Recently, I decided to challenge myself this year before Halloween. I kept my challenge private, not wanting to share what I thought was going to happen until my challenge was over.
In the middle of October, there was a lot going on at my work. I was really tired, really stressed and ready to do more that work, come home, go over emails and go to bed.
I challenged myself to not touch the computer again until after Thanksgiving. For work emails, I would use my phone for email access or a work computer. For personal emails, I set up a system where I would get a notification if I got an email from family members.
I will admit that the first few days were weird. I was used to getting up, booting up the laptop and eating breakfast over the desk while I tried to "catch up" with the world before I went to work.
Now, I had a little bit of free time. I was able to sleep in if I wanted, or style my hair differently or do any of a number of small tasks before I went to work.
I still set out my clothes and work items before I went to bed each night. I still did all of my morning things such as take vitamins and an allergy tablet. Now, that I had this extra time, I was not running around our small apartment, making sure that I had everything in order. I knew that I had time.
The next thing I noticed is that I was leaving earlier every morning and not rushing in traffic. Two times, I got into work early enough to get a very nice parking space.
Coming home in the afternoon was strange for the first week. No longer did I turn the computer on and simply sit there, scrolling through Facebook. Now, I was able to use the Amazon Prime feature and read some books that I have been meaning to read. I was able to have long conversations with friends because I was not tired and exhausted. I was able to catch up with friends by talking to them, not reading about them. It was refreshing and I enjoyed it.
After the second week of my laptop not even being turned on, I did not even look at the laptop with interest. I was no longer interested in social media as I had been. I was informed about friends and family. I was caught up on the news. I was happy and more relaxed.
A trip to New York City in the past would have necessitated my laptop coming along. I did not even think about packing it or a small tablet when I was making plans for the day trip. It did not even occur to me until I got home that I could have taken it with me. My son asked the hotel for the wifi password so that he could play a video game on his phone. We used apps to navigate our way around the city, but other than that and a few photos, we did not do any extreme use of technology.
It was interesting to see people with their heads down in their phones, so to speak when we were very in tune with the world around us and our surroundings. Although we had an app to let us know when the next stop was coming up, it was far more interesting to look out the window at the different neighborhoods and pay attention to the names of the stops. It made me think back to my childhood with my sister, when we were responsible for our commute, including getting off at the correct stop.
When my son and I saw the city, we had so much fun. We spoke to my husband that night, telling him of all of the things that we were seeing, and of all of the fun that we were having. When we got off the phone, we went to bed and slept so well, it was awesome how all of the walking we did made us sleep so well! The next morning was very leisurely for both of us. I was able to sleep until after 6 am, and we were able to have a great breakfast at a donut place because we waited until after the rush. The best part, though, was the time that we spent together, talking and interacting because we were not "in our phones", but connected with one another.
Week 3 of the challenge was a little strange. I had to send a personal email to someone that would normally have been a long email. Instead, I sent a brief email, answering all of their questions and signed off. I did not look at any of the emails that were waiting for me. It was not even anything that occurred to me. A phone call from a different friend noted that they had not seen me online in a long while. I explained that I had been really busy with work, but that all was fine. We caught up and I got to hear about their newest grandchild.
My final 2 weeks were really a blur as it was very hectic at work for Thanksgiving. All I could think about was work and sleep, even with no computer in place. My car died and I had to focus on replacing it. The internet was not even a thought as I navigated getting down to see family and driving back up.
I knew yesterday that it was my last day away from the computer. I did not feel sad or happy, I just knew that I needed to do some training at home and that I needed to have a look at the emails still waiting for me.
I turned the computer on this morning and it took longer than usual to boot up. There were several updates and a scan that needed to happen. It took about 10 minutes. I loaded my email and I saw that I had nearly 5,000 emails waiting for me. It was mind boggling to see so many emails.
Looking at all of those untouched emails helped me to make some decisions. When you see emails every day that you are not interested in, it is very easy to simply delete them one at a time, never realizing how long it takes to delete them every single day. I subscribe to a lot of like minded lists, and I was able to create folders to filter those into as well as unsubscribe from a bunch of emails that are no longer relevant to me. Additionally, I was able to update a lot of email contacts with the best email for them to reach me at, making my valuable time used much wiser.
The final thing that being unplugged for so long did is give me a distaste for spending a lot of time on social media. Before, I was content to sit there and scroll through the endless streams of posts and ads and news. Now, I find myself itching to be back in the real world and not in the virtual one.
As Christmas and other winter holidays draw closer, I find myself becoming better at things I always wanted to do. Better at sales and couponing, better at creating budget plans and following them and better at being an active member of my family. I will be posting reviews, genealogy information and DNA information here, and I will be updating much more regularly as I have come up with many more ways to better manage my time. I look forward to all of your input and comments!
I love reviewing new products when they come out. When I fist saw the Secret Freshies, which are the small sphere deodorants sold right now, I was intrigued. The packaging is adorable. Small spheres of product that will fit in the palm of your hand. What is not to love? The fragrances were delightful sounding as well. I chose the Cool Waterlily, in a cute mint ball to bring home with me. It was $4.99 for 0.5 oz.
As soon as I got home, I had to get scissors to free the Secret from the packaging. It is in there really good! It was more expensive than other products, but I was buying into the cuteness factor.
I set it on the counter for the following morning as a part of my get ready for work routine.
The next morning, instead of reaching for my normal product, I reached for the Secret Freshie. I unscrewed the lid and went to apply it, Freshie went flying across the room! The sphere does not have anything to create a grip. Retrieving it from the floor, I looked at it. The amount of product was pretty small. I looked at the bottom and side, there was no place to disperse more product. Literally, what you see is what you get. In the next 2 weeks, I used the Freshie every day. At the end of the 2 weeks, I felt a scratch one morning as I applied the product. I looked down and I had already gotten to the end of the product. The scratch was from the side of the Freshie scraping my underarm. I threw it away and will not be buying another. Not impressed for the price.
I have been making efforts here on the homefront to control spending, save money, and get money back when I can. Between couponing, hitting up sales and doing everything that I can, even though I am working less hours outside of the home, we are still making all of our bills on time.
That is a big change from last year, when we were barely scraping by!
I will be posting some home crafts in the next few weeks about Christmas projects that we will be doing for gifts for family and friends. My total expenditure for the people outside of our direct household is going to be less than 100.00 for more than 20 people. Can we do it? Watch and see!
Back to TopCashback. This is not a sponsored post from them. I was watching YouTube videos on how to save money, and one of the places that everyone talks about is the Dollar Tree. I love the Dollar Tree. It is quick, convenient and easy to get in and out of. For everyday staples. this one is a no brainer.
As I was watching one of the videos, a YouTuber mentioned TopCashback. Then another. Then another. It seemed like a good deal, but then several of these people mentioned that TopCashBack gives a 4 percent rebate at Dollar Tree! Did you just tell me that my savings got even bigger?
Of course, I had to sign up! That is money in the bank. literally. They will literally deposit money into my PayPal account after I do online shopping with over FOUR THOUSAND online retail sites.
I signed up.
I hope that you will use my link and sign up, too!
I like to wear makeup. It conceals flaws and helps to create a look that I like. With that being said, sometimes it can be a hassle to take the time to properly remove makeup. I have resorted to using makeup remover wipes and even baby wipes. It is very rare that I will sleep in my makeup, I try to avoid that at all costs.
With that being said, there are a few makeup removal techniques that I find myself getting the best results with. The upside is that your skin will thank you if you take the time to cleanse your face properly. The downside is that it will take about five minutes of your life. (Gasp!)
Use proper tools.
I use a makeup remover and a brush. I wet my face, drop a pea sized dollop onto the brush head and get to work.
The brush that I am currently using cost me less than $10.00. It runs on a couple of AA batteries. Yes, I am aware that there are brushes out there that do a lot more things, and cost a lot more money. I need my brush to break down and remove my makeup. Nothing more, nothing less. It does a perfectly adequate job of that.
After I have wet my face, I remove the makeup by moving the brush over my entire face except for my eye area.
When I am through, I thoroughly rinse with warm water and cleanse the eye area separately using Micellar water. I then add a moisturizer and call it done. The result is that in the 2 months I have been doing this, my skin looks much healthier.
Autumn is a lovely time of year. The cooler weather for parts of the world that experience very hot summers is a welcome relief. The rains that serve to cool the earth are also a relief, even driving in the rain is a blessing.
I recently had the opportunity to do a themed board for our break room where I work, and it was there that I had the chance to play with some really fun color combinations. I found the choices to be inspirational for home decor as well.
Here are the combinations that I did.
Orange, copper and pink. A tribute to the beautiful colors of fall as well as acknowledging the research for Breast Cancer.
Adding pink to the mix made me find different places where pink was hidden in the traditional fall palette! Let me tell you, it is everywhere. Most turning leaves have splashes of pink in them. Pumpkins can have a pink cast in the right light. Additionally, by adding copper, which is a natural for fall, I was able to easily incorporate this year's white hot color for the year, rose gold.
I will be adding some photos this week of the elements that I chose. Wait until you see how these colors together work so well for fall, and with a few small tweaks, they will work for November, too!
Share photos of your Fall/Autumn and Halloween decor. I can't wait to see it!
Grandpa's Pot of Gravy
Grandpa was not a kitchen guy. He was not in there cooking. He was not in there making sandwiches. He was just not that type of person.
My uncle Billy got the flu that was going around. He laid in his bed, sick as could be except for going to the bathroom. Dr. Phipps came out and examined him.
(Dr. Phipps had me convinced that he delivered Jesus because he was so old.)
"It's the flu, for sure, like half the people I am seeing." He sighed, washing his hands in the very bathroom sink that I washed in.
Grandma handed him a towel and waited for the news of what to do.
"Food and drink if he is hungry. Don't force it. If he gets an appetite, keep it light."
Dr. Phipps asked to see all of us while he was already there to avoid traveling the highway after dark. Grandma got him set up in her bedroom.
When it was my turn, I brought my doll with me, because she might be sick, too. We were both told that we had the flu. My poor ragdoll, Neva. I was told that she needed bedrest and I had to make sure that she was in bed by setting a good example. I protested, saying how fine I felt, but Dr. Phipps made me a promise. If I got hot and steamy baths when asked to, ate and drank what was asked of me, the next time he saw me, if I got well, we would draw a picture together. I could barely contain my excitement. I took off my day clothes and set me and Neva down with night clothes. Vicks was rubbed on my chest, and Neva got the Vicks on a cloth.
The next few days were misery and sleep. My poor grandparents with all of their children, and then my coming along, making them grandparents when they were still raising children. Poor them!
I woke up one morning to the smell of warm biscuits and gravy. Coffee was made. It smelled good. I fell back asleep to the smell, so comforting and wonderful. I pulled the heavy quilt back over me and my baby doll and drifted right off.
I woke up to my shoulder being shaken gently. "Wanna plate of biscuits?" Grandpa asked, holding them under my nose and waving them gently around.
"No. I wanna sleep." I said, not wanting food.
"Baby, Doc says you gotta eat something. You little lips are chapped. Your little eyes are sunk. Please eat a little for Grandpa. I even made the gravy you like."
Even Grandpa's gravy? Was I crazy? He made the best brown gravy for biscuits known to man.
I nodded my head and he broke off a piece of biscuit and put it in my mouth.
A glass of juice was brought to him, and in the hallway, I heard someone say "He got her to eat a little!" Apparently, I had been refusing food.
It took a while, but he got all of those 4 biscuits into me. Never pushing, never yelling, just gently loving me to eat. I drank the juice and he carried me to the bathroom and back, keeping my feet from touching the floor.
Every meal after that, Grandpa would bring in a food tray for he and I. He would take a bite, then offer me a bite until it was gone, then carry me to the bathroom. It was a lot of work, I am sure, but he never complained.
When Dr. Phipps came to see all of us a few days later, I was still in bed, too tired to do anything and still miserable.
Dr. Phipps told me that I had to eat, and I had to get better. He said that tomorrow, I was to eat at the table, and go outside and sit on the porch in the swing for a while.
The following day, I did as was asked, and fell asleep outside on the swing. Grandpa called Dr. Phipps and explained that I was not getting any better, in fact, everyone else was better, and now I seemed to be worse. Dr. Phipps told Grandpa that I better be taken to the hospital in case it was something serious.
We got to the hospital and I was put in a wheelchair. I fell asleep in the wheelchair. I was placed on a stretcher when the doctor examined me.
"Strep and Mono" is what came back from the tests. I was put in the hospital for a few days, and Dr. Phipps came to see me.
I don't remember this, but my Aunt said that I flew into hysterics when he entered the room, because I had not gotten well, so we could not draw a picture together.
"I tried, Dr. Phipps, I tried!" Is what I have been told I said over and over again.
By the time I was discharged, I had over 20 drawings by me and that country doctor, now gone on to his reward in heaven.
When the doctors came in to my room to talk to me and my family, they asked me if I knew what made me better, getting ready to tell me about the antibiotics that I still would take at home. I beamed a huge smile and said "Grandpa's Pot of Gravy!"
No Chores for Me- Water Pails and Yard Chickens
My grandparents had 2 horses. Buckshot was the male and Candy Kisses was the female. I have no idea what they did to get the horses, because they sure were not rich.
Every day, one of the girls would haul water and oats down to the barn, and the boys would let the horses out and muck the stalls. They would pet and fawn over the horses while we little ones mainly watched from a milk crate.
One day, my Aunt Linda- who was notoriously lazy- was hauling the oats and water. She turned to me and said that I had to help, or else.
I dug my heels in right then. Grandpa said that "littles" didn't do chores outside, unless he or Grandma said to, because there was too much that could happen. Just "littles" chores. We were not allowed to even touch those horses without a grown-up around, let alone get close to the feed.
"No, Ma'am, Aunt Linda. I am not going to do it."
She turned to me and her face grew red. "Oh, you will. I am your elder. I am 16 years old and you will mind me or I will switch you real good." She yelled, motioning for me to pick up the water pail.
"No!" I yelled back, running to the rabbit hutches where grandpa was cleaning them out.
She ran after me, but fear gives your feet speed. I reached grandpa, crying and huffing and puffing. He knew something was up.
Aunt Linda was soon there, too. He asked what happened and she forced out a tale that was a whopper of a lie. He looked at me. "What happened, Sis?" I told him exactly what happened.
"Littles don't do chores. She is not even 5 yet. She can't haul them buckets. You'll pull her spine out of her skin with the strain."
Linda protested, and Grandpa got red faced himself. "You don't ride a horse till they are grown, you don't breed a cow till they are grown, and you don't yoke a baby to an adult's chores. Feed and water the horses, Linda!" He then called Uncle Billy to make sure that the horses were fed, watered and mucked out. I got to stay behind and scoop ladles of water for the rabbit bottles.
Grandpa looked at my little tear stained face. "We all pull our own weight here. Someday, you will be doing big girl chores, too. Right now, you just need to be my little girl. You don't go any further from the house than the yard chickens, unless me or Grandma or Mama or Daddy says it is okay."
"Can't I watch them water the horses, Grandpa?" I asked, hoping he would say yes.
"No. Them girls won't watch to make sure you are out of the way, and the boys don't care if you get kicked in the head. Only where the yard chickens go. No farther."
I nodded. It was through that instruction that I learned how to make chickens follow you all the way to the tire swing.....but didn't get in trouble because the yard birds were there with me!
Share your stories below, don't forget to share!
Fast For Fathers!
Father's Day is here, and I have 5 fast questions so that you can ask the fathers in your life!
1. How did you find out that you were going to be a father?
2. What has been the best part of being a father?
3. What is something you never expected about being a dad?
4. What is a bond or shared interest that you have with your children?
5. What would the perfect Father's Day be for you?
That's All folks!
Happy Father's Day to all of the fathers out there. Especially to my father! My father is an awesome dad. He adopted me when he did not have to. His family was grown and complete, and then I came along and he and my mother adopted me. I could not have asked for better parents. My father and I did not always get along. I was stubborn and he was not wanting to put up with my stubborness.
Just as heat tempers metal and makes it stronger, time tempered us and made our relationship stronger.
When my grandmother was alive, my father was a flawless son in law to her, even having her move in with her and my mother to make sure that she was safe and cared for. When my grandmother's health was failing, he would sometimes go alone to the nursing home where she resided so that she had a visitor every day.
My father is also a gourmet chef level cook. When a family member or guest comes into my parent's home, he will make sure that they are comfortable, well fed and welcome. He knows that I adore his deviled eggs. Most times when I come to visit, my dad will make sure that they are on the table. The same for my sister and her love of my dad's macaroni and cheese that he makes from scratch.
When my mother was injured, it was my dad who provided the care for her that was exemplary. She is a retired physician, so for her to say that it was good is saying something.
When my sister and I lost our biological mother, my mom and my dad stepped forward and accepted her as another daughter, and her children know them as their grandparents. They are great as grandparents because they love their granddaughters.
A conversation that I was not present for is one that has warmed my heart everytime that I think about it. My sister and my Dad were talking about me, and my sister said that Dad told her "All I care about is that Dixie is happy. That is what I want for all of you. For you all to be happy." What kind and touching words from a man that is not into huge displays of emotion. Yet, he will hold my mother's hand in the car, and they say "I love you" to one another a lot.
When I got married, my parents became grandparents to my stepdaughter and stepson. My stepson insists on calling them when he does well on a paper, or when he gets his report cards in. He loves to talk to both of them because they actively listen. My stepson feels a special bond because they both wear glasses, and they both like to do things together, like feed the donkeys.
This photo was taken when I was visiting at Thanksgiving, and I took one with each of my parents. Every time I look at this photo, I smile, because that is my dad and me. Even though we are not related, we both have green eyes. We both love to read. We both love poking around on the computer, we both love the hidden object games, and a lot of other things. I am blessed indeed to have him in my life. I love you, Dad.
Mamaw's Upright Piano
Mamaw had an upright piano in her small house. When you walked in the front door, the piano was to the right of the front door, right up against the wall. There were many books in the seat. Everything was church songs. Nothing else. When I was 6, I got to spend the summer with her. One day, doing dishes, I was under her feet a little too much. "Why don't you go and play on the piano?" She asked, pulling me to the upright.
"I don't know how, Mamaw." I replied.
"Just plink along and figure out a song." She said, lifting the cover to the keys.
I banged along the keys, looking for where a song was hidden. Nothing wanted to be found that day.
Everyday after that, Mamaw would wash our dinner dishes after her stories played. I would cause all of the great pianists of the world to roll in their graves as I massacred the keys on the keyboard.
For weeks this went on. As soon as the dishes were washed, she would sit next to me and play the songs that she was going to play on the organ at her church. Sometimes, she would move my fingers and show how to play a few notes. It was amazing to watch her play with no book in front of her, just the memories of the song strongly in her head.
"Let's play Amazing Grace, baby." She said one day. I got so excited. I knew this song from my church with Mama and Daddy.
Mamaw played the notes. Then she began singing. She sang a line. I sang a line. With mistakes I never knew were mistakes. (Read below)
Mamaw: Amazing Grace! how sweet the sound
Me: That saved a switch for me
Mamaw: I once was lost, but now am found
Me: Was blind but now I be
Mamaw: Through many dangers, toils, and snares
Me: I've already done
Mamaw: 'Tis grace that brought me safe thus far
Me: And grace will lead me home
Mamaw: When we've been there ten thousand years
Me: Right, shining as the sun
Mamaw: We've no less days to sing God's praise
Me: Than when we first got done
Mamaw: Amazing Grace! how sweet the sound
Me: That saved a switch for me
Mamaw: I once was lost, but now am found
Me: Was blind but now I see
Mamaw: Was blind but now I see
Mamaw kept her cool. She did not scold. We sang it one more time, and she was laughing, tears rolling down her cheeks.
"Where did you learn that, baby?" She asked.
"At Grandpa's church where Daddy goes to." I answered, afraid I had made God mad.
"Well, today you get a special treat. We are going to learn lyrics."
She stood up, put me on the floor as well and lifted the lid of the bench seat at the piano. Thumbing through the books, she found Amazing Grace. Sitting us both back down, she settled the book onto the stand and got back into playing, wiping her eyes and clearing her throat.
"Am I wrong, Mamaw?" I asked, still not knowing what happened.
"No, baby. Not wrong. You didn't know. Now, we can both learn. I might have forgot some of them words, too."
I bless her for teaching without taunting. I miss her terribly.
I write a lot about genetic genealogy, family trees, DNA, and home life as well as the occasional product review. Comments? Email me at CocktailsAndSwagger@Hotmail.com