40 Before 40

I’m a little late to the game with this 40 before 40 thing. I mean I thought about it once in a while when I’d see other similar posts but then it would slip my mind until another post crossed my path. I mean the lists are supposed to be all the great things you want to do in your life… maybe they should be started when you turn 20 or something. Hmm… I’m not sure that the internet was around when I was 20… that means I wouldn’t have seen all those other lists.


My 40th birthday is less than 30 days away so even if I came up with a lame list and tried to do one thing a day I still couldn’t complete it because I don’t have that much time.

Instead here’s my list of 40 things to do before I turn 40 years old but made the list less than a month before my birthday so we’ll just pretend that I’m going to do a couple.

  1. Take a real vacation… you know to some place overseas. Some place beautiful and full of history.
  2. Take more risks and stop being so careful about everything.
  3. Open my own business
  4. Go to the Art Institute and become a pastry chef
  5. Figure out how to crochet something other than a really long chain
  6. Get over my fear of public speaking & vlogging
  7. Shopping spree in NYC
  8. Look hot in a bikini
  9. Write – not just here but fiction. Good fiction that will be published.
  10. Learn to swing dance
  11. Travel the US and visit historic places, Grand Canyon, Red Woods, etc
  12. Quit my job
  13. Do yoga at least once a week
  14. Redecorate my house to look like a magazine (HA… never will happen w/kids!)
  15. See a play/musical on broadway
  16. Get my bachelor degree
  17. Think about getting my masters
  18. Run a 5k without thinking I’ll die after the first 5 minutes of it
  19. Landscape my yard to look like a magazine (hmm… yard of clay… this may need to go on another list)
  20. Ride my bike for 10+ miles non stop
  21. Run for some sort of political office
  22. Take a zumba class (now this wouldn’t be a big deal but I did Wii zumba & I looked like a flaying fool & doing that w/others is HUGE)
  23. Go whale watching
  24. Spend a week on the east coast.. Maine or some place like that. I’m thinking beach house.
  25. Spend Halloween week in Salem
  26. Have a real plan on how to pay for college for my kids
  27. Learn a new language… I think French or Italian would be nice.
  28. See the Aurora Borealis
  29. Send birthday carda & thank you cards on time
  30. Don’t make anymore lists because they take to long and you know you won’t do them
I can’t even come up with 40 things to do! Maybe I’ll make this the things to do before I die list and then I’ll have more time to finish a couple of them.
Do you have a bucket list or just a list of things that you want to do before a certain date?

Spring Cleaning in 10 minutes

As part of BlogHer’s Life Well Lived Getting Organized community I get to share with you my answer to this week’s question! Pretty exciting, right!

So this week’s question….. What are your favorite spring cleaning tips? And do I have any to add to Alicia’s 10-minutes-or-less list?

Okay… I’ll admit it… like so many others I really do hate cleaning but what I love is when my house is clean, neat, and organized. But honestly it’s never like that. As a mom to 4 kids who works full time it seems like I rarely have the time that I need to get everything done. For a while I was constantly busy after working trying to get everything done but I finally realized that I am not superwoman and that I wanted to spend more time with my family, so I let some things go.

Here’s the best part of it all…. wwe hired someone to come in a few days a week to help out. I don’t know what I would do without her! The days that she is here to clean are my favorite days of the week to come home because I know that when I walk in the door everything will be perfectly clean and I won’t have to do a thing to before starting dinner (now if dinner were ready too I’d be in heaven)!

But there are somethings that I do myself and save those things for the weekends.

Bed & breakfast "Ma Résidence", suit...

Bed & breakfast "Ma Résidence", suite "Colonies", Tellin. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


Windows. By time winter is over and spring is upon us the windows are looking pretty nasty and in order to let all that much needed sunshine in the windows need to be cleaned. I hate cleaning them most of all because no matter how hard I try there are always streaks, but I’ve finally found that using newspaper and a mix of vinegar and water seem to do the trick. One or two windows a day take about 10 minutes and by the end of the week I can have all of them done in the house and if I’m lucky and can enlist the help of the kids we can have it done in a day!

What 10 minute cleaning tips do you have? Share them over on BlogHer.com & join me in the conversation!

Don’t forget to enter the current Life Well Lived Sweepstakes!!


Surviving the Holidays

With the holiday season fast upon us family gatherings, office parties and other celebrations with family and friends will soon occupy a lot of our time. This can be a stressful time of year and even more so when you have divorced parents, are divorced your self, or worse yet both! Coordinating all the events could give even the best planner a run for their money!

But what can you do to get through the holiday season without causing harm to one of your family members or going absolutely insane?

Yes, I know what you’re thinking…. Wine! Lots and lots of wine. But in all seriousness there really are a few things that you can do to survive the holiday season!

  1. Just roll with it – Yes, you heard me. Don’t let things get to you otherwise you’ll end up getting stressed out. If you know that the holidays with your in-laws is a rough time then prepare yourself in advance and just let things slide, because it’s only one day and then you can go back to your own home and relax.
  2. Stay home – I know it’s radical but if you have to do it then stay home and do what’s best for you and your family.
  3. Me time – I think that this is an absolute must. Take time for just you whether it’s reading a book, taking a long hot bath, or get out for a cup of coffee with a girlfriend.
  4. Don’t have the party at your house – for me this causes more stress on myself and my immediate family because of all the work that it involves and the stress of making sure that everything is perfect. Let someone else throw the party and you just go and enjoy it.

I know that I’ll be taking some of my own advice this year! With at least 4 family gatherings to attend this holiday season I’ll need some me time at home… with a glass of wine!

So how do you survive the holiday season with your family? Join the conversation on BlogHer and share your thoughts with everyone and while you’re there enter to win the $250 sweepstakes!

This kid is a brat ~ A guest post

Today I’m helping out a friend who can’t post this on her blog and I would love for all of you to help!

I’m posting over at Jackie’s place today because I have a gripe about a friend that I can’t post on my own blog, Single Mom on a Budget, and I need advice!

I have a friend that I’ve known for about 14 years. She and her husband have a son that is seven, so he is a year younger than my youngest, Jonesie.

My gripe: THIS KID IS A BRAT, the stick-out-your-tongue at strangers type of brat and his mom doesn’t do anything.

This issue is really affecting our friendship because I don’t know how to handle it anymore. Frankly, I don’t want too.

I used to babysit the kid when she and her husband would go out to dinner or a movie or something, but I won’t watch him at my house anymore because the little shit is hugely destructive. And I’m sorry, but I don’t allow that in my house. I have three boys so it’s not like things in my house don’t get destroyed, but I don’t let them slam Hot Wheels into the feet of my cherry wood couches. And he doesn’t listen he will look at me and do it over and over.

He also steals Jonesie’s toys. And here’s the thing that gets me… when he leaves I go through his bag and when I find Hot Wheels (which is ALWAYS what he takes) his mom just says “it’s not like you don’t have 100.” This attitude that she has probably irritates me the most. So what if we have 100 Hot Wheels, just because you want 5 of them doesn’t mean you can just take them.

She and I have always had a tradition of making and decorating Christmas cookies at my house. Well, after last year I am not doing it anymore. He tosses flour all over the place like it’s funny. And I’m not talking about “oops, I made a mess”. He stuck his gum under my table when he wanted to eat a cookie. He wiped blue frosting under my table as though he just needed a place to clean his hand. At the end of the night he took his water bottle and dumped water on my floor. I watched him pick up the water bottle and turn it upside down. If that wasn’t bad enough when I yelled at him for dumping his water he looked at me and stuck his foot in the water and walked away – on my wood floor. At that point his mom was irritated with me and they left. I was SO relieved!!!!!!!!!!!

She has started asking my older boys to babysit, which is fine by me. Until last week. Joe went over to their house to babysit at 7:00pm. The kid had been playing football on PlayStation since 5:00pm. Ok, we’re talking two hours already. At around 8:15 I texted Joe to see how it was going and he said “Bad, I was playing him on football and he started crying because I was winning.” So Joe stopped playing. I told Joe to just turn off the PS because that was kind of crazy. About 15 minutes later Joe texted me again saying he didn’t know what to do because the kid was now screaming and crying because he was losing in football against the computer itself. (Joe videotaped this little fit and showed it to me later. WOW!)

I texted my friend and asked her to call Joe because he didn’t know what to do. Her response to me… “Boys.”

I have had it. I don’t know what to do, and how not to let this affect our friendship. To me, it feels like he is just acting out for attention. But he gets NO discipline at home and I am a firm believer in discipline and respecting other people’s things and space. I think I could handle him, I just can’t handle her lackadaisical-ness anymore.

Help! How do I handle this without looking like the bad guy and ruining our friendship?

Size Matters…

Today is special day. Why you ask? Well because it’s the first link up for Just Be Enough! When Elena started this I quickly offered to help in whatever way I could and she took me up on my offer as well that of several other women.

We are wives. We are moms. We are employees. We are daughters. We are sisters. More than that…. We are enough.

Every MONDAY join us…
Write, Post, Link-Up, share your story and your voice.
Be part of carrying the weight of confidence, empowerment and share our mission to empower, inspire, and remind
women, parents and children
that the time has come to celebrate ourselves!

How you have lived the Be Enough Me feeling this week?

At one time in my life I was tall, thin, and could eat anything that I desired and not one bit of it slide to my hips or butt. It was a perfect life.

And then one day I found out I was pregnant and yet it didn’t faze me until the day I gave birth and weighed in at 183 lbs. which gave me a weight gain of almost 50 lbs. Yes, that’s a hell of a lot of weight. And I thought it was no big deal and that I’d just lose it and all would well in the world again.

Little did I know that it wasn’t that easy and that while I did lose some of it that I’d quickly gain it back again with the next baby and the following two after that.

:::sigh::: So, fast forward some 15 years and 4 kids later and I’ve found I am now at weight that doesn’t make me happy. Not at all. But I’ve also realized that I’m close to 40, have a desk job, and love to cook & eat and because of that losing the weight has become more of a challenge. I don’t know what to call it other than damn hard.

Here’s the other thing. I want my girls to know that size doesn’t matter and that what matters is being healthy, taking care of yourself, and eating right. Being that perfect size 4 that you see in the magazine isn’t what the average woman looks like… Why? Because that woman has been airbrushed to perfection. I want them to know that being who you are is enough. Size doesn’t matter.

So, I’ve been trying to make better choices when it comes to meals, what I eat, and what I serve them. I need to set the example for my kids and by doing that I am showing them that they can be enough.

What I wish I knew

It’s Friday and I’m linking up again for the #SummerBlogSocial!

I read over the prompts again and again, undecided which one to pick. And finally a few thoughts came to me and I knew which I wanted to do.

** If a real life friend approached you and said, “I want to start a blog. Can you give me a list of helpful tips?“, what 10 (or more) things would you tell your friend? **

Yes, I know that almost everyone has done that one but hoping mine will have a bit of information that someone will find useful. Of course now that I think about it some of my thoughts pertain to this prompt as well.

** Finish the phrase, “Before I began blogging, I wish I had known…“. Feel free to substitute “blogging” with “joined Twitter” or whatever other social media phrase is appropriate. **

So when I started blogging there is a lot that I wish I knew and these are things that I would pass on to anyone who told me that they were interested in starting a blog of their own.

So lets get this list started!

1. If you don’t have any knowledge of HTML or CSS then read! There are a lot of great resources out there for you to learn and a good one that I’ve used when in college is the W3 Schools Online Tutorials. Making buttons, header images, and adding widgets to you blog can all require some knowledge of basic web development skills. So read up!

2. Find your color palette. By this I mean figure out the main color that you want to use in your blog and then use a color palette finder like Big Huge Labs.  With a tool like this you can be sure that all the colors that you use coordinate really well.

3.  Pay attention to the layout & design of you blog because if it’s to busy or have contrasting colors/patterns you will start to turn your readers away. Do a little research on layout, design, and some basic usability practices. This is a great article by Jakob Nielsen, a leader in the usability field.

4. Plan. Planning is important and knowing what you want to write about and what your want your blog to be about. Otherwise you can end up aimless and won’t have the direction you need to help you grow your blog the way you want it.

5. Don’t expect miracles. It takes time and hard work to get lots of followers and comments. This is something that I’ve struggled with and was worried about on and off time and again… because I was never sure if I did something wrong or said something to offend people. What I learned is that it’s not always me or what I write and that I just have to put forth a bit more effort.

6. This one naturally follows the previous one. Content is really important. You need to post on a regular schedule and what you write needs to be good. A good subject that is well thought out and well written will get noticed. This is an area that I feel that I’m lacking in and have really made it priority to work on it.

7. Now this one is really important. Be honest. Be true to yourself. And most of all do not steal other peoples content! This will get you shunned and pretty much kicked out of the blogging world faster than you can blink.

8. Find a community that you like and fits what your blog is about. There are so many great ones out there than are really supportive of bloggers that picking one will actually be the most difficult part! I know that at first I joined all sorts of them left and right and tried to keep up and take part in all of them. I quickly found out that it was nearly impossible to do that so I sorted out the ones that helped & the ones that didn’t and today I’m part of the SITS Girls, Blog Frog, and a couple others.

9. Have fun!! Blogging and social media is a ton of fun even with all of the work that’s involved with it. Take the time to enjoy it, make friends, and if you need to take a break once in a while. It’ll all still be there when you come back and you’ll be welcomed with open arms again.

10. Ask for help if you need it. Chances are there will be someone out there that knows the answer or can help you solve your problem. There are countless number of times that I’ve asked for help, offered to help others, and been asked to help. It’s great knowing that you’ve solved someone’s issue and that they’ll return the favor in the future.

So there you have it. What do you think?


Recipe Remix

So many people are watching their weight, cholesterol, or just trying to eat a little healthier these days and sometimes many recipes aren’t friendly to those kinds of diets.

I have a few tricks that can help you change up your favorite recipe to something that is still tasty but lower in calories, fat, and cholesterol.

I’m going to share with you my favorite banana bread recipe. This is my go to recipe whenever we have really ripe bananas because it’s simple, makes one loaf, and best of all is that it’s all made in one bowl! I’ll admit it too that sometimes I just let the bananas ripen so we can make this bread!

I can’t take credit for this recipe though. Elise Bauer from Simply Recipes gets all the credit for it. I find so many great recipes on her site, have tried several of them, and like to share the ones I love the most.

banana bread

Banana Bread


  • 3 or 4 ripe bananas, smashed
  • 1/3 cup melted butter
  • 1 cup sugar (can easily reduce to 3/4 cup)
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 1/2 cups of all-purpose flour



Preheat the oven to 350°F (175°C). With a wooden spoon, mix butter into the mashed bananas in a large mixing bowl. Mix in the sugar, egg, and vanilla. Sprinkle the baking soda and salt over the mixture and mix in. Add the flour last and mix. Pour mixture into a buttered 4×8 (I’ve used 9×5) inch loaf pan. Bake for 1 hour. Cool on a rack. Remove from pan and slice to serve.

Okay, now here are the changes that you can make!

Instead of butter use plain, unsweetened applesauce.

Instead of sugar use Splenda or another sugar substitute.

Instead of regular eggs, you can use eggbeaters or egg whites.

These changes can be used in any recipe or boxed cake mix. I’ve even used just a regular cake mix and a can of pumpkin to make brownies!

You can even use fruit purees as a fat substitute like prune, pumpkin, and sweet potato. I would search what the ratios would be though because I believe that they’re not always a one to one exchange.

These are a few simple changes that you can make to lower the calories in your recipes and make them a bit healthier for your family. And trust me…. They’ll never know!

Contemplating Change

Change is inevitable in our lives, right? Sometimes it’s for the good and other times not so good. Sometimes we initiate the change and other times it just happens. Regardless, change is inevitable.

I’m at a point in my life where I need a change in my career. I’m unhappy where I work currently and I imagine that I’m not the only one to say such a thing.

But what do I do to change it? I can just flat out quit. I can continue my search for a new job. I can try to get things to change where I’m at.

Change… you see that word popped up again. And while I would love to think that I can get things to change at work I’d be mistaken and before you say anything… yes, I’ve tried to no avail. As a matter of fact a lot of people have.

So that leaves me with the other two options. I would love to be a stay at home mom but right now that doesn’t seem to be in the cards and when it is it will be to late since the kids will probably be in college. And we’ve become accustomed to a certain lifestyle that requires that I bring in some money.

As you can see I’m left with a dilemma to deal with and with the way the economy and job market are I have to be very careful and precise about the choices I make.

I have a degree. I have skills. And honestly could probably learn almost anything required for a new job (Ok… not in the medical profession though). But I feel stuck and don’t know where to start. More importantly I don’t know how to start.

Change. It needs to happen and it needs to happen soon because I don’t know how much more I can deal with. Work is stressful and things can tend to be confusing. The confusion is hard to eliminate when you have no control over anything.

For a long time I’ve simply dealt with it and made the best of the situation but as things change more and more I’ve come to realize that I’m not in the right place.

So dear friends… I am turning to you for some awesome advice. What are your thoughts?

ps…. this was stream of consciousness style…

High School Jealousy

She went to school everyday but before she left she was up early to get ready. There was hair to curl & spray, make up to be put on, and the perfect outfit to be selected. Why? Because it was high school and no matter who you were you were judged.

Judged on the way you looked, the clothes you wore, the friends you hung out with, the activities you were involved in at school as well outside of school, the way you walk, talked, and carried yourself. There was nothing that was untouchable when it came to being judged in high school

How could she not be jealous of some of the other girls? How could she not want the long pretty straight hair, perfect skin, name brand clothes, been friends with the same people since the 1st grade, be as smart, or as athletic.

She wanted it. She wanted more. She wanted to be just like them.

But she had the friends, the right friends. The friends who were in the “popular” crowd. She was invited to the same parties as all the others, went to all the football games with the “in” crowd, and all the dances but she still felt like there was something missing.

What she didn’t know ore realize was that she was pretty too, had nice clothes, a car, the right friends, good grades, and more. What she didn’t see was that she had nothing to be jealous about.

What she didn’t see was that some of the others were jealous of her. And in her mind thoughts like that were ludicrous. Why would they be jealous of her? Why, when they already had everything and then some.

Many years passed and life carried on for everyone. Friendships faded and she soon realized many of them weren’t true friends. She learned that she really had no reason to be jealous. She learned to be happy with what she had and that what she had was enough.

And through modern technology she was able to reconnect with some of those friends. She was able to realize that their lives aren’t much different from hers now and that they’re really all the same.

What she realized was there is no reason to be jealous. Just be yourself and you’ll be happy.

red writing hood

The Talk

I have been looking forward to today’s guest poster all week and I hope that you enjoy what she has to say.

Wondering who it is? Well read her bio….

She slept her way through more than one ALW team’s starting lineup before becoming a Broadway darling and staring in her own reality show, “Getting healthy through home improvement projects”. When the Mad Woman behind the Blog awoke from her dream she found herself a working mom and wife. In an effort to explore, entertain and find some sanity, she began her blog, A Diary of A Mad Woman.

The Mad Woman behind the Blog

Twitter: Madsbloggingmom
Blog: adiaryofamadwoman.com

Hey Mads

….pssst, I’m writing this in disguise so you can share this with your friends. you can say crazy Auntie M wrote this or your cousin or say you found it on the internet.  Hopefully I’ve spared you the mortification of me telling this to your sweet face.

Sex can be a bunch of things. It can be wonderful, loving, intimate, tender, fun, delicious. But it can also be painful, disappointing, boring and down right yucky. Yeah, I said yucky. You gotta know that it can be yucky.

Boys will use all sorts of adjectives to describe how great it is. I thought I’d give you a little background so that you don’t fall for their lines and be able to decide for yourself if you want to have sex.

I don’t want to say this is the most important part to being ready for sex, it isn’t. But knowing your body and what feels good to you will help make it much better and maybe a little less mysterious. Touch yourself. Take long showers or baths and just feel around. Use tender hands, gentle fingers. Squeeze this or that and see if that does anything for you. Don’t be afraid to rub between your legs to illicit some feeling.

Are you grossed out yet? There are videos for this stuff. I know you don’t want to get this information from your mother. But you should know that she’d want you to have it.

I know this is only scratching the surface of the physical stuff. There is a LOT to know and you will come to know it in good time. And if your mother hasn’t signed the permission slip for you to take sex ed at school, shove that form under her nose and demand it. But be prepared. She may want you to report back to her.

But what I really want you to know is how important you are. What is it that you want? Are you wanting to touch this boy or have him touch you because it might feel good? That’s a good reason. Do you want to touch him because you want to show him how much you like him? There are other ways. Do you want to touch him or have him touch you because you think he’ll like you more? That ISN’T a good reason.

Sex with someone you like is an important and life changing step. Do care about this person? Do you think he respects you? Do you respect him? How would you feel if the sex was bad? Would it ruin your friendship, your relationship?

If you don’t think you’re ready, don’t do it. If he’s pushing you and you’re starting to get angry about it, don’t give in. Think about this boy. He may only want to have sex. Be prepared for that, it’s pretty common, and it isn’t always a fun feeling.

When you’re ready, when you really ready, you’ll be nervous but it won’t be because you question the person you’re going to have sex with. You’ll be ready because you want to share yourself, you want to experience this special thing with another person and you trust and care for him.

And if you have questions, you know where to find your mom.