Baby Yourself

I am a firm believer in babying myself:

  1. Eat every 3 hours: 6 mini meals instead of 3 regular meals to maintain weight and reduce acid reflux.
  2. Take naps: Yes, that is plural! A round of Prednisone will allow 4 hours of sleep at night. Adding a sleep aid caused hallucinations. (Yikes!) I sleep whenever my eyes close and my mind slows down. A nap may vary from 10 minutes to 1/2 an hour and then the medication wakes me up again.
  3. Use baby products: I wash my face using only water, just like a newborn’s face.
    1. Baby Shampoo – diluted with water will remove mucus from eyelashes when they are stuck together.
    2. Vapor Bath – will open up sinuses and allow them to drain when nothing else works.
    3. Bedtime Bath - When the Prednisone says, “You’re not tired. Go organize your sewing basket.” The lavender lulls your mind allowing your body to relax.
    4. Baby Powder - absorbs sweat. Eczema breaks out in areas that tend to sweat: inside elbows, behind knees. No sweat = no rash. That is why you will never see me sweat…and I loathed P.E. I exercise with 3 fans, that are routinely taken apart and cleaned, blowing allergen free air on me.
    5. Vaporizer - the moist air helps keep sinuses, bronchial tubes, and lungs open when I am sick.
  4. Carry a change of clothes: I leave a pair of sweats and an extra tee shirt, (in Ziplock bags), in the van at all times because getting wet and staying in wet clothes will lead to rashes and sinus infections.
  5. Carry a sippy cup!

I’ve used the stainless steel water bottles for years. They are double insulated and the ice you put in it in the morning will be smaller, but still intact in the evening. They work just as well for hot drinks.

FlyLady Stainless Water Bottle.

The problem is, they do not have an 8 ounce size that will fit in my purse.

I bought a stainless steel “Sippy” cup; but my granddaughter thought is was for her…and it clashed with my red purse!

I colored it, just like a kid would, with permanent marker!

  1. Taped the areas I did not want “colored.”
  2. Dyed the pink areas with an extra-large permanent marker and used Sharpie markers on the details.
  3. I didnotdye any areas that would touch the liquid.

    I didn't dye the parts touching liquids.

    I didn’t dye the parts touching liquids.

  4. Let dry overnight.

    Taped and "Dyed" sippy cup.

    Taped and “Dyed” sippy cup.

  5. Wrap in newspaper and set in container with wadded up newspaper around it for 24 hours to absorb the marker odors.

    Newspaper absorbs magic marker odors.

    Newspaper absorbs magic marker odors.

  6. Run through dishwasher to set marker, and remove any excess.

It is not double walled like Flylady’s, but it will keep drinks cold for hours.

My purse-size water bottle.

My purse-size water bottle.



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Raspberry Syrup

I was making a simple, sugar syrup when I had a brainstorm. I mixed 1 cup of sugar with 1 cup of water and heated it in the microwave two minutes or until the sugar was dissolved.

I set it aside to cool, and on a whim, dropped a raspberry tea bag in it. I let it steep until it was cool. I ended up with raspberry syrup, similar to the peach syrup sold at Olive Garden.

Making Raspberry syrup.

Making Raspberry syrup.

I had raspberry tea and raspberry coffee using this homemade syrup. But the best drink was the “Raspberry Sprite” I made yesterday. It reminded me of the Cherry /Lemon/Lime slush I used to order at the Diner in Batavia, IA when I was a teenager.

I made a "Raspberry Sprite."

I made a “Raspberry Sprite.”

I can’t wait to make syrup out of the other tea bags!

One Size Doesn’t Fit All

After breakfast, I spent ten minutes basting my new belt. It is an elastic, “one-size-fits-all” belt that kept sliding down to my hips. I’ll wear it today and decide if I took it in enough, or if I should let it out a bit, and then I will make the permanent alteration.

I was under the impression that “one-size-fits-all” applied to blogs, also. I read on Pinterest to publish your post between 1:00 and 4:00 pm to increase your traffic.

Chris Snider, who teaches multimedia journalism at Drake University in Des Moines, recommended 9:00 pm in his article, “Get Facebook to show brand’s content” in the Des Moines Sunday Register on August 3rd.

I dutifully published Tuesday’s post at 9:00 pm. I felt bad because I saw people checking the blog throughout the day. I normally publish at 10:00 am. One size did not fit all, and I was unable to be on Facebook at that time to respond to comments there.

I am on Facebook at different times, my favorite being between 4:00 and 6:00 am. There are not many people on at that time. I try to touch base when I eat lunch and the 10:00 am publishing time works best for me.

We need to remember…it’s our belt…and we are the ones who are going to be wearing it.

I cleaned out the glove compartment in the van and found my old phone. We left it in there because I could dial 911 on it in an emergency. In the meantime, my husband upgraded his phone and put his old one in the van.

I sent my old phone to I still had a few mailing bags in my filing cabinet. If you have a cell phone to recycle, you can get a prepaid printed label at this site.

Every financial decision you make should be as personalized as choosing your cell phone.

Donating my old cell phone.

Donating my old cell phone.

Have More Outfits by Buying Less Clothes

“Laura, what do you think about this jacket?”

“The sleeves are too short.” (They were rolled up.)

“I can’t decide; I don’t think your dad likes it.”

“I guess you don’t have to worry about him borrowing it!”

The headline for the August 3rd Des Moines Sunday Register was, “Jordan Creek Mall Seeks Fresh Feel.” The article talked about the changes in shopping since the mall was opened. People are shopping online more, leading to awkward conversations like the one above.

I was not excited when they opened, because I shop from the clearance racks. I knew it would be several months before they started to clearance things out.

At the time, I looked forward to receiving catalogs from Coldwater Creek. I used them to help me make outfits with the clothes I already owned.

But the magazines stopped coming, and when I went online, each item was pictured separately. I did not enjoy the shopping experience as much.  (Coldwater Creek is currently selling off its inventory and going out of business.)

I signed up for the day before they closed. I was really frustrated as I can only wear 100% cotton and finding items made of that material is daunting. I can go through an entire seasonal line and not find anything to buy. let you mark items you wanted to purchase and they sent you an email when it went on sale. Alas, they closed shop.

I moved over to “,” a similar service. They send an email every time the item you desire is reduced in price. You purchase it when the cost is low enough to be worth it to you.

Shopping online is frustrating as the color is not always accurate and it is difficult to see tiny details or the description is too vague.

The best money I have ever spent was $30.00 when I became a member at She sends a weekly post teaching about one area of fashion: “What jacket should you buy,” “How to dress nicely and stay cool,” “What is your perfect skirt length,” etc.

I know my numbers and can tell at a glance whether the dress will be the most flattering length for me or not. The models used are very tall and you can’t always judge a dress by where it hits their knee.

We must remember we are buying clothes for the size we are right now and our bodies are unique. What looks good on you may not look good on me. has you pick your body type, or she will help you choose the correct one, and she will do your seasonal colors for a few dollars more. She tells you what to look for and what to avoid.

Each week she shops at one store and puts suggestions on your page for your body type. She shows which items she would put together out of the ones on the page.

When shopping for clothes it is best to be specific. Right now, I am looking for a white blazer and a denim blazer. I don’t look through all of the clothes offered on a website. I type blazer in the search box and I have an answer rather quickly.

We don’t need more clothes; we need flattering clothes that fit our bodies correctly. can help.

I used the zigzag stitch to lengthen my little black dress.

I used the zigzag stitch to lengthen my little black dress.



20 Lessons from Aunt Mert

As the anniversary of Mert’s passing nears, I realize that the lessons she taught us is the legacy she left with us. Reading through them again, I realized there are some I still have not been doing, i.e. time for play, trips, time with siblings. I think it is time for another girl’s night with my sisters!

My aunt Mert was featured in a “Forever Young” article in the Ottumwa Courier, a local paper. The article, written by Helen Hanna, covered many amazing things about her.

There was the good…

  • Volunteer
  • Self-taught Pianist
  • Self-taught Organist
  • Sunday School Teacher
  • VBS Teacher
  • H & R Block worker, 33 years
  • Income Tax School Teacher
  • Attends school & scout activities
  • Five adult children and spouses
  • 10 Grandchildren
  • 6 siblings who live nearby

…the bad…

  • Widow for 11 years

…and the ugly.

  • Cancer in 2004
  • Cancer returned in 2006

As I read the article I thought it was full of life lessons:

  1. Accept responsibility because someone needs to do it.
  2. Plan on serving for a long time.
  3. Invest in kids; be a teacher.
  4. Don’t let your lack of experience keep you from accepting a challenge.
  5. No formal training? Practice diligently and your skills and confidence will improve.
  6. Fill in when you are needed.
  7. Be willing to learn new things.
  8. Find a job doing work you enjoy.
  9. Stay involved in your children and grandchildren’s activities.
  10. In your chosen career, be willing to teach others.
  11. Play: sports, games, cards, etc.
  12. Make your home welcoming to children.
  13. Have hobbies: watching sports, crocheting, and reading.
  14. Take trips…even short ones.
  15. Cancer, or other illness, does not have to stop you.
  16. Don’t let physical changes (like losing her hair 6 times) bother you.
  17. Appreciate people.
  18. Find inspiration.
  19. Depend on your siblings and let them depend on you.
  20. Keep your faith strong and your sense of humor intact.

The title of the article summed it all up.

“You just do what you have to do!”

Article on Aunt Mert

It’s Not Where You Go That Matters; It’s Who You Take

Mom called today and said, “Do you want to hear the ocean?”


She was sitting on the beach because she is spending a few days with my brother and his family.

My sisters and I take turns driving her to Virginia. I sat on that same beach in 2012.

A new tradition was started this year when my sister took, not only her daughter, but also her granddaughter. (My nephew is currently deployed.)

What a memory for that little girl. She has traveled across the country with four generations. I cannot imagine the stories that were shared.

My sister spent yesterday doing a familiar Iowa tradition as she helped my brother can green beans for the first time. It reminded me of going to Grandma’s and helping her can.

After the phone call, my sister posted a video on my personal timeline; and I decided I want to take my granddaughter, and her family, the next time it is our turn to drive. I want to watch her frolic in the ocean!

But I am not going to wait until then to make memories with her. I want to take her, my mom, and my son on a “farm crawl.” I want to drive by the farms that were at one time occupied by me, mom, both sets of grandparents and great-grandparents.

I want Mom to tell her the stories she told me when I was the child on the car ride.

Our favorite family vacation was not the most expensive one or the week we spent at a cabin in Minnesota. It was the one when we visited two family friends in two cities in Missouri.

Remember, it’s who you take and who is there at the end of the road.

Virginia Beach in 2012. Seeing the ocean was the number one item on my bucket list.

Virginia Beach in 2012. Seeing the ocean was the number one item on my bucket list.



Ten Rules for “Tax Free Weekend”

1. Take a list and stick to it! Prioritize the lists for each person.

2. Stick to your clothing budget or use cash. There will be many temptations so be prepared.

3. Buy only the clothes and shoes you need. This is not the time to replace all of your shoes. Don’t buy track shoes for your child because you have no idea what size they will need next spring.

4. Be sure the cost is under $100.00. You will be taxed on items over the limit.

5. Shop the clearance racks first. The better quality stores will have items at 70%-80% off.

6. Buy the basic items first. Underwear and socks should be at the top of your list.

7. Buy the best quality you can afford. It is better to buy a good pair of jeans than three, cheap tee-shirts.

8. Take advantage of packages that have an extra. There are packages of socks and underwear that have an extra for the same price. Go through the stack and you may be rewarded with a free pair.

9. Purchase durable styles and fabrics. I have tried many different styles of ladies panties. I decided to stay with the “Boy-Cut” style because there is no elastic around the leg holes. The elastic wears out before the material does on the other styles.

10. Remember this is not a large discount. Depending on the city you shop in, your discount will be 6% or 7%.

Iowa’s Tax Free Weekend is scheduled for August 1-2, 2014.

The tax-exempt savings applies only to:

Clothing under $100
Shoes under $100

School Lunch Flashback

Last week my husband took a few vacation days. He took his dad and our daughter to see the St. Louis Cardinals play the Tampa Bay Rays. The men rooted for the Cardinals and my daughter for the Rays.

The Rays won and that must have let the air out of his sails because the rest of his time on vacation required only two things: a recliner and remote. (He didn’t have any other plans actually.)

My part in the vacation was I didn’t have to cook. It came about accidentally when I got sick. After having subs twice, pizza twice, and burgers once, I thawed out some chicken.

He decided it would not thaw soon enough and when he went to buy groceries he picked up a bucket of fried chicken from the grocery store. He got sides of mashed potatoes, gravy, cheesy potatoes, and squash. (The last item was for me.)

Usually he brings home macaroni and cheese to go with the potatoes.

Yeah, I married a meat and potatoes man.

Anyway, after putting the groceries away I filled my plate.

After one bite I thought, “This tastes like school lunch.”

It is amazing what we put up with for convenience. The next night I fried up the fully thawed chicken. I enjoyed mine much better.

We ate leftovers last night and I learned the secret to getting your college kids to cook a meal for you…serve chicken three nights in a row and tell them you are not cooking until the leftovers are gone.

He volunteered to cook tonight.

I’ll take fresh food over fast food any day.

My fried Chicken.

My fried Chicken.


Weird Ingredients

Mom stopped by today and dropped off a “Cooking Light” magazine. She reads cookbooks like I read novels. I get discouraged reading recipes in magazines because they always have one or two weird ingredients.

Don’t get me wrong, Mom is the best cook in the county, but I notice she brings the “tried and true” regional recipes to family dinners. She uses the recipes from her mother and mother-in-law the most.

Why? Their recipes are made with ingredients found and grown locally.

I live in a town with 2 grocery stores and a Wal-Mart. My husband has to do the shopping because of my medical problems and he doesn’t want to go all over town.

My home is 640 square feet which meant for years my pantry was in the basement…until I shoved the sheets under the mattresses and started using my  linen closet for a pantry. My dry cereal stash is on the shelf in my bedroom closet. I have room for one kind of vinegar, not six.

I finally found the reason for the “weird ingredients.” They are ingredients sent to the magazine for the cooks to try. They get free samples and add them to recipes they are familiar with and tada…a new recipe.

Scott Mowbray, editor of Cooking Light magazine wrote in his August, 2014 Note from the Editor.

“What do maple sugar powder, rare loose teas, tinned white anchovies, obscure jams, Chia seeds, crab salsa, and beer mustard have in common? Answer: All were sent to “Cooking Light” offices for sampling, taken home, filed in my pantry, and never considered again. The fact is, foods we are really interested in get tasted at the office. The rest are orphans, I give a home to orphans.

Mixed in with the orphans are the real foods….jasmine rice…Thai broken rice…dried Chinese fish….Indonesian shrimp chips…Southeast Asian Sambals…extra-wide rice flake noodles.”

That list was just from the Asian section of his pantry! You will not find one of those items in mine.

Thank God for the voice of reason in Mary Hunt at She recommends and I love because you type in the ingredients you want to use and they give you a list of recipes using those ingredients together.

I thought I would stump them with the ingredients watermelon and cottage cheese. I thought wrong…they had a salad made from those ingredients.

Maybe we are burned out on cooking because we are trying too hard. I need to make a list of favorite menus rotate them through once a month. I can always add a new recipe any time.

I put it off long enough…I need to go update my food inventory.

Cooking Light Magazine August, 2014

Cooking Light Magazine
August, 2014


Smaller Size Satisfies

I had been trying to cut back on coffee drinking. I limited myself to two 12 ounce cups a day. But there were three times during the day that I wanted a caffeine boost.

My solution?

I started drinking out of 8 ounce cups. I still am drinking 24 ounces of coffee, but I get it three times a day instead of two.

It is a habit to always order the larger size; but you would be surprised how many times the smaller size is just enough.

My coffee with frothed milk.

My coffee with frothed milk.