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Thursday, December 29, 2011

My Crazy 2011 in Review

Wow did 2011 go fast!  I swear it still feels like it should be about October instead of the end of the year.  But you can't argue with the calendar and it gives me a good excuse for reviewing my posts from the year and picking out my favorites. Some are from my Clutterbugs decluttering series, some are from my Smart Money series, and a few are just for fun.  Like my blog, it's an interesting mix and you never know what you'll find. 

January:

Ask for What you Want.  This is my take on the eternal fight that goes on between cleanies and messies who have to live in the same house.  I have some tips on how to deal with it in a respectful way that gets both of you a little bit of what you want.  


February:

Dealing with OPS (Other People's Stuff).  I love this one - it's a semi-humorous look at ways you can encourage your spouse and/or children and/or room mates to literally clean up their acts.  For instance, I made my sons sing "I'm a Little Teapot" to reclaim some of their valuable items.  

March:

Smart Money: Have a Backup Plan.  This was a post I wrote after we had a rather sudden mass layoff at my company.  I wasn't involved in it, but it definitely gave me something to think about.  Bad things happen, they happen fast, and you have to be prepared to deal with them.  The Japanese earthquake and tsunami happened in that same month and that gave me a lot to think about also. 

April:  

How Does Clutter Affect Your Children?  After raising two ADHD sons, I became aware of how the clutter in our home affected their behavior and their state of mind.  I think there is a strong link between environment and behavior in both children and adults. 

May:

Book Review:  The Entitlement Trap.  This was a review I did of a book by Richard Eyre, a local writer.  He and his wife Linda have 9 children and have written some really helpful books on parenting.  I worked with Richard recently to come to my son's school to talk to the parents and administrators about bullying and some of the issues they've been experiencing recently. I thought this was a book my readers might be interested in.  




June:

A Visit to the Highland Games.  This is a lighthearted post about my family's annual visit to the Highland Games.  That is one of our few traditions of the year and the one bit of heritage I'm able to provide for my sons.  


July:

My Top 5 Motivational Ideas.  This is always a subject I am fascinated with - why some people can achieve their goals so easily while others (like me!) can't usually manage to get their efforts off the ground.  These are some tips I've gathered over the years that I hope will help you.  

August:  

Taming the Paper Tiger.  Paper is one of the biggest clutter challenges, and it is one of the most requested subjects from my readers.  These are my ideas on how to get your paper clutter under control. 

September:  

Retail Therapy is the Worst Kind of Therapy.  This is a little post about the dangers of recreational shopping.  I have seen so many people come to grief through the greed of overshopping - including myself at times....

October:


Cut Your Power Bill.  I don't know about you, but my power bill is ridiculous!  This is a collection of tips and new technologies that will help you to lower your power bill.  


November:


Blogger Girls Just Wanna Have Fun.  That's one good thing about being a blogger - we know how to have a good time and we're a large and friendly group around here.  This is just one of many different parties and events I've had the good fortune to attend.

December:

They Make Blind Children See.  This is a must-read post for anyone who has a special needs child.  It's funny that you don't hear about people quietly working common-sense miracles in obscure little corners of the world, but you hear daily about idiots like Paris Hilton, Lindsay Lohan, and Angelina Jolie.  I figured it was time we give the do-gooders a little love.  

That's about it for 2011.  I'll be interested to see what I manage to come up with for 2012 and I hope you will too!  

Mama’s Losin’ 
It


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Monday, December 26, 2011

My 20th Work Anniversary

I hit a big milestone earlier this month - my 20th anniversary with my company - wow!  That is something I never thought I'd say, especially in this day and age, but I MADE IT!  

The funny thing is, even though this was a HUGE accomplishment for me, at my company, 20 years is literally no big deal.  It's almost "new kid on the block" territory, so it was very odd for me.  

(You notice I don't mention where I work, and that's just a nod to my on-line privacy - it's a big company, everyone is familiar with it, and I don't particularly want to be on their radar.  They are a very well-respected company and I really like working for them, but I just don't necessarily disclose that info on-line for the whole world to know.)

There are several people in my department who have 30 to 35 years and most of them are between 15 and 20 years, so it was just very odd for me.  I kind of wanted to make a big deal about it, but everyone was just kind of blah about it.  

I got an congratulatory Email from my boss of the last ten years (she is in another state), an auto-signed, pre-printed card from the head of my division - I thought that was honestly a little insulting for a 20 year anniversary and then I got a certificate, a lapel pin, and a lucite cube with the company logo and 20 years on it.  I don't know what I was expecting - a ticker tape parade or something?  But it just seemed a little underwhelming to me.  I was like, "Wow, that really makes me want to work another 20 years for these people". 

The odd thing is that it really is more like my 35th anniversary of working in general.  Even though I've been with this place for 20 years, I probably had worked a total of 15 years for a bunch of other companies before that, an average of 2 to 3 years at each one, but they don't count them when you work like that.  It's like I tell my husband - he tries to lump me and his first wife together so he can say he's been married for a total of 35 years - hey bud, it's not cumulative.  You don't get to add two marriages together for an aggregate total!  

I know in Utah, I seem like a really odd duck amid all the stay-at-home mommies.  I do know a lot of working Mom's, but most of them stayed home when their kids were younger.  I just never felt like that was an option for me because my family really counted on my income.  And I come from a family of working women, so it never seemed like legitimate possibility for me to not work.  My grandmother owned her own business, my mother worked my whole life, my sister is a complete workaholic and all my nieces and cousins worked also, so I don't know if I ever had a role model of that when I was growing up.  I wish at other times, I'd made other choices, but the proof is in the pudding.  I have 3 amazing boys who are doing wonderfully well, so I guess I must have done something right.  

I think I just need to disregard all the blah people and just celebrate myself for what I've accomplished.  Maybe after the holidays, I'll go out and get a little something special for myself to celebrate my anniversary and if I want to call it my 35th anniversary, I will!  But I'm still not gonna let my husband add me together with his ex-wife! 



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Saturday, December 24, 2011

Christmas at the Crazy House - 2011 Version

Christmas is coming along nicely here at the crazy house.  it's the day before Christmas Eve and all the presents are bought, wrapped, and are waiting to go under the tree (with four cats, we don't take any chances!)  

Even though my husband has been off work this winter for his shoulder surgery, thankfully we've been saving up all year for Christmas, so we've actually been in pretty good shape.  I have to say, that is so much nicer than putting it all on a credit card and facing those big bills in January.  

I have to say, I love Christmas, but it's a heck of a lot of work.  I take a whole week off around the 10th to get most of it done so I can relax and enjoy myself for the rest of the month.  That way I can get all my decorating, shopping, and mailing done.  Speaking of decorating, I thought you'd like a peek at some of my special Christmas decor.

I like to have a pretty color-coordinated tree.  Last year, we had the blue, silver, and white tree.  This year, we switched back to the candy cane tree.


Notice the sports themed ornaments - my husband is OU all
the way.  The snowman says "Will work for Freezer Space"

See that one with the golf tees in it?  This year, my son Matt got that one in honor of my Dad who was a big golfer.  That makes him an awesome son, but on the other hand, he also got THIS ornament - in both red and blue to match BOTH trees.  Yes, we are the redneck family of our neighborhood! 




One of the things I like best is the chance to get out some of the beautiful items I've made over the years.  It kind of reminds me of how crafty I used to be BEFORE I discovered the Internet, that is.  


I love my little skaters.  I painted those about 
25 years ago and they come out every year! 


Like my cute Santa coasters? 


Hand painted ornaments


This cross-stitched stocking took me two YEARS to finish.  
You bet that baby is coming out every year! 


Here is my trifecta of nativity sets.  I actually have 3 or 4 other sets, but these are my favorites.  I probably need a 12 step program or something, but it's only once a year, so I guess I can keep it under control for one month. 

Last year, our cats "beheaded" Joseph and batted his head all around the living room.  
This year, we have a motion sensor alarm protecting the mantel.  Naughty kitties! 


I remember my oldest son playing with the top set when he was little.  He couldn't say Joseph (which was also his middle name) so he kept telling us about Mary and Jofus.  He's been Matthew Jofus to us ever since! 

This humble little needlepoint mailbox is the key to our whole present delivery strategy.  I have a pair of these that I made back before I got married (ancient history!).  Our tradition is that each boy will find a note in "their" mailbox that leads them on a helter-skelter trip around the house to discover their "big wow" gift which is hidden somewhere in the house.  It's a great strategy for those large, hard-to-wrap gifts like bikes, guitars, and computers. 

This year, Matt's girlfriend Pam is spending Christmas with us, so of course she has to have a hunt of her own.  She's going to have to share a mailbox though, 'cuz I lost the pattern for these years ago.  And besides, now that I've found the Internet, I think I've lost most of my crafting mojo.  That's why I have to hang onto all this old stuff!





Naturally, we'll be headed to church for the midnight candlelight service.  That's always our special Christmas moment.  Fortunately, the weather is supposed to be cold but clear.  Think of me as I'm staying up til ONE as usual to stuff the stockings and litter the house with post-it notes for the great present hunt!

Merry Christmas from us at the Crazy House! 



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Friday, December 23, 2011

Stamped Stuff: Nov Projects - Turkey Nuggets

I know it's a little late for Thanksgiving projects, but these projects were so cute, I just had to share them with you for next year.  The idea for this project came from our #1 Demonstrator of the Year for 2011 - Tami White.  

She has a darling YouTube video showing how to make these adorable and easy Turkey Nuggets.  I have to say, I can see why she is the demo of the year, she comes up with the cutest projects.  







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Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Blogger Girls Wanna Have Some MORE Fun!

I've been having such a good time with my blogger friends this holiday season. First we had this marvelous Halloween party over at Jordan Valley Hospital.  We all came in costume and we got to check out their wonderful new doctor's lounge.  I guess I must have been having a really good time visiting with everyone because I only ended up with two pictures.  It's a shame because we had some awesome costumes. 


A Bag of Gumballs


Jack Sparrow put in an appearance, along with an angry bird, 
and Michelle as an insurance salesman (I think).


I didn't even get a picture of myself in my costume, which is a shame because I had an awesome spur-of-the-moment costume - sometimes those are the best.  


I dressed myself up so that practically every inch of skin was covered - hat, gloves, long sleeves, etc.  Then I made myself a sandwich board-type sign that said "Nudist on Strike" - hilarious! 

I even won one of the best costume prizes for it.  In fact, I was having a lucky night so I came away with 3 or 4 different prizes.  That was sweet - literally - as some of them were candy. 

They do have a beautiful lounge for the doctors there at Jordan Valley Hospital.  They have nice hotel-like sleeping rooms for the on-call doctors, showers, a gorgeous view of the valley, and all sorts of snacks and beverages to pep up those hard working doctors. Wish I'd been on the ball, I'd had some nice pictures to post.  


PS:  I was whining about not having any pictures of my costume and surprise!  I managed to find some out on Flicker thanks to Emily over at IsThisReallyMyLife.  Thanks Emi.  


See what I mean?


Mmmmm, candy


I love Lindsay's R2D2 costume

Then we had the T-Mobile party last week that was so much fun.  The day after that, we had our White Elephant party over at The Chocolate in West Jordan.  Our blogger ladies have partied with them before at their Orem location, I think it was last year with the Sassy Scoops, right around my birthday in October.  We always have a fun time at The Chocolate.  

It's a cute, tiny little vintage-looking place and they have the most wonderful desserts.  However, I always get my favorite item - the Magic Potato.  It's almost hard to describe, but it is just wonderful.  They take a baked sweet potato, then they whip it up with all sorts of cinnamon, nuts, brown sugar, and other yummy spices, and then throw in a generous handful of crushed pecans and top the whole thing with ice cream.  Wow!  If you like sweet potatoes as much as I do, it's definitely magic. 

The White Elephant party was set up by my dear, sweet friend Kathy over at Danish Mama
She got up and made a very heartfelt little speech about how we bloggers support each other that had us all sniffling.  

Because we really do support each other so much.  It's kind of amazing when you realize that just a couple of years ago, I didn't know a soul in the blogging world, but now I've got literally dozens of really neat people that I get together with every few weeks.  We take road trips, share hotel rooms, hang out, and have a heck of a lot of fun together. 

We laugh and we cry, we cheer for each other and we mourn for each other in the hard times, we give each other advice, and sometimes we pitch right in and help out in lots of practical ways.  We support each other and promote each other's efforts and passions.  Sometimes we buy stuff from each other, sometimes we sell stuff to each other, and lots of times we just give stuff for charities - time, energy, love, money, diapers, school supplies.  At one party, we even gave dozens of snuggies for seniors.  

This time, we all brought packs of diapers to give to Moms who couldn't afford any, 'cuz we've all been there at one time or another.  (And our white elephants.  I ended up with a fabulous little giftie for my husband that I never would have thought of - a wireless BBQ thermometer.)  

It's a great community of women (and about 3 guys) and while we fuss and fight with each other sometimes - as girls will do.  For the most part, we're pretty damned awesome! 

So yes, blogger girls DO just wanna have fun! 




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Tuesday, December 6, 2011

(Blogger) Girls Just Wanna Have Fun

I have to say, bloggers get to have the MOST fun of anyone I know.  Look at this fabulous party our local T-Mobile store put together for our local group of blogger ladies.


Cute boys in pink Santa hats - wow, bloggers have a rough life!


Yummy treats!


Swag bags




This was Garrett, my personal Elf.  He was actually very knowledgeable.  


I think Kristina is a little TOO excited!  


Jill won a phone!  She is always so lucky.  

We had all the compulsory elements for a  wonderful party - lots of great food, decorations, cute boys in pink Santa hats, and lots of games and fun giveaways, and then mix in our group of fabulous bloggers.  I think we all had a great time, especially the 5 people who won free phones!  Sadly, I wasn't one of them, but I did come home with some free goodies anyway. 



Here I am with my personal "elf" Garrett.  Even though this was a fun party, it was also a great chance to learn more about T-Mobile's products and cell phones and tablets in general.  Our "elves" were very knowledgeable, but I was able to share some info they didn't even know.  One of my media contacts told me just last week that they are going to be putting ratings on cell phone apps, just like movies, video games, and CD's.  


As their holiday gift, here are some tips from T-Mobile. 

Check out these top apps from the Android Market to help get you through the holidays in one piece.

iFood Assistant by Kraft
This app provides daily inspiration, delicious videos, over 7,000 easy recipes & meal ideas, a personal recipe box and a full featured shopping list to help make your life easier and more delicious.

Shopulator
Keep a running tally as you shop of how much you’re spending so there are no surprises at check out.  The app makes it easy to stick to your budget, and even offers an option to show the amount remaining.

BigOven
Not sure what to do with all those leftovers? Use the BigOven Leftover Wizard and enter 3 ingredients from your fridge or pantry for recipe ideas!

Gift List Manager Pro
With the Gift List Manager Pro application, you can track spending, buying & more. Perfect for Christmas Lists, Gift List Manager is the only app that lets you scan barcodes, take pictures, password protect your list, and share lists over email.

ShopSavvy Barcode Scanner
Use this app to find the best deal while holiday shopping! Aim the camera at any barcode, wait for the beep and ShopSavvy will provide you with a list of online and local prices.

Hot Deals
This app is full of online shopping savings opportunities. It allows you to search for deals across the web based on category, share the deals you find with friends and buy directly from your phone. You might just find bargains on items you didn’t know you needed.

Doodle Kids
Flight delayed? Fights in the back seat on the way to Grandma’s place? Check out this free application that gives your child a way to create a work of art on your phone. Not a work of art? That’s okay, just shake your phone to clear the screen and start over.

Family Bee
Track your family tree on the go with ease. Handy for big family gatherings and determining for sure if you have any celebrity cousins.


PS:  While I was writing this post, I was watching Glee on Tivo.  Guess which song they were doing?  Yup, Girls Just Wanna Have Fun.  Go figure!   

Pictures courtesy of Stephanie Hansen @ thedailyblarg.com



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