Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Chocolate is a whole-food, right?

Last night hubby and I decided to take a night off from shop-talk after putting the kids to bed and actually watch some TV. Except, we don't really have TV since I scaled down the cable to virtually nothing, so we thank goodness for Netflix! I like to watch romantic comedies, he likes to watch shark programs. We both agree on Monty Python and the occasional food and/or wine documentary. We agreed on Forks Over Knives, a documentary on the whole-food movement and the research behind it.

As a self-proclaimed carnivore, this movie has me reeling. The studies done by the two featured doctors, separately, world-wide and over the course of decades clearly shows that people with diets high in animal products and processed foods have a much higher occurrence of cancer and heart-disease. They also show that the rates drastically reduce when those same people switch to a whole food, plant based diet. That is, fruits and vegetables as nature intended and whole grains like rice.

Is an animal based diet killing us?
 Like any good farm girl, I have always believed in an animal-based, protein dense diet for myself and my family. We try to be healthy and stick to unprocessed food as much as possible, while still enjoying a sweet treat now and again. I make my pancakes from scratch, my pasta often too. We eat plenty of fruits, we need more veggies, especially the kids. But lots of meat and dairy. Lots as in 5 times a week for meat and 7 for dairy, including cheese and yogurt.

Suddenly, I feel an urgent need to reassess and potentially overhaul our diet. Will my husband and children go along? Do I have time for such a thing? Of course they will. My kids are smart cookies (no pun intended) who care about what they put into their bodies. Of course, I have the time to put the health of my family first. I doubt we'll ever become vegan, but we can certainly slim down on animal and increase the vegetable.

Have you seen this movie? What are your thoughts on the science behind it? What do you feed your family? What's the healthiest thing your kids love to eat?

Monday, November 28, 2011

Extra cash for the holidays!

Get this deal here!
Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales, like the Vista Print Holiday Cards deal to the left, are all well and good unless you don't have enough cash to utilize them! Lucky for all of us, there is Prosper. I've written about Prosper before because they were a life-saver for us being able to pay some bills while starting our new business.

And the deal they are offering is better than any other out there! Today only, if you apply for a loan through them before the end of today, you get a free ipod! Prosper is a peer lending site, so you apply for a loan and it gets funded by people who want to help! Of course, they get a nice return on their investment as well, but rates are significantly lower for borrowers than a credit card would be. So, either get a loan or become a lender and feel good about helping out those of us in need of a little extra cash!

So, what do you need to do? Have a credit score of at least 640 (that's just on the fair side), apply and see what you qualify for. Applying does not effect your credit in any way, which is a very important thing; The loan is only reported to credit agencies once funded. Once qualified, post your listing. They offer step-by-step directions and suggestions. Once funded, you get an ipod! Whoo hoo! Money to pay bills or for holiday shopping and an ipod. That's what I call, "Happy Holidays!"

Friday, November 25, 2011

Holiday Traditions, No more

For the past 11 years, the day after Thanksgiving my husband and I have gone out and bought our Christmas tree. Forget about Black Friday, for us it's all about green & red! We decorate while playing cheezy Christmas music or, since the kids have joined us, watching Rudolph or Frosty. This has been our tradition every year since we met.

But this year we are retail store owners and it's Black Friday. And we're still open Saturday and Sunday too. Then Monday the kids are back in school. They asked today, "Are we going to get our Christmas tree and decorate?!"

It's hard to tell them "No." Today they'll spend 8 hours with a babysitter while Papa and I work at the store. Tomorrow they'll go without me to get the tree and then I'll likely decorate with the kids while Papa works.

I'm thrilled that we have a business that we love and we're working hard to get it off the ground so that we stay in business. But my heart hangs heavy today knowing things are so different this year. This is normally a family weekend spend celebrating and decorating and laughing and building new, beautiful memories.

I'm thankful for the wonderful day we shared together yesterday. I can only hope that next year we have an employee we trust enough to run the show for us so that we may resume our family holiday tradition.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Thanksgiving Memories

It's almost Thanksgiving! I have wonderful memories of this holiday from childhood. I grew up next door to my paternal grandmother (who just turned 100! She is still awesome!) who still lives right between two of her 5 sons. The three houses span over 30+ acres. Some Thanksgivings there would be 30 family members celebrating together. Sometimes at our house, sometimes at Grandma's and sometimes at my aunt & uncle's.

All of the children, about 15 to 20 of us, would be ushered outside to play while dinner was being prepared and then again once it was finished. We would run and run because we had so much room to do so. There was an abandoned speedboat that we would climb into and pretend to be on some high-speed chase adventure. From there we would run to the tallest tree with its tire-swing, imagining it was the only safety from a pack of wild dogs that could come from the woods at any moment!

Another huge, old tree went in different directions. That was our apartment. One section was the sleeping area, another the kitchen and another sort of a living room area. On warmer days I would spend hours up there with a book, reading until my mom called me home for dinner. It hung directly over a deep pond, but still, we children climbed as high as we could and jumped as often from it!

There was no adult supervision. The older children were in charge of the younger ones. Our imaginations flourished and so did our sense of freedom and confidence. It was a beautiful time. I'm ever thankful for my childhood and the wonder and beauty that I was fortunate enough to experience. I feel saddened sometimes by how protected our children are today. Mine don't leave my sight for a moment. I doubt I'll ever feel comfortable letting them walk the 15-minute promenade to school. It's a different world today. But I'm grateful for being a part of it and I'm thankful for the wonderful memories that will always be a part of me.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Finding Your Niche

I've been doing a lot of reading recently on how to actually make money writing online, specifically with a blog. One of the key factors mentioned is to find your niche and stick to it. If you have a coupon blog then, you write about coupons. If you have a design blog, you write about design. If you have a baby blog, you write about babies.

Well, I have a Parenting/House & Home blog. Essentially, this means writing about my life as a woman with a home, husband and family. My niche is life in general as a woman, a wife, a mother, a writer, a business woman, a baker, a home-maker, and everything in-between. I write about first days of school, big boo-boos, parenting mistakes and triumphs, moments in life that make me ponder, marriage, simple, healthy recipes, blogging, business, money, and everything in-between.

My niche is a woman's life. We can't be pigeon-holed into one focused area because we are more than one thing. We are everything; We do everything. And you know what? I love nearly every minute of it. I love being a woman. I love that I've found my niche.
We are all of these women

My first Guest Post: Teaching Thanksgiving

Are you ready for Turkey Day?
It's a busy week with Thanksgiving and Holiday shopping kicking off! That's why Jen over at Making Life Matter invited some guest posters to keep things moving along. So, do me a favor and click over for a visit and read my post on Teaching Thanksgiving to my three little darlings.

Happy Monday!

Friday, November 18, 2011

Make Money Writing What You Love

Give me some of the green stuff!
I've been writing this blog for over a year now. It's not a moneymaker, though I've had the opportunity to review a few books and a costume, all of which I got to keep. I was hoping it would help to bring in a little extra cash, but it hasn't been the case. No matter, I love writing it!

So, how can you make some pocket money writing online? One of my favorite ways is through Examiner.com. You earn little more than pennies per page view, but it's a lot more than most of us make blogging and it's fun. Plus, if you desire to actually be a writer, as opposed to a blogger (not that there's anything wrong with that!), it is a good addition to your writer's resume. You have samples at your fingertips anytime one is requested from you in your search for paid gigs. Keep it local and you add $1 to each article and that does help with the grocery money!

Another option is Sponsored Blog Reviews. You'll find that link at the top left of this page. You can bid for paid posts and make anywhere from $3 to $100 as you build your ranking. I rarely get any of the jobs I bid for, sadly, but every so often I'll get contacted to do a post. The last time I made an easy $20 for 30 minutes of my time! These opportunities come few and far between for me, but since I always welcome the chance to get paid to write it's worth becoming a member (which costs nothing and they don't bother you with emails!).

Have you found a particular platform where you actually earn an "income"? If you have, please share! I'd love to hear from you! Happy writing!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Parent Teacher Conferences

Does it mean I'm a complete nerd if I absolutely love Parent-Teacher Conferences? Granted, my children are only in Kindergarten and 1st Grade. The two in school are girls and so much better behaved there than at home. Their teachers love them, they are "model citizens" and meet all expectations on their little report card style assessments. I love it. Perhaps I'll dread these conferences a few years from now when the boy hits primary. I doubt it.

It's so rewarding to hear teachers rave about my children. How interesting and articulate they are. It makes me so proud. And grateful. Grateful that my children have such a different experience from so many of their peers. They are growing up in a multi-cultural home, speaking two languages fluently, they've traveled overseas already (one was born in Asia!) and have family all over the world.

I think it's perfect that conferences come a week before Thanksgiving, because it reminds me of how lucky I am to have such wonderful, intelligent, healthy, kind-hearted little beauties. How lucky I am to have such a lovely family. With all the stress in life, I have this bubble of warmth watching my children play together, loving each other, loving us, loving me. I am happy. I hope you are too!

Thursday, November 3, 2011

When panic attacks strike, breathe deeply and drink wine

My little boy is vacuuming, the girls are coloring. I'm sitting here to quell my panic attack and ease my anxiety. A cold glass of white wine is my nearest companion and I'm taking slow, deep breaths.

Not me, but close enough.
Photo by swan-t via Flickr
Following your dreams is a wonderful, amazing and liberating move. But, when the bills come and there's no money to pay them, it's far more frightening then any Halloween horror film. Our store is awesome. It's different, unique. People are starting to discover us and everyone has given us wonderful feedback, so it's only a matter of time. Start-ups require time and money. We're running quite low on the second requirement. No banks will lend us money, but fortunately we can borrow wine from ourselves.

The 42-page application for State aid that I was half-way through was lost and I need to begin again. My work laptop was attacked by a trojan virus and 360 tracking cookies. Now it sits idle. I do not, however. In the midst of all of this, I am grateful I still have the laptop I'm using now. So what that it has to lean against a wall because some part is broken and it can't stay up on its own. It works. It is virus-free.

I sit. Breathing deeply. Inhaling the subtle fruit scents in my Pinot Grigio. It's hard to identify any individual scent. Perhaps because of my cold. But it still tastes good. And it helps to breathe.