Saturday, November 29, 2014

Awesome FREE resource to help you be Creative

You know that I feel the need to imbue life - work and home - with creativity.

Well I couldn't resist sharing this giveaway I came across today.
Click HERE to go to a post by a Mixed Media Artist, Mahe Zehra Husain. I've been following her for a few years, and she has previously published several ebooks. You can find them all on Amazon by searching using her name. Most of her books are free to Kindle Unlimited subscribers, or minimal cost to everyone. One of them is The Ultimate Guide to Upcycling, a green crafts book. I love it. I have this one, but I am just too tired to look in my library to check which others I've got. I just want to post this for you to check out!

Earlier this week I saw on Amazon that she had another book, and it was listed as a cookbook. I thought, what?? hmmm...

So tonight I popped over to her site and found that the cookbook is an ebook about CREATIVITY.

I should have KNOWN! You will LOVE it.

I see some recipes in here that I've used, and some I haven't, so I can't wait to get started. She is so creative and this ebook is a great resource!

And on TOP of all this, she has MULTIPLE Free Resources

Go enjoy her site at You will LOVE her Christmas giveaways and more!!

Catering: Feeding the Crowd for a Work Event or a Home Party

Catering. I swear that every time I host a big event I say that next time I will hire a caterer. I use caterers at work but I've never hired one for my home. I'm just too stubborn. But I hire caterers weekly for work events of all sizes, and I would like to share a bit of what I have learned.

We’ll talk about event details, coffee, and alcohol consumption in future posts, but first we’re going to talk about food. Yes, I know we'd all rather talk about the decorating and fun touches, but if there isn't enough food there might be a revolt!

Whether you are ordering food for a work event or a party at home, the rules for ordering food are often the same. 
*  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *
For breakfast foods, a continental table can serve you well with little effort. You can allot 2 pieces of breads or pastries per person, and one piece of fruit. If you add yogurt, arrange for 8oz each (though in my experience your attendees won’t eat it all, even if you offer things to sprinkle in). People really love bagels (don't forget to ask the caterer if they provide a toaster - but this may be an extra charge so you might want to provide your own).
Lunches can vary so much, but remember that men usually eat more than women. And different groups eat differently, though you can’t really plan for that unless you have served them previously. For a simple lunch you should have a simple main dish of 6oz or so, two side dishes, a bread, a dessert, and one drink per person. I always order a few extra lunches if my budget allows it, because we often have people who walk in at the last minute, and I like to offer a few additional beverages - often water. 
Dinners basically follow the same rules but the size of the main dish can be increased.

The nice thing is that once you order from a caterer, you can ask them for their recommendations.
Most caterers would like as much notice as possible, and usually have a last date/time period for final count, usually 24 hours in advance. After this date the count would not be able to be changed.
Catering costs will also include an added delivery and/or set up fee, and the caterer usually provides serving supplies. However, you should always ask a new caterer, so you don’t assume incorrectly and end up without serving utensils. Once we decided to be order from a restaurant that didn't usually cater, and we ordered delicious food from an authentic Nepalese restaurant. The delivery people didn’t leave serving utensils. We had to scramble! We made it work but now we keep a limited number of supplies in our office in the event it happens again.

Finally, make sure to find out if any of your event participants have allergies. You will need to give this information to your caterer.

If you have any tips or tricks for catering events, please share them! 

Friday, November 28, 2014

Life Changes (Mom's Growing Pains)

I am someone who has allowed myself to be wrapped up in my children's lives, to the point that it was a shock when my oldest became a senior in high school.  That was the year I learned the definition of "helicopter parent" and found out that I was one! That was a rough year.

Right now I just want to set the stage for a family gathering - the day AFTER Thanksgiving. Those who are far away have come home for the weekend, and the youngest is alternating between having a ball with the fun roucous older siblings and having her much needed personal time.

Being the day after Thanksgiving, a variety of activities were scheduled. Some shopping trips in the morning, a hike in the afternoon... and in between was lunch.  LEFTOVERS!

Delicious, right? 

But as we noisily gathered in the kitchen, jockeying for elbow room, hefting various trays of food to the table, I started to ask where our oldest child was. He graduated college three years ago and since then has been living at home trying to pay off his college loans. His is the only boy (man! sorry) and has a great intellect and wit.

As I looked down the hall to call him to join the fray, I remembered that he had moved out barely three weeks ago. It happened so fast, and I'm so happy for him, but how strange is it that he isn't around to add to the craziness. So Mom is once again dealing with another life change. And as usual, the kid's growing pains don't seem to be as hard on them as they are on me! But I know this is just another of life's changes that helps me to grow, and I just pray that his new experiences will bring him the happiness that I have found in this life.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Routine #1 to Make Packing (for Lunch) Easier (with printable)

Packing lunches has been a lifelong issue. With four  kids, a husband, and myself needing to eat daily (the nerve), lunch planning is important.

When my husband and I were #dinks (dual income no kids) - so many years ago - we made our own lunches. When the kids were born I started to make my husband's lunches. Then I asked myself what was I doing?? No, actually I felt bad for him because by then I was staying home with the kids. And we have four kids. So he basically got whatever I could reach out of the fridge.

As the kids got older, he started to plan his time better and make his own lunches. Me, time saver that I am (AKA lazy), created a great system for the kids to get their own lunches ready for school.

I purchased paper bags (my kids hated carrying those cute lunchboxes after they passed second grade) and a large plastic tote that fit on top of a cabinet. I also purchased sides like pudding or yogurst, and made or bought granola bars. Weekly I also bagged vegetables and/or cheese, and kept them in a clear bin in the refridgerator.

Opening the paper bags, I set them in the tote in rows. Then I placed a napkin (and sometimes a note) in each one. After that I would add any other food items that didn't need to be refridgerated.

The lunch bags sat, ready to go, and each day the kids would just need to make their own sandwiches, toss them into one of the bags, perhaps also grabbing some veggies and/or cheese, and grab their water bottle.  The benefit to this is that we were never OUT of anything - because the items were all accounted for within the paper sacks. When I wasn't doing this, you might find all of us in the kitchen on a school night running around looking for just about ANYTHING to go into those lunch bags.


If you have (or used to have) a great idea for making lunch packing easier, let me know! All comments and input are appreciated!

I also wanted to leave you with a printable and instead of creating one for you, I discovered that the Happy Home Fairy create an entire year's worth of notes for you to use when packing school lunches. Why reinvent the wheel when someone else has done such an amazing job!

Friday, November 21, 2014

From work to home: how to avoid blowing up in anger

I am not good at confrontation. I avoid it at all costs.

In my home life this has been manageable for the most part. Not that I haven't let lose in front of the kids during their lives, but when people want to work together and respect each other, they learn tricks to make that work (I will revisit this topic later).

anger IconHowever, how do you manage that if you work outside the home? What if your boss is pushing you. How do you respond?

I find this a challenge. For good or bad, my boss has mostly done this using email (perhaps because I diffuse the situation when she is in the office?). The benefit of an email is that I can choose to respond, or to avoid responding.

The last time this occurred I declined to answer via email, because I felt it was not the place to have that type of discussion. Plus I was really upset.  Seriously. And when we both came into the office we had a good talk, albeit stiff, and then we seemed to go on even better than before.

However, I had one of those emails again today.  It has been about 6 months. This was asks me about something that was not done when she wanted it done.

I was stunned when I read it. Unfortunately I read it when I got home from work. I only logged on to work email to get someone's email address.  Darn. Because it threw me over the edge and I admit I even browsed local job postings.

Should I have responded with my actual answer? Which was that the first delay was because you forgot to include me in the email, and when you finally sent it to me (14 days later), it was on my to-do list and as I work for her 10 other employees, I have to set things up in order of importance.

Boy am I pissed. Its taking everything not to rant and swear here.

So as you can imagine, I could use some tips to learn to avoid blowing up in anger, so that I can keep my job, lol.  Help!

Just a note: My stress was for naught. I didn't respond, and after the weekend this not a worry. I addressed it in my own time and my supervisor didn't even sweat this. See what we do to ourselves? I don't know about you, but I've got to let things go a little more and not jump to conclusions! :-)

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Gifts for Coworkers

It's getting to be holiday time, and for some reason, we seem to have more birthdays in our office as well.  What do you do about birthday gifts for your co-workers?

Do you give any?

Birthday Ideas on
I would love to hear your take on this.

As I have worked in an office, I find that it can be quite expensive to recognize birthdays. Some people have found a solution by giving a card along with a $1 scratch off lottery ticket. Cards used to be expensive, and happily they aren't any more.  There's no excuse for not having a few in your desk (see this).  At my local Dollar Store you can buy nice cards (funny, too!) for two for $1 (yes, one DAHLLLER). So at the very least a card is nice.

But how do you decide who is going to get a present?  There is one woman in my office who gets lots of gifts, from lots of people in the whole building, and she doesn't do anything special.  Honestly, I always feel like buying her gifts, too, lol. She's someone whom I always want to take under my wing and encourage, and I have a feeling that's what happens to other people as well.  Weird. Not sure how she makes that magic happen, but I love her!  She's like my crazy sister.

On the other hand, some people keep to themselves and no one even knows when their birthdays are.

We took care of this in our office by making an office phone number contact list (just for our division) that also has our birthday month and day on it. So each month we can wish each other happy birthday. I take the dates off the list on the first of each month and send out an email to our whole team, reminding them of the birthdays. I love this because I end up talking to some people with whom I might never exchange words.

So what do you do about birthdays in your office? Any tips or advice?