Archive for the ‘ Time Savers ’ Category

What was I thinking?

foldersI’ve been on a bit of a purge lately as we move from one season to another. The area that I’m slowly wading though are the crazy amount of folders that have pages and pages of articles that I deemed so important that I ripped out (one dates back to 2004) and filed. Yesterday I managed to clear out the entire HOME folder. You know the one – dream rooms, decorating ideas, possible purchases and I’m cracking up at what I’ve found.

Apparently I was very into vintage fruit signs, curtains, water filtration systems, energy saving tips, video cameras strawberries& composting. I probably haven’t looked into this folder in over 5 years but I’ll catch you up. We moved into a new house last year and there are definitely no vintage fruit signs anywhere and they only curtains are in the guest room. (My mom most frequently stays there and she bought them herself). We drink water out of the faucet, definitely don’t follow energy saving guidelines (which we should) and the only videos I ever take are on my phone and of course they stay there as I forget to download them. The only thing we managed to start is composting and that’s simply because my son got into it and stays on top of it.

It’s interesting to me how quickly I’ve come to rely on the convenience and accessibility of evernote to organize what used to be my chaos of ripped out pages. If you’ve never used it before, I recommend checking it out. I’m able to keep track of all my varied interests and it doesn’t make me feel insecure like pinterest. Now onto my ‘GIFT IDEAS’ folder. That should be a hoot.

At Least I’m Reading

With 13 days left until the official Chinese New Year starts, here’s where I am with my preparations and resolutions. Once everything kicks in, I’ll update with much more detailed info.

Cooking More – I’ve tried 3 new recipes over the last week and 2 are keepers. Also, I’m getting better at remembering to thaw out my ‘make-ahead’ meals that I do on a semi-monthly basis at Time for Dinner.

Eat More Paleo / Blood Type O – Not so good. Having a difficult time at breakfast and damn those chips & salsa.

Get up earlier – I’m reading Laura Vanderkam’s What the Most Successful People Do Before Breakfast (ebook) and it’s a strong, persuasive argument for not hitting snooze. I also joined the Hello Mornings Challenge that started today and maybe tomorrow I’ll actually get up early for it.

Find an exercise to do 3/week – I carved out the time that I could go exercise, but so far haven’t made it out the door.

Read 43 books – 10 books so far. Okay I cheated and started counting on January 1 AND I read really fast AND I LOVE books. Next post, I’ll give my favorites from 2012.

Watch 15 Independent Films – 1 so far. I may have to partner this with spending quality time with husband as that’s harder to plan that I realized.

For the remaining ones, I’ve done zip, nada, nothing but that’s what so ingenious about this plan. When most people are already falling off the wagon with their resolutions, I’m just getting started! Anyone else with me?

 

What’s your time worth?

In one single encounter the other day, I believe that I made a choice that would make my mother & Laura Vanderkam proud, while simultaneously embarrassing my children (always a bonus). We were in the midst of another week where we all seemed to be running, coming & going. Recently I went back to work full time after 3 years of part-time work and we are all still adjusting.

While driving my daughter to soccer practice, I noticed a lawn care truck in front of a neighbor’s house. A seemingly nice man was putting away his mower when I shamelessly accosted him and asked if he had any time to cut our grass. Typically this falls into ‘husband’ category, not that this Kentucky girl hadn’t handled a SNAPPER mower on my childhood farm for MANY years, but said husband had been dealing with his own crazy work stuff and getting home late and exhausted. Lawn care is certainly not in our budget, but at this moment when our grass had gotten to an almost embarrassing level, I decided that I could shave some money from one budget line or work a few additional hours JUST TO GET IT DONE.

My kids says that in the heat of the moment that I told Ron Busken (Busken Lawn Care) that I loved him when he agreed to the task (I’m denying it) and off we sped to soccer. Read the rest of this entry

Disney Tips (prior) to Trip

We just got back from an amazing (and possibly only) Disney trip so I made sure that we “did it all”. While I’m a big fan of those teary eyed SURPRISE Disney commercials, we told our kids (Cullen 12 ½, Sadie 7 ) as I wanted their input. I didn’t want this post to be 10 pages long so this first part (of 2, or 3…) will be what helped me before we walked out the door.

  • We used the (no annual fee) Chase Disney credit card so most of our trip was FREE. Room, dining plan, park passes were all covered by points that we had accrued over the last 4 ½ years.  We went through AAA to get even better deals than I found online and saved out of our monthly budget to cover our flights.
  • We chose to take kids out of school for a few days and go at an unpopular time of year. I’m not good with heat or crowds so mid-January worked perfectly well for us. There were a few rides closed for repairs or refurbishments but nothing major.
  • I’d read that pin trading was big at the parks so I went online prior to the trip and bought / bid on $1 Disney lanyards plus one ‘lot’ of 26 Disney pins ($25)  so the kids had pins to trade with cast members (employees) from the minute they walked into the parks. In the parks, this would have sent me back well over $150 and they kids really got into it. Instead of asking for things when we went into shops, they were finding employees to trade with.
  • Going online and getting a few ‘gently loved’ goodies before the trip (my son loves Stitch and my daughter Tinkerbell) can save you tons in the long run on t-shirts, backpacks, ears (got these new & personalized for 50% off-free shipping by watching Disney.com/ store), etc. A family member gave each child a $25 Disney gift card for Christmas so we were actually able to get out of the parks with out spending anything ourselves. I did a countdown of “The 12 Days of Disney” before we left and each child got a pin every morning and then I surprised them with a t-shirt and backpack on the day we left.
  • I’d recommend two web sites (if you want to pay) to join for an incredible amount of information on all things Disney – tourguidemike.com or touringplans.com. They each have different positives depending on your needs but I’d suggest at least one as it helps to guide you to the least crowded parks on which days, sample touring plans, reviews on everything and more tips and hints than you would ever need.
  • When they say make your dining reservations 180 days in advance, they aren’t kidding even in ‘low crowd’ times and especially if you want to do something special like a character meal or signature dining. You can reserve online or over the phone. There are various dining plans but we chose the Deluxe Dining Plan because of some of the specialty meals we reserved and we also wanted to sit down and eat 2/day and not be elbowing our way through counter service restaurants for chicken nuggets. While this added cost would have been over what points we had accrued, Disney offered a special for a FREE basic dining plan during January which our travel agent caught & that saved us close to $500 which put us back into our allotted points.
  • We chose to stay onsite at The Contemporary Hotel (my favorite from childhood) which allowed us to walk to The Magic Kingdom and has the monorail that comes right through the hotel, pretty cool.
  • Last but not least, read books (Peter and the Starcatchers, Swiss Family Robinson, Alice in Wonderland or rent a few Disney movies to get in the magical mood.

While all this may seem a bit overboard, saving money & having a plan were my 2 biggest priorities and all this led to a wonderfully spectacular trip. To be continued…

 

 

Measuring Up

In August, I decided to put in motion some great intentions regarding my health that I had been putting of for a while. Now I’ll tell you that I didn’t enjoy it but my body needed a break / reset from some bad habits that had made their way into my life so I went cold turkey on sugar, carbs (starchy things) & alcohol. In addition, I tried to follow guidelines for proper portion controls. Did I already mention how much I didn’t enjoy this?

Coming out on the other side of this, I hate to admit that I did have more energy, skin never looked better and I did drop a size. And while I’ve added everything back, the word MODERATION is no longer such a nasty word and these 2 products have really helped. Measure Up Bowls and Wine Trax both make portion control easy & discreet. Both look good and even better, both help me to feel good.

 

 

 

What’s in your wallet?

Everyone seems to have some sort of points program lately and I can’t keep it all straight. I become paralyzed with indecision when starting to make travel plans as I’m not sure where I have points, what is getting ready to expire and I never seem to know where I stand with retail points. Luckily Award Wallet has created a streamlined system to do all the work for me in three easy steps:

  1. Join AwardWallet for free and add your reward programs.
  2. Let AwardWallet track and monitor your reward programs and itineraries for you.
  3. Get notified when your balances change and before your points expire.

The number of airline, hotel, credit card, shopping, etc programs that AwardWallet will track for you is extremely extensive and so convenient to have all in one place. So pack your bags, travel, go shopping and know that someone else is keeping up with all the details.

15 keyboard shortcuts

I never realized how much time I could save on the computer with this great list of shortcuts from Woman’s Day.

1. Add a Bookmark

Tab your new favorite website for easy access by bookmarking the page with the following quick trick.

PC: Ctrl + D
Mac: Apple key + D

2. Delete Forever
When you know you want to nix a file forever—instead of sending it to clog up the recycling bin first––tap the keys below.

PC: Shift + Delete

3. Close Browser
Whether your boss walks up while you’re reading gossip blogs or your husband comes in the room while you’re buying him a gift, close your browser, stat, with this shortcut.

PC: Alt + F4
Mac: Ctrl + Q

4. Show Desktop
If you have lots of windows open on your computer and you want quick access to your desktop—or a super-quick way to hide your work—hit the following keys.

PC: Window key + D
Mac: F11

Read the rest of this entry

I know I put it right here!

Big thanks to my sister, Ashley, for turning me onto I Can’t Find My Phone.  No frills, no surfing through pages or ads, simply type in the phone number of the cell phone or home handset that you have lost track of and they will ring it for you. I just tried it and it’s brilliant. With so many people giving up landlines for cellular service only, it’s hard to call yourself when you’ve misplaced your phone. Now if they could just manage to help me find my keys!

Tested Time Savers

I don’t think anyone will argue that our time is getting more valuable and I’ll admit to saying NO a lot more this year if something doesn’t align with my priorities. (Thanks 168 Hours!) Needless to say I’m always trying to find more time in my day and these 2 FREE services have helped me tremendously.

1) Running errands – a necessary evil for me and a lot of times my kids. Route4me.com is the best route planner I’ve found! You enter up to 10 stops (or less) and it will route out the most efficient way to go. You can pay to add more stops but c’mon you don’t need to do more than 10 errands in one day! This has been a saving grace for a geographically challenged person such as myself who seems to backtrack a lot.

2) HATE to be put on HOLD? lucyphone.com users can hang up, and are then called back when a customer service representative finally picks up. On the free service’s Web site,  users type in a customer service number (or click on one of many stored on the site), and when a human being finally answers the site will ring you at your given number. After multiple occasions of screaming into my phone ( see AGENT!!! post ), this allows me to quite possibly change the world while “lucy” waits on hold.