those who have dealt with a death far too early and far too close to them, it's not for the women who are abused or have situations beyond their control in any way.  It's for the rest of us.  The above words are just opinions and experiences I have seen and witnessed in and near my life.  It's not meant to judge - at all.  It's meant as an observation and one that is purely mine.  My goal with this blog post is to make people think about their "Marriage Matter"… if you so choose.  If not,  I would never hold it against you.  In fact, just the opposite: feeling strong, secure and confident in your own "Marriage Matter" means more than anything!

In the end, I guess it's kind of like The Bachelor - if you watch the show, like Kristen Hewitt points out in her article listed above, everyone is tanned, toned and gorgeous.  But do you ever watch the follow up?  Because I do.  And guess what?  Most of those guys and gals don't look like that for long… so maybe The Bachelor is more like real life than we realize... after all? 

P.S. With all of that said, what do you think?  And please don't hate me. Remember all in good fun!

Monday, January 12, 2015

5 steps to Lose Weight This Year

The Headlines:

Losing weight is easy.

If you follow these 5 steps.


This subject is so overdone on blogs, television shows, magazines… especially in January.  So why am I doing it?  I just thought I'd lend my 2 cents to the matter.  Which may be exactly how much it's worth by the way!  Yes, this month is the time to make a fresh start - change things, be better, get healthy,  lose weight.  Sometimes, losing major poundage can take over your life.  It can seem like a daunting task… But does it have to be?  Maybe not.

It's a fact that many people have an unhealthy relationship with food.  They eat when they're bored, eat when they're upset, eat for comfort, eat when they shouldn't.  That means unwanted calories which makes your pants too tight which, in turn, makes you feel unhappy because you don't look good.  It's a viscious cycle - so - get out of it.  Now, I'm no expert but I would say thinning down may be easier than you think.  If you actually start thinking, the right way, about it.

These 5 steps can slim you down and keep the weight off… but you have to do things differently than you have been - period.  Here we go.

When I was in my teens and 20's I would say, while I was a fine weight, I weighed a bit too much.  It really struck me when I was packing for a trip and trying on bathing suits.  My friend (and producer of my morning show at the time) was with me and when I tried on my suit she looked at me, wrinkled her nose and said, "hmmmm… I thought you would look different in a swim suit!"  I was a little ticked but then I kind of agreed too.  I should look better in a suit.  Things kind of changed after that… I was very used to eating breakfast-lunch-dinner everyday and then getting up and doing it all over again but did I need to?  Was I truly hungry that often?  The answer was no.  It was just what I was "supposed" to do.  So rule number 1 is simply:

1. Eat when you're hungry.  Not when you're supposed to

I often forget to eat… because I'm not hungry.  My body will tell me when it's time to eat.  But I can tell you it's not as frequent as most people.  I'm convinced the body just doesn't need that much.  And once you stop eating less, you need less.  The stomach gets smaller and it needs less to feel full.  Sometimes I eat my own dinner and other times I just eat what my kids don't.  They call me the garbage disposal!

2. Don't buy what you shouldn't eat

This one is crazy simple.  Go to the grocery store, buy fruit, veggies, cereal, milk, cheese… whatever you need but skip the chips you can't stop eating… having them in your pantry will only tempt you.  Don't  have them there.  Don't buy pasta and breads, to many carbs, no pay off.  Eat proteins.  Eat greens.  Limit sugar.  Drink water.  See, easy.  Your body will crave what you give it.  Give it carbs and it wants more.  Give it a salad and it wants more.  I absolutely crave salads almost everyday.  But I rarely crave french fries.  So buy what you want to eat and nothing else.  An unexpected positive from this is the money you'll save:  junk food can be incredibly expensive!  And you don't need it.  This next step may be the most important:

3. Walk Your Heinie Off

Literally.  When I was in college and wanted to lose weight before my graduation and trip to Hawaii I started walking.  Every morning.  About an hour.  My butt and legs tightened up like cheeks after a face lift.  I was in business.  Other positives about walking:  it's free.  That's huge.  Nothing in life is free - but walking is!  You can also multi-task when you walk.  I call all my friends.  Great time to keep in touch.  I text, update my to-do list, schedule things in my calendar.  I walk with my 3 year old.  It's even more challenging that way plus it's an activity we do together. He loves it too!  But, for the record, you have to start this early on in their lives (like as babies) or you'll never get them to stay in a stroller for an hour long walk.  

This is us walking in the rain.  Not something we experience too often in the desert! We had so much fun on this day!

So the amount of things I get done while I exercise, besides just exercising, is amazing… rather than "wasting" 2 hours in the gym I feel like I have accomplished much more!  Some of you may say, I live in freezing cold weather and there's no way I can walk right now - I feel ya - because during the Summer, in Arizona, walking is not an option.  Too hot.  But guess what is?  Lifting weights.  Inside.  

4. Lift Freaking Heavy Weights

This does require a gym of some kind which does cost money, sorry, but it's worth it.  I've been doing this for about 15 years now.  I started when I decided I need something more.  I was skinny but with no real definition in the arms especially.  I started doing something called "Super Slow" which requires you do just as the name says:  lift (really heavy) weights… super slow.  You won't hurt yourself and you'll gain muscle faster than other strategies.  It's just 10 seconds up, 10 second down. TRT of only about 3 minutes per weight.  I only go once a week for about 30 minutes, tops.   In, out and on to better things.  There are gyms that do this almost everywhere but if you can't find one… it can be accomplished on your own.  Bottom line, lift weights that are heavy but do it slow and until you "fail"… you will gain muscle which will eat the fat that surrounds it and ultimately get skinnier.  That leads to my last tip…
5. Don't EVER Get on A Scale

Never.  Under any circumstances.  Unless you're at the doctor's office and even then, don't look at the numbers.  Because who cares what you weigh?  The numbers lie.  If you gain muscle weight lifting, which you will, and the scale goes from 150 to 152 you're going to flip out.  But you shouldn't because muscle weighs more than fat and you will look better.  I never get on the scale and just refer to how my clothes fit… if they fit tight then it's time to eat one less slice of pizza or drink one less glass of vino!  Scales are evil.

And that is all.  5 steps to a skinner, healthier you.  For most of you, not all.  I realize there are some who have other issues that may make the 5 steps above not work, i.e.: hormones, thyroid, genes… these are all very valid and possible situations.  And they should be considered too.  But for the rest of us I truly believe losing weight, staying healthy, being "skinny" could be a lot easier than most think.  As long as we change the way we THINK about it.

Now get out there… and start walking!  


Wednesday, January 7, 2015

My Best (and Better) Posts of 2014

The Headlines:

These are the best posts of my first full year of blogging.

So says the readers (most popular).

And then these are the better posts… that not many of you read.

So says me (most underrated). 

I'm a little behind on this - I know all the tv stations and websites do the "Year in Review" stuff like last week but I've been busy… cleaning up all the cheer and relaxing.  Yep, I decided to do that after Christmas.  It was nice.  And rare.  But nice.

BP (the husband) even took a day off yesterday.  Seriously.  He has one of those jobs that says you can take AS MANY days of as you want.  There's no limit - not 2 weeks, 4 weeks, 6 weeks… it's just "take whatever you want..." but the flip side of that, I'm sure, is that if business isn't good - guess whose to blame?  Yep, the guy who took 8 weeks off!  So, he'll end up taking hardly any time, I guarantee it.  I'm not complaining he has a fabulous job.  Plus he's a hard worker and I love him for that… so for all of us... enough relaxing - back to work!  Fasten your seat belts, the topic at hand today…

One Picky Chick's 5 most read posts of 2014

The first one, by far, is the post that got the most numbers.  Ready for it?  It was about 
The Best (store bought) Caesar Salad Dressing   
To read it click HERE  … it got almost 2,000 hits.  Which is a lot for me since I only have about 10 loyal readers - whom I appreciate very much by the way!  Unfortunately, I'm sure it has nothing to do with my amazingly witty and insightful writing and a lot more to do with the key words "Best" and "Caesar Dressing"  so says all the SEO people.  I'm not sure how that works - I really need to ask my friend whose husband is in the SEO biz!

The next most read:
Picket Fence Headboard

Which is a post of exactly that… the headboard I found for my daughter's room which everyone loves when they check out her "shabby chic" style.  I love it too and of course it was like $12.  Find it and closer pictures HERE.

The next Most Popular post, by the numbers, is this:
Best Crockpot recipe Ever
seeing a pattern here?  I think I just might start naming all of my posts (Fill in the Blank) - Best Ever!  Anyways, it really is an easy and incredibly yummy rib crockpot recipe and you can find it here: HERE.

That's followed by the story of my Dad almost dying from a brain aneurysm called
Third Life's A Charm

It happened during the summer and it was a devastating event that he is still suffering from slightly.  Since the near death experience and excellent recovery initially, he has gone downhill a bit and doctors think he may have "water on the brain" (which is a very un-technical term) but because of that he is slowing down and they may end up putting a shunt into his neck to drain the water into another part of his body.  The hope is it will help him live more fully.  Bottom line and your take away is if you'd like to read a story which will remind you why everyday life is so very precious click HERE.

And Finally, the fifth most read of my year is the blog which I titled
Potty Talk

which is, not surprisingly, about installing the "his" and "her" potties in our master bedroom.  He got the urinal.  I don't regret it - though some of you think I should - I happen to think it's awesome!  See it HERE.

Got that out of the way, now… I'm listing the posts which I think are the most underrated and under read.  These are the posts which I love, personally, and I think if someone takes a moment - they may get something great out of it too.  (If I do say so myself) Maybe pick just one and click on it!  

One Picky Chick's 5 Most Underrated Posts of 2014

The First 2 mean a lot to the Mommy in me.  I wrote
Super Sick Mom 

early last year… when this family was really - crazy how this works - sick.  One cold after another, it was brutal and it reminded me of my working days, just a few years ago, as a television reporter here in the Phoenix market.  I was a working mom who was going down - tired, impatient, too busy and sick of being sick.  It was part of what eventually led to me giving up the morning news program I was on for so many years and the television career I had worked towards all of my life.  But I was now apart of something bigger than just me.  A decision I will never regret… I left my job in television news.  You can read the full story HERE...  which leads me to the next one you should click on… it's about while I quit my job FOR them (my children)… I didn't quit BEING me.  That's something many Moms wrestle with because
Kids are Parasites
and they are you know.  This post explains why we need to be selfless while not forgetting about our self.  It's so very easy to do when you have kids.  Click HERE to check it out.

Okay next… this is, by far, one of my favorite recipes for kids and adults both.
Egg Lasagna
It's healthy, DELICIOUS and so easy to make.  I stress here ALL THE TIME that I'm not a chef so if I make something and rave about it… you know it's good and easy.  That's a promise.  Make this and your family and friends will Loooooove you!  Check it out HERE

Alright… friends, family and people I feel are my friends though I've never met you: I can NOT believe more people haven't clicked on this:
A Window Screen transformed into a Frame

By the description above… my Father in Law would say "and you don't know why people haven't clicked?" He's not really into the re-purposed stuff.  I am - sometimes.  Don't get me wrong, I like it to a point but my house need not look like a thrift store.  Here's the thing:  I don't like things to look too cookie cutter and I do like things that make people do a double take.  This does that.  Most people are kind of amazed by it.  Frankly, so am I.  It's one of my favorite things in this house of mine.  Check out how I did it HERE

Almost finally, I really love this post about the
Best Children's Book of all time!

"Pete The Cat and his 4 Groovy Buttons" has become one of my go-to books/gifts for kid birthday parties as I love the meaning, the fun and the educational value to it.  It's good for ages, I would say, 3 to 103.  Huh?  Yep, good for us older kids too.  Find out why when you read more and even hear us (my kids and I) recite the whole book!  It (meaning the video - not the post) actually has a few hits now.  Around 700 I think.  See and read about it HERE… I think it's worth your time.  

But so, my friends, is this last one… that is if you're in the mood to reflect on the one whom you love.  Or the one you want to love.  It's called
The Right One  

and yes I know that technically puts me at a total of 6 underrated posts (when I said there were 5) but I checked with the Editor of this blog and she said it was okay to add one more... as long as readers didn't complain.  So read it HERE and I'm pretty sure she won't fire me.  Well… naaaah. 

That sums it up… thank you thank you thank you so much for reading, checking, clicking, looking at this blog whenever and if ever you do.  It means the world because it's no longer me talking to the Owner of a Football team, the Mayor of a City, the famous movie actor or the athletic "legend…"  it's just me, Nicole McGregor, talking about topics that I hope you love to read as much as I love to write.    

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Remembering 2014

The Headlines:

The end of the year is here.

The start of something new is now.

Why is it so hard for some of us to let go of the past? 

It's about this time of year that I get very nostalgic for… everything around me.  Yes, I am often nostalgic... actually weepy, introspective, maybe even a little insane - but it gets worse today.  I usually mourn the end of anything as I simultaneously celebrate the beginning of something.  I know that an old chapter is over and it just makes me miss it even though I am aware that a new chapter, perhaps an even better one, lies ahead.

I have always been one to look backward with fondness and forward with anticipation.  I remember the good and not the bad.  Some would say that's called self preservation… others may say my outlook is one of  "glass half full" rather than "glass half empty."  I say it's a gift.  Here's why:

When I was in high school, I had lots of good things happen to me.  Overall, I would say I had an above average high school experience but it wasn't perfect.  Nothing is. Years later when I was in college or working - I would have conversations with my Mom where she would randomly mention something to me regarding --- fill in the blank.  It usually would be a story about some person who did something mean and wrong to me yet I would have no recollection of it.  My Mom would go into detail about whatever the circumstances were and I could, only then, vaguely remember something about what happened.  It was odd to me and throughout the years it kept happening.  My Mom would remember everything and I would recall almost nothing.  At least none of the bad stuff.

But that's the way she operates.  Letting go of the past, especially the bad parts, is not easy for her.  She holds on to them way too tightly.  I can't imagine what good can come of it.  At least it's not obvious to me.  Of course, learning from mistakes and bad experiences is what makes us better.  But dwelling there can destroy us.

To this day, my Mom talks about how my Dad or her Mom did something awful to her, and it was so terrible, she's a changed person because of it.  Don't get me wrong, the things she remembers are not good but they're also not as bad as some behavior.  They're certainly not punishable by law.  They clearly affected her then but I believe to this day, she's letting them affect her now.  And her Mom isn't even alive anymore.  It's a tough way to live.

For me, forgetting the bad isn't a conscious decision but it does help my outlook remain positive… in short, it works.  I am introspective but not overly sensitive, I smile more than I frown, I feel at peace amidst some turmoil and anger is always fleeting.  It's a comfortable, though not ignorant, place to be.

So while I will remember 2014… the pain that came with some of the days will probably escape me.  It was a busy, sometimes scary and always lively year.  I almost lost my father to a brain aneurysm, we did some remodeling in our house that made us feel like hoarders for a good month plus, BP (my husband) seemed to be gone every other week (traveling for work - and play - let's be honest here), my son drove me to the brink of almost no return once or twice (of course specifics are hard to come by), I discovered I was unnecessarily drugging my child (more on that coming in a blog post soon), we only went to the ER once, broke down twice (or was that 3 times - forgot!), I met and made new friends and sadly became further removed from some old ones... my daughter embarked on a competition dance team, we laughed so hard we peed our pants AND threw up, I cried so hard I couldn't eat, we gained weight and lost weight… we yelled and apologized… yes, I remember this: it was quite a year.

So to you I say this:  let go of the past, of 2014, remember the good days and learn from the bad. Look forward, not backward and enjoy as many moments as you possibly can.  It is a much better place to be.  Now here's to the year that lies ahead… may we all be blessed with remembering more days than those we should forget.

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