Monday, November 30, 2009

Clean Your Bathroom In Less Than 10 Minutes

There is one room of the house I would avoid cleaning if possible, but it's also the one that needs to be cleanest for health reasons - the bathroom. This is my least favorite cleaning chore, but there's a quick, easy way to take care of it. Once you've got the technique down, you can clean your entire bathroom in less than 10 minutes a day.

When you head to the bathroom to clean, take everything you need with you:
* Disinfecting spray
* Disinfecting wipes
* Toilet bowl cleaner
* Tub and tile cleaner
* Glass cleaner
* Broom or vacuum
* Mop or some type of wet jet cleaner
* Paper towels or cleaning rags
* Plastic bag for garbage

This may seem like a long list, but keep them stored together in a basket or pail and you can grab them every day. And remember that you'll only be using each one for about a minute each, so the task won't be so hard. For toilet bowl cleaners, you can either use a liquid and toilet brush or the new brushes with the disposable cleaning pads.

1. Spray counter tops with disinfecting spray and allow to sit.
2. Spray the bathtub and tile with tub and tile cleaner.
3. If you're using liquid cleaner and a toilet brush, pour liquid into toilet and allow to sit.
4. Spray and clean mirrors.
5. Wipe down the counters with paper towel or rag.
6. Scrub and rinse tub and tile.
7. Scrub toilet with toilet brush or brush with disposable pad. Wipe seat and lid with disinfecting wipe.
8. Spray handles and fixtures with disinfecting spray.
9. Sweep floor from the back of the room to the doorway. Mop.
10. Gather up all the wipes and towels, replacing the old trash bag and taking out the full, old one.

And now you're done - for today! Repeat this once a day and you'll have a consistently clean bathroom. We often think that we have to spend all kinds of time and energy to take care of our home, but sometimes there are fabulous shortcuts that do exactly the same job. Work smarter not harder and you'll have some extra time for other pursuits.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Take Time For Balance

If you were to close your eyes and picture the perfectly balanced life, what would you see? What combination of life activities make you feel contented and at peace?

Whatever it is that you just imagined, there is a desperate need in a Christian woman's life for balance and joy. Instead of filling our days with more "stuff to do" we can arrange our schedules to the perfect balance. This balance will not come from our own creativity, though, but from taking time to listen to what God has to say about the subject.

The first priority of any day we are blessed with is time with God. From there, He will give instruction on how this list may be rearranged to fit your life and lifestyle. A car can't work without all of its parts in good working order, and neither can a victorious life.

1. Prayer time
2. Bible study
3. Health and wellness
4. Worship
5. Husband
6. Children
7. Keeping the home
8. Errands
9. Finances
10. Fun
11. Friends and Family
12. Work

The challenge in any woman's life is understanding what she needs to do and when. No amount of day planners, PDAs and family calendars will show us exactly what our priorities for the day should be. Starting the day in prayer and taking each day moment by moment, living each one to glorify God, is the only way to have a truly balanced life. The Lord will always lead, guide and direct when we ask Him to. Using His priorities guarantees a more balanced life, as long as we keep ourselves out of the equation.

We are blessed with a certain time on earth, and only the Lord knows how long we have. I don't know about you, but I'm not willing to waste any of that precious time. Time and effort are so much more important than money or position. Pray for God's direction in scheduling your upcoming week so that you move closer to balance His way.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Arf Arf...Translates To...Brrr!

As temperatures drop and snow falls in some places, it's time to winterize your pets in the same way you'd attend to your car or your home. While puppies don't need different tires or another coat of insulation, they do need some different care in winter than the rest of the year.

- Bring them in. Most breeds of dogs are not designed for staying outside. Unless you have an arctic breed, choose to either bring them in more often to warm up or let them stay in for the winter. A good rule: if you're uncomfortable, they're uncomfortable.

- Or make sure they're comfortable outside. Turn their dog house away from the wind. Don't leave blankets or towels out where they can get wet. Sleeping on these will make your puppies colder, not warmer. Make sure they have plenty of water and that it doesn't ice up.

- Recognize the signs of hypothermia: shivering, enlarged pupils, pale or blue gums, decreased heart rate. If you have a small or short-haired pet, consider boots and a coat. (I don't feel it necessary to "dress" my girls up, but yours might need something for extra warmth.)

- Stay active, but don't overdo it. Dogs love to try and keep up with everything you do, but in cold weather that becomes more difficult. You know how hard it is to breathe in cold air - imagine what's it's like for a dog! Keep them active with short walks and lots of indoor games like throwing a ball down a long hallway.

- Beware of outdoor chemicals. You might not think about it, but antifreeze, sidewalk salt and gas from the snow blower can all be dangerous to a dog. Either keep them out of those areas altogether or clean their paws and faces completely before they come inside.

- Keep plenty of towels handy. Whenever they come inside or get done with a bath, dry your dogs extra-thoroughly. A dog with a cold is probably worse than a husband with a cold.

- Alleviate dry, itchy skin. Brush your dog regularly to distribute their natural oils and remove tangles. Ask your vet about special shampoos and treatments if the problem becomes serious.

- Don't overfeed. The tendency during the winter months is to snack and change feeding schedules. Since your dogs are likely to be inside and more sedentary, overfeeding will cause serious health problems. Extra food can lead to obesity and treats from holiday meals can wreak havoc on their digestive systems.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Need Some Financial Recovery?

I have no idea if you'll be going shopping today - it is "Black Friday" and all. I won't be, mainly because I don't feel like getting up early or fighting crowds just to buy things. Not my idea of fun.

If you're like a large percentage of Americans, though, just today's Christmas shopping won't be what's put your financial picture all out of focus. It takes some time to get into debt or use up your savings, but some effort can get it all back on track.

* Tithe your firstfruits. As Christians, we are commanded to give 10% of everything (your gross) before we do anything else with our money. This means giving to the storehouse, the local church you are a member of. The tithe comes before any missions offerings, love offerings or other special giving. Without this obedience we won't have the full blessings of God. He doesn't need the money because it was His to begin with, but He is pleased with our following His direction.

* Put money into savings next. Tuck away a portion of your family's paycheck each payday before you do anything else. If you budget well with what's left, you won't even notice that portion is missing. Aim for 3-6 months worth of living expenses in your savings account.

* Map out your credit card payoffs. Start with whichever card has the highest interest rate and work your way through. If you start doing the math, it's insane what you'd be paying in fees and interest just for having balances on your cards.

* Track your daily spending. We do some much unnecessary spending every day, but when you have to actually look at where your money goes you'll find lots of ways to cut back. This doesn't mean cutting out everything that's fun in your life, it just means that you get wiser about where and how much you spend.

* Check on your credit score.
If you've never done this before, you have no idea what kinds of errors might be there. Go to one of the free websites or have your financial adviser check it out. This will ensure that you can get loans and credit cards when you need them.

* Change your money mindset. When we let money, possessions and the other "things" of the world influence us, we inevitably dig ourselves deeper into financial problems. If you want a completely different financial forecast, you have to change the way you look at spending. What are the priorities in your life right now and what steps do you need to take to get there?

* Make the ultimate list! Sit down with everyone in the house and start making a list - every body gives their input on where money is being spent, what can be cut back, what the goals are for saving and what each family member can do to help. With everybody on board, you can make some significant steps to finding financial freedom from within your own home.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Fruit Kabobs - Centerpiece or Appetizer?

The answer is: both! This is a clever presentation for the fruit tray you'll probably be serving for Thanksgiving. It's so boring to just set a tray of fruits or veggies out for your guests, but they'll love pulling a fruit kabob out of your centerpiece and nibbling while you talk.

You'll need:
A fruit, veggie, cheese or combination tray
4-8 bamboo or metal skewers
A large vase and fall decorations (If you still have your fall vase from a few weeks ago {Oct 7}, utilize that one more time.)

1. Fill your vase with a variety of fall decorations - leaves, flowers, pine cones and fresh fruits like apples and oranges.

2. Thread several pieces of fruit, veggies and cheese onto the skewers. Leave plenty of room at the bottom to tuck them into the vase. Alternate pieces so there's only one of each per skewer (you want a variety on each one).

3. Arrange the skewers in the vase like a flower arrangement, making enough for each of your guests. Vary the height and pattern of fruit, laying some across the mouth of the vase.

4. Serve with a caramel or chocolate dipping sauce for the fruit and your favorite dip or salad dressing for the vegetables.

Not only is this a perfect last-minute idea, but it's healthy and gives you and your Thanksgiving guests an opportunity to stand around and talk while you're dipping and snacking.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Gratitude Journal

I often think about a phrase I hear people pray all the time - let us appreciate those who are around us today, because we will never meet exactly like this again.

Between this Thanksgiving and next year's, we have no idea what paths God will lead us down, whether it's through new additions to our families, death or the rapture. For just those reasons, this quick and easy craft idea will be perfect for your Thanksgiving Day celebration.

Decorate a composition book with fall papers and embellishments and label the front with the year, your family's name and a prayer of thanks.

Inside, assign each person in your family a page, then decorate them with pictures and embellishments. Sometime during the day on Thursday, let everyone fill in their pages with a list of what they're thankful for this year.

You might start each page with some sentence starters for the more "journaling shy" in the house. You can also ask some questions and include some family history.

This book won't be filled this week, so keep it somewhere safe and pull it out again next year. You can look back and see the blessings God has bestowed over the months and add to it with new gratitude. What a family treasure!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

A Life Built On Hope

Forgive me if I sound a little gloomy, but there is little left in this world to hope for. Money, friends, comfort and love are all fleeting. People turn their backs on you. Conditions around us fall short of what we'd hoped.

So what is the point of even trying to have a victorious life? It seems as if it's all meaningless.

Be of good courage, and he shall strengthen your heart, all ye that hope in the LORD. Psalm 31:24

The problem with our attitudes many times is that we're focused on the world around us and not on God's plan. When we see the two inches in front of us, He sees the big picture. While we're worried about the immediate, He's mapped out eternity. During our deepest, darkest hours, the Lord Himself brings hope.

Why art thou cast down, O my soul? and why art thou disquieted in me? hope thou in God: for I shall yet praise him for the help of his countenance. Psalm 42:5

Earthly "stuff" is temporary and people's thoughts change from moment to moment. This frustrates us and depresses us immensely, but only when our focus is in the wrong place. Our hearts break and our souls ache, but only when we're looking to the world and not to God.

We suffer disappointment when people say things that hurt us. We write off happiness in our lives because things haven't gone exactly as planned. We may even give up all hope for the future simply because we feel broken and mistreated. We'd like things to happen the way we plan and for people we love to grow in the same ways we are.

But these are momentary feelings, and faith is not built on feelings. Our faith is built on the truth of God's Word - that there is hope for the saved and joy to the believer. That possibility in the face of disappointment and pain can be the jolt needed to change a life.

At the moment of salvation, God plants a seed of hope in our hearts - one that grows and blooms as we learn more about Him and His plans for our lives. This hope is deeply grounded in the faith that we're now bound for bigger and better things through the Lord's grace and mercy. This hope is more powerful and more precious than anything the world can provide.

But I will hope continually, and will yet praise thee more and more. Psalm 71:14

Monday, November 23, 2009

But The Fire Is So Delightful

'Tis the season for long evenings in front of a roaring fire. Think of the romance, the warmth, the relaxing sounds of crackling wood and the thoughts of reduced energy bills dancing in your head.

If you've never started a fire yourself before, or have never had much luck building one, this is the time of year to learn how. It's not as difficult as you think it might be.

What do you need to start?
* Dry wood - a must!
* A clear, level spot - clear away all ashes and debris.
* A starter - crumpled up paper or our favorite, fatwood. (Do a search for local suppliers)
* Fire - matches or an insta-lighter.

1. Light your starter material and place it in the back of your fireplace. Go as far back as you can and begin to layer small pieces of kindling on top. This will create a nice bed of coals on which to build your fire.

2. After you have a bed of hot coals, you can place larger pieces on top to feed the fire. Set your largest logs on the andirons (the metal stands that keep the wood from rolling out) so they will catch as the fire gets larger. Your bed of hot coals ensures that you don't have to repeatedly light more kindling.

3. Practice, practice, practice! The fun part is trying this again and again. If something didn't go well today, build another one tomorrow and try something different. Always start with small pieces of wood and work your way up.

* My personal disclaimer: Just because I want you to have fun building fires in the fireplace doesn't mean you should play around until the house burns down. Be smart! Please be careful and use as many safety precautions as possible. That means keeping a fire extinguisher handy.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Less Time in the Kitchen, More Time Eating!

If there's one place you can spend tons of unnecessary time and energy, it's the kitchen. We spend so much time preparing, cooking and cleaning up that we often lose some of the enjoyment we should find in our own kitchens.

Here are some ways you can get meals to the table faster, spend less time cleaning and have more time to enjoy the food itself.

1. Prepare a weekly menu. Nothing wastes more time than not having ingredients on hand or getting lazy and calling for take out. Deciding on a menu at the first of the week will allow you to choose healthy food, make sure you have everything you need to prepare each meal and prevents excuses that lead to calling for pizza. (Who wants to wait an hour for delivery when you can have a home-cooked meal in minutes?) Save time and money all at once.

2. Arrange your kitchen properly. Put like objects together. Place utensils you use for stove top cooking near the stove. Arrange canned and dry goods in a cabinet near the fridge. Saving time can be as simple as not having to run across the kitchen for everything you need.

3. Clean up as you go. This may seem silly but wiping up spills, doing the dishes and putting tools away when you're finished can use some of that time while you're waiting for things to cook. It also makes the end of you cooking time a little more enjoyable. If you're more interested in cooking than cleaning, enlist some help.

4. Utilize your slow cooker. This great kitchen gadget can not only give you some of the best tasting food ever, but taking a few minutes to prepare it and then letting it go frees you up all day! Not much else can save you that kind of time.

5. Cut everything all at once. Chop onions for all this week's dishes when you make the first meal. If you're only using two ribs of celery today, go ahead and cut the rest down for the next menu. A little work now can make a huge difference later.

6. Use pre-cut and serving-sized products. This may not be the most economical for every meal, but we're talking about time here. When you're in a rush to have a great, healthy meal ready, having a couple of steps cut out can be well worth it.

7. Make double batches while you're at it. You've got the ingredients and it takes very little time to double your recipes. Planning to make a second portion early in the week saves time later in the week that you may not have. Plus most meals are even better when they've had a chance to sit. So make one and freeze one.

8. Simplify. If you know you'll be strapped for time, plan an easy meal for that day. Breakfast for dinner is a great one - omelets, soy sausage patties and refrigerator biscuits are super quick, super easy and super filling. Plus it's a family favorite!

9. Leftovers are wonderful! Have a refrigerator raid on a night that you're in a hurry. Everyone can have a little of everything and all you have to do is heat up individual plates. And leftovers are so much better than the original meal! Just make sure you've labeled dishes so you know how long they've been there.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

...And Then I Woke Up!

Our Cayenne Pepper kitty is the best napper in the entire world. While she has a couple of favorite napping locations, anywhere is fair game if she's tired enough.

Cayenne sleeping on the couch
She is not ashamed to slouch

Cayenne sleeping on the bed
She loves to curl around your head

Cayenne sleeping on a chair
One more place to clean off hair

Cayenne sleeping in a ball
This was as far as she could crawl

Cayenne sleeping on Danny
Her drifting off is so uncanny

Cayenne sleeping in an uncomfortable position
Do you know a chiropractic physician?

Cayenne sleeping near her puppy
I guess it's good Sadie's not a guppy

Cayenne sleeping on another chair
To wake her now I would not dare

We have yet to find her sleeping on a puppy, half out the window or on top of the dryer, but I'm sure that time will come. In the meantime, I think I'm ready for a nap of my own...Yawn! (If these pictures don't make you sleepy, I don't know what will!)

Friday, November 20, 2009

Virus, Virus Go Away!

How much money would you guess you spend every year on doctor visits and medication for common colds and viruses? If your household is like ours, it's probably more than you think.

So how can you cut down on those expenses? Maybe not by buying fewer or a cheaper brand, but by preventing illnesses in the first place. A little prevention now can save you bucket-loads of money down the road.

* Eat healthy. The better prepared your body is to fight infection and viruses, the easier the fight will be. Milk, eggs, nuts, fresh fruits and the colorful vegetables are full of vitamins and nutrients that will build your immune system. And don't forget breakfast!

* Wash your hands.
Sing "Happy Birthday" while scrubbing with soap - this will be the right length of wash time to remove the germs from your hands. Use hot water and an antibacterial soap. Then apply hand sanitizer or a great hand lotion.

* Keep your hands away from your face.
Do you really want everything you've touched today smeared all over your nose and mouth? That's like giving germs an invitation straight into your body. Keep washing and keep your hands in your lap.

* Get plenty of sleep.
Your body uses that time to fight invaders and boost your immunity. The better, longer sleep time you can get, the less chance you'll have of getting knocked off you feet by sickness.

* Do a heavy-duty cleaning.
Deep-clean all common surfaces in the bathroom, kitchen and dining room. And remember - antibacterial wipes are not cleaners, they only disinfect.

* Drink your water.
Drinking 8 glasses of water each day cleanses out your system and keeps you hydrated. We tend to drink less water in the winter, but this is the time we might need it most.

* Forget sharing!
Mama may have taught us how to share nicely, but this is not the time. Keep your water bottles, silverware and pillows to yourself. Anything that you (or someone else) breathe on or put near your mouth is now saturated with germs.

* If necessary, keep your distance.
You can generally tell from across the room if someone is sick - so stay there! Don't hug, don't shake hands and definitely don't stay in the room too long. It's nothing personal - you just don't want what they have.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

15 Beans Swimming In Soup

The calendar says it's time for soup making, even if temperatures in the South indicate otherwise. Wherever you are, and however chilly your season might be right now, it's a great time for this wonderful 15 Bean Slow-Cooker Soup! It's perfect for an evening in front of the fire.

16 oz dry bean soup mix
1 small onion, chopped
2 stalks celery, chopped
2 cans of chicken broth
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp celery salt
1 dash Cayenne pepper (the spice, not my cat)
1 tsp ground black pepper
1 bay leaf
2 links smoked sausage, sliced
(The amounts of spices are an estimate - I always use more, just to get some extra flavor. Please adjust to your personal taste.)

1. Place dry beans in slow cooker and add broth. Add all other ingredients except sausage. Add water to cover.

2. Turn slow cooker to low for 8-10 hours, adding water as the beans soak.

3. Add sausage 1-2 hours prior to serving.

4. Serve over rice or cornbread.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Chalk Popping - Scrapbook Style

I've finished up my fall cards for this year and I decided to keep my chalk theme going for another week. (Look at last week's craft post if you haven't already.)

Chalk popping is a great scrapbooking technique that gives stamped designs a whole new texture.

To make these gorgeous leaves, gather up:
Scrapbooking chalk
Cotton puffs (may come with your chalk)
Assortment of stamps
Embossing ink (preferably tinted)
Coordinating papers

1. Cut paper to fit your card. Light colors work best for this but you can experiment for the look you like best.

2. Stamp each image with embossing ink. You're not going to actually emboss it, but you want the ink to hold your chalk. Overlap some images off the edges of the paper for a finished look. The ink will be wet for a few minutes, but only stamp the area you can work on at one time. (Be careful not to smear the wet ink while you chalk.)

3. With the tiny cotton puffs and tweezers, apply chalk in swirls over the inked images. It will darken the ink and create a lighter shadow around the ink. Lightly blow when you're completely done to remove the excess chalk dust. Also alternate colors across the paper so you have a variety of images and colors.

4. After a few minutes to dry, use the stamped and chalked paper as you normally would on your cards or scrapbook page.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Our Home Is Our Castle

The Proverbs 31 woman has always been one of my favorite passages of Scripture. Some women say she is too perfect, so far out of reach that no one could be like her. I don't think she is meant to be a goal, though, but an inspiration. When we desire to know God's will for our lives, little by little, we can read more and more into what this lovely lady represents.

The heart of her husband doth safely trust in her, so that he shall have no need of spoil. (v11)

During wartime, the victorious army would ravage the land they just conquered and bring home their spoil - anything they could take with them. While this was predatory and sometimes dishonest, it was often necessary for soldiers to provide for their families needs.

If we as help meets are performing our roles and duties as God has assigned, there will be no need for our husbands to go elsewhere to find wealth, nourishment or entertainment. Their hearts can safely trust that we are properly caring for their homes. When home is a refuge, the desire is to be there, to enjoy time there and make it better as days go on.

This responsibility women have been given means we are to be active in our homes - cleaning, organizing, creating an atmosphere that draws our families to them. This only comes through practice, study, involvement and time in our houses making them better and more comfortable every day.

But we are not born with the knowledge and understanding to run a household. This role of creator of the home environment is to be learned and grown.

The aged women likewise, that they be in good behaviour as becometh holiness, not false accusers, not given to much wine, teachers of good things; That they may teach the young women to be sober, to love their husbands, to love their children, To be discreet, chaste, keepers at home, good, obedient to their husbands, that the word of God be not blasphemed. (Titus 2:3-5)

There is so much we can learn from the previous generations about the desire to keep our homes. The modern world asks us to leave the house and leave it the way it is. This is a selfish focus that makes our home less of a refuge and more of a last resort. It has not always been this way - find your Titus older woman and watch how she keeps her home.

We should pray daily for the desire to make our homes our castles - for God's will to be performed and for our families to have a retreat from the world. Our role as help meet gives us the opportunity to try new things, change our home for the better and make returning at the end of day a pleasure.

Be a good steward of whatever home God has given you. Find pleasure in each task, each chore and each new day. With the joy of the Lord as our strength we can keep our home and enjoy each moment of the journey.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Napkin Folding for the Holidays

Over the next few weeks there will be many dinners, gatherings and parties to celebrate the holidays. One of the easiest ways to dress up your table is with creative folded napkins. There are lots of ways you can create that special look with just a few folds.

For example, this pocket is made with just four folds of a cloth napkin. Ironing the napkin will make it easier to press the folds in.

1. Fold your napkin into quarters.

2. Fold the top two layers down an inch, and then another inch to make a double layer.

3. Fold the back two layers backwards, tucking behind and leaving one inch showing above the first fold.

4. Fold each side back behind to make the pocket. Tuck in your silverware.

Decorate with seasonal pieces like floral picks or embellished place cards.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Cut Your Bill-Paying Time!

How much time would you guess you spend paying bills? Would you like to chop that time and use for something more wonderful like Bible study or just sitting down to breathe?

A few little changes can make that dreaded event a little more bearable. Plan ahead, get organized and reap the benefits of a few extra minutes.

1. Get organized when the mail comes. Have a central location for bills and all your mailing supplies. Open you mail there and separate the invoices, envelopes and receipts as necessary. This means creating a filing system or keeping a basket on the counter where it's handy. Figure out what will work best for you.

2. Do the paperwork ahead of time. As you're opening and filing your bills, fill out the forms that will be returned with them, stamp the envelopes and write in your return of address. Two seconds now won't seem like half an hour later when you're trying to do several bills at once, write checks and fix the envelopes.

3. Know your bill schedule. There's nothing more frustrating than late fees and penalties, but you try to save time by paying everything at once. If your finances allow, have all your bills due at one time during the month so you sit down to pay them all at once. If you have to spread them out throughout the month, know the dates they need to be paid by and write them in your calendar. Send them out in plenty of time and save a little money too by avoiding any late fees.

4. Combine bills when available. If some of your utilities are provided by the same company, find out if you can send them in one check. If you bundle your services, you may be able to pay them all together, too. Five minutes of research can save you time and postage.

5. If your bank allows, use internet bill-pay. This is a life- and sanity-saver! You can schedule bills to be paid straight from your accounts and withdrawn at set times. If you're absolutely certain the money will be in your account, this is a great way to save time. It only takes a few minutes to fill out online each month and you can pick the dates the bills are paid.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Holly, Jolly and Safe!

Thanksgiving and Christmas are almost upon us and we love to include our pets in the festivities! With a few precautions and thoughts of safety for all of our furry companions, they can be holidays to remember.

* Keep their schedule. Our girls have a pretty well-kept schedule during the week, but special activities and parties get them all out of kilter. Whether you're going to be gone for the evening or have groups coming over, try to keep your pets on their normal routine as much as possible. This will keep their anxiety low and their digestive systems close to normal.

* And watch what they eat! It's fun to give treats and special people food during the holidays, but this wreaks havoc on little tummies. (Ours too!) Plan on keeping snacks and handouts to a minimum - this may mean telling guests not to feed them scraps. There are all kinds of ways to let our pets celebrate with us without filling them with extra food.

* The tree. Most animals are super-curious when you start bringing the outdoors inside. If you have a Christmas tree, real or not, they will be excited and decide to investigate. Anchor it as securely as you can and then set boundaries for your dogs. Spritzing kitty with water when she gets too close may do the trick, but keep an eye out anyway.

* Decorate intelligently. Don't hang ornaments too low on the tree if they're shiny or breakable - this is an invitation to play. Put candles up out of the way and don't leave them lit if there are pets around. Tinsel is a really bad idea since it's just what your cat will play with (and then ingest). Tuck wires back and under things so they'll be out of the way.

* Keep plants out of reach.
Mistletoe, holly and poinsettia are all incredibly dangerous to your pets' systems. Either keep them up and out of the way or forgo them all together. Consider decorating with imitation plants or some other foliage that isn't harmful.

* Have an escape plan.
There should be one room in the house that is completely safe for your pets - no decorations, no guests and no extra noise. Let them chill out in there when parties and people are a little too much. It will save both your sanity and theirs.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Think Like A Saver

Who hasn't begun to panic when the bank account is getting low and it's not paycheck time yet? We have all had our pulses flutter a little when we see the total of the bills this month and wonder if there will be enough to cover them all.

With a little common sense, some clever ideas and the willingness to get out of your spending routine, you can begin to think like a saver.

1. Don't put off the idea of saving. I'm sure we could all admit to not setting aside money on a regular basis. But when things are super tight, extra in the savings account just isn't a priority. On the other hand, putting in small amounts - even a few dollars from every paycheck - will make a difference down the road.

2. Be aware of sales and discounts. Instead of walking into the store and hoping to find something on sale, do a little research. Combine sales with coupons, gift cards and other discounts like weekly savings to make your money stretch even further. Plan your shopping trips and errands around these special sales.

3. Set goals. And keep them handy. Figure out exactly how much you can save each month when you really put your mind to it. Then do some math - if you save that much for 12 months, how much will you have saved up by the end of 2010? Sometimes seeing actual figures jump starts your saving practices.

4. Keep the big picture in front of your eyes. If you're dreaming of a new home, keep a picture in the front of your planner. If you're looking at a new car, go to the showroom and get one of the brochures. When you have motivation in front of you, you're less likely to splurge on new clothes or sweets because you've got the big picture in mind.

5. Write it down. For just one week write down everything you spend money on - from bills to groceries to the little things you pick up each day. You might be shocked at where your hard-earned money is actually going. There may be a dozen different things you could cut down on (or just back on) and save huge amounts without feeling the strain.

6. Don't deprive yourself. We often think saving money means going cold turkey on buying anything that's not eaten or powering something. Instead, find the joy in little things like a coffee out once a week or an end-of-the-month dinner with your husband. You don't have to spend tons of money every time you shop to enjoy yourself, and you'll appreciate the time (and the savings) even more.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Beautifully Marbled - And Homemade!

When you buy cheesecake at the store, all prepared and packaged, you're drawn to the lovely marbling on top. Presentation is everything - especially with cheesecake!

But there's an easy way to get the same effect when you make it yourself. Whether you make it from scratch (yeah you!) or from the box kits (yeah me!), making the pretty marbling on cheesecake is super simple.

1. Make the crust as directed and pat into bottom of a glass pie dish.

2. Make filling as directed. Pour half of the filling on top of the crust and set the rest aside.

3. Open topping and pour into separate dish. Scoop out only the pieces of fruit onto the filling in the pie dish, saving as much of the juice as you can.

4. Spoon the rest of the filling on top of the fruit and spread evenly.

5. Dollop the remaining topping juice in a few places across the filling. Using the tip of a knife, drag the topping in swirl patterns around the filling, being careful not to drag any crust crumbs along with it.

6. Refrigerate and serve. Enjoy!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Chalk On, Chalk Off

If you're even remotely interested in creative crafts, pick up a can of chalkboard spray paint. This stuff is so easy to use and has about a million uses.

For example: this candle would make a great gift, or a changeable decoration for several seasons. It took about 10 minutes to prep, five to create and a few hours to dry.

For this project you'll need:
A can of chalkboard spray paint
A candle in glass jar
Aluminum foil
Painter's tape
A ruler

1. In a well-ventilated area, lay out a plastic bag for a workspace.

2. Clean the surface you'd like to paint and remove any dust and debris.

3. Tape off the section you're going to paint. Since this candle had such a large area I wasn't going to paint, I used some aluminum foil to cover the top and bottom. Use the ruler to get straight lines.

4. Follow the can's directions for applying the paint. Generally, you hold the can about a foot away from the surface and spray in sweeping motions. Alternating directions will keep it from running and will make an even surface.

5. After the second coat has dried, peel away the tape. If necessary, use a sharp razor blade to clean up any drips or runs.

6. To prime the surface, color the entire chalkboard area with chalk and wipe away. Decorate with stencils, Scripture or whatever words fit the season.

There are so many other creative uses for this spray paint. Here are just a few:
* Decorate the front of a lunchbox
* Create a kitchen chalkboard for everyday info
* Paint the top of a key rack to write down everyone's schedules
* Paint an entire section of wall for a kids' art area
* Spray the entire top of an old table
* Crafts like plant markers or place cards
* Resurface an old refrigerator
* In a child's bedroom, install a chair rail and paint with chalkboard paint from there down
* Label drawers
* Make a special frame for a daily Scripture or other encouraging message

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Watch That Tone Young Lady!

I don't know how many times growing up I was told to watch my tone of voice. I clearly remember saying things in anger or frustration and not really caring how I sounded.

There's a big difference between that little girl and the saved Christian woman who should have her words be important. Luke 6:45 says: A good man out of the good treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is good; and an evil man out of the treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is evil: for of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh.

Would someone listening to me speak know if my heart was abundant with good or evil? I may dress right, fix my hair right, walk right and smile right, but one sentence from my mouth can send the wrong testimony to someone.

But those things which proceed out of the mouth come forth from the heart; and they defile the man. For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, plasphemies: These are the things which defile a man; but to eat with unwashen hands defileth not a man. (Matthew 15:18-20)

Whether we like it or not, we are being judged by the words that come out of our mouths. People who believe we are Christian women can begin to doubt our testimony if our walk and our talk don't match.

Is each word, each sentence, each thought fitting of saved, believing woman? Would a stranger listening to us speak know that we are daughters of the King?

Instead of allowing anger or a disgruntled attitude come through our lips, we need to take a moment and judge whether what we are about to say is glorifying to God. If nothing else comes out of our mouths, our words should have an uplifting power.

Let no corruption proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers. (Ephesians 4:29)

When we speak our words should minister to everyone within earshot of our conversation. A great definition of edifying is building up. Any words we use to someone, about someone, near someone or for someone should be for the purpose of building up, for ministering to them in any way we can.

What words have you already spoken today and what tone did you use to speak them? There may be reason to ask forgiveness for something you've said. You may just need to thank God for the privilege to speak and use your words to uplift someone who needs it.

Monday, November 9, 2009

The Moss Is Always Greener

I was getting so embarrassed! It seemed like every day our front steps were getting greener and greener - and I don't mean in an eco-friendly way! The moss that had been there since we moved in was slowly taking over the surface of the bricks, making them a little slippery and very unsightly.

So while doing some research I learned that there is a hard way and an easy way to remove moss.

Hard way: Pour boiling water on the moss and scrub. Not a bad idea if you have time, energy, patience and elbow grease. I think I have 1 out of 4. (You figure out which one.)

Easy way: Use bleach to coat the moss. When it turns white, power-wash it off.

Can you guess which I did?

Since I really didn't feel like spending all day Saturday on my hands and knees on the steps, I poured a bottle of bleach over the moss-infected area and let it sit. (The experts also suggest putting it in a spray bottle and soaking the area that way.)

It turned white within 10 minutes, but I let it sit longer so it would get down deep - I wasn't about to do this all again.

Then I turned the garden hose nozzle onto "Typhoon" and watched in amazement as the now-white moss flew off the steps. As you can see it even whitened my grout! There's still some scrubbing to do in the little crevices, but this process saved me a ton of time and effort.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Are Two Tasks Better Than One?

God gave us two of many things when we were created - two ears, two eyes, two arms, two legs - but He only gave us one brain. I seriously believe that this is because we were not intended to be constantly multitasking.

We all try to do it, but have you ever noticed how the quality of your work often decreases when you do two things at once? Can you really concentrate completely when your focus is divided? And is it worth it to try if you know your productivity will be slashed?

Now there are some things that are fine for multitasking, but others are just wrong.

* Good: Talking on the phone while folding laundry.
* Bad: Talking on the phone while driving.

* Good: Petting the cat while watching television.
* Bad: Balancing the checkbook while watching television.

* Good: Listening to your MP3 player while vacuuming.
* Bad: Listening to your MP3 player while doing Bible study.

* Good: Reading a magazine while cooking dinner.
* Bad: Reading a magazine while cleaning the bathroom.

* Good: Planning your day while drinking a cup of cocoa.
* Bad: Planning your day while checking e-mail, sending a text, browsing the Internet and answering the phone.

The point is that any time you multitask, you divide your 100% attention between two things. You're not able to focus on giving quality effort to all you do, you're just giving smaller percentages of energy to each one. And I don't know about you, but I don't have a whole lot of energy to spare!

Some women will immediately say, but I'm busy with such-and-such and have to do several things at once just to get them all accomplished! If not, everything will fall apart!

How much of what we do during the day is self-imposed? There are only a few responsibilities the Lord has given us each day that we have to see through to the end. The rest are burdens we've given to ourselves. (Yes, I'm absolutely including myself here.)

If we are to do all to the glory of God, we need to center our thoughts on one act of service at a time. This may seem slow and laborious, but it's better than doing a mediocre job on several things all at the same time. The Lord deserves our best in all situations.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Games Cats Play

I refuse to buy any more toys for Cayenne. It's just not worth it. She'll look at them, sniff them, maybe bat them around for a minute...but then she's goes about her day.

Instead, she's more than thrilled to dump over the trash can in my craft room and play with wadded up scrapbooking paper. There's something about water bottle lids that are magnetizing to her. Better yet, she's happy batting around the little plastic rings from the top of the plastic milk jug. Sigh...

So I'm always looking for games we can play that don't require me buying a kitty tower that reaches the ceiling or putting costumes on her. (That one baffles me.)


A couple of rules first - never wake up or move a cat to play with her. Not only will she be cranky, she'll probably stalk away and go back to sleep - not fun. Also, never let a cat play with anything she could swallow, chew apart or cut herself on - also not fun. And always supervise playtime just so nothing cat-astrophic happens. (Yes...I said it!) Try these ideas instead:

* Simple toys. Crumpled up paper, a plastic shower curtain ring on a string or an empty water bottle can be irresistible. They catch her attention and bring out the stalking instinct.

* Stuff on strings. Securely tie pom poms, feathers or paper baking cups to a length of string. Whether you dangle them underneath a chair or drag them across the floor, prepare for the pounce!

* Make some noise! Curiosity gets the best of a lot of cats - scratching the couch cushion somewhere she can't see it will drive her crazy. Lay a paper sack on the floor and tap the bottom - she'll shoot inside to see what she can find. Even dragging your fingernails around the metal part that holds the pencil's eraser on will perk her ears up.

* Invisible prey. One of the most simple games that cats find addictive is running your hand underneath the blanket. Cay will pounce and chew and chase my fingers under the covers on the bed for ages - just look out for the teeth! I'm still not sure if she realizes it's me. (I wonder if she realizes I know it's her? ~Cay)

* Trick for Treat. Yes, it is possible to teach your cat tricks. I'm not really sure who's getting trained, but some cats are just as responsive for food as dogs. Cayenne will sit on command just like the girls to get her treat after dinner. What else can you convince your kitty to do on command?

* Bag O' Fun. Take some of those toys you tied to string earlier and attach them to the outside of a paper bag. Tuck a couple of paper crumples inside and let her at it. It may take her a while to understand the concept, but soon she'll play inside it, outside it, under it, maybe even drag it off. Change out the dangles so she has something interesting each time she plays with it.

Friday, November 6, 2009

I'm Still Me...Right?

One of the scariest crimes in the world today is identity theft - someone steals your personal information and uses it for their own benefit. Posing as you, they can take your money, commit other crimes and wreak havoc on an unsuspecting life.

Identity thieves look through trash, send phishing e-mails, use credit card devices and simply steal pocketbooks just to take those personal names and numbers. Once they have them they can open credit card accounts, begin cell phone accounts, have counterfeit checks made and even empty bank accounts. They can even have a driver's license made with their picture and someone else's name, just because they now have the documentation they need.

As sobering as this information is, there are so many easy ways to protect yourself against identity theft. Some may seem time consuming and overreactions, but if you want to stay you...take the time!

1. Shred everything. Never throw away documents that have your Social Security number, address, e-mail address or bank accounts on them without shredding them first. If there's a question in your mind about whether it's necessary to shred it, look it over and ask yourself if you want Mr. Stranger to know that information. If not...shred away.

2. Don't share personal info online. Don't think it's safe to put your address or phone number on those social-networking sites. You honestly have no idea "who can do what" on them and who might be reading. If someone wants them, they'll get them.

3. Lock up your SS card. There's really no reason to carry it with you unless you're getting a new ID card. Keep it securely locked away at home instead of carrying it in your purse. Only give out the number if absolutely necessary.

4. Be aware of strange e-mails. Our e-mail inbox is constantly receiving phishing messages from companies that want to steal information. There are the e-mails from banks we don't use saying we've lost access to our account. All we have to do is type in some personal info and we'll be restored. If you don't read closely and notice that they have no idea who you are, you can send all kinds of things that thieves can easily use for their personal gain.

5. Know your financial schedules. If your bills don't arrive on time, you receive bills that don't add up or you learn about purchases you didn't make, it's too late to protect yourself. You check the mailbox and e-mail everyday - check your bank account and PayPal accounts daily, too.

6. Hide your PIN. It may look silly, but cover up the keypad while you're typing in your PIN at the checkout counter. I know of people who've noticed others watching them while they do it, trying to figure out the number. This scares me! Once they have that number they can easily hack your accounts.

7 Hang up on those weird phone calls. People who phone from "the bank" wanting personal information are thieves. You shouldn't receive calls asking anything if your information is on file. Don't give out anything about yourself over the phone - tell them you'll visit the branch the next day.

8. Know who has access to your information. At work, at home, at the doctor's office and on the computer, many hands may touch your information every day. Find out exactly who has access to YOU and how they use what they know. Secure handling procedures may not be used unless you specifically ask for them.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Fabulous Feasts From Foil

When I need a great, filling, healthy meal and don't want to spend much time prepping or cleaning up, I turn to one of our absolute favorites - foil dinners!

We normally think of these packet meals as something reserved for campfires and fireplaces, but they are equally wonderful after a little while in the oven. You can put almost any combination of meat, potatoes and veggies in a double layer of foil, set the oven between 350 and 400 and bake for about half an hour on a baking sheet. Each piece of chicken or quarter pound of meat goes in one meal packet.

Here are some tasty examples:

* The original hobo dinner - ground beef or turkey, sliced red potatoes, sliced carrots, sliced green onions. Add a couple of drops of liquid smoke and it will permeate everything in the packet. Wow!

* Hobo chicken - chicken breast, sliced onion, sliced potatoes, sliced carrots, small pat of butter, can of whole kernel corn, thyme and rosemary

* Pizza chicken - chicken breast, cup of pizza sauce, shredded mozzarella cheese, pepperoni slices, chopped green pepper, chopped onion, Parmesan cheese

* Tuna melts - 10" flour tortillas, can of tuna (drained), 2 cups of cooked rice, frozen peas, mayonnaise, lemon pepper, shredded cheddar cheese

* BBQ chicken - chicken breast, cup of BBQ sauce, can of whole kernel corn, chopped green pepper

* Spicy shrimp - 1 1/2 pounds large shrimp, salsa, garlic powder, crushed red pepper, can of whole green beans (drained), grated Parmesan cheese

* Rice and bean burritos - 10' flour tortillas, can of refried beans, cup of cooked rice, shredded cheddar cheese, salsa, chopped green onions, chopped cilantro

And for my sweet tooth:
* Banana boats - firm banana with a channel scraped out of the middle, miniature chocolate chips, miniature marshmallows (only heat for about 15 minutes)

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Squaring Off With A Scrapbook Page

If you're looking for a fun, easy, original scrapbook layout idea, here it is. This mosaic page may look difficult, but with the help of a paper trimmer, you can sail through this project.

You'll need:

Several pictures you're willing to cut to pieces
Adhesive (re-positional glue is great for this)
Paper trimmer
Craft knife, metal ruler and cutting mat
Coordinating paper

A word about the pictures you choose: You will be cutting each picture into 1 inch squares, so choose photos with small details. Close-up shots of someone's face are probably not a great idea, since people generally don't look good in pieces. Nature shots are great for this project, as are pictures of people from a distance.

1. Arrange your pictures on the 12x12 paper you plan to use as your background. There are also papers specially designed with squares spaced for you that you can purchase. This is easier, though, because you can find exactly the colors and designs you like rather than settling for whatever is available. You can plan to either spread you squares randomly as this page shows, or keep the picture in one corner, just cut up like tiles. Leave some room for a title, journaling and any other embellishments you'd like.

2. Using your paper trimmer, cut your pictures into 1 inch strips, and then into 1 inch squares. If you don't have a paper trimmer, you can lay your pictures on a craft mat and use a craft knife and metal ruler to cut your squares. Lay the picture face down and measure out your cuts on each edge, marking them with a pencil. Then use the knife and metal edge to cut straight lines.

3. With a little adhesive on the back of each square, position each one according to your plan. Begin in one corner and work your way systematically down, leaving between 1/16 and 1/8 inch space between, depending on the look you want.

4. Once you've mastered this part of the process, experiment with blocks of color, photo mats and adding larger photos to the page. Then you can transfer this idea to cards or wherever else you'd like a beautiful mosaic tile look.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Stay In The Moment

Have you ever been knee-deep in a project and suddenly remembered another project? You begin to worry about that one, how long it will take or if you have what you need to complete it. You go take care of the new thought and something else comes to you. Then you start to worry again, you think about the time you should be spending on task #1, but now #3 needs your attention. Soon an entire day has gone by, you're not sure what you've accomplished and there's little to show for your efforts.

Does this sound like a typical day-in-the-life? Our minds race, our lists get out of order and we're exhausted by the time we get to bed. And then we start thinking about everything that needs to be done in the morning.

Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof. (Matthew 6:34)

When we read verses like this they don't always click. We understand the reasoning behind them and we can quote them to other people, but what happens when the situation is ours? When we're the ones worrying and struggling, does this verse pop into our heads or are we so consumed with the possibilities that Scripture is the furthest thing from our minds?

If we are determined to stay in the moment, to focus on the present and not the 27 things we have on tap for later, we can be truly useful servants for Christ.

But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you. (Matthew 6:33)

This moment, this wonderful, beautiful blessing of a moment that God has given us, may be the only one we have left. We don't know how long we have in life, so the motivation for the day is the Lord and His will. When He is at the center of all we do there is less worry, more clarity of thought and blessings abound.

The next time you feel scattered and lost, going through your day is a hazy hurry, turn to God in prayer. Make Him the focus of each action you perform and the center of each thought that runs through your head. Worry is destroyed when God is in control.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Surprise Birthday Ideas!

Today is Danny's 40th birthday. This has been a very special occasion for months - I've been planning and shopping...and hopefully he isn't any the wiser.

We had a surprise party last Sunday night at church, and I've got more surprises up my sleeve today. And it's not just because it's a special milestone, but because Danny's so special.

Make that next special birthday in your life even more special with some great surprises. It's time to get out of that silly rut and use your imagination!

* Start sending birthday cards the week before their birthday. Send e-cards, cards in the mail, hide cards around the house. You can even give them as many cards as they are years old. Let them know that you're looking forward to celebrating their special day.

* Find books or cards that tell what was happening the year they were born. This is a great piece of nostalgia that you can pull out every year.

* Find a newspaper or magazine from the day they were born. If there's some publication that's of special meaning, see if they have archived issues.

* Have all the folks at work/church/bowling team sign a card or framed picture to give as a gift.

* If you want to involve lots of people, plan a "party" that the birthday boy/girl knows about for sometime over the weekend. Then have the actual party a day or two before. "Decide" to go out for dinner and meet the other guests at a restaurant for the surprise party.

* If you want something more subdued, plan a picnic in the living room,

* Write "Happy Birthday" on their bathroom mirror with soap. When they get out of the steamy shower your message will appear.

* Have something custom made. There's something special about a keepsake piece that has their name or birth date on it.

* Plan a surprise get-away to somewhere they've been talking about for ages. This is called a time-delay tactic! Get tickets in advance, plan all the arrangements, and then don't say a word. Hustle them into the car and head out.

* Forgo the traditional and think about their favorite things. Choose cheesecake over a sheet cake. Don't go out this year - stay in. Make a card instead of buying one. Always buy the same thing? Keep your ears and eyes open for clues about something out of the ordinary they might like.

* Start a new tradition. Purchase a special candle holder to use every year. Use the same gift box over and over. Find special place settings just for birthdays.

This one isn't for the birthday boy, but it's a great surprise.
* Send your mother-in-law a thank-you card on your husband's birthday.

Be creative, don't lie about anything, and have a great celebration!

So teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom. (Psalm 90:12)

Sunday, November 1, 2009

What I've Learned From Time Management Games

In that little bit of spare time I have during the day, I love those time management games on the computer. Whether it's building a farm, running a restaurant or designing your own gym, I really enjoy testing my reflexes and making that little character a success in her business.

Whether they know it or not, the designers of these games have actually woven in some lessons we all could learn and apply in real life. It sounds like a stretch but look at this...

* Plan ahead. The only way to win a time management game is to know what's coming up and plan accordingly. If you don't have enough points or cash to buy the upgraded whatever, then you can't advance in the game. In your home, you can't buy necessities if you're not budgeting. You can't have dinner ready if you didn't buy the right ingredients. You won't have time to yourself if you don't schedule well. Look to the day or the week ahead and have everything you need to be efficient.

* Buy what you need to finish quickly... but remember that you have to take care of whatever you own. I think about my favorite farm game - I have tons of money saved up, but I'm not spending as I could be because then I would have to feed extra cows, fix more machines and plow more fields. In the real world, we get overwhelmed with "things" and then stuff them in a closet to gather dust. What we "had" to have last week because we had the money is something that's not so important this week. Budget for what you need, what you'd like and what would be nice to have.

* No money for a new item? Sell some of what you've got tucked away. The restaurant game will let you sell back recipes you don't need anymore so you can get what you'll need for the harder levels. Remember those "had-to have" items you put in the closet? Have a garage sale or put them up on ebay to make some quick money. Use your crafty skills to use up some old supplies and sell them. Let what you already own work for you.

* Get slower tasks done first. Most games have put in laundry first thing in the morning so it can be running all morning. Then I can have everything dry and put away before they day's over. Make dinner in the slow cooker first thing so you don't have to think about it later in the day. Start these time-consuming chores first, then you can move on to tasks that really need your attention. Talk about multi-tasking without actually trying!

* Organizing saves time.
While playing, you learn to put the ketchup machine near the tomato patch. Place the cash register near the front door. Keep up cleaning the new messes while attacking the old ones. Any woman will tell you that organizing pays off, whether they actually implement it or not. If you spend even ten minutes every day setting things in order, you will save buckets of time and energy later. You won't have to search for things tomorrow or get frantic because you can't find what you need when you need it - call organization a sanity saver!

* Serve customers before they run out of patience.
This is just my personality, but I do tasks for other people before I do the ordinary stuff. Then they can handle their end of the job/enjoy the project/have something in their hands sooner than if I'd waited until the last minute. In the games, people lose patience and you get fewer points when you're running behind. Here in the world, it's a blessing when you put other people before yourself.

* Know when to take a break.
If I play any time management game for too long, I go cross-eyed and I don't want to play again for a few days. This is the same in life - if you don't take R&R time every now and then, you won't feel like participating anymore. You've got an overly-busy day? Schedule in time to read a book or grab a coffee. Call a friend for a few minutes or run an errand to get out of the house. A little time now will bring you more joy when you jump back in.