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Showing posts from November, 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 cou…

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 lif…

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

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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 boot…

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 savi…

Fruit Kabobs - Centerpiece or Appetizer?

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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, la…

Gratitude Journal

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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 bo…

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 …

But The Fire Is So Delightful

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'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 f…

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 c…

...And Then I Woke Up!

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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!)

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 touch…

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.

Chalk Popping - Scrapbook Style

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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)
Tweezers
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 dar…

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 i…

Napkin Folding for the Holidays

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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.

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. Ther…

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 brin…

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 er…

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…

Chalk On, Chalk Off

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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…

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 …

The Moss Is Always Greener

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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 ge…

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 you…

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 hap…

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 a…

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, shredde…

Squaring Off With A Scrapbook Page

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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
or
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 wha…

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 ca…

Surprise Birthday Ideas!

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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 ther…

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 y…