Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Do I Really Have To Wrap This?

Ah, Christmas! It’s sneaking up on us fast! If you are like me, you are nowhere near prepared for this festive day. Then to top it off, we have to actually wrap all these gifts we go out and buy for our loved ones. I love to give and receive gifts. I truly do! The expressions on the faces of my friends and family as they open their new treasures are one of my favorite things in the world. The look of shock when they get something they have wanted for so long! Or even the look of dread when the kids open clothes, again. Christmas is one of my favorite days of the year. But let’s face it…making those presents so pretty and perfect is a nightmare in itself! Is it enough to just put it in a pretty bag with some tissue paper and some nice ribbon? That works for birthday presents. But is it acceptable on Christmas? Or do people really expect more? After all, Christmas is not truly about the presents, right. When it comes down to it, though, we all like to see the presents with the beautiful paper and bows under the tree. I hope with a few tips, we can all wrap up some gorgeous treats for our friends and families this year. So, here we go…
1. Measure your paper before you wrap the present. Roll it out on your wrapping surface and lay your present on it. Wrap it around the present. Mark where you need to cut and then cut the paper.
2. Sharpen your scissors. This will cut down on tears in your paper. So your paper will look nice and neat.
3. Use the pop up tape dispenser. This will prevent trying to find your roll of tape and holding paper in place with your feet (yes, I have done this!) while trying to tear off a piece of tape. The dispenser will slide on your wrist and be right there nice and handy.
4. Place the gift upside down on the paper when you start to wrap it. Everyone I know does this, but there are some who don’t. The purpose is so that when the other person opens the gift it will be right side up. Also, so all the lines from the gift wrap are on the bottom.
5. Label each gift with the sticky labels. Instead of just writing on the paper or using the ones that you tape on the package, these are like stickers and stay on so much better.
6. Use ribbons instead of bows. Ribbons are so pretty and you can curl them. Besides bows fall off after like a day or two. If you absolutely must use bows, tape them on.
7. Make gift baskets. They are creative. People can use the baskets over again. But wrap the baskets in cellophane and tie it off with a ribbon so you don’t lose anything. There are many pretty colors of cellophane this time of year. Also they have giant cellophane bags for this purpose for holidays.
8. Use stockings for small gifts instead of gift bags. They are fun and very Christmassy!
9. For large gifts, use Rubber Maid containers. They are also in different colors, including red and green, and you can decorate them!
10. If you have those odd shaped gifts that you just can’t wrap, go on and use that gift bag. I think they are very pretty and practical. If you put a sticky label on the side, you can almost guarantee you won’t be given the same bag back next year! Dress it up with some colorful tissue paper and ribbons and you are all set!

I hope these tips help us all to have a wonderful, semi-stress free gift wrapping season. Merry Christmas to you all!

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Learn To Pace Your Housework

In the past, I used to drive myself into a frenzy trying to get my housework done - in one day. I worked full-time outside of the home, and I basically tried to get everything done on Saturdays. Because housework is never really done, I could never seem to stop for the day. I would always see something else to be done and tie into that.

I got to the point where I dreaded Saturdays. I was stressed out and in a terrible mood by the end of the day. It goes without saying, I was also exhausted. I was too tired to cook a decent supper, and too tired to go out to eat.

Finally, one day, I was complaining about this to my mother, and she gave me some valuable advice. She said, "You've got to learn to pace yourself."

I realized that at my teaching job, I followed my lesson plans for the day. I checked them off in my plan book. If we didn't finish something, I marked it down for the next day. I didn't try to complete the whole week's worth of instruction in one day. But at home, I was endeavoring to complete a week's worth of housework in one day, and it just wasn't working. Even God didn't create the world in one day! He knew how to pace himself.

So now, I have learned to pace my housework. I complete daily chores after work, such as unloading the dishwasher, a quick tidying of the house, putting dinner on, and so forth. Then I try to do one small weekly housework chore. I make a list for each evening, and check off the items when they are done. I concentrate on the priorities, and if something doesn't get done, I do what I do in school. I write it down for the next day.

Most importantly, I have learned to make myself stop. Housework can go on all day and all evening if you let it. I make up my mind what I will do, and when that's finished, I quit. I watch television with my husband, visit my mother, or phone my grown children. I might read, write, or surf around on the computer.

If you find yourself in this same vicious cycle, maybe these tips can help you. Decide what you want to accomplish in a day. Don't over plan. Quit when you're done. Enjoy the peaceful feeling of work being finished for the day.

Jessica Gerald has been an elementary school teacher for over thirty years, and is the publisher of the website http://www.oldfashionedhomemaking.com.

Article Source: http://www.faithwriters.com-CHRISTIAN WRITERS

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Yard Sales

It is the dreaded thing we all enjoy but hate to do! The work that goes into doing a yard sale is miserable but we do have fun exploring them. Today i am going to give you some tips so hopefully your next sale will be a successful one. The biggest problem we have when it comes to doing our own sales is that it's risky. We want to get rid of some stuff that's lying around our house collecting dust, but at the same time, who would want to buy this stuff...right? Well....when you go to other people's yard sales, i bet they thought the same thing! And most of these people are doing really well with these sales! So here we go.....let's discuss some things that we can do to maybe have a successful sale next time! I'm gonna make this a semi-short list.....I found a really LONG list though of some AWESOME things....to read it go to http://wwww.yardsalequeen.com/ This lady on this site is truly the yard sale queen! She does her own, she shops them, she loves yard sales! I happened upon this site though because i am thinking of doing a sale of my own soon and I was looking for some tips to have a successful sale.

1. Advertise.....obviously! You need to put it in the paper! You can advertise in your local papers want ads section, craiglist, check local news websites for your area. Most, if not all, of these are free. Make signs! Check your area for rules and regulations on sign placement near streets. But you can place smaller signs on bulletin boards at the grocery store and pharmacy. Be consistent in your sign making. Make them legible. Make sure people know each sign is yours, make them all look the same.

2. Make things look neat and tidy. Cut the grass a couple days before. (not the day before....a couple days before) Wipe dirty things down. Put clothes on tables or on racks, not on blankets on the ground. Stack books and cds and movies neatly.

3. Set up a men's area. Men aren't as big on sales as women are. If they have something to look at they are more likely to stop. Make sure they can see it from the road as they drive by. Find something that will grab their attention and make them want to stop.

4. Make prices obvious. Don't put them on the bottom. People are looking at the tops of things. You don't have to price things individually. You can price by table. Or by box, or whatever. Larger items will need larger signs for prices. Don't make people ask you all day. If they do ask you....don't waffle....know what you want for a price and don't be afraid to tell them. But do expect people to ask you for a lower price. People always want a bargain! (The yard sale queen has some other advice on pricing....check out her tips on this area too)

5. Remember adult clothing doesn't usually sale as well. Consider thrift store donations or consignment shops for these things.

6. Play some music. Something general.....not heavy metal or anything that is grating on the general public's nerves! I wouldn't suggest opera, even if it is your music of choice. And not playing too loudly.....just enough that people can converse without having to whisper. They want to talk about your things without insulting you! LOL

7. Dont be insulting or intrusive. If they aren't asking your opinion, they probably don't want it. And if they are looking at clothes that won't fit them.....it's likely they realize the size of the clothes and they aren't for them! (as someone who has been told by another that they had nothing that would fit me, when i wasn't the one shopping, i was with a friend, i can tell you NOTHING makes a person wanna get out of there faster!)

8. Have plenty of change and bags to put things in! Save those plastic and paper bags from the grocery store! Generally....plenty of chang would be a couple of 10's, four 5's, twenty-five 1's, a roll of quarters, nickles, dimes, and pennies. actually, if you just have about a 10-15 pennies (you probably wont need them) and $5 in nickles and dimes total. you will mostly use quarters and bills.

9. Plan your dates! Holiday weekends aren't a good idea...people travel! Whereas, pay day....good idea! If you know most people in your area get paid the 1st or 15th, then the weekend just after pay day would be best!

10. Ask a friend to join you. Takes the pressure off of you to sit there all day. And you can share the responsibility and costs of ads with some one!

If you have any other tips that i don't have here....feel free to share by leaving a comment! I have read many many many more. These are some i have picked up here and there. Some i have implented in my previous sales. Some i will try for the first time this time. We will see how it goes!

Add A Scripture To Your To-Do List

by Jessica Gerald

I like to write down a "to do" list for the day. I guess it comes from years of teaching school and making lesson plans. The list keeps me focused and shows my progress. I can see that I've accomplished more than I realized.

I had an idea for something new to add to my list - a daily scripture. When I am doing my daily Bible reading in the morning, there is often a verse that really stands out. It may be something to praise God for, a comforting promise, or a quality I need to develop.

So now, after I write out my list for the day, I'm going to write a scripture in the top margin of the paper. That way, every time I look at my chores, I can read over the scripture, or even turn it inot a prayer. Maybe by the end of the day, I'll have it permanently memorized. By the end of even one month, there would be thirty verses etched into my heart, ready to be recalled when needed.

Hopefully, this idea will help you to cover your day with the power of scripture.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Too Tired to Cook? 5 Ways to Create Fast Healthy Dinner Plans

by Lisa Copen

So, your mother tells you that your family is eating out too much and your kids will never know a home-cooked meal. And you have to admit that the cost of eating out is starting to make you a bit sick to your stomach, but not enough to get rid of those few extra pounds you've been putting on. With your busy schedule, however, and limited energy, where exactly can you find the best meal planning strategy that will succeed for your family? If you're you are someone who checks with an online search engine about how to plan a spaghetti dinner, you may just need some tips.

Here are five suggestions to get you started:

1. Agree to try exchanging meals with one or two families a couple times a week and give it a trial run for a month or two. It's easy to double your batch of your signature lemon chicken dish one night, and know that you will receive back a prepared meal another evening. To simplify exchanging meals, split the cost in advance of inexpensive disposable containers and lids that can be swapped between homes.

2. If you have a craving from your favorite restaurant, look online for the recipe. You may have a good chance of finding it when you search for words like "copy cat recipes" or "top secret recipes." Before long your kitchen will start smelling like the Olive Garden. This is a great way to produce healthy meal plans for teens who think they are too busy for dinner at home.

3. Consider trying a meal preparation service like Dream Dinners. For a set price, you go in and choose meals based on your family's likes, dislikes, eating restrictions, and budget. Then you prepare the meals right there and package them up to bring them home to your freezer. The result? Fast healthy dinner plans and finished meals. The cost may be a bit more than if you did it in your own kitchen, but it's significantly less than eating out and much healthier. It's a good chance to learn how to cook better too.

4. Don't be tempted to buy entire meals of take-out, but rather mix up a large meal from your favorite restaurant with partially prepared meals at home. For example, it's inexpensive to prepare a huge Greek salad with dressing, olives and feta cheese. Then stop by your local Greek restaurant and order a large side order of Gyro meat. You'll get more for your money and also feel like you're treating yourself to something that is hard to prepare at home.

5. Get organized with meal planning by deciding what works best for your schedule. Can you make a double batch of meat loaf and freeze half for another evening? Online you can find various dinner menu planning software systems. Or find a blank print out of a weekly meal plan. Does it help to break down the dinners by style of foods? For example, plan six night's meals as: two - fish; one - poultry; one - beef; one - salad; one - sandwich.

So, flip through the magazines, dust off the cookbooks, ask your family members their favorite recipes and start planning. In no time you'll have at least twenty solid recipes that can easily get you through six weeks of meals. And don't hesitate to get everyone involved. Put the kids in charge of a meal a week, or have your spouse accompany you to a Dream Dinner style meal preparation outing. Soon your dinner blues will be gone and filled instead with a sense of accomplishment . . . and relief!

See www.invisibleillness.com for more information or www.restministries.org for the sponsor of this event, Rest Ministries.

Monday, June 2, 2008

Energy Saving Tips

With gas prices at an all time high, we are all looking for ways to save money. Clipping coupons, taking walks, staying home, not eating out, whatever we can think of to cut corners. How about we look within our homes to see what we can do to save some money on our electric bills as summer approaches. That is one bill that most of us dread when we turn on the AC. Hopefully with these tips and our own frugalness we can all save a little this year!

1. Check windows, doors, and exterior walls for cracks, holes, or anything that air could be leaking through. A tiny little bitty hole can add up to big money on that electric bill! Fill holes and cracks with caulk or weather stripping. Keep blinds closed on windows to cut down on indoor heat. That will keep your ac from running so often. Keeping blinds open in winter actually helps to heat the house because the sun light will help to warm the house.

2. Plant trees, shrubs, vines, and bushes to provide shade for your home. This will help keep your home cool in the summer. Keep plants 3 feet from outdoor heat/air units though because they can interfere with how they work.

3. Have heat and air equiptment checked regular to make sure it is working properly.

4. Install automatic thermostats so you can program them to be at certain temps at different times o the day. Turn them up higher when you leave.

5. Replace indoor lightbulbs with lower wattage fluorescent bulbs. They are more expensive to buy but they last longer and will save you money in the long run.

6. Keep household appliances free of dust and clean.

7. Make sure you have insullation in your attic.

I hope these tips can help to save you some money this year!

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

My Homemaking Notebook

My Homemaking Notebook
by Jessica Gerald

Binders and notebooks are so popular right now, and with good reason. They are a
perfect way to keep everything organized in one place. I would like to share
what I have in my notebook. Maybe some of the suggestions will be helpful.

First of all, I want to stress that you must do what works for you. Listen to
the advice of different people in the articles you read, then adapt those ideas
to yourself. If not, you may just end up being disorganized and frustrated.

Here is some of the content of my homemaking notebook. I say some, because as I
go along, I might change some things. That is the secret - to make it your own,
even if you have to go by trial and error for awhile.

1. A Weekly List

Most of us are extremely busy with work, home, family, and activities. I have to
make a master list for the week, or I'll forget something important. This could
be appointments, sport or music events, or something that has a deadline.

You might also want to include a housework list, such as laundry, meal planning,
grocery shopping, gardening, or special projects. Then divide that list into the
days that you want to complete them.

2. A Daily List

Even though this list is basically the same each day, I still like to write it
out. I love the feeling of checking it off and knowing that chore is
accomplished. At the end of the day, you realize you've done a lot more that you

This list always starts with my personal devotions, then making beds, tidying up
the house, taking out garbage, dishes, and so on. After that, I put down
anything else that has to be done that day, or that I want to complete that day.
If I don't get it finished, I cross it out and write it on the next day's list.
Sometimes, I'll put a star by things that have to be done that day.

3. A Master Cleaning Project List

To keep from being overwhelmed, I take baby steps here. When I am doing my
spring cleaning, I write down each room and everything that needs done in that
room. I may not finish one room a day. I might only get the walls washed down
and leave the woodwork and windows for the next day. The third day could be
cleaning furniture, and the fourth day scrubbing the carpet.

4. A Diet Journal

I made a simple diet journal from tables on my computer program. I can tally the
daily food groups and calories that I consume. I also have a space to put time
spent exercising. This is a good way to see if you are balancing out your
nutrients, or getting too much or too little of certain foods.

5. My Reading List

I love to read and have so many books stacked on shelves calling to me. So I
decided to make a list of about ten books I want to finish by the end of summer.
I will check them off as I read them. Then, I'll make a new list.

6. Family History Stories

My passion is family history. I list several memories of my own or those of my
mother. That way I don't forget about them. Then, when I have time, I go down
the list and write out that story. I keep these stories in a separate binder.

7. Articles

There are so many good articles on the internet about organizing, homemaking,
and scheduling. When I see helpful reading material like this, I print it out
and put it in my binder. Sometimes all I need is a little inspiration from these

8. Calendar

Print out a calendar for the month, and 3-hole punch it. Then you have all
appointments and activities at your fingertips.

9. Weekly Menus

I make out a general meal plan for the week. Actually, I only write the dinner
menus, because we mostly eat the same things for breakfast and lunch. On the
back of the menu plan, you could list the ingredients you need for those meals.
Keep these in your binder. After four weeks of these menus, you will have a
month of different meals.

Make sure these meals are practical. I try to stick to basics and not all the
fancy foods. That gets so expensive buying all the unusual ingredients. One idea
could be to pick one day a week or month to try something new and different.

10. Grocery List

Years ago, I made up a master grocery list. It includes food and also cleaning
and personal items. It saves so much time and money for me. When I need to shop,
I just pull out the list, quickly scan it, and write down what I need to buy. It
prevents a lot of impulse buying at the store.

I would like to add that I have a separate notebook for my devotions and prayer.
I also have a separate binder for the family history as I mentioned above.

I hope you find some of these suggestions helpful. Have fun with your homemaking
notebook. It is there to serve you, not the other way around!

Jessica Gerald has been an elementary school teacher for over thirty years, and is the publisher of the website http://www.oldfashionedhomemaking.com