Happy 2013

1000 piece puzzle finished

A new year is here, the adventure continues. I enjoyed the holidays with my family. Along with my high schooler, who will still be home for a few years, her older sister was home from college, my oldest son and his family were in and out. The girls enjoyed playing online games, Skyping with another older brother finishing up his grad degree across the country.  They were sad he wasn’t coming home.  We also got to talk to our other kids via phone or Skype, whichever worked best for them. Their oldest sister sent some healthy munchies and a 1000 piece puzzle. You can see it finished at the top. Different family members would come in and work on it at various times. Now I get my table back, but couldn’t bear to box up all that hard work without a photo.

It snowed on Christmas day, something I’ve never seen it do here before.  We were thankful to miss the Chrismas tornadoes which went south of us.  The girls went over to their brother’s place and made a snowman, throw snowballs, wished for better snow gloves, fun just the same.

I used audacity to record stories for my grandkids. I found a Winnie the Pooh collection of stories, and while waiting for my daughter in the morning, chauffeuring her from place to place, I recorded all the stories for my grandkids. As I started each story, I told all 5 grandkids Hi by name. I told them what page to find the start of the story. I meowed when time to change pages. Sometimes I made a comment at the end of the story. They loved it.

I recorded the stories as audio cd’s, wrapped the book up with the cd’s and more Winnie the Pooh Stuff I found in

custom family calendar January Another hit was a custom family calendar. My mother-in-law put it this way. She had been enjoying the calendar I did last year, and was sad to see it come to an end. She was hoping I’d make them again. She didn’t want a boring calendar for the next year.  Made her day. Something she can’t just go out and buy herself. SendOutCards’ PhotoStore made it so much easier.

I took photos I’d been saving throughout the year or ones my kids sent me. I uploaded them to my SendOutCards account. I went into the photo store page, picked what date and month I wanted it to start, made a cover photo and started adding photos for the various months. Sometimes I simply used the whole photo. Other times I used some of the tools on the site and added a collection of various photos.  Through in a few quotes here and there. On birthdays, anniversaries, I added photos. Because I created my calendar online, I could save the project and come back to it from time to time until it was complete. These should be made at least 2 weeks before you need them, time to print and ship. Mail is extra quirky during the Christmas season.

calendarnAs a SendOutCards representative, I’d be glad to show you around the site and the ins and outs of using the photo store.  Just get in touch. The calendars were just 12.95 and shipping. I’ll have to try their playing card option some time. Playing cards with photos you add instead of the traditional images.  Worth checking out.

Decorations packed up, waited to go up in the attic till next year. My college daughter dropped back off at LaTech in Ruston. Youngest daughter back in school. Time to get back into gear, working on making 2013 an awesome year. You can see some of the projects I’ll be working on by visiting my HomeGrown LifeStyle Blog.

Let me know how your holidays went, your plans for the new year.  Share your links if you’ve blogged about it.  Share any tips and ideas.

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Save Money, Shop Fall Plant Sales

Hibiscus

I like plants, I’ll always be looking for more.  But when it comes to buying perennial shrubs, herbs etc., the price adds up quickly.  Hibiscus has been on my list of plants to add.  It is basically a tropical plant with huge flowers, which are also edible, health benefits.

So I checked one local store, and found their hibiscus 75% off.  A beautiful looking plant, in a large pot.  Tempting, how much sun did it need?  Lots.   Hmmmm.  Place I was thinking of using has partial sun much of the day.

Running errands, I remembered a sunny southwest corner of my house (brick), where I planned on planting a strawberry ground cover with some garlic plants.   I could plant those in front of some hibiscus plants.   Note to self, pick one up with my daughter after school.  Checking one more store, Home Depot I found more sales. (won’t they ever put their citrus trees on sale? pretty please?)  Hibiscus? Some marked down from $15 to $1.35, larger ones marked down from 20 something to about 3.  I check the tag on one of these, different leaves than the cheaper ones, larger flowers.  Only good to 30 degrees.  It’ll get colder that that several days in the winter, so I picked up 3 of the cheaper ones.   If they don’t make it through the winter, I’m out $4.

Many other plants on sale, esp. perennials at 50-75% off.  Some look pretty sad.  Others not the ones I want.  So many useful pretty plants you can landscape with that have multiple uses, I stay away from the purely ornamental.

One thing to check, be sure you have a place to put your plants.  Make sure they will grow in that desired location.   I went back to check on my first 3 hibiscus.  On sale because they may not make it through the winter.  I may keep them in pots and put in greenhouse when it gets colder.  However, I did pick up 2 of the larger ones, when a saleslady pointed out they were hardy to -10.  :)   $6 beats $40 something any day.  What type of bargains do you find shopping in plant stores this fall?

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Signs of Hope

Several years back, I made this video “Signs of Hope” at a friends request. I asked what kind of photos did she want to see, and she said signs of hope. As I went through my photos I realized that many do have something to do with hope, I wanted to test out Animoto as a movie maker and created “Signs of Hope”. I was surprised how easy it was to make.

If you click on my Animoto link and purchase something there, the cost is same to you, but I make a little bit. There is also the free version.

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Phone Scams from a BobSled User

phone scammer using bobsledI just got a call from a guy with an Indian accent.  He said he was calling from Microsoft and that they could see that our computer was full of viruses and he was calling to help us out before the infection got worse.  I promptly hung up on him.  I knew he was lying and I didn’t have time to mess with him.  (However I am taking time to write this post).  Why did I hang up?

  • Caller ID said BobSled, not microsoft
  • We have more than 1 computer, not all are windows microsoft, and we scan regularly for viruses “your microsoft computer sounds very fishy
  • I’ve never known Microsoft support tech to call me or anyone else saying my computer is infected.  Like they have time to monitor all that? and make extra calls?

Curious, after hanging up, I googled the phone number and learned 2 things.   This guy has been doing this for a while, scamming people out of $250 or some other amount.  Bobsled is a service where people can make free calls to their friends through social media without even knowing their number.  Bobsled is not the bad guy.  This phone scammer is.  Hopefully someone can track him down.

Here is how I checked him out, you should do the same with any questionable calls.  If everyone did this, there’d be no profit in phone scams.

There may be others out there like him.  Be aware of your callers.  Check caller ID.  Even if the id is who they say they are, don’t give any personal info over the phone line unless you can verify they are who they say they are.

My friend Claudia shares her story of another phone scam:

“Just a couple weeks ago my Mom was taken advantage of by the “Grandmother Scam” – called her saying that my son was in Mexico and had been in an accident and needed $, then put the “Mexican police” on to explain to her how to go about this, go to Western Union, etc., she told them she didn’t have a car and they pressured her to get a taxi, thankfully the woman there taking care of Mom took the phone and asked who they were at which point they hung up. Was very upsetting for my Mom.”

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Simply Cleansing Homemade Soap

Simply Cleansing Homemade Soap

I had a wonderful surprise last week in my mailbox. One of my twitter friends had sent me a package of cool homemade soap. Not just one or 2 bars of soap, but a mailbox full, each with a different scent (from essential oils).  I was in a hurry, running errands before leaving town for my daughter’s swim meet near Houston.  (they won regions and on their way to state!)  Wanting to check out the soaps some more, I stashed them in the car with me.  My car smelled awesome while running those errands.

I was blessed with an assortment of wonderful soap: tea tree, spearmint, peppermint, cinnamon, orange, lemon, cedarwood.   Each in its own little bag.  I was thinking what a great gift these would make if you included their oak soap rest, a natural sponge, wrapped up in a basket.  Mother’s Day is coming up.

OK, why should you buy Simply Cleansing Homemade Soap?

  • You’ve been thinking of making your own homemade soap and never get around to it.
  • Support small  business which doesn’t outsource overseas
  • Be kind to your skin, instead of all kinds of chemicals and stuff which dries out your skin,  Simply Cleansing soaps uses naturally occurring vegetable oils
  • Essential oils are great, each with their own healing power, anti-fungal, antibiotic type properties.  Look each one up to see their benefits.
  • So you can enjoy a nice smelling mailbox/house/car too

A question came up about the sodium hydroxide (lye) in the soap. I did a little research and it seems you can’t make bar soap without it. So I asked Simply Cleansing about the lye issue and got back this quick and helpful response:

 People just don’t know that lye is the ONLY way to have soap. The only other thing you can use is maybe soap nuts which we will be getting soon, but it isn’t soap.

Lye
Saponification and Glycerin
Food Grade Lye

We use this soap for our children and WOULD NOT use anything harmful on them. Did You Know that Water Has Hydrogen in it?  And Hydrogen is Flamable? But we use it to put out fires! Same thing with soap, there is a chemical reaction and the lye is no longer harmful. Don’t take me wrong, I am not trying to be sarcastic, that is just the best way I know to explain it. I would be happy to know of another way to make soap, but from all my reasearch this is the ONLY way and others just use deceitful ways around tell people there is lye in it because they know people will react to it.”

I was not asked to do a review of the soap.  I did want to share my mailbox surprise.  I planned on doing  product reviews here so felt this was a great place to start.  Thanks

 

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Keeping Your Sanity This Christmas

How to keep your sanity this Christmas season.  Great reminders for myself.

[haiku url="http://boomerempowerment.com/audio/insanechristmas.mp3" title="Keeping Your Sanity This Christmas"]

  • Create new family traditions if the old ones aren’t working any more.
  • Don’t borrow money for Christmas
  • Don’t compare yourself with others, it isn’t a contest
  • Buy locally and from small businesses
  • Avoid the crowds – if you don’t enjoy Black Friday crowds, don’t go
  • Shop online for items not locally grown or produced, let them do the shipping
  • Simplify
  • Use a greeting card service
  •  Don’t expect perfection
  • Remember the reason for Christmas, and no it’s not stimulate the economy
  • Serve others
  • Smile
Bonus tip: If you have little ones around, have non-breakable ornaments within their reach.  Let them help make ornaments,  help decorate, and don’t get stressed when they undecorate the tree to play with them,  simply remind them to hang back on the tree.
Be sure and post some of the things you enjoy doing this holiday season.

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Beware the Free Dinners

07.02.04-GKP EXCOMM-RC Dinner Meeting @ KL 017 © by gkpsecretariat

Free Dinner for 2!

Please Accept Our Invitation

Simply Attend Our Free Seminar 

How You Can Become Wealthy Beyond You Dreams

I get these in the mail from time to time. Maybe not these exact words, but something similar. It may be how you can create great wealth from home running an online business, or how to no longer pay utility bills. Yes, people can become wealthy running an online business. Look at the Facebook crew. Yes, you can use alternative energy to lower your utility bills, something worth checking out.  Dinner sounds great.  Grab your spouse and go.

NOT BEFORE YOU DO SOME FACT CHECKING

 One invite I’d received was about internet marketing, promising to get on the front page of Google. I searched online under the company’s name. Wow they sure do have many dissatisfied clients who plunked down thousands of their hard earned cash. Weird in that since they are able to get a website on the front page of Google how all these uphappy people pull up before their own website. I didn’t know if they were scamming people or not, preying upon the gullible, desperate or offering a legitimate service. However, if they can’t get their own website ranked above the complainers, they aren’t too good at their job.

A friend gave me a call.  She was all excited.  She attended the dinner, got a free cd player for her son.  Lots of money to be made she said, and she thought of me.  I know how to do things online, maybe we could form a partnership.   But first she has to attend a second seminar a couple hours away.  She was sad I couldn’t come as I missed the first meeting.  She talked to the guys in charge.  Sure she could bring a friend, they’d make a special exception for me.

What did they teach you I asked?  First one promised how to get on the first page of Google.  She thought for a while, don’t think they answered that.  Seems they only showed various success stories of people making boatloads of money.  I told her about my online research, the amount of money people spent.  How I could get similar services as ones they were offering for so much less money.  Why I wouldn’t be going.  She didn’t go either.  :)

So I checked out yesterday’s offer on getting rid of my energy bills. More unhappy people. In fact, just like the previous company, I see they’ve changed their name do to complaints but didn’t even change their phone number. Better Business Bureau shows complaints, most resolved but complaints just the same. My time in precious. So is my husband’s. We’ll stay home and possibly play with grandkids. Money? We’ll do our own research and work with companies people say good things about.

Today’s Tip

Research companies online for doing business with them, or even before attending their seminars.

Today’s Task

Share with us in the comments offers you’ve received, did you attend? did it change your life? Please share your stories.

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Garlic’s not Just for Vampires

vampire photo

Vampire teeth © by mollystevens

Remember watching the old Dracula movie? Garlic used to ward off vampires. Eat garlic, wear garlic, hang garlic over your doorway. Lots of garlic, garlic everywhere to ward off the vampires. In Panama, I’ve heard they rub garlic juice over exposed skin at night (if sleeping outside) to protect themselves from getting bite by the vampire bat.

Vampires and garlic may go in the realm or myths, yet garlic has been used throughout the years to ward off ills.

Benefits of Garlic

First, you have to admit. Garlic smells good. Tastes good. Maybe not on your breath, but doesn’t the smell of roasted garlic make you hungry? Where would Italian food be without garlic?

But did you know that garlic has also been for its health benefits? Now I’m not a medical doctor, nor a medical researcher, but history has long shown the benefits of garlic.

Garlic is a natural antibiotic. Unlike prescription antibiotics, the organisms don’t develop a resistance to garlic. It also builds up your immune system. Thus you can say garlic wards off both vampires and illness.

Garlic has also been said to reduce your blood pressure, cholesterol levels, balance your blood sugar.  It also works as a natural antioxidant.   Many other claim you can read in my list of sources.

Bottom line, eat more garlic, live healthier.   Now raw garlic is better for you than cooked.  If cooked, put the garlic in last.  One of my favorite kitchen tools I got from Pampered Chef is a garlic press.  I’d been doing it wrong, cooking the garlic with the onions from the start, now I’m learning to add the garlic last few minutes.

Have a garden?  Plant some garlic bulbs this fall.  Doesn’t it make sense to simply get garlic from your own yard?

One word of caution, simply chewing multiple fresh garlic cloves could irritate your mouth.  Some are more sensitive than others. Thus my favorite way to use garlic is in my food.

Sausage Potato Soup

Garlic © by mdid

Feel free to modify the recipe I did.

1 lb ground sausage (or chorizo)
6 garlic cloves
1 c. onions
olive oil
freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon Sage Hill Farms Cajun Seasoning (organic, salt free)
8 cups chicken broth
6 red potatoes washed and cut
bunch of kale or bok choy washed and cut into thin strips

I cook the sausage in a large soup pan. Then I saute the onions in the oil from the sausage, if no oil I add a little olive oil.  Add chicken broth (I use Better than Bullion) and potatoes.  Cook med high till potatoes are almost soft. (25-30 minutes or so).  Add cut up kale or bok choy along with the garlic minced.  Cook another  10-15 minutes.

We like to add a spoonful of sour cream to each bowl.   Enjoy!

Sources:

Garlic Health Benefits from antioxidants

Garlic Facts and Remedies  

Growing Garlic

 

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What Kind of Home do I Want?

sandy bank

Raising 7 kids in a home with 1200-1300 sq ft has been a challenge. When we moved here we only had 4 children and had no idea how long we’d live here.

At one time I imagined as the kids moved out, my home would no longer be so cramped, it’d become the right size, except for the kitchen. I think anyone designing a home should have experience cooking for a family before they put the thing together. My kitchen is only practical for those who live from freezer to microwave. You can’t even put the dishes away with the dishwasher open. And there is little counter space or cupboards.

Trees grow with time and those cute little pine trees behind the back fence have grown into monsters. We have always wanted fruit trees, imagine if we’d planted some when we first moved in. Of course there is too much shade from those overgrown pine trees. I love trees, but I need some sunlight for my garden!

Last Christmas cinched it. This home just won’t do. 3 of my children are married and I had 3 grandkids at the time, one on the way. I love having my kids visit along with their spouses and kids, but talk about wall to wall people. Of course you have to add suitcases, places to sleep, change diapers etc. Imagine how big the crew will be in another 10 years.

It had always been our plan to buy some land in the country after retirement (not there yet, but it is getting closer). Course our bodies start falling apart before then.

Why not take some of that equity in our home and buy some land? We could start the fruit trees etc and have a nice place by the time we move over. Having a limited budget (part of the retirement plan is having everything paid off including our home by then) I went land shopping. Not such an easy thing to do. Eventually I was delighted when we bought 4 acres close by with the most beautiful trees and and a spring fed creek. And those Beech trees. . . :)

We are building a 30×40 metal shop out there, something my husband always wanted. He is making half of it living quarters. That will give us a place to sleep over, stash visiting kids/spouses/grandkids, esp those who are allergic to our pets. Then when we sell this place we can live there while building our new home. It doesn’t have to be bigger (except the kitchen) cause our visitors can sleep in the shop apartment.

What will my home look like? A work in progress. It will have decks and gorgeous views, paid for, energy efficient. Much will depend on what we can afford at the time and how much work we are willing to do ourselves. Check out our progress, ups and downs, learning experiences at My Land.

Question to ask yourself, do you want your retirement depending on Social Security, or your 401K? Me, I’d rather have the bulk of it in land. Guess I’ll always be land shopping.  Share what kind of place you’d like to live.

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