Friday, August 21, 2015

Decluttering - What about the old philosophies? - #10 - Guests

About a year and a half ago, I started a series of posts about decluttering, as I worked on ours. 

I started by talking about ten old philosophies that we grew up with, that I thought needed modification. Not to throw each and every one of them out completely, but to re-examine them. 

Today, I'd like to talk about #10 - "If you have family or friends visiting you, and they need something, you should have it at hand for them, be it a notebook, jacket, or an extra car to drive."

When I was a child, of course, we didn't have an extra car just sitting around for our friends; but when I visited my father when I was an adult, and he was single, he had a car for me to drive. It was pretty handy, and I was grateful! Still, it's not something I'm going to manage for our adult kids who visit from far away. Different times, I guess. 

It's so much fun, though, when someone says, "I need something to write in" or "I forgot a sweater", and I'm able to produce the item they need. I think part of the fun is that it reminds me of my sister. 

But here's what I decided, as I was simplifying: It's the principle of numbers, again, and of space, and of what we like best. I can keep one generic hoodie that most anyone in my family could wear to warm up. I usually have an extra toothbrush; they don't take up much space. We have a futon so it can be made into a bed. And because stationery stores are my "candy shops", I can keep a few extra notebooks and pens. 

Beyond that, if someone is visiting, and needs something, I can take them to the store, because it's really very simple for me to do that. 

Do you have items you keep on hand, just in case someone might need them? 

Monday, July 6, 2015

FREE Myers Family Cookbook (for Kindle or Kindle app)

In case you missed it in November, you can once again get the Myers Family Cookbook free for Kindle (or your computer or other electronic device). It will be free today through Wednesday, July 8, 2015.

You will find recipes, how-to's, and family memories.

Come, take the book; use it or browse it; pass the word.

Review it, if you would be so kind. 

Thanks so much! 

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Quarter Irish Stew (Vegetarian)

I call it Quarter Irish Stew, because my parents told me I am quarter Irish; and also because I made this tonight without any lamb or even beef, or even ground beef, because one of my sons is eating vegetarian right now.

To be honest, I tried to take shortcuts but it ended up taking quite a bit of time anyway. But my guys all liked it. Yum. 

Put in a pan and cook until tender:

½ cup olive oil
2 cups chopped celery
1 cup chopped onion

Put in a Dutch oven along with the onion and celery:

1 cup red cooking wine
1 cup water
1 tablespoon Worcestershire
2 tablespoons tomato paste (I get it in a tube)
2 teaspoons bouillon 
1 teaspoon thyme
1 can (14.5 ounces) sliced carrots, drained
2 packages (11 ounces each) Steam Fresh, lightly sauced, roasted red potatoes

Bring to a boil, turn down, and simmer until potatoes are done.

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Activities for Promoting Child Development

I wrote a paper for a college class called "The School-Age Child", which is aimed generally at after-school care. I would like to share with you the parts of that paper that were strictly my own, in other words, not the parts sourced and cited from the textbook, but my own experiences that I shared, as they touch on some of the knowledge in that text.  


Children's healthy physical growth may be influenced by how much time they spend exercising, as well as the food that is consumed.

In addition to providing wholesome meals and snacks, and trying to make sure those children who are poor have some nutritious food to eat, I would also share with the children books that help them to understand the value of good food. One book that I like is Gail Gibbon's The Vegetables We Eat.

Another one I like for children is Who Put the Cookies in the Cookie Jar? by George Shannon. While this book does promote sweets, they are homemade, and it provides cultural lessons as well, as it shows all the different people who make the ingredients and supplies possible. I feel this gives them an appreciation for the people who provide our food, as well as the value of food, apart from highly-processed foods.

When I taught a weekly four-hour preschool class a few years ago, we had limited indoor space and equipment for working on gross-motor skills. We did have outdoor time, but during some of our indoor time, we encouraged physical activity with games such as Duck, Duck, Goose, and other circle games.

Simple crafts are one way that children can practice fine motor skills. When my children were young, we often kept many of our crafts very inexpensive, simple, and child-oriented. The children might cut strips, and tape together paper chains, or cut snowflakes by folding and cutting white paper. They would cut pictures of people out of old catalogs to use in their imaginative play. They would make their own greeting cards or placemats out of old greeting cards and other pictures. All they needed were the supplies and ideas, and then they would teach each other and have a good time, not realizing they were practicing skills at the same time, but thinking they were just having fun.

I know how much an appropriate environment can help children in cognitive development, because I experienced the reverse during the first few weeks that I taught a weekly preschool homeschool co-op. I would bring the weeks' resources in bags each week. We had no permanent set-up at the time, plus, other children and adults came through our room to get to wherever they were going. It was very chaotic, and the children could not focus, until we found a better facility, where I could set up different kinds of toys and supplies in different areas of the room for children to select from. This changed the whole atmosphere and allowed the children to pursue learning with joy. We didn't have carpeting so it was noisy, especially when they played with the trucks and cars, but it was, nevertheless, peaceful, with the children knowing where everything was from week to week and being able to pursue their interests during free play time, and focus during structured lessons.

Another area of development is psychosocial and moral. When I taught kindergarten through second grade children many years ago, we discussed the rules thoroughly, in language they could understand, along with the reasons for those rules. If a child told on another child for something (which was only encouraged if safety was involved), or if two children got into a physical or verbal altercation, we would discuss it thoroughly, one on one, both so I could understand what happened, and also so they could understand what happened and what they might do differently in the future. I did this with my own children also, but as I learned more and they grew older, sometimes we would change some kinds of rules according to the need or situation.

P.S. A special thank you here to my dear friend, Ivonne Hernandez, for finding us a more suitable facility for that homeschool co-op class that I mention above, and to my new friend, Beate Buescher, for the recommendation of the lovely book, Who Put the Cookies in the Cookie Jar?

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Beef Goulash in the One-Button Rice Cooker

Do you have a simple rice cooker? Did you know you can use it to cook more than rice? I love the convenience of throwing stuff in it, just pushing the button down, and walking away. How about you? Have you tried that? Here was tonight's dinner.

8 ounce (1/2 pound) ground beef, browned
(I had some frozen in half lb. packages, so I just thawed it enough to get it out of the bag)
1 cup elbow macaroni
14 ounce (1/2 of a 28 ounce jar) spaghetti sauce
(or you could use a 15 ounce can tomato sauce in a pinch)
1/2 cup water
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon salt

Put all ingredients in the rice cooker. Stir with plastic or wooden utensil. Put on the lid. Push down the lever for Cook. When it is done, it will switch to Keep Warm setting. (Check in about 30 minutes to see if it's done.)

Serve and enjoy.

PS. Of course, this is for only three of us, four if we stretch it enough for my husband to take some to work for lunch. We use a 6 cup rice cooker. With a large enough rice cooker, I wouldn't see any reason not to double the recipe.