Friday, January 29, 2016

If I only had a bigger cup...

HAPPY FRIDAY, Y'ALL! I figure since I'm already late getting this post out to you guys today you at least deserve my biggest possible Alabama welcome.  BTW - "y'all" is pronounced with at least 3 syllables or you're just not doing it right.

I do apologize for being late, but I'm going to blame the fact that I decided to "save time" and skip coffee this morning. I ended up behind schedule and yawning on everything I did all because my caffeine tank was about a quart low.

So in honor of the one thing that could have gotten me in back in high gear this morning, I've written you guys a little poem. Enjoy your weekends and don't do anything I wouldn't do!

Coffee, coffee, how I love thee,
Let me count the ways.

You start my mornings ever brightly
Despite the dismal days.

You give me strength to speak and smile
When I’d rather run away.

You turn monsters into people
In a cup or three a day

You fend off Armageddon
And keep it safe at bay.

But I thank you most of all
For the near impossible way

You help me cope with the masses
Whom otherwise I might flay.

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Scheduling the Crisis


Wouldn't it be great if we could schedule all of our crises? Every January we could be given a calendar of all the times Murphy plans to stop by our lives and muck it all up. 

Then we'd know...and (maybe) have a plan ready. 

Murphy spent the entire holiday season with me. He showed up right around Thanksgiving with a death in the family. Then my mother ended up in a hospital in Indiana with a blood thinner overdose that left her weak...which caused her to fall and get injured before Christmas...and to top it off, Murphy dragged in a stomach flu that had me enjoying my post holiday bliss from the bathroom. 

Good times. my grandma used to say...if I'd known he was coming, I'd have baked a cake. A double chocolate one. And I'd have saved the whole damn thing for late night insomnia binges. 

Proper preparations could help us minimize the crises!!! 

Or maybe we'd just spend too much time worrying about what's to come and not appreciate the good times. 

And there are plenty of good times. Once Murphy packs up and moves on, we can enjoy the peace a quiet life can bring. 

*This has been a quick post by Elizabeth from my phone because Murphy decided to visit Tammy this morning. 😆😍


Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Just Breathe!

On Monday I talked briefly about how much we need to slow down and take that moment to smell the Christmas trees. I know what you're thinking - you're lucky you even had time to stop and read a blog post, and isn't that taking time for yourself anyway? Well, much as we love our dear readers, it's only a start. Today I'm going to go a little farther and talk about how we actually do that.

"Me time" - it's that concept most of us automatically envision involving a bubble bath, candles, and some serious pampering time. But in reality, we often end up congratulating ourselves for even having time to even bathe regularly, let alone in a proper lounging manner with suds and champagne. Finding ways to dismiss the world and its stresses for even 10 minutes at a time and reconnect with yourself can make the difference between being on top of things and feeling overwhelmed. Here are some of my favorite ways to do just that.

  • Breathing exercises - Oxygen is going to be your new best friend. Deep breathing helps deliver more oxygen to your brain to help you think more clearly, and it also stimulates the pituitary gland to send out neurohormones whose sole purpose is to make you feel better. Really, they inhibit stress-releasing hormones and trigger a relaxation response, but it makes me happier to think of them as tiny bartenders running around giving stressful me teeny glasses of wine every time I need it. Try some of these breathing exercises, or hit the Googles for more that might fit you better.
  • Advice Time - Sometimes more of our stress comes not from making decisions, but in enacting them. That's why just talking through our issues with a friend is often the best therapy, even if your friend's advice is frequently exactly what you already know you should do. But for those worries and concerns you don't feel able to share (we all have our secret burdens), try role reversal. Imagine your friend is dealing with the same situation and write down the advice and solution you would give in that case. You'll find it easier to be objective and frank, and it will be easier to proceed with what you know is the right choice.
  • Journaling - Not terribly different from Advice Time, but far less specific. Just take a short break every night, even for 10 minutes, and let your thoughts about the day flow freely. You might just surprise yourself when your subconscious starts piping up with associations and feelings you ignored in your haste through the day.
What kinds of stress-breakers do you use to help relax?

Monday, January 25, 2016

Stop and Smell the Christmas Trees!

My task list during the holiday season is much like anyone else - insane, and likely impossible to complete without breaking the space-time continuum. Somehow, though, I muddled through as always and ran smack into the post-holiday blahs during which I go into anxiety mode about plans and projects for the new year and then start to ignore my usual task list (which I'm pretty sure has acquired sentience and been adding it's own items just to see if I notice).

I guess it shouldn't have been any huge surprise when I came home this weekend in my typical tunnel vision haze. It was, however, for my poor dear husband who'd had Friday off work and was waiting for me to notice what any normal non-writer crazy lady should have noticed. He finally broke down Saturday night and asked:

Hubs: "Did you notice ANYTHING different about the living room?"
Me *popping my head out of my Snuggie reading fort*: "Huh?"
Hubs: "Um, the Christmas tree?"

That's when it hit me. Our Christmas tree, wreath, stockings... all of it was gone and neatly put away. Our teeny living room - which had just been over-crowded with Christmas decor - was suddenly half empty and I hadn't even noticed. I'd let myself get so focused on projects to get us through 2017 that I just completely stopped paying any attention to anything around me, and consequently overlooked a tremendously nice thing my husband had taken care of for me. (Yes, I'm a terrible wife!)

So my advice for this Monday morning is this:

No matter how much we think we have to prepare for tomorrow, we still need to stop and smell the Christmas trees before they're gone.

P.S. - This is not advocating anyone to come and rob me because you think I won't notice anything missing. Because I totally will. Eventually. Maybe. 

Friday, January 22, 2016

Good Habits - 21 Days to make or break, the #Truth

Some people like to start the new year with a new attitude - to be healthier or have a better outlook on life... But no matter when you choose to make a significant change, it's a tough thing to do!

We've heard this statement before that it takes 21 days to make a habit. So if you do a good thing (like exercise or drink water with your dinner) for 21 days in a row, it will become a habit. Easy, right? Well, it will become part of your routine. And if you feel better because of it, hopefully you'll stick with it and it will become part of your lifestyle.

The problem is, it doesn't work so well for breaking a habit. Trying NOT to do something for 21 days is not the same thing. It's much harder. It takes much more will power. AND even after staying away from a bad habit for years, one slip can cause it to return, very similar to an addiction.

So here I offer some helpful ways to break a bad habit:

  • Pick one bad habit and concentrate on it.
  • Be specific, have a plan, and write it down.
  • Replace the bad behavior with a good one, especially when a craving to be bad strikes.
  • Check in with yourself - have checkpoints or goal measurements, or even a chart just to check off that you did good today.
  • Reward yourself with something special (NOT a cheat day to do your bad habit just this once - it defeats the purpose!)
  • Don't be too hard on yourself if you do slip up - it happens, just keep trying!

Now I need to pick one for myself to work on... so many to choose from!

Have a great weekend, everyone!

(Research source: How Stuff Works)

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Good Habits - #Tips for Taking care of your pearly whites

An apple a day... helps clean your teeth!

Here are some do's and don't's for keeping your mouth clean and happy and your dentist at arm's length...

WEBMD says DON'T use your teeth for:
  • Pliers
  • Coat hangers
  • Ice crushers
  • Potato chip bag openers
  • Knot looseners
  • Fork tine straighteners
  • Chomping frozen candy bars full of caramel or frozen nuts
Here's the healthy, white teeth diet (from Reader's Digest)

DON'T: drink red wine, colas, dark juices, and black tea (probably coffee too, because bottom line - if it's dark before you put it in your mouth, it will probably stain your teeth.)
DON'T: smoke (duh!)
DO: brush immediately after eating or drinking foods that stain teeth
DO: eat an apple! it's a natural "detergent" food, as well as raw carrots, celery, and popcorn
DO: get a new toothbrush every 2-3 months

More healthy teeth tips:
  • Brush gently and at a 45 degree angle - teeth have no feeling, you're hurting your gums and making them recede when you brush too roughly.
  • Floss!
  • Use sugar-free mints and alcohol-free mouthwash 
  • Brush teeth first thing in morning and last thing at night
And on the beauty side, darker lipstick makes teeth look whiter.

Do you have any toothy grin-worthy habits to share? Spit em out!

Monday, January 18, 2016

Good Habits - Keeping track of the Yearlies

A new year means new beginnings for some. It also means we have to repeat the yearlies...

There's the yearly bills - Home Owner's dues, property taxes, income taxes, dog tags, license plates...

There's the yearly events and holidays - birthdays, anniversaries, sports seasons, fundraisers (yay Girl Scout Cookies! and my book events!)

There's the yearly maintenances - oil changes, carpet cleaning, spring cleaning, gardening/landscaping/pruning, etc

There's the yearly doctor visits - prodding, poking, squishing, rinsing-and-spitting, blinding, etc

I look forward to some of these yearlies (I like to purge and donate) and dread others (Didn't I just go to the doctor?). Each year my memory gets worse, so I keep track of my yearly events on my calendar. Bdays are easy and help me remember to get my boys' physicals for their sports. The doctors usually keep me in line with their reminders, but not always so looking back at my calendar helps (I think I'm due for a dental cleaning, ugh). I also have a budget so I know what's coming, but I have a bad habit of ignoring the big "surprises" until I get the invoice in the mail, not to mention, they always go up!

What yearlies do you like/dislike? How do you keep track?
Happy Muster-it-up for Monday!

Friday, January 15, 2016

Easy Buffalo Chicken Dip

Over the Christmas break, my son requested buffalo chicken dip. I called a friend who sent me a recipe that honestly, had far too many steps.

Being the lazy cook that I am, I whittled that bad boy down to 3 ingredients.

No one guessed I hadn't started from scratch. That's a busy housewife win.

The trick is using the already prepared and bottled wing sauce. Hey, Sweet Baby Ray worked hard to master the recipe...why should I try to compete with him, or her?

This dip is excellent on tortillas, corn chips, or toasted baguette slices.

I used fat free cream cheese, so I could dip full fat chips with half the guilt. It was still creamy and delicious. I left out the ranch dressing because 2 out of my 4 boys hate ranch, and the other 2 out of 4 can add it themselves.

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Fitbit Tip

As a writer, I spend a lot of time in a chair. Seriously, hours can pass without any movement.

That's an aweseome way to get books written, but it's also an awesome way to develop a broad butt and a heart attack.

To prod myself into movement, I got a Fitbit for Christmas.

Today's post was going to be about using the Fitbit to help shed holiday pounds, but yesterday, my Fitbit died. Less than a few weeks old, it wouldn't hold a charge at all. I tried the reset and several different chargers.

I called customer support and James, the tech, tried to help me jump start my fitness helper, but nothing worked.

He asked me if I was using a block wall charger. I said I had. He said that was my problem. Some of the chargers aren't UL approved and can surge, frying the tiny little battery inside the tracker.

He kindly told me the optimal way to charge the Fitbit is hooked up to the computer.

If I want to use a wall charger, look for this icon:

Avoid the cheap knock offs without the UL code. They might fry small electronics.

Now, I have a new Fitbit on its way, and I will take much better care of it and maybe become a bit fitter Liz.

Monday, January 11, 2016

Post Holiday Ideas

Of course you know now is the time to purchase the holiday wrapping paper, Christmas cards, paper ware, and decorations. I mean that's Really Real Cheap Housewife basics. I haven't paid full price for Christmas paraphernalia for over twenty years. I buy it now and pack it away with my holiday decorations.

So, that's the no-brainer holiday tip.

Here's another tip...

I love Christmas greeting cards. The old school, snail-mail card delivered by the US postal service. Maybe I'm old fashioned, but the cards just add a personal touch to the season.

The problem is, what do you do with them after the holidays are over? Tossing them seems like such a waste. Here are a few ideas:

Christmas Crafts The pictures on cards are durable and easy to use on anything from collages to decoupage- which is just a fancy glue that can be used to attach art to anything from wood to ornaments.

Christmas card boxes  Glue the the card fronts and sentiments on an old shoe box, seal with decoupage glue,  and viola- you have a decorative box for next year's gift giving or storage. Cookies in zip lock bags and placed in boxes actually stack better than cookie tins.

Christmas tags Another very simple use of the old cards is to recycle them into tags for the next season. It's as easy as cutting out and taping.

Christmas Count Down Cutting out the pretty pictures on a card and using them to tape to a count down calendar to mark the days left is a fun way for kids to strike off the days until Santa arrives.

Now, what to do with those holiday photos that come inside the cards?

I keep a special photo album just for holiday pictures. I've been doing it for years, so it's fun to look back on all the memories.

Warmest greetings from Frosty and fam!

Friday, January 8, 2016

Identify the Body Part game


Thanks again to Liz, Tara and Ashley for having me here this week! I’m not used to guest posting on a Really Real Housewives blog, so I’ve been a little outside my comfort zone, but I’ve enjoyed myself, and speaking of fun, here’s a quick story for this Free-for-all Friday.

I was recently hanging with my youngest boy, (he just turned 4 last week) and he was busy playing the “identify the body part” game as we relaxed on a chair. (He’d touch my ears or eyes, say the name and move on to the next item…)

All was well until he rubbed my “Dad bod” belly. He turned to look up at me and I could see he was a bit worried.
“What’s up, buddy?”
“Papa?” (Belly rubbing continues...)
“Yes, son?”
“Papa, are you going to have your baby soon?”
And, to make matters even funnier, he stares at me for a second and then adds, “Papa, why do you have so many hairs up in your nose?”
Out of the mouths of babes….

Mark Koopmans was born and raised in Dublin, Ireland. In 1989, he spent the next several years working in Holland, Spain, France and England. In 1994, he won his U.S. "Green Card," and is an American by choice since 2003. Koopmans began his writing career that same year with a feature for a regional magazine in California. Since then, he's worked as a staff writer for newspapers in Florida and Texas. Koopmans is also a proficient blogger and is working on his next book. He lives in Virginia, and is "Papa" to three active boys under the age of nine. He writes at night.

A BIG ROUND of THANKS to Mark for starting our year off right! With great tips and laughter!

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

The Annual Commitment


It’s Wellness Wednesday, and thanks again to Ashley, Liz and Tara for letting me stop by this week.

With it being the New Year, I know a lot of readers have made, like me, the annual commitment to work out more and eat less.

As part of a recent life change, I started working out, and after two months of sweat, torture and binge watching daily episodes of HGTV’s Love It or List It on a 6-inch screen stuck to the elliptic machine, I’m happy to see my beer keg of a stomach is slowly returning to its former glory as a six-pack wannabe.

(Gotta say that the best thing of going to the gym isn’t the physical changes, because honestly, I’m not eating healthier… I mean come on people, I just worked out for like 14 and-a-half minutes… I need a beer!)

It’s the mental changes that I’m appreciating. I’m feeling so much better about myself, which translates into feeling better about my talents, so for that reason alone, working out means writing more.
Plus, haven’t you heard that chicks everywhere are digging the new “dad bod,” phenomenon!

Here’s to a happy, healthy 2016.


Mark Koopmans was born and raised in Dublin, Ireland. In 1989, he spent the next several years working in Holland, Spain, France and England. In 1994, he won his U.S. "Green Card," and is an American by choice since 2003. Koopmans began his writing career that same year with a feature for a regional magazine in California. Since then, he's worked as a staff writer for newspapers in Florida and Texas. Koopmans is also a proficient blogger and is working on his next book. He lives in Virginia, and is "Papa" to three active boys under the age of nine. He writes at night.

Monday, January 4, 2016

#Tips for Managing Monday

You all are in for a real treat as we kick off 2016 with a GUEST POST from our favorite HouseHUSBAND! MARK KOOPMANS! He's an international man of mystery - and we snagged him in between his travels. Take it away, Mark!


Thanks to Tara, Liz and Ashley for guest posting this week with the Really Real Housewives. (Hey, after me, this blog can only go upwards and onwards for 2016.)

I was a stay-at-home dad for eight years and while things have changed, Mondays were always the most challenging day of the week. Here’s some tips that worked for me, especially when I had three kids out of school:
  • Field Trip Day: Once the boys were playing at the playground, I used the time to make plans for the rest of the week (and avoid stares from other moms who wondered who this male interloper was!)
  • Grocery Shopping: A necessary evil that often turned into, “An extra field trip, kids!” especially when I had to save time.
  • Monday Movie Nights: With the boys staying up later, the threat of pulling Movie nights were a wonderful deterrent to earlier-in-the-day bad behavior.
Mainly though, I used Mondays to prepare for the new week, and here’s one more vitally important thing: Flexibility. This is much needed after discovering the just-cleaned living room is now the new, slimy base of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. (Without flexibility, rolling into the fetal position for a quick sob can be very bad for the back.)

Mark Koopmans was born and raised in Dublin, Ireland. In 1989, he spent the next several years working in Holland, Spain, France and England. In 1994, he won his U.S. "Green Card," and is an American by choice since 2003. Koopmans began his writing career that same year with a feature for a regional magazine in California. Since then, he's worked as a staff writer for newspapers in Florida and Texas. Koopmans is also a proficient blogger and is working on his next book. He lives in Virginia, and is "Papa" to three active boys under the age of nine. He writes at night.
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