Posted in Travel, Vacation

All Aboard!!

Train travel has not been the main mode of transportation since the 1800’s.  Many people have never ridden on a train, much less checked into travel rates.  Perhaps this blog will make you reconsider.  There are so many advantages to train travel that are often overlooked.  Here are just a few reasons to consider.

The cost of train travel is much less than booking a flight, no matter where in the continental United States you wish to go.  You can literally travel from Atlantic to Pacific and almost all points in between.  For instance, a flight from Central Illinois to Michigan’s capital is $330 round trip on a weekday.  The train is $95 round trip on a weekday.  This is a substantial savings!

Sightseeing is another plus.  You cannot see anything as you look out the windows of a plane; but, imagine the sites you can see while riding on a train.  Often, it takes a different route than your car would.  If you’re driving, you cannot take your eyes off the road.

Many times, the train will stop at a major hub allowing you to get out and stretch your legs.  If you have a layover, the train station is often a historical building with restaurants, bars and quiet waiting rooms,   All have places to lock up your luggage for up to 24 hours.

Speaking of luggage, you are not charged for two bags, under 50 lbs.  Most airlines charge you for anything other than carry on.  The savings can be substantial.

The comfort of the seats is superior than that of a plane or car.  Most recline all the way to a sleeping position and are much roomier.  There are sleeping cars for trans-continental travel.

Last is the ease of using your electronics.  Each seat has a fold out table in which to work or eat on.  Beside that are one or two outlets to plug-in and charge your electronic devices.  All trains have free public wifi.

If you’ve never taken a train to travel, I urge you to check it out for your next trip.  Besides all of the reasons listed above, think of how relaxing it would be.  While traveling to your destination, you’re able to see the sights, read a book or even take a nap.  Don’t try doing this the next time you drive!




nap.  Don’t try doing this the next time you drive!

Posted in Clutter / Hoarding, Growth, Organization

Clearing Someone Else’s Hoard

What should you do when asked to clear someone else’s hoard?

~Asking For A Friend

Dear “Asking For A Friend,”


So, you’ve been asked to help a relative or friend, clear their clutter.  You honestly want to help but you’re afraid you’ll end up being banned from Thanksgiving or the next outing with the girls.  There are ways to help if you stay within some boundaries.  Here are some things I’ve found helpful when asked to help with this task.

  • Ask what your job will be.  Will it be opening the boxes and setting it in front of the person so that they can decide what to do?  Will it be opening boxes and sorting?  Will you be given free rein and you’ll both be doing the same job, which means it will go twice as fast?
  • Ask what the expected outcome will be.  Is this a deep cleaning where the room will be emptied? Is this more like sorting unwanted items.
  • Will items be donated?  This is important.  You need to know which place you will be donating to.  What are their regulations and limitations on donations?  Last, a clear definition of what you both feel would be a donation or should be thrown away.
  • Will items only be thrown away if not kept?  This is not optimal.    If the person is against donating, you need to agree on clear rules of what is considered no longer wanted and goes to the trash.
  • Try very hard not to accept “gifts,” of items no longer needed.  It sounds tempting and you probably believe you could use it.  If you’re dealing with clutter of your own, this will just make it worse.
  • Have a plan for heavy items.  Do not try lifting these items on your own or with your friend.  Call for back up.  If one or both of you gets hurt, the job will never be finished.
  • How much time does your friend need to clean up?  Will you be firm in limiting your time to a few hours, a day, a week, until it’s done?  This is so much better than the two of you assuming something different and hurt feelings in the end.

This is just a basic list.  I am sure you can come up with many more questions, inquiries and limitations.  What is so important is that there is a discussion and there is an agreement.

Without either, you could lose your place at the Thanksgiving table or the next girls only outing.



Posted in Uncategorized

Important Components For a Fidget Apron

Fidget mats, blankets, pillows and aprons are all tactile ways to keep an Alzheimer’s or Dementia patient busy throughout the day.  They can be used to help them cope with new surroundings such as a Doctor’s office.  Depending on the stage of the disease, it can provide comfort with familiar items.  In the latter stages, it provides a way to keep fingers busy with a variety soft and squeezable items.

Fidget Aprons have gained favor in the caregiving community because of it’s ease to take on and off, they don’t fall on the floor and there is a lot more space for items than a simple fidget mat.  The true beauty of the fidget apron is that there is no real pattern or instructions on how one should be made or what components it should have.  Some of the most important components are:

  • Everything attached permanently must be durable and machine washable.  Items that cannot be run through the washer need to be attached using key rings or D-rings.
  • Recognizable tasks are important, such as a nylon zipper, belt buckle, ribbon to tie a bow, pocket with handkerchief, or cord for braiding.
  • Repetitive tasks, such as beads, buttons.
  • Involuntary tasks such as touch are extremely important.  Minky, lace, crochet, corduroy, rickrack are just some examples.

There is no right or wrong way to make a fidget apron.  You are only limited by your imagination.  I highly recommend Pinterest to give you a start at making your first one.




Posted in Goals, Growth

Monday – An Attitude of Gratitude

Let’s face it, Mondays are usually the day of the week that people generally don’t look forward to.  The cause could be a job you’d like to quit, a boss you want to ignore, a car that needs fixed, the children don’t want to go back to school.  I know I could keep going.  I’m sure you get the point.  It is really hard to have any attitude that is filled with gratitude when we have so much on our plates.

Today, I was driving home from an appointment and this subject came up on the radio station I listen to (EWTN).  Why are we so disheartened when there is so much to be grateful for?  People were calling in and telling what they are grateful for and how just being grateful seemed to change their attitude about Monday’s in general.

I know what you are thinking.  It’s hard to be grateful with everything that is going on around us.  Hurricane Florence, Supreme Court Nominee, The Roman Catholic Church and Politics to name just a few items that were on the news all week-long.  It’s almost like you want to raise your hand and ask permission to leave, with no set place to go.

Most of us have been through health, money issues or came close to some sort of disaster. At one point in my life, I was a divorce with two kids, running an at home daycare.  My ex had lost his job, so there was no alimony or child-support check.  I remember one Monday when I was wondering how I would make it through the week with all of my children’s needs, forgetting my own.  I had an epiphany of sorts that I want to share with you.

I had put the kids down for a nap and started walking through the house.  What did I need to do to make it to pay-day.  It was then that I realized I needed to do nothing but do my job and be a mother.  Huh?

  • My electricity, water, gas and phone were on and I had no shut-off notices threatening that status.
  • My car was in good repair, it had gas and the insurance was paid.
  • I had just enough food (milk, bread, eggs. bologna, hot dogs, macaroni & cheese and oatmeal to name a few) to feed all of the kids, including my own.
  • I had a garden full of vegetables.
  • I had my health.

There are many entrepreneurs who have stories just like this and worse.  It made you humble.  It made you grateful for what you had, instead of despondent over what you don’t have.  You realize you can live on less and have more.  You also begin feeling a bit less frustrated and have an attitude of gratitude.

In a world that seems to be coming apart at the seams, sometimes all you need to do is be grateful for the bounty that you have.







Posted in Clutter / Hoarding, Goals, Growth, Happy Planner, New Office, Organization, Seasons, Uncategorized

Sunday – Planner Day

Last year I wrote a Blog about my Happy Planner.  If you don’t know what one is, just Google it.  When I did my blog, I thought they were sold specifically at Michael’s.  In the last week, I’ve seen them at JoAnn Fabrics and was told that select ones are 70% off at Target.

I was a planner gal way back in the 1980’s when you actually mail ordered these books.  The company (At A Glance) would mail you next year’s in October, along with any other type of sheets.  It was very business-like.  No stickers.  It was a 5 ring binder that totally organized your business life, and let you squeeze in a bit of your personal life.  You literally had only 3 choices of leatherette colors.

Today there are so many types of planners, that you can find one to fit any lifestyle.  I chose The Happy Planner for quite a few reasons.  The first was that I could make it any way I wished.  You can simply slip sheets in and out to organize it the way you wish.  You can focus on a year, a month, a week or even a day on one sheet.  There are many sticker books available on just about any subject you can think of as well as page markers, craft tape and other accessories.

I have chosen to focus a week at a time, on 2 pages.  I also insert a blank page in between so I can journal daily.  Each Sunday, I take time out to organize the upcoming week.  It takes about 30 minutes, and saves me a lot of time and anxiety.

First thing I do is decide on the week’s theme.  The stickers you buy, along with the crafting tape help you do this.  I focused on Being Grateful with my religious sticker pack and coordinated the colors (orange this week) with crafting tape.  I like writing with gel pens, so I use a color that is highlighted in the tape (brown this week).  It just so happens that all are fall colors.

After setting my week up, I look to see what this week’s activities are.  For instance this week, my husband has a meeting this Tuesday night which means we will need to have a crock pot meal that is ready as soon as he gets home.  I have appointments on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday morning, so my meal prep will need to be done in the afternoon. I have found that deciding on your menu not only takes a lot of stress out of your week, but on busy nights dinner can be so easy.  This week I learned I should also look at the weather when deciding on a meal, so my family isn’t eating mexican soup when it’s so hot and humid!

This week, we’ll have hot beef sandwiches, pork chops, leftovers (garbage night), Chicken Legs and 3 cheese Zita (meatless Friday).  I make sure that Monday is easy and I have all of the ingredients for it.  I make a list of items I will need throughout the week and will pick them up Tuesday, on my way home from Mass. No extra trips needed.  No panic when 3pm hits and I don’t have dinner figured out. No missing ingredients or substitutes.

I realize that I am able to start dinner much easier than women who work outside the home.  By planning, shopping for ingredients, and crock potting on busy nights this helps whenever you are able to be home and start a meal.

Lastly, I make attainable goals for the week.  For instance, Laundry and light house cleaning is in my planner each Monday.  I make easy goals for my business on Tuesday – Friday. All work will need to be done in the office due to the heat in the attic.  I don’t think it’s too far out to think that I can have a prototype cut out by Friday afternoon.  I write that down and decide what will need to be done Tuesday-Thursday in order to attain that goal.  After writing that down, I literally have my week planned, right down to the last entrée.

The first time, it might take a couple of hours to complete all of this in your planner but it is well spent. If your life is chaos and you’re constantly on the move, a planner can make life so much easier.  If your kids are older, you can encourage them to tell you each Sunday what activities they have.  Don’t forget your husband’s schedule as well. This keeps chaos to a minimum if the whole family.

So the next weeknight, you find yourself standing there at 6:30pm with nothing defrosted and your child informing you he has a game at 7pm…. Remember that all of this could have gone better if you just taken 30 minutes and organized it in your happy planner.




Posted in Clutter / Hoarding, Goals, Growth, Happy Planner

Being Content with What You Have

If you are not content today,

there is nothing you can buy

this weekend to change that.

I read this as I raced through my Facebook this morning.  It really said everything I wanted to write about today.  One sentence that says it all.  I could begin and end today’s blog with a minimal amount of lines, compacted in 17 words. However, let me elaborate.

I’m not to proposing you avoid going to the grocery store.  Most of us need to shop for food at least once a week.  I’ve read books on ‘Once a Month Cooking’ or even prepping your food on Sundays.  It is possible to wait for what you ‘want,’ but impossible to avoid getting things you ‘need.’

Let’s talk more about things you want.  We make plans to buy a widget, think a bit about if we can live without it and ultimately save the money to purchase it.  This is a planned purchase and not what is causing your house to be cluttered.  It is the multiple unplanned purchases that you have made that is one of the causes of clutter.

Here is an example from my home. I have an admission to make.  I own 5 vacuums.  Yes, that is right.  FIVE.  How in the world did this happen?

  • One vacuum was my daughter’s when she was in college.  I fixed it, but she had already bought one to replace it.
  • The second vacuum is a vintage Electrolux canister.  I used that for my wood and tile floors, as well as cobwebs in the corners, etc.
  • The third is a Hoover upright that I used for my carpet.
  • The fourth is another Hoover upright that is perfect for pet hair on hard wood.
  • The fifth is a german made canister unit that I found new with tags at a thrift store this past spring.  I absolutely love it and it has replaced all of my vacuums.

This problem seems easy to solve.  I should just get rid of the first four vacuums, right?  Here is what I found out after purchasing (without saving, planning or needing) the fifth machine.  Our garbage service does not accept anything that has a motor and/or electrical cord.  Several larger thrift/rummage stores do not accept vacuums.  I would not feel right about selling them as they are all over 5 years old and we have pets.

If I had known all of this, I probably would have thought twice about purchasing the last vacuum.  I would have questioned myself a bit more on whether I really needed it or not.  I would have investigated on how to get rid of my four vacuums before buying the fifth

This is one extreme example of how clutter in the home happens; and worse yet, the inability to purge it.  We purchase things because we want to ‘upgrade.’  We purchase items to replace something that doesn’t work as well.  We purchase stuff that we have forgotten we already have or misplaced.  It goes back to buying clutter we want and do not need.

If you are battling the never-ending war on clutter in your home, take some time this weekend before purchasing stuff without thinking about if it is truly needed.  Pat yourself on the back.  Put the money saved in a jar for a rainy day fund.   Better yet, for your next vacation!




Posted in Growth, Happy Planner, New Office, Seasons

The Heat is Back

No, it is not Indian Summer here in Central Illinois.  We were getting spoiled with weather in the 50-70 degrees; and, windows open day and night.  I shouldn’t complain as I’m not in the path of Hurricane Florence.  I just prefer the winter over the summer.  The more snow we get, the happier I am.

I’m obviously NOT working up in the attic today and I missed going up there in the early morning, when it was cool.  I had an appointment this morning, then travel to the next town to go grocery shopping.  I live in a small town that is without a grocery store, so I travel about 10 miles to pick up some items needed for dinner.  While there, I met up with friends and had lunch at their local fast food joint.  By the time I got home, the attic was way too hot.

I worked a bit on my office.  After a while, I needed to change gears.  I realized I had never pulled out the instructions on the Vintage Simplicity pattern.  It was as I thought.  One of the possibilities does not have ruffles, so I can use that for my male or uni-sex aprons.  The instructions are easy and straightforward.  Ditto for the instructions on the adult bib patterns.

I looked at the menu on my calendar.  Then I realized when making it up, I assumed the weather would remain cool.  85 degrees and we are having mexican tortillini soup, cornbread and….wait for it…..Pumpkin Bread for dessert.  It’s mid September, the leaves are falling; and, not too early for fall favorites.  However, it doesn’t fit with the weather and the central air running.

It’s Friday!  What are your plans for the weekend?  We are babysitting our son’s dog (grand-puppy) and I’ll continue purging the office.  I’m determined to have it done before Friday of next week, when the heat is supposed to finally break. After that, I can start designing my first prototype apron and bib!

Everyone have a great weekend and we hope those of you affected by Florence are safe and you receive all assistance needed.