Monthly Archives: February 2011

Rule Followers

I see a new trend. Maybe it’s not new, maybe I’ve just started noticing it. And it kind of irks me. I tend to be a rule follower, for the most part. (OK, let me be honest. I follow rules that make sense to me. Which most rules do. But there are those stupid rules; they are exempt from being followed because they are stupid.) But, generally, I follow the rules. I pay for things I want to have, I buy health insurance for my family, I wear my seatbelt, you get the idea. Most of the people I know follow rules. Not all of the people mind you, but most. They have car insurance, they pay taxes, all that good stuff.

But apparently, there is a whole group of people out there who don’t follow the rules. They steal the things they want, they take advantage of those around them and prey on the empathy of others. Sometimes there are consequences for their actions, but often there are not. When you lose your license for drunk driving (driving drunk is breaking the rules), you are not supposed to drive. But if you lose your license for driving drunk, you aren’t a rule follower to begin with. So what’s really stopping you from driving? Follow me? So if you are driving on a suspended license, I’m guessing you didn’t go out and purchase car insurance for yourself. I could be wrong, but I’m thinking probably not. So, in order to protect myself, the legally licensed driver, from the driver with the suspended license who doesn’t have insurance, I will go buy uninsured motorist coverage. It’s the rule follower thing to do.

Society has caught on to the fact that rule breakers don’t follow rules. I know, deep huh? Uninsured motorist insurance was created to address the gap so rule followers could protect themselves from rule breakers who don’t have insurance. And it works. I can sleep at night, and more importantly drive during the day, knowing that if a drunk without insurance runs a red light and hits me I at least have insurance to cover the damages (assuming I survive!). I can live with that – it’s a free country and I choose to spend the extra few dollars for the peace of mind. Maybe you don’t. And that’s perfectly ok.

The problem I have is that there are areas where governing bodies have started to mandate that I protect myself from the rule breakers. It is now illegal for me to allow my car to warm up in my own driveway with the keys in the car. Even if I lock the door. It’s my car and there are rules that say you cannot take my car without my permission. It’s in my driveway and there are more rules that say you can’t come on my property and take anything without my permission. My doors are locked, which means if you don’t have a key I don’t want you in. But, those rules are all subject to compliance. And rule breakers don’t care. Car theft became such a big problem they couldn’t figure out how to solve it. What could we possibly do? Then one brilliant person had a super bright light bulb ding over their head. And they shared their brilliant idea with their lawmaker friends. And they all said, “this is good, it will work!” And now it’s illegal for me to let my car warm up in my driveway with my doors locked. And you know why? Because I follow the rules.

They couldn’t figure out how to control the rule breakers so they have to manipulate the rule followers.

We could take this logic they’ve used and apply it to a plethora of areas. Why don’t we start with retail businesses. People shoplift…a lot. Why don’t we make it illegal for stores to display merchandise that allows people to steal it? Require that they lock everything up so nothing is ever stolen. The stores will follow the rules. Problem solved. People speed on the highway. Let’s require car manufacturers to install an automatic braking system on cars so no one can speed. Oh, they will have to redesign the vehicles and retool the plants, that’s ok. The car manufacturers will follow the rules. Problem solved. I know I’m talking crazy talk now. Or am I? Think about some of the rules that are in place today.

There is too much violence in schools and we need to do a better job of protecting our kids. So what do we do. We create a zero tolerance for weapons in school. Great idea! But, when little Johnny the rule follower forgets to take his pocket knife out of his coat after his den meeting where he earned his Whittlin’ Chip, the administration determines it’s a weapon in school and Johnny gets expelled. But, the problem is solved and our schools are safe. Right?

We have a real vulnerability when it comes to air travel so protections are put in place to keep everyone safe. No liquids over 3 ounces, no nail files, no knitting needles…they’re all weapons. Hundreds of homeless shelters could be stocked with the personal hygiene items that are abandoned at the airport in the interest of following the rules. Problem solved, right? But then the underwear bomber gets on a plane.

I’m glad I live in a country where there are laws and order is kept. I’m all for personal responsibility, heck I think that might be the one thing I could get tattooed on my body because I can’t imagine it ever changing. (I have no idea what a personal responsibility tattoo would look like and I don’t have plans to get one.) But we need to hold everyone accountable for their actions. Don’t make me the criminal because someone stole my car.

Punish the rule breakers, not the rule followers.



Filed under The State of Affairs

Perfectly Pretty Plate

I found this really cute, simple idea somewhere in blogland. I didn’t bookmark and haven’t been able to find it or I would give credit. {After searching for the original post I saw, I now know there are lots of samples out there!} Some of you know my love of second hand shopping. Well this project was the best of both worlds; a great idea to feed my need for creativity and repurpose a thrift store find. This is so simple…you have to try it yourself. I found these cute snowflake plates. I like them because you could use them for Christmas, and through winter – and they fit with my snowman theme. Use your imagination in finding a “foot” for your plate. I tried lots of different things to see what look I liked.  I used a candle holder – they had several of them at the thrift store.  I spent 99 cents on the plate and 49 cents on the candle holder! Wow, $1.49 – kinda pricey:).

You will need a protected work surface, toothpicks, a dry erase marker, ruler and paper to cut a pattern. You’ll also need the right adhesive. I like E-6000. It’s a one-part epoxy so it holds great, but you don’t have the mess of mixing it. I use if for lots of things; fixing shoes, craft projects, you know, everyday stuff.


First you need to find the center of the plate so you know where to place the candle holder. Turn the plate upside down and lay the paper on the bottom of the plate. Rub the bottom edge of the plate to make an impression on the paper. This gives you a pattern the size of the bottom of the plate.

Cut the circle out on the crease to make the pattern. Then fold the circle in half.

Lay the half circle pattern on the bottom of the plate and use your dry erase marker to draw a line along the edge of the pattern. Turn it and make another line. If you do this several times you will end up with this:

Notice the lines may not all line up, but you will be able to find the center of the plate this way. Then measure the diameter of the candle holder that you will glue to the plate. Divide that number in half to find the radius of the candle holder. {It sounds more complicated than it really is.} Use this number to measure out from your center and make little marks. This is where you will place the candle holder.

Because we used a dry erase marker, you can wipe the lines off before mounting the candle holder. Just don’t wipe away the four marks that indicate the circumference of the candleholder.


 I used a toothpick to apply drops of epoxy to the lip of the candle holder. Follow the directions on the glue.

Carefully place the candle holder on the bottom of the plate using the marks you made.

Now comes the hard part…don’t touch it for 24 hours! It’s hard to wait. But worth it. You want the glue to set completely.

And you’re done! I made three with the snowflake plates and one with a pretty white plate. The snowflake ones all have the same foot, but the white plate has a shorter, wider foot. You can make yours however you want. I like crafts like that! I get the general idea and then I get to make it my own. So, go find a pretty plate and a foot and make your own! Then send me a pic of yours…I can’t wait to see what you come up with.


I had to include this pic cause it made me laugh. This is me. Carefully marking the center of my plate. I had Oldest Son take a couple pictures. I told him to only shoot my hands. When he handed the camera back, this is what I saw. And I think my tongue is sticking out. I do that a lot when I’m concentrating. It’s a family trait.

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Filed under Creativity, Decor, Frugal living

Going Green

I guess its actually happened. I never thought it would.

If you know me, you know there’s nothing earthy about me. No one has ever used the term granola or tree hugger to describe me. Not even close. I think global warming is a figment of Al Gore’s imagination. I think we have plenty of oil we should be drilling for right here in the US. And don’t even get me started on the whole insanity about putting a limit on CO2 emissions  (ok, everyone hold your breath….hello, what do plants need to survive?!) its just plain nuts.

BUT, our family is actually going GREEN! It started with little things, filling the little green recycling bin that came from the garbage company. Then we started mulching the lawn instead of bagging. Innocent enough. Then Middle Child said, “We need to compost our food scraps!” I had to think on that one for a long while. But this past fall, we dug through all the used lumber we keep in the garage.  {I thought we were just being frugal…we will use it for something someday….now I hear we were being green!} Using the wood we had, we designed a compost bin. Yes, you read that correctly, a compost bin! I guess I should have seen this coming, Middle Child has been throwing his apple cores in the yard for years. When I realize it and called him on it he first said he wanted to grow an apple tree. Later, he said he wanted to feed the squirrels and birds. He was a child ahead of his time. So, the new compost bin sat in the back yard for a while, unfilled. Then he started putting leaves and table scraps in it. I collected the coffee grounds from my work (no one in this family drinks the stuff). Now we have a container under the kitchen sink where we throw the food we compost.

Then our church offered a class on going green and Hubby and Middle Child went. When they came home they were so excited! I was anxious to hear what they learned. They both had a page of notes about what they had learned. It all sounded good and so easy. We could do these things. And then they said something crazy about turning down the water heater and taking shorter showers. Now, hold it right there. You’ve gone too far. I’m a frugal girl. I don’t go to the spa. I don’t get mani’s and pedi’s. Don’t tell me I have to take a short, cold shower! They quickly realized they had crossed a line. They did a little back peddaling and showed me  the cloth napkins they got at the class. They’re all navy blue, but have different patterns of white; mine is flowers, one is big dots, another small dots. Now this I can do, and buy fewer paper napkins! There’s a lot about going green that appeals to my frugal side too.

So 2011 brought another big change at our house. We took the plunge. Jumped in head first. Are you ready for it? We switched our tiny little bin we used for recycling with our giant kitchen garbage. What does that mean, you ask? That means our regular garbage can in the kitchen is now our recycle bin! And that tiny bin we kept in the island for recycling…its now our garbage can. So, the amount of recycling we produce is bigger than the amount of garbage! Can you believe it?! I can’t.

It’s happened – we’ve gone green! And we still wouldn’t be called granola, or tree huggers. But we are doing a better job of  decreasing out impact. We’ve gone from 6 bags of garbage a week to 2-3! There are so many simple things you can do. Like switching to compact flourescent light bulbs. {Side note: I don’t need the government to regulate my light bulbs, I think they have bigger fish to fry!} Using fabric napkins, keeping your grass longer and mulching when you do mow and taking reusable bags to the grocery store.

I’m still taking long hot showers and we don’t have solar panels on our our house. But we’re having fun seeing what changes we can make. 

Going green is a journey.

Is your family Green? Share you ideas in the comments below…I’d love to hear them!

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Filed under Advice, Family, Frugal living, Lifestyle

Calendar Flair

A couple years ago, hubby and I created two message boards for our kitchen wall. We bought two sheets of metal at the hardware store. We hung them with contact strips (so I can remove them if I decide to redecorate). Hubby put a piece of wood trim around each of them so they look framed. On one of them I put tape up to create 7 sections – one for each day of the week. We write on it with dry erase markers. Every Sunday night I update it for the week with practices, meetings, early dismissal or late starts. I also put who’s taking or pick up who. Sometimes I need a full blown flow chart to keep track of where everyone is going, when they’re going and how they’re getting there and back. 

Digression: We now use google calendar because it syncs with our android phones. We just switched over from Outlook this fall. So far, I like the Google calendar; its pretty intuitive and user friendly. I went in to each family members’ phone and synced their calendar with the family Google calendar. I also love that we can add calendars created by the band booster and other groups. And we can access it from anywhere we have internet.  So now my standard answer when I hear, “Do we have anything going on next Tuesday?” is “Check your calendar.” It’s still a training in process, but I’m making headway. I really dread the weeks when I open the calendar and it looks like this

   I put the kids’ first initial at the beginning of each appointment so we know who has to go. So this day everyone has to be in a different place…at the same time…and only 3 of the 5 of us can drive. Grr. That’s when great friends step in to help! Thank goodness we have good friends! And thank goodness for carpooling!

Back to the point of this post. I wanted to do something to spruce up the message boards – give them a little more character. So, I went to my scrapbook paper collection and started creating. I started with picking a font on the computer. I made huge letters for the first letter and a different smaller font for the rest of the word for each day of the week. Like this

I printed them on off-white cardstock and cut them out to the same dimensions. Each word got mounted on different colors of paper.

I did a little distressing on each card with stamps and stamp pads in colors to match the paper. And then layered them with printed papers – different for each letter.

The words were mounted with some colorful brads onto solid backgrounds and I’m done! Another project completed in an evening. I think they turned out pretty cute! And they totally add some color to our message boards.


Now I want to do one that says NOTES for the other message board. We use it to write to-do lists, jot phone numbers, or leave a note for each other.

So what do you think?


Filed under Creativity, Family, Organization

The Thrill of the Hunt

I am not your typical female shopper. I don’t love shopping for clothes – I’m just not a fan. (There’s probably a whole other post on why, but we’ll save that for another day.) When it comes to clothes shopping my motto is -shop often and shop clearance. Don’t judge me…I think I have pretty good taste. But, I almost never pay full price for anything! Full retail kills me. I just think of how much more that money could have bought if I found it on sale.

Now take me to a thrift store or flea market and I’m in HEAVEN! Garage sales used to be my treasure, when the kids were younger. I loved a free Saturday morning. I would stake out all the community garage sales and work my way around the neighborhood. The kids got into it too, maybe because they could take a few dollars and make some choices themselves about how to spend it. There were some great lessons learned on those Saturday mornings.

Somewhere along the way I discovered Goodwill. I think it was while searching for the perfect components to create Halloween Costumes. We found some great pieces that I turned in to awesome costumes. There was the scarecrow made from women’s Capri’s with raffia sewn on the hem and a sweatshirt with patches and raffia sewn on. There was also the costume that could only be called the pimp – a great pleather trench coat. But my favorite has to be Elvis. I started with a woman’s blouse and Capri’s. I found a gold stretch tank top and pants that I cut up to add a little gold flair to the legs. Add a great gold belt and chain and he looked awesome! I love Goodwill! But, not all Goodwill stores are created equal. I know this because I’ve shopped at a lot of them. The quality of their goods match the neighborhood the store is in. South Johnson County has better junk than Shawnee:). They have China galore down there! If only I needed another set of dishes (Hubby thinks the 5 sets I currently have is quite enough). Your best bet really depends on what your searching for; Halloween components, home decor, furniture.

Shopping second hand is a unique experience. And it’s not for everyone. But if you get a thrill from a surprise find and love a bargain, second hand is where its at! I love the anticipation of what I might find on any trip. Its fun to scope out what’s there and see something you think might be the item for you. For me it’s always about seeing the potential and envisioning what it could become. It’s rare that I buy something at a garage sale, thrift shop or flea market and use as is. Its all about making it over – I guess its called upcycling. Who knew I was so ahead of my time – I’ve been doing that for years!

Finding the really good bargains takes patience, tenacity and a good eye. You have to shop often to find the bargains, and you have to know you may walk away with nothing on any shopping trip. And another day you hit the mother load. Here are my top tips for second hand shopping. 

  1. Go with an open mind – if you go looking for a particular item, you’ll probably be disappointed, better to have a long mental list. Which leads to number 2
  2. Keep a mental list of things you’re shopping for – then you have lots of options when you hit the store. Think about the different rooms you are working on, craft ideas you’ve seen, the accent piece you need.
  3. Take your time – really look at the items in front of you. We are so used to doing things quickly its easy to scan the shelf and miss things. Look at the shape and form of things – colors and finishes can be changed really easily.
  4. Don’t be afraid to try something out – if you end up not using the item consider it a donation and pass it on to a garage sale or thrift store.

As I look around my family room while I’m writing I can’t believe how many of the things in this room are second hand! What image does that give you of my family room? Its not early American garage sale. You’ll just have to trust me on that. There are two things in the room that we bought new – the keyboard and a bar table and stools. BUT, both of them were on SALE. I really like the room and I love thinking about where I found each item.  I hope you catch the bug! Second hand shopping is such an adventure!

I’ll post some pics of my favorite second hand finds over here on my photo blog later today….or maybe tomorrow:).

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Filed under Creativity, Decor, Frugal living, Lifestyle

Addition to the Snowman Scene

I have lots of snowman decorations and love to put them out when I take the Christmas decor down. The house doesn’t feel quite so empty then. So, I knew I had to make this darling snowman piece I saw at my SIL’s house this Christmas. I didn’t take a pic of hers, so recreated it from memory. I think hers may have had red scarves. Actually, mine may look nothing like hers…maybe it’s just what I made up in my head. But, either way hers was the inspiration so Thanks Rose!

I picked up the clear glass vase at a great new thrift shop in Waterloo while we were there. It cost me a whole dollar!

 I used craft paints – I have every color of the rainbow, and at least three shades of each.

I used my finger print to make the white faces. Then used tiny brushes to put the features on. Just spaced them randomly around the vase. {It’s not easy for me to do random – I want to space them evenly, in rows – but I tried.}

I used a bigger brush to do the scarves. I’ll be honest, they didn’t fill in like I wanted them to. I think a second coat might have helped, but I’m not that patient.

The silver spike/swirls are from Hobby Lobby. They cost more than I thought; $10 for the bunch. But, I used less than a fourth of the bunch so it will show up in another project at some point.

I think it turned out really cute! And I started and finished it all in the same day! Those of you who know me, know that’s a big deal!


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Filed under Creativity, Decor, Frugal living, Holidays