Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Thing #41.   Be a voter.
Voting is part of what makes our country great. Don’t complain about our elected officials if you ignore the opportunity to be part of the process. I know I’m suggesting this just after an election, but I didn’t want to suggest it in the context of something you needed to do in the coming week. I want to encourage you to make it part of your life, that whenever there is an election, you vote. Don’t just vote now and again. Be a voter.

Thing #42.   Save money.
If you stuck $5 in a safe place every week, you’d have $260 by the end of the year. That’s enough to replace your microwave oven. Ten dollars a week could get you some new tires for the car.
Better yet, create an emergency fund. Most experts agree that a good emergency fund should represent three to six months’ worth of household spending. Financial advisor Suze Orman says, “I don’t think it’s asking too much of twentysomethings to have them start building an emergency fund by making automatic deposits from their paycheck or checking account into a savings account.”
Three months’ worth seems like a lot of money, but in this day of frequent unemployment, it’s worth considering.

Thing #43.   Learn to sew a hem.
You shouldn’t have to pay someone to shorten your slacks or skirts. Here’s a great tutorial: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tMqK-fNrCrM

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Thing #40. Be kinder than necessary.

Be kinder than necessary.

Doug and I came across this phrase recently written in white letters on a small blue billboard at the edge of a tiny Utah town. We looked at each other and smiled. It summarized what brought us to that small town to begin with.

We were on a road trip, driving from Idaho to our home in Colorado, when we saw a man standing on the side of the interstate, waving his arm at passing traffic, asking for help. Without hesitation, my generous, helpful husband slowed the car and pulled over. As we stopped, we saw he had a blown out tire lying on the shoulder next to his small pickup.

I don’t always go for this kind of thing. I’m afraid the person “in need” will turn out to be an ax murderer. But in this case, it was obvious he was in trouble. Besides which, he was not a big person. I figured Doug could take him. Shoot, I could probably take him. But mostly I saw him as someone who genuinely needed the kindness of strangers.

“My tire, it is bad,” he said in heavily accented English. “Where are you going?”

“We’re headed to Ogden,” Doug said.

“Good, that’s good,” the man said.

Doug threw his shredded tire into the trunk, I shifted things a bit in the backseat, and our new friend climbed in.

We learned his name is Gandhi, he lives in a small town in Idaho, and was on his way to Ogden to look for work. He and his wife have three children. We didn’t talk much. His English was pretty good, but my Spanish is muy malTerribles.

We pulled into the nearest town, but it was too small to have a tire store. The woman at the service station told us to try the next town over, and even recommended where to get a good deal.

Pulling into the next town over is when we saw the sign. “Be kinder than necessary.” I probably would have been kind enough to take Gandhi to the tire store. But my husband was kinder than necessary. He suggested we wait while a new tire was mounted on the rim and take him the 50 miles back to his truck. I knew it was the right thing to do. When we got back to the truck, Doug helped him change the tire.

Before we parted, Ghandi invited us to his home for dinner the next time we come to Idaho. We exchanged names and phone numbers. We just might give him a call. He said his wife makes great gorditas.

It added some time to our trip (which was already going to be a good 15 hours), but was the right thing to do. You and I need to be good to each other in this crazy world. So be kind. Kinder than necessary.

For an inspiring story of “unnecessary” kindness, watch this story from CBS Sunday Morning.


Monday, October 6, 2014

Thing #39: Explore!

If I had unlimited resources, I would travel the world (with someone who spoke multiple languages, of course). I love exploring new sites, sounds, tastes . . 
. .
Yet, even as I say that, I have to admit that’s not the way I live. I tend to spend a great deal of my free time at home, watching television, reading, doing chores. The chores are necessary, I suppose, but the TV watching certainly is not.

One of my through-the-window shots of  aspen-covered hills.
My hubby and I recently took a road trip, 900 miles to attend our niece’s wedding. I had so much fun, riding shot gun, reading trivia questions for Doug, shooting photos out the window. It helps that we were driving through the Colorado Rockies at the peak of aspen season, that time of year when the trees turn brilliant gold.

It reminded me of how much is out there to see. So I determined, somewhere on I-70, that I would get out more, see and experience what is in my beautiful back yard.

Thankfully, I have an adventurous friend, Carol. She and I have decided to visit every castle in Colorado. It started when she invited me out for a day of fun last summer. She’s good at instigating things with this homebody. She had a hike in mind, up in Denver. The hike took us to the ruins of a castle and somewhere along the way we decided to visit all the other castles we could get to (some aren’t open to the public). So far, we have checked four off our list. We always have a blast, more because we enjoy each other’s company, but the exploring part is fun, too.

I encourage you to explore your world. There may be a museum in your town that you’ve never visited. Maybe a natural wonder that is a few hours away. Do whatever fits your budget. 

Get out! 



Thursday, September 18, 2014

Thing #38: Create a universal packing list.

As a friend of mine recently said, we don’t make lists to remember things; we make lists so we don’t have to remember things.

I love lists. I make lists of household chores to do every Saturday—not that I accomplish everything. As I said in my first “Thing” post, I make menu plans and use that to create a shopping list. I have a list of things to do at work (both immediate tasks and long-range projects). I have a three-column list for camping prep and packing. That's my favorite list of all time.

Yeah, I love lists.

I like to use a packing list whenever I take a trip. (I started doing this after the trip where I forgot to pack certain daily garments that prompted me to do a sink full of hand washing every evening.) While specifics change depending on the destination, climate, and purpose of the trip, my list helps me remember to pack the important things that must go with me every time. Here’s my list:

--Stop the mail. (We have wonderful neighbors who collect our mail for us when we’re gone.)
--Houseplants. (In the summer, I move them all to our downstairs bathroom so they are less likely to dry up while we gone. If our trip is longer than a week, I impose on those same generous neighbors to help us out.)
--Yard care. (We’ve eliminated much of this, but if something needs tending, our neighbors help us with this, too. I told you they were wonderful.)
--We don’t have pets, but pet care would certainly fit here.
--Take out the trash.
--Close windows.
--Open the dishwasher. (This ensures that I’m not leaving dirty dishes in there while I’m gone. That’s not a good thing. Trust me on this.)
--Care for food in fridge as needed.

--List what is needed for this specific trip.
--Dress clothes. (One time, some of the clothes we needed for a wedding didn’t make the trip, so I added this note as a reminder to pack any special clothes needed.)
--Jammies. (Sleepwear.)
--Dress shoes. (Same idea as dress clothes.)
--Walking shoes.
--Other shoes.

TOILETRIES [this varies depending on if I’m flying or driving]
I keep many of these things packed in a small travel bag, then just add the extras.
--Prescriptions. (I always pack enough for a few extra days, just in case I get stranded in Wyoming.)
--Night guard. (An appliance to keep me from grinding my teeth together.)
--Hair gel.
--Nail file/clippers.
--Bandages and first aid cream.
--Feminine care products.
--Pain relievers.
--Cotton swabs.
--Make up bag. (Keeping in mind the limitations of air travel.)
--Hair dryer. (Most hotels provide these nowadays.)
--Curling iron.
--Hair pick.

--Reading material..
--Cords for
·        Phone
·        Computer
·        Nook
--Games. (At least a deck of cards.)
--Driving directions/maps.
--Flight itineraries.
--Water bottle. (Pack it empty for plane trips and fill it after you go through security.)

Here’s a more exhaustive list from world traveler Rick Steves: https://www.ricksteves.com/travel-tips/packing-light/ricks-packing-list

What else is on your list?

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Things #32-37 Quick Tips

I better get on the ball of I’m going to complete 52 things this year! Here are half a dozen things that require very little commentary.

32.   Sit outside. Listen to the birds, breathe the fresh air. While you can, my friends. Winter is not far away.

33.   Add a ribbon to a bracelet to make a necklace. I have a charm bracelet from my teen years that sat unworn in my jewelry box for years. It was simply too cumbersome to wear on my wrist, especially when working on a computer, as I am known to do. When I saw this idea in a magazine, my charm bracelet was reborn. I've even added several new charms in recent years.

My charm bracelet became a charm necklace with the addition of a ribbon.

34.   Keep a box in your trunk to wrangle groceries and other roly-poly things.

35.   Put a terra-cotta dish in your brown sugar. You’ve probably seen the cute terra-cotta discs that keep your sugar soft. You can do the same thing with a 32-cent dish from the plant section of your local hardware store. Soak the dish in water for several hours, then put it in a sealed container with your brown sugar. Keeps it nice and soft.

36.   Use a slice of bread to soften cookies. If your cookies or brownies turned out a little crispier than you’d hoped, put them in a sealed container with a slice of bread. The bread hardens, the cookies soften. It’s like magic!  

37.   Keep a towel in the car to cover your clothes when you eat in the car. Because you don’t want to go back to work with ketchup on your shirt.

There! All caught up!

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Thing #31. Never assume.

Never assume. This is a principle I learned from my journalism prof. If you failed to clarify the response to an interview question, don’t assume you know what he meant. Go back to the source and get all the information you need. Never assume.

It’s a motto that well serves the news business. But in recent years I’ve realized how much we need to apply this to each other as human beings.

It’s easy to assume the mom speaking a little too harshly to her children in the grocery store is simply a bad mother. But we don’t know that for sure. She may very well have been up all night with a sick child—as a good mother would—and is exhausted.

We can’t assume that every overweight person we see is unable to control their appetite. (There are lots of reasons people gain weight; overeating is just one of them.)

We can’t assume that the new employee who passed us in the hall without a hello is a snob. (She could be shy or distracted or worried.)

We can’t assume people who appear happy on the outside aren’t miserable on the inside. (Do I need to explain this one?)

We can’t assume that every homeless person we pass on the street is an uneducated drug addict.
(Their stories may surprise you: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=THxtcWNw3QA)

Reserve judgment until you know the whole story. And if you can’t know the whole story, don’t judge.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Thing #30. Embrace the cloud.

I don’t pretend to fully understand what is meant by “the cloud,” but it has something to do with the great big world of interconnected computers. At least one element of the cloud the idea of storing things where everybody can access them. Sites like Instagram and Dropbox are part of the cloud, for example.

Our family is starting to make use of this idea by keeping certain documents (like spreadsheets, photos, recipes) in Google Drive. It’s especially nice when one member of the family lives in a faraway place like, say, MISSOURI. When the faraway family member wants her favorite recipe, the holder of the recipe can upload the recipe to the cloud. The family member living far away (with a smart phone) can even access the recipe in the grocery store. That is the genius of the cloud.

We’ve started putting photos there, too. It’s so much easier than making prints, or even emailing a photo, because it keeps all the photos in one place.

So, as your family members spread to the corners of the earth, consider sharing documents in the cloud.

Here’s one of my favorite recipes to get you started. It was easy for me to find. It was in the cloud.

(By the way, the proper expression is "in the cloud" not "on the cloud." A techie at work very kindly corrected me on that. On the cloud sounded pretty comfy to me.) 

Zucchini Bread
from Becky Grosenbach

3 eggs
2 c sugar
1 c oil
1 T vanilla
2 c peeled, coarsely grated, loosely packed zucchini
2 c flour
1 t salt
1 t baking soda
1 t baking powder
1 T cinnamon
1 t nutmeg
1⁄4 t cloves
1 c chopped nuts
1⁄2 c raisins (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In large mixing bowl, beat eggs until frothy. Add sugar, oil, and vanilla to
eggs and beat until thick. Stir in zucchini.

Sift together dry ingredients and add to zucchini mixture; mix well. Stir in nuts (and raisins).

Pour into two greased and lightly floured 9x5x3-inch bread pans. Bake one hour or until toothpick inserted in the center of the bread comes out clean. Freezes well.