No matter what plans you have, kids or no kids, they almost always revolve around food. Food sustains us, but it also holds so much more. Comfort food is called that for a reason. Comfort food contains the five senses within it plus a sixth: memory.

When I’m eating sweet potatoes slathered in butter – real butter, stick butter, not spreadable canola, but real, all I can think of is sitting up in my parents’ bed, sick, and this was my medicine. The sweet flesh sweeter than any candy, the soft mash letting me eat and swallow without any work or pain whatsoever. Were they sweet potatoes or yams? How was I supposed to know?! I was 11 or something. It was better than chicken soup, and less messy in bed besides. Then, drifting off to sleep with the empty plate still on my lap. Empty because the potato skin is just as yummy as the rest of it. It was the one little kid yuck that I didn’t mind; eating the potato skins long before potato skins became its own food group.

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5 Free or Low-Cost Things to Do


1. Library

2. Mall – good place for walking when the weather won’t cooperate, window shopping, and taking photos for your Instagram.

3. Redbox

4. Use your Amazon Prime and/or Netflix memberships

5. Park. Yes, even in the winter. Everyone needs fresh air. Don’t forget to check your wind chills and dress appropriately for the weather.


Vacationing at Home


Times are a bit different than when I was a kid. Things are more expensive, kids are busier…parents are busier. There are divorced and single families, families with two jobs for each adult. Teenagers who work. We’re swamped. When I was a kid, I was pretty much guaranteed a winter vacation in Florida, visiting my family and going to Disney World and Sea World, Cypress Gardens and the Fountain of Youth. We never flew anywhere, so my parents would pull us out of school a day early, maybe even bring us back a day late and we’d leave at four in the morning and drive all day. We’d spend the night near South of the Border usually, once we stayed in Georgia, but there were brush fires and that put Georgia off for my parents after that.

Two days of driving, staying in a motel where you parked in front of the door. I don’t know how we survived those first floor, open windows, doors that led to the parking lot motor inns. We were sent to the office for ice, tourist information. At some point one of two of us were sent outside (to separate us from the other one) and we were expected to sit in the fresh air on the plastic lawn chairs that were paired under the big picture window that my mother always insisted we draw the drapes. Free roaming even near the swimming pool.

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Travel – Money- Saving Ideas


Taking a family on vacation can be a ridiculous amount of money. Even when I’ve traveled alone and stayed with friends, it can sometimes be more expensive than I’d like.

Car travel gives you the space to bring more with you and save money on the other end. These can all be adapted to other forms of travel. The only difference (at the moment) would be liquids on airplanes. Check the TSA website for your specific airport information.

Starting a trip, I always try to eat breakfast at home. Whether that’s picking up bagels at the supermarket and toasting them at home or using up the milk with our cereal, it’s better than getting half an hour into a trip and everyone’s starving. Frozen waffles and home brewed or instant coffee are two other ways to save money before you leave.

Once you’re on the trip, if you’re traveling by car, what can you bring with you? Sure, you can pick stuff up when you get there, but it’s not always practical. I will bring a 12-pack of soda and a bottle of juice for the kids. It really is so much cheaper than getting individual ones out of the hotel vending machines. You can always use the ice machine, and most hotel rooms come equipped with a mini-fridge and a microwave.

The microwave can be a good thing to have if you bring popcorn for snacks or microwavable Easy Mac mac&cheese. Everybody loves mac&cheese.

Other snacks that pack well include Cheerios, pretzels, crackers, and water bottles. Cheese doodles and chocolate are pretty much the worse snacks. The doodles are incredibly messy and the chocolate will melt, even in the winter.

Bring your own shampoo and soap.

Don’t buy anything in a convenience store and avoid supermarkets for anything that’s not food. Stick to Target and Wal-Mart for what you need, if you shop at those stores.

Bring an empty water bottle and fill it up at the water fountain on the other side of security. If you each have your own reusable water bottles, you can buy a gallon of water and share it around instead of buying individual disposable water bottles.

Look around when you’re packing and see what you can bring instead of buying. By the same token, be careful not to overpack. Weigh out what’s worth buying.

UFYH – A Site to Help Organize and Clean Your Habitat


UFYH stands for Unfuck Your Habitat. It’s a great place for real solutions to real problems of all sizes and clutter levels using real talk. This is your warning for language as you can see by the site’s name.

Some quick links, but visit the site yourself to get the most out of it.

About UFYH – as it says in this about section, this Tumblr (and related app for $.99) is for motivation, support, and accountability.
Welcome Packet

One good start is what the blogger calls a 20/10. Twenty minutes cleaning/ten minute break.

Start with small chunks and you’ll be on your way.

Good luck to getting your life (and stuff) more organized and less cluttered.

Make Self-Care a Thing


Why is so hard to put ourselves first; to take care of our own needs? Most of us usually wait until the stress has hit its boiling point. Instead of letting it go that far, it would be better to take care of ourselves along the way. That won’t eliminate all the stress and angst, but it can go a long way in alleviating those feelings of being put upon.

Some things that might work for you:

  1. Tune-out. Turn off the television, the internet, the cell phone. Find a quiet spot to just close your eyes for at least ten minutes. [Note: I have to mention that when I wrote this in my notebook, I wrote ten months. That might be a bit excessive. ;)]
  2. Re-read a favorite book. The one that I go back to every year or so is Here Be Dragons by Sharon Kay Penman.
  3. Go outside and sit. If it’s a cooler day, wear a lightweight jacket, gloves and a jaunty hat. Watch the wildlife scurry by and the birds glide, counting leaves, following the branches as they reach towards the sky.
  4. Listen to music. Mumford and Sons, Adele, Classic Rock – whatever floats your boat. Pop in your earphones and put your playlist on shuffle.
  5. I used to love this and you could do the pages as backgrounds without even having the pictures ready. Check out Creative Memories for supplies and ideas.
  6. Wander around a local museum or a large library or other interesting places in your local area.
  7. Take yourself to the movies. Have popcorn.
  8. Netflix. Catch up on a series you’ve always wanted to watch. Orange is the New Black anyone? Or re-watch a childhood favorite. Chitty Chitty Bang Bang and Escape to Witch Mountain are two of my favorites; or catch something new like Catching Fire.

One of the things that I do in an attempt at taking care of myself is my recent retreat. That’s a week while the kids are in school, but I also take a day and attend a local flower show in the spring.

As I’ve mentioned before, I visit Starbucks, less now because of finances, but it is still something I consider a special treat and self-care place.

My attendance at Mass will usually put things into perspective for me as well as centering my spirit and preparing me for the day.

I feel sometimes that I don’t have the time for me, but I think the bigger problem is whatever I’m doing gets interrupted and restarted and usually I’ okay with that kind of multi-tasking, but sometimes I’m the guy from Network.

I think I’ll take an hour and catch up on Constantine.