Monday, December 1, 2008

To Do or Not To Do

I’m often told that I’m an organized person.

I’m not organized—I am hyper organized (maybe there’s a support group for others like me…if so, I’m sure they’re already so organized that I’m on the mailing list.)

I have a confession to make…

I would be nowhere without my To Do list. It’s what keeps me on track, makes me run from one job to the next and helps me get everything done.

Love ‘em or hate ‘em, To Do lists can keep you on track. But there is a catch. The list works only if you hold yourself accountable. Since I am my own boss, there isn’t anybody to notice if I sit and stare out the window at the beautiful view all day. But since I am my own boss, I also know there is that pesky list that begs for my attention. And if the items on that list aren’t crossed off by the end of the day, it’s not a good feeling.

So I fill up the list with lots of goals: write 2,000 words, edit short story, research what a dead body looks like after it’s been under water for a month, etc.

At the risk of making myself sound really boring, one of my favorite things to do throughout the day is check things off my list.

Chances are if you write something down, it will inspire you to do it.

Okay, now I can cross “blog” off my list for today! :)

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Saving money...without feeling the pinch too much

Gas prices are finally coming down, but the cost of groceries (and almost everything else) is going up. And now the holidays are coming—a time of year when we usually spend even more money.

The good news? Saving money is fun.
No, seriously!

I LOVE saving money. In fact, there’s nothing like that feeling of getting a good deal, or using a valuable coupon or doing something without hiring a professional.

So here are some of my all-time favorite hints for saving money:

1. Money saved is better than money earned. Think about it. When you work extra hours, get a second job, etc., you are taxed on the income. But if you SAVE money—for instance, cut the lawn yourself or paint your own nails—the money you save is not taxed. Free money!
2. Make meals at home as often as possible. It’s hard, but the trick is to plan ahead. Stock up on staples (meat, potatoes, canned/frozen vegetables, etc.) and make meals that fit your family’s taste. My favorite method of making meals is using the crock pot—throw stuff in the pot in the morning, it’s ready by dinner.
3. Use cash. This is hard too. And when credit card companies offer you rebates for using their card, it’s easy to think it’s a bargain to charge items. But it’s also very tempting to overspend and make impulse purchases when there isn’t an immediate subtraction from your wallet.
4. Skip the frilly luxuries, or at least scale down. You can probably be just as happy getting together with friends over a plain old cup of regular coffee with a little milk in it for $1.50 instead of a fancy latte.
5. Drink water. Instead of soda and sports drinks, have water with meals. Even bottled water is less expensive than drinks. But why not fill a pitcher with water and keep it in the fridge? It’ll be cold and it’s free.

The list could go on, but here are some suggestions for books and web sites with more money-saving tips:
‘The Complete Tightwad Gazette’ by Amy Dacyczyn. This is a great book with practical tips and tried-and-true techniques. Sensible ideas! Original and straight-talking suggestions.

Feel free to post a comment and add your favorite way to save money!

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Summer Reading

Summer beach reading season is here!

As much fun as it is to cozy up with a book in the winter, it’s just as enjoyable to lounge around with a good, long book in the summer heat (or air conditioning).

There’s something about summer that inspires me to read more than usual. When I was growing up, we only had one air conditioned spot in our house—a window unit in my parents’ room. So when it was unbearably hot, we’d all pile into that one bedroom with a big stack of books and read all day, happy to be cool and entertained.

Books haven’t lost their summer appeal. Lucky for me, my whole house is air conditioned now, and I still love to stock up on books so I can lose myself in a good romantic suspense or mystery.

Fortunately, my favorite authors have just released, or are getting ready to release new books. Here’s a list of my summer reading…here’s hoping you enjoy them too!

FEARLESS FOURTEEN by Janet Evanovich
If you haven’t read any of the Stephanie Plum books, it’s time to run out and get the first 13. Then buy this one. Hilarious, sexy without even trying, and heart-warming too. And if you’re from New Jersey and have never read this series…shame on you, get reading!

CHARLEY'S WEB by Joy Fielding
I don’t just love Joy because her name is so much like mine, I’m also anxious to see what intricate web she spins in her newest book. When I read the description of this one, I wanted to run out and buy a copy right away. Sounds scary, realistic, and emotional.

DUMA KEY by Stephen King
This book is so thick I thought it would take me a month or more to read it. Problem is, once you start reading, you can’t stop. I finished it in 6 days.

TRIBUTE by Nora Roberts
Her characters are so real, and the situations they get into are so interesting. Any book by Nora is a must-read. A nice, thick summer hardcover is a gotta read!

And don’t forget to read:

WHERE ARE YOU NOW? By Mary Higgins Clark
TAILSPIN by Catherine Coulter

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Quotes That Mean Something

I love getting to know people through interviews. I’ve made life-long friends while writing articles, learned a lot about life and people. I’ve been lucky and honored to write stories about heartache and celebration, tragedy and hope.

Albert Einstein would have been a great interview. His quotes, many of them famous, beg for discussion. Or explanations. Here are some of my favorite quotes…and the thoughts that run through my head as I read them.

Anyone who has never made a mistake has never tried anything new. Albert Einstein

Good one Albert! If a genius can admit to mistakes—in fact encourage them—I feel confident messing up.

Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. Albert Einstein

One question: does this apply to computer problems? Because I think if I press the same button, it might start working if I do it enough times.

Not everything that can be counted counts, and not everything that counts can be counted. Albert Einstein

Wow. He was genius!

Look deep into nature, and then you will understand everything better. Albert Einstein

As a gardener, this is one of my favorite quotes. There’s something about the way earth worms aerate the soil, and roots grow toward water, and leaves shade the fruit that makes nature so incredible.

Two things are infinite: the universe and human stupidity; and I'm not sure about the universe. Albert Einstein

I’d love to hear him say this. Because maybe he was trying to be funny. Maybe he didn’t mean it to be interpreted as a slight to human intelligence. Maybe he laughed after he said this, adding “just kidding.” But then again, maybe he was on the beltway at rush hour.