Monday, September 17, 2012

Monday Motivation: Taking Care Of The Little Jobs

I was feeling a bit overwhelmed this past weekend by a lot of little things that needed to be done.

You know, little things like sprucing up the flower pots on the front porch, changing the AC filter, and sewing a button on a sweater.

None of them are large jobs, but too many of these little jobs pile up and feel like one big burden.  I guess they become a burden because I let them be a burden -  I let them be a heavy weight in my life and grab the focus away from what I should be focusing on.

My solution?  I put them in their place.  I put each item on a list and then scheduled a time to complete the task just like I make an appointment for a dentist appointment.  So even though I haven't completed any of these tasks yet I know when it will happen and I'm OK with that. 

I'm free to focus on really important things without those distractions.  What can you put on your list?

Friday, September 14, 2012

Roasted Okra

Got okra?  Well, our neighbor had tons of it and came to our backdoor with a 5 gallon bucket filled with the pods.  I washed a bunch of it by scrubbing each pod with a green scrubby pad to remove the hairy coating.

I cut off the top and bottom of each pod and sliced them up.  If any pods were tough, I tossed them in the compost bucket.

I tossed them with olive oil and some Old Bay Seasoning.

By the way, using parchment paper on your pan makes clean up much easier and keeps the okra from sticking to the pan.  I roasted the okra in a 400 degree oven for about 20 minutes.  Hubs likes these veggies a little on the crispy (slightly burnt) side so I may have roasted them a bit longer.

We used the roasted okra with homemade salsa and some grated cheese to make nachos. 

tidybrownwren.blogspot. com

I roasted the rest of the okra and froze it to use later. 

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Extra Uses For A Solar Lantern

I received two solar lanterns as a birthday present from one of my daughters and son-in-laws.  They are a beautiful blue color with a great pattern.  They got them at Target.  Although designed to be used on a patio table or deck, I had to brainstorm ways to use them differently (is anyone surprised?)
solar lights

I took the top off of one of the lanterns and put a canning jar down inside to hold water for flowers.  Instant vase!  The other lantern worked perfectly as-is for a candle holder.  I simply placed a large candle on top. 

solar lanterns

I love the pop of color the lanterns add to my dining table and I get to enjoy this gift inside and outside.  Can you think of any other uses?

Monday, September 10, 2012

Monday Motivation: Keeping Track Of Coupons So You Remember To Use Them

If you're following the Monday Motivations for this year, you've just cleaned out your car.  I wish I could say that mine is clean, but I haven't gotten that far yet.  Our humidity is dropping and so I hope to use the nicer days to work on my car.

One of the things I do to help organize my car is to keep my coupons together and handy for quick shopping trips.  If there's one thing I hate it is standing in line at a store and remembering that I forgot my coupons at home.  I like to keep them in the car, but they can get out of control and build up to be a heaping mess of paper. 

I like to use the arm rest console in between the two front seats of my car to hold my store coupons like Bed, Bath, & Beyond,  Michaels, and restraurants. 

Whenever I get a coupon,  I set it with my purse to take out to the car.  When I get into the car, I simply slide it next to the other coupons in the arm-rest console.

It's important to keep the coupons up-to-date, so I take some time every week to weed through them and gather any expired items to throw away.  When do I find the time to weed through them?

I live in an area where boats need to travel, so I occasionally have to wait for a draw bridge lift. 
There's always something to look at or to do.
Oh, yeah.  I clean out my coupons too.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Monday Motivation: Clean Out Your Car

After a bit of a break, it's time to get back on track.  September is a great month to clean out the car.  After a whole summer of coming and going, the inside of my car is looking pretty grungy.  This post is a collection of last year's September Monday Motivations.
source                                (This is not a photo of my car)

Has your vehicle become the latest site for an archaeological dig?

Are you missing some items and you suspect they could possibly be in your car but you're too afraid to look?

Is there a strange odor coming from somewhere in your car?

Do you always ride with friends because you're too afraid to sit in your own vehicle?

It's time. It's time to declutter and organize your car.

1. Grab a trash bag/can and some boxes/bins and take them out to your vehicle.

2. Take everything out of the car, sorting as you go (see step #3). Check every nook and cranny. Remove items from the glove compartment and every other storage compartment. Don't forget to check under the seats and the built-in ash trays. Remove your children's car seats and booster seats. Remove all items from the trunk/cargo area as well.

3. Sort the items as you remove them. Trash goes in the trash bag/can. Items that must stay in the vehicle go in one bin/box. Items that need to go somewhere else (house, another car, to another person) go in another bin/box. Action items go into still another bin/box (library books to be returned, dry cleaning to be dropped off, DVDs to be returned, recycling to be recycled).

4. Now that you have everything removed from the vehicle, it's time to clean.
      a. vacuum seats and floor, including car mats
      b. spot clean spots on seats and floor (here's what I use)
      c. wipe down all surfaces (here's what I use)
      d. clean windows (here's what I use)
      e. treat surfaces with appropriate protectant (leather seats get a leather paste, vinyl dashboards  get Armor All )

OK. It's time to put the car back together - except this time without all of the junk.

1. Place clean floor mats into the car

2. Glove compartment: Only keep items you'll need to access occasionally - frequently used items need to be closer to your arm's reach. You'll want to have important papers (owner's manual, vehicle registration, auto club info., accident report form, notepad and pen, and insurance info) stored in the glove compartment.

3. In an area closer to the driver, place the GPS, phone charger, gum, etc. for easy access while you're on the road.

4. In the trunk/cargo area you'll want to have emergency supplies like a first aide kit and jumper cables. Hopefully you'll never need them, but they'll be there when you need them. We'll get into specifics in a future post.

  Vehicle paperwork 

Now that you've decluttered, you will want to organize your vehicle's paperwork so you can find it quickly. If you are pulled over by a police officer or involved in an accident, you will need updated information.

The most important information will be your vehicle registration, state inspection, and proof of insurance. Your driver's license will also be necessary but it should be in your wallet or purse.

One piece of paper you definitely don't want to have in your vehicle is the title. If your car is ever stolen (God forbid) the thief can us that title to easily sell your vehicle. Bummer.

These important papers can be kept in a small folder made to fit in the glove compartment. Some vehicles come with a very nice leather or vinyl portfolio that holds the owner's manual. It usually has a small pocket on the inside to hold the important papers.

Other papers you might want to keep handy are:
* Your mechanics name, phone number, and address
* An accident form to help you get all the information you'll need for insurance purposes if you're in an accident. Your insurance company may send you one with your insurance renewal.

Other information that is helpful to have in the vehicle is a maintenance and repair record. This is where you keep track of oil changes, brake work, repairs, new tires, etc. I recommend you keep it in the car because you never know when you might break down and it's helpful to know immediately if your car parts are still under warranty (possibly saving you money).

A vehicle maintenance and repair record is also helpful when selling your car. It can prove that you have taken good care of your vehicle.

 If you use your car for business or volunteer work you can, in most cases, use your mileage for a tax deduction - but you must keep track of the details. Check with your tax person for their recommendations for keep track of everything. I use a spreadsheet on a clipboard that I keep in my work bag. I don't go to a job without my bag, so I know I always have it with me when I'm working. At the end of the year, I add all of the work mileage together and give that total to my tax preparer. Of course, I keep the spreadsheet with all of my tax records in case I am ever audited.

Two more important pieces of information that you will want to keep track of are your vehicle's VIN number and your license plate numbers. I keep this information in my day planner and in a file in my home office. It will be necessary if your car is stolen. Embarrassingly, I've also checked the license plate info in my planner when I heard an announcement over a store's intercom that some lamebrain customer with license plate number ###### had left their car door open in the parking lot. Yes, that was me.

So, what other important papers do you keep in your car? Please share in the comment section or email me.

20 Important Items To Keep In Your Vehicle So You're Always Prepared

I'm on the road a lot. Between work, church, errands, and fun (shopping) I'm quite friendly with my car. It's my "home away from home".

I've found that it's important to have a number of items stored in the car in case of emergency, or just to make my life easier.


1. The most important item you can have with you in an emergency is your cell phone. This is your connection to help. Keep a charger in the car too.

2. 3 Hazard triangles (or flares)

3. Jumper cables - Consumer reports recommends 6 gauge rating for most cars.

4. Flashlight - check batteries every few months

5. Rope and or bungee cords for securing items

6. Duct tape

7. Bottled water - keep a bottle in the trunk for your overheated car. Bring a fresh bottle with you each time you travel for drinking.

8. Blanket - I like my waterproof, heavy duty picnic blanket. We can use it to keep dry, keep warm, or have a picnic.

9. Rain poncho

10. First aid kit

11. Wrapped snacks like nuts, granola bars, dried fruit, peanut butter crackers etc.

12. Tire pressure gauge

13. Tissue, napkins, or paper towels (for clean up on isle two)

14. Leatherman tool - It has scissors, screwdriver, tweezers, knife etc. all in one tool and folds up.

15. Notepad and pen/pencil - For jotting down notes, ideas, or (God forbid) information regarding an accident.

16. Windshield scraper

17. Umbrella

18. Make-up bag with hand lotion, mints, feminine products, brush/comb,chap stick, etc. for "just in case".

19. GPS or map - If you're like me and can't find your way out of a paper bag.

20. I've also used my AAA membership more than a few times. They've unlocked my car for me, towed my car to a service station, and changed a flat tire.

Because I always like to be prepared, I also keep my grocery shopping bags in the trunk and any coupons I might use in the glove compartment
If your car is looking good, but you need help keeping it looking nice, then keep reading. . .

1. Keep a trash bag in your car and FILL it.

2. Empty the trash bag every time you fill your car up with gasoline.

3. Once a month, check over your car.
      a. check the tire pressure, windshield wiper fluid, oil, transmission fluid, and power steering fluid
      b. check the paperwork in your car to make sure it is current - insurance, registration, and    inspection
      c. vacuum carpets and seats, wipe down dashboard and console, clean windows

4. Remove extra items from your car whenever you arrive home. Don't leave extra clothing, toys, or supplies in the car. Doing so only welcomes more items to pile up.

5. Keep containers in your cargo or trunk area to keep items from rolling around while driving.

One reader, Robin, had a great addition to last week's list of important items to keep in your car:

"Hi Kelly,

I think it is important to always keep some cash (paper dollars and change) in your car, not just in your purse. You could lose you purse or have it stolen, etc. Atm's may not always be available or the electricity could be out and places may only accept cash.

I also think it is smart to fill up when your car is at 1/2 tank. That way you always have enough gas to get where you're going."

Thanks, Robin. Great ideas.