Friday, April 15, 2011

Kindess Doesn't Cost a Cent

Sometimes I get jealous...of people with really cute shoes...of people who have the money to make grand donations to good causes, but today I am reminded that kindness doesn't cost a cent.

My grandmother used to say that there's no excuse for being dirty, and I believe that there's no excuse for being unkind - or there's no excuse for not being kind.

Kindness that is Free:
1. Smiling, especially at someone who is obviously having a hard day
2. Saying "please" and "thank you"
3. Refilling the copier paper trays even if they aren't empty yet
4. Writing a short handwritten note complimenting or encouraging someone
5. Picking up someone else's lunch trash and dumping it along with your own - without being asked
6. When you ask someone how they are doing, stop and listen. Then ask a follow-up question.

I should do more of this.

I Just Got Featured...

on Money Saving Mom for my idea: "We save $100 by owning laying hens."

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

A Lightbulb Moment

I spent 5 hours this weekend cleaning house. Correction: I spent 5 hours picking up, sweeping and washing - nevermind, folding – clothes, and right about hour 4, as my annoyance level was rising (in part because I was watching everyone else “working” outside in the yard), I had an ah-ha moment. If we only picked up after ourselves on a daily basis, I could avoid spending hours of our short spring season trapped indoors.

Now, please don’t let images of us drowning in piles of both clean and dirty laundry dance through your head. Neither should you picture my kitchen counter spilling over with dishes of all sorts and my dining room table barely visible under a pile of receipts and school papers. It had gotten out of hand, but in our defense it had been an abnormally busy end of the week. Thursday afternoon we’d been at a baseball game; Friday night found us at our local high school’s annual musical (Hairspray! And it was worth it!); and Saturday evening we relaxed around the bonfire with friends, blowing bubbles and lighting sparklers. Still, the end result was that what I had worked so hard to keep up with earlier in the week, ate me alive by Sunday!

Although I have a defense for last week, I must still confess that even on normal weeks, I come home tired and allow small things to slip. So this week, we are trying something new:

1. Throw dirty clothes in the hamper and rehang clean ones the moment you shed them.

2. Sort through school papers, receipts, and mail daily. Toss the trash and file the keepers in their proper place.

3. Unload the dishwasher when the dishes are clean and load dirty dishes directly into the dishwasher rather than tossing them into the sink.

4. Do a quick pass in each room and return migratory items to their proper home before settling down for the night.

Now, if only we can make these changes a habit, I might be able to see the light of the weekend.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Being Busy is No Excuse...

...for not celebrating a celebrate-able moment. Enter boxed brownie mix and Heath bars.

One of my favorite quick, but special treats is to prepare boxed brownie mix according to the package directions, substituting milk for the water and olive oil for the vegetable oil. I like dark chocolate, but go with your own preference. I especially love the Ghiradelli brand, but in a budget crunch Duncan Hines will do. Then pour half of the batter into an 8X8 pan (extra thick yumminess) and layer the whole Heath bars on top. I use 5-6 to cover the entire bottom layer of batter from end to end. Finally, cover the Heath bar layer with the remaining brownie batter and bake according to package directions. Slightly underbaking them by 3-4 minutes keeps them extra moist.

One of my aunts prepared these for a family reunion (though I believe she used Skor bars). They were a hit then and to date they've never failed me.

Friday, April 1, 2011

April Brings Pranks, Showers & National Poetry Month

Poetry is life stripped of all the distracters. Life, bare-boned, intensified.

April 1 - April Fool’s Day - but today also begins National Poetry Month & that’s no joke. Songs are more present in our society than TV or cell phones, and yet, people still cringe and shudder when the word poetry is even whispered. Parents and children delight in century-old nursery rhymes and the wise parent knows that if your child is having trouble learning something, set it to music. We all know how a song will stick in your head, even when you wish it wouldn’t; it’s unavoidable. And we all know how a song can be a time-capsule for a memory, sweet and pleasant or heavy and sad.

Poetry is simply music without the instruments. The music is in the precise selection and combination of words. The emotion is in the quick cut to the heart of the matter, no elaboration as you find in novels. If you are short on time, poetry is a quick reading fix.

So to celebrate the day…

The Snarky: My “I Read Dead People” T-shirt

The Delightful: Caroline Kennedy’s A Family of Poems

A compilation of beloved Kennedy poems divided into sections that speak of a child’s world: About Me, That’s So Silly!, Animals, The Seasons, The Seashore, Adventure, Bedtime. Yet, the poems included are varied and appeal to both child and adult. Some are written by traditional adult favorites, such as William Shakespeare, Thomas Hardy, and Walt Whitman, while others are child favorites, such as Lewis Carroll, Edward Lear, and Alfred Noyes. Some are silly; some are poignant. Some will speak one thing to the child, and something entirely deeper to the adult. Some will tell the child of what is to come; some will remind the adult of what was.

All of the pages are complemented by Jon J. Muth’s striking watercolors, artfully reflecting the tone of each poem.

Celebrate the day - celebrate the month - with the poetry that surrounds you.
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