Category Archives: Tiny Tip on Thursday

Reading Tip And My List Of 18 Books For 2018

Did you read as much as you wanted last year?  Me either.

My reading habits left me far short of the 52 books in 52 weeks I accomplished a few years ago. I hope this reading tip helps me achieve that again.

The credit for this tip does not belong to me. On my initial post about reading 52 books in the year,  Patty commented about stopping every day at 3p.m. and reading:

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I read all the time. I stop what I’m doing most days at 3:00 and have a coke and read for about half an hour. I’m a fast reader, too, so I can get through a lot of books with just 30 minutes a day. Not that I limit myself to only 30. Sometimes I read too much. If I’m working on a quilt, I usually quilt in the evening, but if I’m not, I read.

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What a great idea! As one of the 18 things I’d like to accomplish in 2018 (list of those coming soon), I am adding in this habit.  I’ve decided I’ll stop what I’m doing at 3:30 (may move that up to 3:00 as 3:30 is when J walks in the door from school), make a cup of tea, maybe grab a snack, and set the timer to read for 30 minutes.  Timer starts when the tea is ready and not a moment earlier.  reading tip

My List Of 18 Books For 2018:

Here are 18 books I’d like to read in 2018. Hopefully, I’ll read more than 18 books but these titles are ones I know I want to make a priority. Forgive me, they’ll simply be in a random order.

  1. Eat Pray Love by Elizabeth Gilbert (Curious if it fits my word of the year)
  2. Raising a Responsible Child by Dr. Don Dinkmeyer and Dr. Gary D. McKay
  3. The Magicians by Lev Grossman
  4. The Naughty Nineties by David Friend
  5. Silence in the Age of Noise by Erland Kagge
  6. A World in Disarray by Richard Haass
  7. Leap Year by Helen Russell
  8. Gone Viking by Helen Russell
  9. The In-Between: Embracing the Tension Between Now and the Next Big Thing by Jeff Goins
  10. The Second Lives of Honest Men by John R. Cameron
  11. Computer Power and Human Reason: From Judgement to Calculation by Joseph Weizenbaum
  12. The Case Against Sugar by Gary Taubes
  13. The Demon Crown: A Sigma Force Novel by James Rollins
  14. Under The Wide and Starry Sky by Nancy Horan
  15. Better Than Before: Mastering the Habits of Our Everyday Lives by Gretchen Rubin
  16. Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats by T.S. Elliot
  17. The Glass Castle: A Memoir by Jeannette Walls
  18. Reshaping It All: Motivation for Physical and Spiritual Fitness by Candace Cameron Bure

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Wow, those titles are so random. Wondering where I came up with my list?

I have an ongoing word file of books I’d like to read (first created in 2012). Also, I have a small text file on my phone where I’ll jot down titles if I hear of something interesting or see a television character reading a book that piques my curiosity (# 6 up there made the list during an episode of Madam Secretary).

While I plan on using my reading tip to  read all the books in my list, my hope is to double (or triple! or quadruple!) the number by the end of the year.  Some of the titles listed are the first in a series, some authors have other books I’d also like to read, and then, I have a few books I’d like to go back re-read (re-reading books feels like visiting old friends to me).

How do you select the books you want to read?

 

Putting Away Christmas Ornaments

I spent some time on the 26th taking down the tree and putting away Christmas ornaments.  I actually debated leaving the tree up a while longer. So unusual for me!

However, I ultimately decided not to change my tradition and took our tree down the day after Christmas. Technically, the night after Christmas as I didn’t start until around 7p.m. Highly unusual.

Naturally, right as I started putting away Christmas ornaments, my oldest son sent a text to come pick him up from his friend’s house.  So, I left my husband and J in charge for a bit.  Probably won’t make that mistake again.

Note to husbands: Do NOT interfere with your wife’s system for taking down the Christmas tree.  Just don’t do it.

Last year, I was sick at Christmas and my husband and kids helped take down the tree or maybe I was delirious, not sure.  At least, this year, my husband did go buy me some new tubs for the decorations which I organized as I dismantled the tree.

G scoffed as I wrote labels directly on the tubs with a Sharpie. Some day the kid will understand.

One struggle I always have with putting away Christmas ornaments is protecting them properly.  There are lots of posts for organizing balls and such like this one.  I wish our decorations fit in cute containers like that!

However, my experience is those cute labels end up facing the wall (why I wrote ON the lid of my bins with a sharpie!) and our decorations never fit quite right.  Some day, we’ll have a tree adorned with balls and bows perhaps.  Right now our decorations look more like this: putting away Christmas ornaments These special ornaments need to be carefully wrapped before storing in a box (I just use boxes we’ve had for years or newer ones from Amazon depending).

Here are my tiny tips for what to use for packing away the special, breakable Christmas ornaments:

  • The outside of the tissue paper you bought for Christmas gifts
  • All the tissue paper from the gifts sitting around the house
  • Old newspapers and magazines
  • For the truly special ones, those plastic store bags are great for extra padding!

One other thing I started last year: each boy has a labeled bin containing their special ornaments.

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I took the tree down but the Nativity does stay out until the Epiphany.  So far little bits of Christmas still linger like the greenery around the kitchen doorway, the outdoor lights, the Santa table cloth, and the bathroom shower curtain.

This year I find I’m simply not in the mood to rush it all out the door. It’s a nice feeling to still be savoring the Christmas season a bit.

When do you take your tree down?

Quick Productivity Tip For This Busy Season

Thought since this is a super busy time of year, I’d share a quick productivity tip.  I’ve actually already posted about this tip once.  It’s one I do return to when I feel overwhelmed.

And it involves making a list, something I still despise but force myself to do when it becomes apparent the only solution to my overwhelm is to sit down and write out those pesky to-do tasks on a daily basis. Mostly, I’m a I know what I need to do, why should I make a list type person?  Oh boy, I realized I sound just like my youngest son.

This quick productivity tip comes from Allyson Lewis and is really simple.  She has a list here of 21 Ways to Improve Your Productivity and this is item number 4 on her list.  You simply complete 5 tasks before 11:00a.m.  I always find I get more done when I use this method.

My list stays simple.  And I’ve learned the hard way to keep it at 5 items.  Trying to squeeze in 7 gets overwhelming.  It’s better to “follow the rules” and keep the list at 5 items and let anything else be a bonus.

My 5 Tasks For This Morning:

  1. Write and Publish A Blog post.  (Trying my best not ignore my blog entirely during the next few weeks. Every year at this time, I have so many ideas for posts that I never seem to get written and published.)
  2. Unload and Load Dishwasher (I was lazy last night) AND wash the pans!
  3. Put a roast in the crock pot for dinner tonight.
  4. Clean out my purse.  It’s full of receipts and trash and I don’t know what else. I want to be able to easily find things in it when I go shopping later today.
  5. Take a Christmas present inventory. I need to get out the hidden presents and stocking stuffers and see what I have (I already know: not much).

I also made a quick list of 5 tasks I’d like to get done after 11. If they don’t happen today, I’ll just bump them to my list for tomorrow morning.

The rest of my to-do list for today (the to-do list for Christmas planning is much longer!):

  1. Go Christmas shopping (need to get Secret Santa gift for my work party tomorrow night!)
  2. Clean out fridge!
  3. Grocery store (need cheese ball ingredients plus food for the teenagers who eat non-stop)
  4. Spend 15 minutes cleaning every room in our house
  5. Write out and mail 5 Christmas cards (also on my shopping list for today)

Is your holiday to-do list overwhelming?  What’s on your list for just today?

(Excited to be completing item 1 from the list of 5 tasks before 11).

 

 

 

 

Holiday Coupons: Taming The Chaos

While I don’t really coupon any more, I love the holiday coupons!  holiday coupons

What I don’t love is hauling around a bunch of crumpled up pieces of paper in my purse.  What often happens is I’m in the store and making my purchase when I remember, Oh, yeah, I have a coupon! Said coupon is usually at home on the kitchen table.

I love the stores kind enough to load the savings on my reward cards. Thank you, CVS and Hy-Vee!  However, even my beloved CVS and Hy-Vee sometimes insist on mailing me paper coupons.

My tech savvy should be better but it’s not. I confess I usually print the e-mail coupons even when I know I could just show the bar code on my phone.  Sorting through a ton of e-mails on my phone while trying to make a purchase isn’t my style.

So how do I tame the chaos of all those holiday coupons?  Make a meticulous plan and go from store to store with coupons sorted and ready?  Ha! If you thought that would be my answer, you must be a new reader to this blog. Welcome to a place where things are usually anything but meticulous.

My Trick For Taming The Chaos Of The Holiday Coupons:

A folder!  It’s a bit scary how many times a simple folder solves problems over here.   holiday coupons

I put all my store coupons that I may want to use in my folder.  Then, when I’m going to go on a big holiday shopping spree, the folder lands on the front passenger seat of the car.

Upon arrival at each store, I simply take a minute to look through my folder and if I have a coupon, I throw it in my purse.

Having all my coupons in the folder, means if I end up near a store I didn’t originally plan to visit, I don’t have to worry about the coupon sitting on the kitchen table.  Usually in December, the folder will simply stay in the car.

Mostly, I limit my coupons to retail but it might also be a handy way to handle the restaurant coupons as well.

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Do you use coupons for your holiday shopping?  How do you keep track of them?

Stocking Stuffer Secrets

For  today’s Tiny Tip on A  Thursday, I’m going to share my stocking stuffer secrets with you.

And yes, I’m talking about Christmas prior to Thanksgiving.  I don’t know if it was the whole embracing fall for 31 days thing but I’m thinking about Christmas already.

stocking stuffer

Photo credit: Melalouise via Flckr

Here are my stocking stuffer secrets:

  • Start early!  Usually in October but sometimes sooner, I start looking for small items for stockings whenever I’m out at a store.  It helps to ask to have whatever you pick out put in a separate bag.
  • Have a designated spot for storing them.  One of my dresser drawers serves this function.  It’s in the same row as my underwear drawer so I don’t really worry about any boys snooping in there.
  • In addition to searching out fun things, stick to a few standard items each year to cut down on some of the stress of filling the stockings.  Some of our Santa standard items: Chap-stick, gum, spin toothbrushes, bubble bath/cologne now that the boys are older (My mom used to fill my stocking with perfume samples and I always loved it.  It’s a bit harder to find men’s cologne samples but I did find a couple for the upcoming year), and of course, bags of favorite candy (Bags take up more space than those cute holiday suckers.).
  • Every year I have this plan where I stash the fun items in the drawer and then, I go out usually on Christmas Eve and panic that I don’t have enough to fill those stockings! Guess what? Usually I end up with too much.  So, other than candy and gum, I put some items back in the drawer and save for upcoming holidays and birthdays.  Sometimes items last all the way to the next Christmas.

Right now, I’m a bit behind on the stocking stuffer drawer although I do have the Chap-stick (peppermint!) and cologne samples in there.  I’m finding it a bit harder to come up with fun ideas as the boys get older.

And I refuse to go with my husband’s “just give them underwear and candy!” suggestion.  So, I’m open to any stocking stuffer ideas for two teenage boys?

 

 

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