Sunday, May 31, 2015

Cleaning House - Part 2

As promised, here is the Comprehensive Housekeeping List.

Comprehensive Housekeeping List
In Part 1, I said "I am creating a Comprehensive Housekeeping List so each person can pick and choose to create a customized list for their household." Use my list to pick and choose what you need from it; add anything I may have forgotten. Change the schedule to fit your lifestyle, as needed.

I also promised a Contact List. Well, I created two - one for emergencies and one for everyday or work. I made enough lines to add more than one phone number and email address.

Emergency Contact List
Contact List
Finally, this is the end of the housekeeping lists I promised. Find the following lists by clicking on them - they will lead to the blog post they came from: Menu Planner, Food Record, Grocery List, Insurance Information, Comprehensive Budget Worksheet - read all three days for complete information for using the worksheet.

My advice: As I mentioned in Cleaning House - Part 1, I recommend keeping a home maintenance binder. Of course, these pages could be added to a planner, but it can become unwieldy if every form is included, but keeping the contact list in a planner and binder might be useful.

There might be information I forgot on the housekeeping lists. Please leave a comment below so I can update the list. I hope this series has been of use; if I am missing a form that should be included, please leave a comment below.


- Amelia

Saturday, May 30, 2015

Cleaning House - Part 1

Here is the thing: I know what I should be writing, and I know what I want to write, but they are not the same thing. I am not the world's best housekeeper, because my place is not the pristine, picture-ready ones seen in home magazines. 

What is that quote? "My house is clean enough to be healthy, but messy enough to be happy." Then, there is another one: "If you came to see me, come on in. If you came to see my house, make an appointment." That is my philosophy. When asked recently, I said I would not eat off my kitchen floors, but I would eat off the counters. I do know that people who come to my house say they feel right at home, and that is the most important thing to me.

I used to have a binder with 26 page protectors in it and two weeks in each one back-to-back. I had broken down the cleaning of my house into 52 weeks, splitting monthly chores among the weeks in a month. It was one of the things I discarded when my house sold. I tried to find the file on my external hard drive to post it here, but I must not have saved it.

One problem with housekeeping lists is everyone's is different. So, I am creating a Comprehensive Housekeeping List so each person can pick and choose to create a customized list for their household. I do do with a list, but mine is more of a recommendation than set in stone. Of course, I carry over those chores that I do not get finished.

My advice: Create a daily list and laminate it to include in a planner. It can be moved depending on the set-up of the particular planner - daily or weekly or monthly spreads. Mine is a week on two pages. I did not work in a job with a lot of meetings, so I never needed daily pages, plus it makes a planner a lot heavier to carry around.

My advice: Create a home maintenance binder separate from a planner. In this binder, place the various forms I have posted in the last couple of weeks -  Menu Planner, Food Record, Grocery List, Insurance Information, and Comprehensive Budget Worksheet. Use a divider for each section and page protectors, as needed.  

Tomorrow, I will have the Comprehensive Housekeeping List and a Contact list prepared, which can be added to the home maintenance binder.


- Amelia

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Money Matters - It Sure Does - Part 3

In Part 1 of this series, I wrote about paying down debt; in Part 2, I wrote about savings. In Part 1, I said, "For now, gather all the bills and work on creating a new budget using the Comprehensive Budget Worksheet I created." Today, I am going to back up to the first step - create a budget. 

Stay with what I am saying, even if it means reading it several times over, because I know it can be confusing. It can be confusing if the accountant is sitting with you, so it can be even more confusing through reading it. If necessary, take out Monopoly money and follow along using that money in place of real money to work it out mentally.


Income is any money that comes in, whether it is from a paycheck, a web business, tips, or a yard/tag sale. It might fluctuate from paycheck-to-paycheck, so use old pay stubs and calculate the average. Some months might bring in more income, like tourist season or a holiday season, so consider not using the higher pay stubs - that extra can go towards building up savings.

Comprehensive Budget Worksheet


Many expenses, like rent/mortgage, rarely fluctuate, so that is one that can be written into the budget easily. Some, like taxes and school tuition, are not monthly expenses, but quarterly, semi-annually, or monthly only during the school year. 

Taxes apply when a person is self-employed or receives other taxable income when they are not withheld from a check. These payments are made quarterly, but this is another expense to divide by 12 and put some aside each month to keep the expense even.

School tuition may be paid twice per year, annually, or every month during the school year only. Setting aside money monthly helps to even out budget. For example, no tuition is paid in June, July, or August. Annual tuition is $1,200 (for easy math). Saving $100 monthly is easier on the mind than $1,200 all at once. The tuition at J's school is paid quarterly on September 1, December 1, and March 1; setting aside $100 per month, starting in March means that $600 is available to make the September 1 payment of $400, $500 is available to make the December 1 payment of $400 and $400 is available to make the March 1 payment.

Some expenses fluctuate, like fuel, electricity, and water/sewer. In general, add up the total for one year, then divide by 12 for an average monthly cost for budgeting purposes. The object is to keep each month's expense's even by setting aside any extra over a bill's cost one month to cover the overage another month. For example: The average electric bill is $70 per month. Month #1, the bill is $65, so there is $5 left over. That $5 should be set aside so that when the Month #2 bill is $75, the extra $5 is available.

Some months, there will be extra for several months in a row. Let that amount build up for when there is a shortfall for several months. My electric bill is higher in the winter, especially January, because the lights are on more and, in my house, the Christmas lights are on in December. Some people have higher summer electric bills because they have air conditioning and/or a swimming pool pump, so these will be the bills that money is set aside for.

My advice:  IF self-control is a problem, this method could cause upsets. What do I mean? If the Month #1 electric bill is $5 less than the $70 budget, and that money is put into a wallet, it is highly likely it will be spent. When the Month #2 bill comes, that $5 no longer exists, so there is a shortfall. In this case use the highest electric bill for the budget instead of the average.

My advice: I have enough self-control to put the extra $5 aside at the end of my checkbook to create a kind-of "slush fund." When the bank statement comes, I make sure to add the slush fund money into the checkbook balance (on paper) for reconciling purposes. When the Month #2 bill comes in, I add that $5 back in at the front of the checkbook and deduct it from the back end. I know it might sound crazy, but it works. 

My advice: Another method is to write a check to yourself for any overages, then void it when the next month's bills come due. Make sure to add the voided check amount back into the balance. Keep doing this each month.

My advice:  A third method is the "envelope" system. Have an envelope for any category that is an averaged one. When the Month #1 electric bill is paid, take the $5 and place it into the "Electricity" envelope. When the Month #2 electric bill comes due, take the $5 out of the envelope and add it back into the checking account. 

I hope no computers were thrown across the room - of course I am kidding. Once again, I am happy to answer any questions either through a comment left below or by sending me an email. If enough people want help with reconciling bank statements, I will write another blog post.

The advice here is free because it is not one-on-one. I am available to create budgets for an individual/family for a fee. While I love helping people learn how to budget, it is still work. For me, while it is work, it is something I...



Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Money Matters - It Sure Does - Part 2

In yesterday's post, I wrote about creating a budget and bringing down debt. Today's post will continue the steps to improving financial health.

Third step, increase savings. It is not a matter of "pay-off-the-debt-then-start-saving." Not at all. Without savings, trouble can come along really quick. What if the water heater needed replacing, but there is not enough money to buy a new one? Cold showers are not fun. 

My advice: Put a portion of each paycheck into one or more savings account(s). I use one, but I keep a ledger with a page for each category. Like I said yesterday, I have a degree in accounting, but I started this process many years before I got the degree.

Comprehensive Budget Worksheet
How did I determine how much to put in each category? Using the receipts I gathered, and my checkbook register for the last year, I separated out expenses which could be paid annually, like car insurance, and divided the expense by 12 months. If insurance is paid any way other than annually, interest and/or fees are paid each month. Paid annually, the interest and fees can be put toward something elseThe first time this is done is the hardest, because the insurance might be due in six months, so there are not enough months to save the whole amount by the time it is due. 

My advice: Most budgets have some discretionary spending - dining out, going through the drive-through for a morning coffee or frappuccino, etc. Make the morning drink at home or eat out less and save the difference towards the bill coming due soonest.

My advice: For annual expenses, rather than those like new furniture, put all savings into one account until it is funded, then move onto the next one, and then the next.... Again, save the difference from discretionary expenses until a whole year's payment can be saved in a 12-month period.

While I did not use the title "Emergencies," I did cover some of the categories that might include emergencies, such as "Repairs" or "New Tires." There is also an "Other" category that could include emergencies. Every person/family should have three- to six-months income in savings for emergencies.

Some retirements savings is usually funded through employment plus some from each paycheck. Not everyone receives a "Golden Parachute," so it is important to save for the future.

My advice: When a raise in pay comes, put it towards retirement funding. Increasing employee contribution is usually matched by the employer to a certain degree; to maximize employer matching, maximize employee donation at least to that degree. Beyond that level, talk to a financial planner to find the best way to increase retirement funds, but be aware of the fees that will be charged by the planner.

That is it for today. I will finish up budgeting tomorrow. Again, feel free to ask questions in the comment section or contact me privately. I wish I could find a way to smoothly incorporate my usual sign-off, but I cannot.


- Amelia

Monday, May 25, 2015

Money Matters - It Sure Does - Part 1

Money matters is my area of expertise. I have a degree in accounting. Let me explain something: accounting and finance are two different areas of money matters. I do not have expertise in finance - that would be my youngest son who has a Master of Finance degree. I HAD to take finance as an undergraduate and as a graduate student, and I did well, but I have no interest in stocks/bonds/IRAs, etc. 

What I love is to help people to succeed financially using a budget. I will admit something that is hard, but true. I was the budget manager in my house, and our family was once deeply in debt. In 1998, we went to a financial planner to get help digging out of the financial hole. He said we would never get out of the hole - it was too deep. Well, I was not going to accept that as anywhere near the truth.

First step, create a budget. 

Comprehensive Budget Worksheet
Second step, figure out a way to bring the debt down. It was actually easier than I thought. I had a budget before seeing the financial planner, but it did not include the debt repayment portion. This was how to get out of debt and stay out. Write down all the places to which debt is owed.

The important thing here is to pay the smallest debt off first by paying minimum payments on all other debts. Since it is the smallest, it will be paid off quickly. When that is paid off, take that payment amount and add it to the next smallest debt. Continue this method until everything is paid off. 

My advice: Cancel all credit cards as they are paid off except the one that means the most. For me, it was a card that earns me money towards purchases from a certain company. I believe in this company, its merchandise, and free merchandise works for me. The card can be used anywhere. 

My advice: Once the debts are paid off, never charge more than can be paid off when the next bill comes. If it is paid off monthly, the interest rate does not matter, because interest will never be paid.

My advice: Do NOT charge meals out - that meal can end up costing two to three times the ticket price when interest is added in.

Look into refinancing debt, too. Mortgage interest rates had dropped, so we refinanced and brought down the monthly payment. After the debts were repaid, we refinanced to a faster repayment plan - we had 23 years left on the loan and changed to a 15-year-mortgage. 

This is where I will end today. For now, gather all the bills and work on creating a new budget using the Comprehensive Budget Worksheet I created. Do not stress - I will walk through the worksheet. Feel free to ask questions in the comment section or contact me privately. Tomorrow, I will write about savings, and then discuss creating the budget itself the day after to allow time for questions.



Sunday, May 24, 2015

The End of the (Sophie's) Universe

There are plenty of members of the Sophie's Universe who, like me, have not finished their afghans. However, this crochet-along has come an end. I have a few completed projects to share with you today. There is a special treat, too, at the end of today's post.

As always, the photographs are the property of the person whose name they are with. They are used here with permission. I am very grateful to the members who have shared their talents for the last four months.

Cheri George

Laura Cabaness Johnson

Linda Dusseau Franklin

Linda Lloyd

Maria Alejandra Carrasquero Ordaz

Nancy Peterson

Patricia Anne Pierce - See the post with Patricia's project from beginning to almost end here. Her photos were also part of this post . She has donated her Sophie to a raffle for the Monacan Indian Nation Powwow. 

Rita Miller - Rita used Patricia's color-round pattern, but used Red Heart Super Saver Real Teal and Soft White as her colors.

Stacy Manning

And now, for the special treat. From the beginning of my blog, I posted about Sophie's Garden, which is the center of Sophie's Universe. These beautiful designs are from the mind of Dedri Uys, while the center mandala was "heavily inspired by Chris Simon." I am very grateful that Dedri has allowed me to share her work right from my blog's fist month. 

Below are Dedri's finished projects using three different yarn weights. While the photos are the same size, the completed afghans are not.

Dedri Uys

Yarn: Softfun
Yarn: Stonewashed XL
Yarn: Cotton 8
This is the end of Sophie's Universe posts here. I hope you...



UPDATE - 6/3/2015

Wendy Mohr - When I saw this completed Sophie's Universe, I immediately asked Wendy if I could post her pictures in an updated post. I made these pictures extra-large, because I wanted the details to be visible. I had not seen one with the squares around the outside; they are an optional finish. I am definitely going to do this with my afghan; it is gorgeous! Her color choices are excellent, too.

UPDATE - 6/13/2015

Sheree McMillan

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Insurance and Its Importance

Today’s topic is insurance. There are several forms of insurance which are important, usually mandatory, to have: car, medical, house or rental, and dental. The budget aspect of this topic will be discussed in a post on budgeting. I will admit, this post is on the dry side, but insurance is an important topic. I have learned a lot, both through my area of study and personal experiences; I will write the short version first, then get into more detail for those who want more information.


Car, medical, house/rental, and dental insurances are important to have. Locating insurance paperwork in an emergency is the next step. Making sure claims are supported with photographs/videos and receipts is another necessary step.

Proof of car insurance should be kept within the car’s glove compartment/box; the policy should not be. The best place to store insurance papers is a safety-deposit box. The second best place is a waterproof, fire-proof home safe, either wall or portable. One of the worst places is in a filing cabinet/box, because they can be ruined in case of fire or flood there; one might want to keep copies of the policies there, though, for easy reference.

Taking pictures or videos can prove the home’s contents; the same with a car’s contents. It is best if the photos are date stamped. Copies of the photographs should be stored with the receipts, which should be stored with the insurance papers. I recommend having a binder with copies of insurance papers, receipts, and photographs be kept readily accessible. Warranties should also be kept with this information as they are types of insurance policies. How-to manuals kept with everything else is optional, but I like having everything in one place.

  • Dividers
  • Sheet protectors
  • Copies of insurance policies
  • Warranties
  • How-to manuals
  • Photograph
  • Receipts 
  1. Have one section for each type of insurance.
  2. Hole-punch the policies and place behind each section’s dividers
  3. Staple or paperclip each receipt to each warranty.
  4. Place each warranty with how-to manual, photos and receipt in a sheet protector in the appropriate section.
Insurance Information Form

I live in a state that does not require car insurance if the car is paid for. This is not a good idea by any stretch of the imagination. As far as I am concerned, car owners need to have liability and collision insurance. One accident can change a life forever, and a person without insurance could end up bankrupt. A minor accident can be costly without the proper coverage, too, so it is important to make sure the deductible amount is placed in savings just in case.

Medical insurance is mandatory in the United States now. Once again, without medical insurance, a person could end up bankrupt with one trip to the emergency room. I was in the ER for more than six hours last year. Thankfully, I had insurance, because that trip cost me over $700 out of my pocket above what the insurance covered.

I do not want to get into the politics of it, but I was able to buy health insurance because of the Affordable Care Act. My insurance had run out at the end of 2013, through no fault of my own - the person who provided my insurance was laid off that December, and we each needed to provide our own insurance after that.

Homeowner’s insurance provides a huge safety net should there be theft, fire, or a personal injury on the property. If the home is in a flood zone, then flood insurance should be included in the policy. The value of the insurance should replace the home and its contents.

Renters should also buy property insurance. Then landlord is responsible for what happens outside of the door to the apartment, but should the contents be ruined or stolen or someone be injured inside the apartment, insurance will cover all or most of the financial damages.

Outside of the property’s door depends on the lease. I had a slip and fall at a rental property in New York State. New York State law requires the landlord be made aware of the conditions to be responsible. It was not enough that the weather had provided slippery conditions – in my case, water over ice at the foot of the stairs to the building. As the first person out of the building that day, I was the only one who could have told the landlord about the conditions, but I was not aware of it until I fell.

However, because of the law, I had no recourse – trust me, I went to a lawyer and was given a very detailed explanation of why my landlord was not liable according to the laws of that state. My point here is to make sure you know the laws in your area so you can cover your assets. That slip cost me over $8,000, which included moving costs because I could not manage the stairs anymore. I had renter’s insurance, but only for the interior of my apartment.

Dental insurance. Ugh! I live in an area where employers do not provide dental insurance to their employees. My ex worked for the most in-demand employer in the entire northern part of this state. They did not provide dental insurance for 100 years of business; they finally provided a dental savings account. A dental savings account takes an employee’s money from their paycheck and sets it aside for dental expenses in a calendar year. If the employee does not use all of the money in the account, the money is returned to the employer, not the employee whose money funded the account. My family chose to save our own money so that 1) we earned the interest for ourselves, and 2) any unused money at the end of the year stayed in our savings account.

My family happened to move at just the time my two youngest were getting braces on. Luckily, where we were moving from was only three hours away from where we were moving to. I put in the time to investigate the costs of braces where we were moving to, including appointments and retainers. It turned out that it was less expensive to make the trip back and forth than to put braces on in this area.

If a person has the proper insurance, it makes life easier to


- Amelia

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Meal Planning, Part 2

Yesterday was a much longer day than planned - my trip to the state capital, instead of four hours, was 10 hours. That is my excuse (and I'm sticking with it) for not getting these forms to you then. Today brings you food record and grocery forms, but I refer you to Menu Planning, Part 1 as an explanation of the mental process and printing recommendations.

Food Record

The food record has spaces for recording water - fill in the circles as each is consumed, a clock to record the time spent on activity each day, and a spot to mark off when each day a vitamin is taken. Speak to your physician regarding the vitamin(s) recommended.

Food Record PDF
There was a problem with the saving in that two blank pages were saved, pages 2 and 4. Page 1 has the letter-size format, and page 3 has the junior-size format. The junior-size has a blank center column for cutting or folding in half.

Grocery Shopping List

Using the marketing portion of my business degree, I am going to share some supermarket set-up psychology. Each example demonstrates why having a good shopping list is important.

Note that windows are only found at the front of the store near the entrance and exit. The lack of windows keeps the shopper from realizing how much time is being spent inside the store. There are also no clocks, except near the front counter, for the same reason. 

The milk and bread are in the back corner farthest from the door to force the consumer past as many other items as possible, knowing that most people will pick up more than planned as they pass by. The healthiest, least-processed food in a grocery store is found in the perimeter aisles for the same reason. Personally, I spend most of my shopping time and money on the perimeter.

"Loss leaders" are placed at the ends of the aisles and are advertised specials. These items are sold for a loss (no profit) to bring traffic in the door. Once again, these are designed to bring the consumer in knowing that the majority of people will buy more once they come inside. The highest profit items are placed at eye-level of the shopper, with the exception of sugared-cereals, which are placed at eye-level of children so they will ask mom (usually) or dad to buy them instead of the healthier cereals.

The tiles in aisles are small, because the noise of the cart going over the tiles tricks the mind into thinking less time is being spent shopping than actually is, especially because the music is designed to slow the consumer down - it is a slow tempo and is meant to be nostalgic.

The grocery shopping list here is blank, except for categories, because, while there are definitely staples, people buy differently. What do I mean? 

I am a vegetarian; the majority of meat sold is not sold by brand, but the vegetarian version is all by brand. Rather than putting "hamburger" on my list, I put the brand I prefer and which style - "ground," "grillers," etc. - I am purchasing that trip. Therefore, the category "Meat" exists on my list, but pre-printed words, like "turkey" or "pork chops" are not. 

I recommend shopping from the furthest-in non-perishables working back towards the produce section to start shopping the perishables. This way, the perishables spend the least amount of time at room temperature as possible. There is a letter-size form and a junior-size form, which has a wide center for cutting or folding in half.

Grocery List PDF - Letter
Grocery List PDF - Junior
I hope each of these forms will be useful.


- Amelia

Monday, May 18, 2015

Meal Planning, Part 1

Yesterday, I said I had a busy week, including two appointments and two errands today. Well, it turned into five appointments and three errands, so I did not get done as much today as I had planned to, so I only created the menu planning forms for both letter and junior planners/binders as of now. I will (fingers crossed) have the food record and grocery shopping forms prepared for tomorrow, but I will be on the road tomorrow. 

When I see menu planners, they usually only have dinner/supper spaces. I eat three meals and two snacks per day, plus I like to have a space for notes. I left the forms plain so there is more room to plan.

I used the landscape view for the letter-size, as I like the days of the week to be across the top like they are on a calendar. There is space for ARC/Levenger-style punching or three-hole punching and a space for the dates. 

Menu Planner
I used the landscape view for the junior-size, also, but I created a center column. It can be cut in half and punched on the inside for each half, or it can be punched on the left-hand side of the meals, then folded in half. If printed back-to-back, fold in the other direction when turning it to the other side.

The menu planner link has both letter-size and junior-size forms in a PDF file. Print as many as needed, or print one and laminate for reuse. With the junior-size, I recommend folding the form in half and laminating it that way, or cutting it in half before lamination. 



Sunday, May 17, 2015

Planning the Week Ahead

Even though I am a disabled person who is home most of the time, it is still necessary for me to plan my week. This week is particularly busy with two appointments Monday afternoon, one Tuesday 75 miles away, two Wednesday (I am just  a little late taking off my winter tires), and one Friday, 60 miles away. Like I said, busy.

Photo copyright by Amelia Vincent
A few days ago, I wrote about my Passion Planner and how it serves me well.  However, it only covers my agenda, but not life things, like meal planning and contact information. These are forms I do not feel the need to carry with me, but are very useful in day-to-day life. 

Although, I am a single, middle-aged, empty-nester, I remember well what is necessary to keep a home running effectively. Or maybe I should say, I still need to keep my home running effectively. Due to my disabilities, it is probably more important than when I was a housewife, because I am not able to do as much each day.

This week, in addition to all the appointments, I will create a home binder to help me around the house. It will include meal planning, dietary/exercise records, budget planning, and chores - daily, monthly, weekly, and seasonally. I will share the forms here in case they can be useful to someone else.

Each day this week, I will post a set of forms relating to each other. Monday - menu/shopping, Tuesday - contact information, Wednesday - home maintenance, Thursday - budget, and Friday - important forms. This is the plan, but it is subject to change due to the travel I have to do. I will be sharing these free of cost, so... 

Update: I was unable to get everything posted as planned, so the remainder should be posting during the week of May 25th.


- Amelia

Friday, May 15, 2015

Pinterest: Adult Coloring Pages

When I read someone else's Facebook post about adult coloring pages, I admit I read it with a questioning mind: Is it like adult movie stores? I was happy that the answer was very innocent. I was not aware that there are now coloring books available that are geared toward adults and coloring pages all over Pinterest. Of course, I had to check it out when I learned this. 

I have now created several boards for future use, each starting with Adult Coloring Pages. I have Fairies, Florals, Mandalas, and Precious Moments boards already started. I will be adding more Pins to them later - I opened up a lot of tabs last night to sort through.

In addition, in the next couple of days, I know I will have Color by Numbers, Disney, Large Images, Mini Posters, and more. Probably more; it depends on what happens during the sorting process. I have a number of different windows open with multiple tabs on each.

I know I have already pinned more than 200 to Adult Coloring Pages - Precious Moments. That is complete, for now.
Check out my Pinterest site, For me, it is time to break out the crayons, the colored pencils, and the markers and...


- Amelia

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Making a Planner Work

How does one make a planner work? It cannot be put it in a time out in the corner if an appointment is missed. Whose responsibility is it to make the planner work? Of course, the answer is each person is responsible for making sure their own planner works.

On April 26, I posted a blog on my opinion that some people have turned their planners into scrapbooks and/or journals. I am one of the people who uses my planner as a journal, of sorts, but more like the business record books of times (mostly) gone by.

My memory is not what it used to be, so I keep a record of phone calls and important information I may need, like a list of medications, in my Passion Planner, the planner I am using this year. The image below is from, and the website can give a lot more information about the book, but the graphic can give an idea of its uses.
On a daily basis, there are half-hourly times from 6 a.m. to 10:30 p.m. I have a very light schedule of appointments, so I have used Washi tape to cover over the time slots. I use the top of each date to write in any appointments I might have that day. There is a monthly calendar where I record my appointments as they are made; then I transfer the appointments over to the specific week when I plan out that week, usually on a Saturday night.

As can be seen, there is a note section on the bottom right. I used this space this week to make some notes about important things I need to follow up on. If my notes are in conjunction to an ongoing project, I add the information to the notes page(s) used for that project. There are two notes pages at the beginning of each month, plus several notes pages at the back of the planner.

On the bottom right, there are personal and work to-do lists. I like the little boxes next to the items so I can make an "x" when something is completed. I use these lines to make a general to-do list, but I transfer the to-dos to the specific day I plan to do something.

On the top right is a place to put the goal of the week. At the top of each date column is a place to record that day's focus. As can be seen, I have not written any this week. As I said before, it is a light week for me, so I do not need to write in a particular focus on any day. An example of what I might write is, "Deep Clean the Bathroom." 

At the end of each month, there are two pages of questions about that month. It is a good place to check on goals and whether they were completed, what still needs to be done, and more. At the beginning of the book, there is a goals section, plus another goals section at the end of June to revisit the goals from the beginning of the year, possibly setting new ones for the last half of the year.

I had bought another planner to use for this year, but it was a much smaller size with narrow columns and split one week over four pages, so it was necessary to flip pages to see an entire week. I prefer to see my whole week at one glance, and I only used that planner for a few weeks before switching to this one. (I have not come up with another use for it yet.)

This planner works for me mainly because I actually use it. I open it daily to see what lies ahead, write any chores I am going to take care of that day - I usually have to plan each day that day because of my fibromyalgia. I like my planner, because using it is something I...



Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Giving Up an Addiction

I am a soft drink addict. I admit it. I became addicted to soft drinks during my second pregnancy. My obstetrician told me to cut down my milk consumption and switch to 2% from whole milk. I started replacing it with soda, which is what it is called where I come from - pop, tonic, or something else in other areas. 

At one point, I made the switch from regular to diet soda. Although it saved a lot of calories, I was still drinking it all day, every day. I had started drinking it, instead of milk, with breakfast. My children still drank milk with breakfast, lunch, and dinner, though.
At another time, I started drinking caffeine-free soft drinks after 2 p.m. so I could get to sleep earlier. I could always tell if I drank or ate something with caffeine in it, because I would still be awake in the middle of the night.

I have tried in the past to give up soda, but I always give in and drink it again. It has been only a couple of months since I gave it up for the umpteenth time. Okay, maybe the third or fourth time. However, now, I need to give it up for good.

It has been a few days since I ran out, and I have not gone out and bought more. Instead, I made this awesome smoothie that turned out better than I thought (recipe below). I am using the flavor enhancers for water. I bought a variety of flavors so I can see which I like and which I do not. Chai tea latté first thing in the morning is soothing and delicious.

I am not a coffee drinker. I gave it up when I was four-years-old. What? True. My mother used to leave me a little bit of coffee at the bottom of her cup. One day, while I was outside playing, my mom poured a cup of coffee and set it on the kitchen table before going upstairs for just a minute. (You see it coming, right?)

With the utmost of poor timing, I came in from playing, saw the cup, and thought she had left it for me to drink the last sip. Being four-years-old, the scalding hot coffee ended up all over me to the point my mother took me to the emergency room. Thankfully, there was no lasting harm. It was summer, I was four, I ran around without a shirt on for a couple of days until it felt better. 

I never touched another cup of coffee again until I was age 20. I started with black and tried adding sugar and milk to it, but it was still not a taste I enjoyed. I tried again about age 45 and still no luck. I am going to stick to tea, thank you very much.

So, here it is, day three and I want a glass of soda. I will still drink it for a little while longer when I am out and about with friends, but I will not bring any home. Wish me luck! If you can still drink soda or like coffee, all I can say is...



Smoothie Recipe

Add ingredients in order given to a blender

2 c. cantaloupe chunks
1 over-ripe banana
1 packet chocolate-flavored Breakfast Essentials powdered drink mix
2 Tbl. wheat germ
1 pkg. frozen blueberries (10-16 oz.)

At this point, the blender should be full.

Add chocolate almond milk to fill in empty spaces, but leave liquid a couple of inches from the top of blender. 

Start on low speed for about one minute. With blender off, remove cover, break up the blueberries, and then stir with a spatula, but do not go low enough to touch the blades. Replace cover, then continue on low speed for another 30 seconds. Change speed to high - I used "Frappe" setting - and continue blending until mix is smooth.