Saturday, November 15, 2014

Dusting myself off to try again

Life can really be complicated sometimes. When you concentrate on one area of your life you can do good there, but then, I find that other things start to slip. Add in some outside attacks and, all of a sudden, your house looks like a tornado hit it.... or is it just me?

I started working as an Administrative Assistant for The Salvation Army about a year ago. And it is fantastic, I love my job. However, I am still trying to get into a reasonable home-life routine where I still have take the time to do some extra housework in the evenings and weekends. We've been scraping by OK and my husband is great, but I often feel like I should be doing more.

Add to that the fact that someone broke into our house last week, and now it seems that much worse and that much more noticeable. Not only did some stranger violate our home and cause damage and steal things, but we've had the police over a few times, the insurance company sent a contractor over, I had my brother-in-law come (as he is also a contractor) and pretty soon, the workmen will be here to fix things.... that's a lot of people coming and going, and things are definitely NOT "company ready" around here.

Oh well, what can you expect, really. I do have a good reason for being so distracted. I believe I have most things organized for the insurance people, we're just waiting on a little paperwork and then we should be able to have the repairs done.

Now is the time to take inventory and move forward. With baby-steps I can make good progress on the house and soon I'll be able to add some Christmas prep work!


It really is fun to be a Homemaking Diva!!

Love,
Valerie :D

Please comment ask your questions to me on the Homemaking Diva Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/HomemakingDiva

Monday, November 18, 2013

Thinking About Christmas?


First off, I have to tell you, yes, in my opinion, it is still way too early for Christmas decorations and music. But, now is the perfect time to plan!


It's mid-November, craft shows are in high gear and we're starting to get into make-ahead season. Now is the time to set aside some extra time and some extra money (if you haven't already) to make sure that Christmas doesn't surprise you.

I encourage you to spend some time thinking about what you are going to do this year. Just ask yourself some questions and write down the answers:
  • Who is on your gift list?
  • How much money do you plan on spending on gifts?
  • What might you get for each person?
  • Are there any crafts you need to get going on?
  • How many get-togethers do you want to go to?
  • Are you hosting any of these get-togethers?
  • What goodies are you going to bake?
  • What baking can be made ahead?
  • And don't forget your family traditions!
November is a great time to get started on crafts and baking. A friend of mine has a craft show every year with her mother and one or two other vendors. I always go and usually get all my stocking-stuffers there.

My sister and I bake together, and we had our first session on Saturday. It was extra fun this year because now my seven-year-old niece is old enough to help (not just busy-work 'help' but actually help). We make our list, pick our dates and split the groceries. It's always a lot of fun.

If you start planning now, you can beat the rush and avoid the malls on crazy December Saturdays. If you can swing it, try going on a weekday-day during November to get a head start on your gift buying.

Thank you for joining me, and I hope I can help you! It really is fun to be a Homemaking Diva!!

Love,
Valerie :D

Please comment or send your questions to me on the Homemaking Diva Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/HomemakingDiva or by email at homemakingdiva@hotmail.com

Monday, November 11, 2013

Breaking the Multitasking Myth: Rotate, don't flit!

Multitasking is a very popular buzzword, but it is a lie. Humans actually cannot multitask efficiently. Multitasking means "to work at several different tasks simultaneously" and while, yes, I am thinking, breathing, and typing all at the same time in this moment, I am really only blogging. Breathing doesn't require thinking, so it doesn't count. And I'm thinking about what I'm typing, so that is one task.

Any complex task that requires thought is your current primary task. If my husband came into my office right now and started talking to me, he would distract me from my primary task (blogging) and I would have to wait until he was done in order to continue. I could try and keep typing while he was talking to me, but I would really be doing a bad job at each of the tasks (blogging and conversation).

The basic psychology is this: what we call multitasking is really "switch-tasking" (because you actually can't do two thinking tasks at once). And each time you switch tasks, you actually lose productivity because your brain needs to remember where you were and what you were doing as you go back and forth.

When we try to "get it all done" we end up flitting around between tasks and rarely getting much done on any of them. So here is my solution for you:


When "multitasking" rotate, don't flit.

Be intentional about what you are doing in the moment you are doing it. When I sit down at my computer to "get stuff done" without a plan, I end up flitting around, doing lots of little things, but not actually feeling that I accomplished anything. I can spend hours online, know I was "working on stuff" but not know what I completed (if I completed anything at all). Flitting does not work.

Instead, rotate! Rotating involves more purpose and slightly longer periods of time. Instead of going off on a tangent, ending up wherever your clicks take you, sit tight and complete one task before moving on. Use a time, a checklist, whatever tool that is a help you. Just remember to keep it simple. Decide what your goal is. Then finish one task before moving on the the next.

Here's what this has done for me. In the past, I have found that checking twitter can be a multitasking black hole. People to follow back, links to websites to check out, articles to read, etc. My problem with flitting starts when I don't define what I'm doing. I click someone's profile to follow back and before I know it, I'm joining a facebook page and jumping over to LinkedIn. But when I decide to rotate, I know that I'm not looking at everything right now. I'm just following people back on twitter. If I see an interesting link, I'll open it, but not look at the page yet. I keep going inside twitter until I'm done with twitter and then quickly look at the other links I've opened to see if I want to do anything with them. Sometimes they're short articles and I'll read them then and there and sometimes they're something longer and I grab the link and make a new to-do in Asana to check on later. And the good news is, that when later comes around (and I use due dates, so it does come around), I am more objective and can prioritize better. So instead of reading all of the somewhat interesting articles I find right away, I only end up reading a few of them later.

Rotating is also helpful with offline tasks. Flitting around "cleaning the house" can be disastrous. You know you worked hard all day but you don't have anything to show for it. But when you rotate and decide that you are going to finish the current small task before you start the next one, you end up having large, clear areas. (Putting away everything in the living room vs. putting away one or two things in each room of the house.)


Thank you for joining me, and I hope I can help you! It really is fun to be a Homemaking Diva!!

Love,
Valerie :D

Please comment or send your questions to me on the Homemaking Diva Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/HomemakingDiva or by email at homemakingdiva@hotmail.com

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

A Welcoming Change - Peace


Well, it's a new year. 2013. It's going to take a while to remember to write all my dates properly... I'm sure I'll be erasing 2012 several times this week :)

A new year is a fresh start, resolutions, commitments, goals - all are floating through our heads. Yet, I'd like to caution you not to go overboard. The stereotypical 'get fit' resolutions that translate into 'go to the gym twice in January' resolutions are basically useless. We put too much pressure on ourselves, push really hard for a short while, then 'crash and burn'.

I'd encourage you to make smaller, incremental, resolutions.

I got a great form emailed to me from Marcia Francois called '2013 Intentions'. She asked us to choose a word for the year. I chose 'peace'. I want to make a calm home where we can relax and enjoy life. By focusing on my 'word for the year' I can more clearly choose my goals to fit inside 'peace'.

Naturally, clutter and chaos in a home takes away from 'peace'. So decluttering is on my list - my house definitely would NOT qualify for Hoarders but it can use some work. The main areas are decent but can be tweaked and the 'extra' rooms, especially 'my' rooms need overhauls.

BUT, I don't want to crash and burn, so I'm baby-stepping it. Easy as 1, 2, 3!
  1. Knock out something small - Instead of writing down everything I can possibly think of to do, I'm spending some extra time flitting around taking care of the small tasks that don't take very long.
  2. Just 15 minutes - This one's ingrained in my from Flylady, you don't have to do everything, just work on it for 15 minutes and make some progress. You'll be amazed at what you can do in 15 minutes!
  3. Add to routines in babysteps - Don't add 25 things to your daily to do list today, add one thing and work at making it part of your routine, when you feel comfortable with that, add one more thing.
Will you 1-2-3 with me? What is your 'word for the year'?


Thank you for joining me, and I hope I can help you! It really is fun to be a Homemaking Diva!!

Love,
Valerie :D

Please comment or send your questions to me on the Homemaking Diva Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/HomemakingDiva or by email at homemakingdiva@hotmail.com

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Countdown to the Holidays! Chow Down

Christmas is coming, Christmas is coming!

We all have extra shopping to do in December, let's help ease the burden and chow down! I challenge you to do less (regular) grocery shopping in December. Eat what you have, go 'freezer diving', get creative, and save some money!

I have the habit of putting  leftover sauce into the freezer. Plus I usually stock up on the meat that's on sale for half price at my store. I know I have another half a bag of black beans, plus a few 'cans' in the freezer. And I REALLY need to finish that box of rice I bought... too long ago.

Is your food storage in a similar state? Will you accept the Challenge?

Chow Down Challenge:
  1. Wait as long as possible to go grocery shopping this month and buy as little as possible. (I'm talking about regular grocery shopping, not Christmas Dinner.)
  2. Use up what you already have. Get creative. Dig to the bottom of the freezer and the back of the pantry.
  3. Save some money.

Thank you for joining me, and I hope I can help you! It really is fun to be a Homemaking Diva!!

Love,
Valerie :D

Please comment or send your questions to me on the Homemaking Diva Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/HomemakingDiva or by email at homemakingdiva@hotmail.com

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Countdown to the Holidays! - How's it Coming?

Less than a month before Christmas. Really?!?! How's it coming?

I have my Advent calendar ready to go. It's a fabric one with pockets that you re-fill each year. I added candies and little notes in each pocket and it is waiting patiently on my crafting table for December first.

Baking is done. Well, part of it anyways. I probably will end up doing some more baking on my own, but all the baking I 'have to' do for my traditional Christmas is ready and waiting. I hauled baking stuff over to my sister's on three of the last 6 Thursdays and we baked... well two of those days I mostly just entertained my nephew (who was being clingy but oh-so-cute) which allowed her to bake. We have gotten together for the past few years to do our Christmas baking to have the 'goodies' we grew up with.

Shopping is started. My friend, her mother, and her niece had a craft show at the beginning of the month. I brought my husband along and we made a good start to our Christmas shopping. Stockings are done except for one more thing, his parents and two friends are done except for some baking I'll add later. That just leaves the 'kidlets' (our nieces and nephews) who get Veggie Tales movies, his brother and sister-in-law who needs more brainstorming, and each other.

Crafting is not really started yet... I know, I know! But I still have time. I have the fabric for the stockings, one is washed but the other isn't. And DH still doesn't know what he wants on his, but I can do mine first, that's OK. I need to just 'suck it up' and wash the fabric in the evening instead of waiting for the weekend (our electricity rates are hiked up the rest of the time). Adding that to my list now :)

Thankfully the only thing I put on my crafting list are the stockings, advent calendar (done! - I made the little notes cute with scrapbooking punches), and these mirror ornaments I saw on Pinterest. I figure I can do them for $2-$3. (Scroll down about halfway on the link.) Mini mirrors from the dollar store glued to Christmas tree ornament hooks and placed on the INSIDE of your tree. It's supposed to make it more sparkly. I already have glue, so this should be an easy mini-project once I pick up the stuff.

How's your Christmas progress coming? Is there something you need to take of your list to be realistic?

Thank you for joining me, and I hope I can help you! It really is fun to be a Homemaking Diva!!

Love,
Valerie :D

Please comment or send your questions to me on the Homemaking Diva Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/HomemakingDiva or by email at homemakingdiva@hotmail.com

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Countdown to the Holidays! Feeling Crafty!

Happy Halloween everyone!

First off, I need to share my favorite Halloween tip with you before I forget:

COUNT the kiddies! Do it however you want - make a tally chart, count how many bags of chips are left and compare to how many you bought (don't forget to account for the ones you ate). Do whatever works for you, but count them. Write the number down and somewhere logical (I have a page in my holiday binder that I made up with cute, free Halloween graphics). Then next year you have a good idea of how many kids will be coming and how much candy to buy (plus extra for you). No need to steal from your kids' haul or get egged for being stingy :)

I hope you're all ready for the festivities tonight. My candy has been sitting by the door since we bought it, waiting patiently for tonight. I'll pull out my HUGE mixing bowl and pour the candy in and I'm all set!

I know it's still early, but now is the time to think about Christmas crafting, if you do any, or want to start. PLEASE don't over-burden yourself. Don't plan to make everyone on your list a cool afghan and then beat yourself up because you couldn't finish. Sit down and think about how much time you realistically have. Not how much time you'd have if no one ever got sick, had an appointment, or a flat tire that took up some of your time. Realistic time. Then cut it in half. Really. You don't want to over-burden yourself. Decide what you can do in THAT amount of time (half of your realistic time). Maybe make something small for several people or something big for one person. Start thinking about what you will make and pick up any materials you need so you can get started by next week to keep the pressure off.

I'm still learning to sew, so for me, this year all I'm committing to is stockings. I'm going to make us our own stockings. We've been using ones we just 'happened to have', but I want us to have OURS. I'm still having trouble deciding if I want to go 'classic' or 'fun' with them. But I have decided I want to do 2 or 3 coordinating fabrics mixing and matching for both stockings. So his will be made from fabric A and decorated with fabrics B and C and mine will be made from fabric B and decorated with fabrics A and C... make sense? Fat quarters should be the perfect size. I laid my stocking over a folded fat quarter, and there's lots of space for a seam allowance and extra decorating fabric. Now we just need to get to the fabric store :)

My sister and started our Christmas baking last week. We're doing 3 days over 6 weeks spreading it out and sharing ingredients. We made the freezable stuff first and will save the icing for the last day. We'll be finishing up on November 22nd, if plans don't change. Now THAT'S a stress-free holiday. I'll probably do more baking on my own, just because I can, but I'll have my Christmas 'necessities' done and no pressure on anything else.


Thank you for joining me, and I hope I can help you! It really is fun to be a Homemaking Diva!!

Love,
Valerie :D

Please comment or send your questions to me on the Homemaking Diva Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/HomemakingDiva or by email at homemakingdiva@hotmail.com