3-Day for the Cure: Go Team Perky and the Tits!

I want to take a moment to mention an old friend of mine, who I have recently learned is participating in the Susan G. Komen 3-Day for the Cure walk for breast cancer. I knew Lisa from church and highschool marching band when I was just starting highschool, and she has decided to do this walk because, like many of us, she has friends who have been taken by breast cancer. She does it in memory of them, and in support of the people who are fighting with breast cancer currently.

On her blog, Perky and the Tits, she talks about the steps she’s taking to prepare for the walk, which will take place in early November, along with some other interesting stories. But one of the biggest steps she’s working on is the financial contribution she still needs for her team to be able to participate. If you would be willing to donate to the Perky and the Tits team for the 3-Day, you can do so by clicking here, and then clicking the donate button on the left hand side. The team still needs quite a bit to achieve their goal, and every dollar helps! Your donations will also be tax-deductible.

And now, I’m off for the weekend! See you on Monday!

Don’t Stop Arguing

I want to encourage those of you in relationships, or those who aren’t yet but hope to be, not to stop arguing. That’s right, I think arguing is a good thing, and I’m not the only one! (See this or that) Arguing is a sign “that you and your partner feel secure enough to express yourselves without fearing judgments.” A complete lack of arguments usually indicates a shallow relationship.

Don’t Pick Fights; Fight Fair

I don’t think you should pick fights, and I’m not saying you should argue more in order to have a deeper relationship. I’m saying that arguments happen, and it’s not a bad thing. In and of itself, an argument just means that two deep-thinking people have differing opinions, or sometimes that there has been a miscommunication or misunderstanding. The problems stem from how we handle the arguments when they occur. We should still continue to give our partner the benefit of the doubt. That is, don’t assume they’re trying to start something or insult you; rather, assume that he, too, is trying to be understanding of you and simply express his mind.

My husband and I have been working on the art of arguing throughout our relationship, which started as “just friends” in middle school. We both still remember that day at the lunch table, back when I was a more-physically-aggressive version of myself, when I clawed his arm until he bled during a Just Quit It! type of argument. There have been hurtful incidents on his part an d my part: He used to get frustrated and try to hurt me, and I sometimes tend to assume the worst in him. We haven’t always fought fair, but with nine years of practice, and we’re starting to get the point.Michy & Marty

The Point is Love

The biggest thing I remember when we do get into arguments is that we love each other. Through nine years of arguing and making up, we have always loved each other, and we know that in the end, we just want to be heard and understood. That’s why we can forgive and move on with a strengthened relationship. Not only strengthened by withstanding the gale, but also deepened though mutual understanding. He knows a little more of my mind, and vice versa.

One of Hubby’s and my favorite quotes is from Matt Chandler, from his sermon “Sex Pt. 2.”

“There’s always this point in time when we say this is the person I want to fight with for the rest of my life, this the person I want to do life with.”

Dos and Don’ts

Whether or not all’s fair in love and war, there are some basic guidelines that make fair fighting a little easier. And, well, successful. I am taking these from Saving Your Marriage Before It Starts by Parrott and Parrott, as it was the first book I read that had them laid out so clearly.

1. Don’t Criticize – Criticizing involves attacking someone’s personality rather than his behavior, and it entails blaming and accusing. These are usually “you” statements. You do this, you don’t do that, you could have, you should have…

2. Don’t be Contemptuous – Contempt is the intention to insult or physically abuse your partner. This can show up through name-calling and mockery, especially.

3. Don’t Stonewall – This is usually, but not always, done by men. Stonewalling is a way of withdrawing from the situation, sometimes in an attempt to avoid escalating the situation further. But it also makes the person appear as if he is not listening or no longer cares about the situation, or worse, his partner.

4. Do Choose Carefully – There are a lot of issues that can, and should, be overlooked. Not everything is worth a fight. Ask yourself if it’s worth it!

5. Do Define the Issue – It’s easy to see when it’s someone else, but often when we fight, one person may think the fight is about one issue while the other person sees the issue as something completely different. Ask yourselves and each other what the real source of the disagreement is.

6. Do State Feelings – Two parts to this. One, use “I” statements rather than the “You” statements mentioned above. Two, use the “X, Y, Z” formula. To take an example from the book, “’When we are riding in the car (X), and you change the radio station (Y), I feel hurt that my desires are not considered (Z).’ That is far more constructive to your partner than saying, ‘You never consider my feelings when it comes to music.’ Although the latter may be what first comes to your mind, it’s likely to draw a defensive response that gets you nowhere.”

Intimacy

It’s natural to find conflict in deep, intimate relationships. Dealing with it correctly makes us more intimate, not less. I hope that you can take away from this an understanding of how to begin fighting more fairly. Is there another do or don’t you think should be added to the list?

Home is Where You Hang Your Keys

Here’s a little project I did for my husband and our home. And, in order to remedy a problem I’ve been noticing with the site, I am going to include not one, but two pictures.

Intended as a birthday present for Hubby last summer, the project didn’t actually get completed and hung up until a few short weeks ago. It was done in stages, mostly because we are both such great procrastinators, but then again, dealing with two tonsillectomies, a wedding and honeymoon, moving, and getting settled as a married couple, maybe we did have legitimate time constraints.

Head-Squirrel Key RackI drew the picture myself, and we bought the wooden frame, glass, and black mat board from Hobby Lobby. We have 5 hooks attached to the front of the frame along the bottom, for holding keys, sunglasses, etc. You can buy as much, premade, from a store, but we found it more fun and unique to do it ourselves. Now we have this hanging near the front door, and my hubby always knows where to find his keys when we’re leaving the house.

The middle ring is holding a small “cup” that I crocheted for our pocket change, as you can see in the close-up below.

Hanging Crocheted Bowl I actually made several other pouches for each of our cell phones and his eye IPod (which are not in use because we received a charging station as a Christmas gift).

The hardest part of the project might have been actually hanging it on the wall, as it was heavy enough to require two security hangers on the back of the frame, and two nails in the wall, which, of course, needed to be level! I let him see to that, as I seemed to be in the way when I was trying to help.

In the end, the only thing lacking was a place for our guests to hang their keys! But if they had that, they might never leave. They might think it’s their home, too. Hmm…next blog, the secret to curing your loneliness?

Serving Size Change?

I read last week that the FDA may change nutritional labeling on our favorite foods. They want Americans to be confronted with calories and fat content right on the front of the packaging of the junk we eat almost every day. More, they want to change serving sizes.

At first, I thought the idea of changing serving sizes was a pretty darn bad one. The serving sizes on our nutritional labels currently are supposed to reflect suggested rations, but typically we eat double or triple whatever that suggestion happens to be. I thought that by changing the serving sizes to reflect what we actually eat, the FDA would be giving in and encouraging us to gorge ourselves. But apparently the intentions are much better than I initially thought.

What they want to do is give us accurate information about what we’re putting in our bodies. I figured out on my own, as a pre-teen, that the packages of Ramen I was eating were actually intended to be two servings, and so I doubled the calories on the package to see what I was really eating. But I was a pretty smart kid, and you probably were too. Unfortunately, some other people might not realize that they may be taking in a whole day’s worth of calories with a couple slices of pizza and a “serving” of chips and soda.

“Consider the humble chip: most potato or corn chip bags today show a one-ounce serving size, containing a tolerable 150 calories, or thereabouts. But only the most disciplined snacker will stop at an ounce. For some brands, like Tostitos Hint of Lime, that can be just six chips.” –NY Times

My personal suggestion is that we stop eating pre-made, pre-packaged foods and get back to cooking our own. Cooking our food makes for way tastier, way healthier meals. Even my favorite (and expensive) canned soups are lacking something in flavor if I don’t add my own spices to them, but how much better were my mom’s homemade soups? And how much healthier…? I will probably always use cans of tomato paste in my homemade spaghetti sauce; I just don’t have time to start with fresh tomatoes to make enough sauce for a meal! So I suppose we can’t get away from it entirely. That being said, I think the more accurate-to-life serving size information is a good idea. The next best thing would be publishing a book: Reading Nutrition Labels for Dummies.

What do you think? Is it a good idea or not? Do you think the FDA can actually enforce it and make companies change their packaging?

Housewiving vs. Sims

Inspired by a xanga post I read earlier yesterday, I wanted to talk a little bit about being a housewife. I love being able to take care of our home. It’s a big job, and I know that if my husband and I both worked full-time outside jobs the house would suffer for it. But being a house-wife or a house-husband is about more than just housekeeping. (Let’s see, there’s budgeting, cooking, decorating, and some other things…  :-P)

When I first read the above-mentioned post, I was really impressed by the author’s insight into things we might take for granted. I am still impressed. I am a pretty big fan of The Sims, starting from the first version of the PC game, which my best friend and I would stay up all night playing, at times (and go to bed dreaming of smoke alarms and green diamond things over everyone’s heads). I never really thought about all the ridiculous things in the game quite as in-depth as this before:

“If I don’t want to be with you anymore,
I simply don’t call you or invite you over,
and our relationship fades without the
drama of breakups.”

“I don’t have laundry and wearing the
same outfit everyday isn’t gross at all.”

Easy Peasy…

Sounds great! It would certainly make housekeeping much easier. I mean, sure there are some puddles to mop up when the sink breaks – or you could just leave them for a day and they’ll dry up on their own. And, of course, you still have to load the dishwasher even if unloading is magically automatic. I like the sound of that. Every meal take the same amount of time to make and creates very little mess and literally no clean-up aside from the dishes from which you eat. Dust is non-existent, as is mud – due to the lack of rain.

But Not So Different…

But that’s just the housekeeping side. What else is involved in being a housewife? In another post, I mentioned that I liked selling Avon because I could make my own hours. One of the important parts of being a housewife is for me to be able to be good company and a good helper for my spouse. I do that by trying to do most my my work while he is doing his work. That way, when he comes home, we can have a meal together, watch TV, play a video game, or just hang out. This applies even if when he comes home he wants to spend some time alone, doing his thing.

This is an area where I find real life to be very similar to The Sims. When I play The Sims, I find that I have to put quite a bit of concentrated effort into initially growing the relationship of the two Sims who I want to marry. After that, I sometimes forget that they still need to spend time together until one of them suddenly pops up with a wish to kiss his spouse or hug her, or woo-hoo with her. It’s easy to get caught up in the day-to-day grind, even in a game like that, and forget that relationships require time and effort. Actually, they require much more time and effort than taking care of the house.

So To Wrap Up

Are there other similarities you see between The Sims and real housewiving? I didn’t want to include too much in one post, but feel free to bring up other aspects of being a housewife that you find equally important! What do you do to take care of your home and your family?

Recipe: End of the Line Ham Casserole

Got leftover ham from Christmas? Here’s a good way to use it up. I found this recipe online and modified it with my hubby to make a tasty dinner for three, and we used up all of our leftover ham! It could have easily been doubled – possibly even tripled – using the same glass casserole pan. There was plenty of leftover space in our pan when it was cooked.

Ingredients:

  • One can of Cream of Celery Soup
  • ½ cup milk
  • 4 small red potatoes, sliced
  • About ½ large onion, diced
  • 3 cups cooked ham, diced
  • Your choice of spices
  • ½ to 1 cups grated cheese

Directions

1. Preheat your oven to 375ºF. In a small sauce pan, combine the soup and milk over low heat, blending until smooth. Then, pour into a casserole dish and add spices. I used about ¼ tsp. black pepper and a bit of garlic powder, which are simple staples that I can use in most recipes.

2. Layer the potato slices on top of the soup and milk mixture. Try to spread them out evenly across the casserole dish. On top of that, layer your onions and the pre-cooked ham.

3. Make sure to cover your casserole dish with tin foil before putting it in the oven to cook for about one hour. Then, take it out, uncover it, and sprinkle your cheese on top. We used a combination of parmesan and cheddar. Return to the oven uncovered to cook for an additional 20 minutes. (If you cover it back up, the water from the cheese can’t evaporate, and it makes it a weird consistency.)

4. I would suggest serving with green beans or another green veggie. (I’d say peas, but I don’t like those!!) As I said, it should serve 2-3 people, but could easily be doubled or tripled. It tastes a bit like scalloped potatoes with ham.

Starting up an Avon Business

I’m a new Avon rep, yes, but my perspective is fresh, and my personal experience is recent enough that I can still remember the difficulties.

I got into Avon for reasons similar to what others say: I liked the flexible hours, the working for myself, the additional income, the discount on products. I think it’s a good endeavor for women who are not otherwise employed, or who are students. I would advise that if you think it will be easy money, think again. It’s not hard to break even, but it requires effort to make a profit. You have to treat it as a job, or else you won’t get an income from it.

Startup:

It’s easy to sign up. If you don’t know an Avon representative personally, you can just get on the website and fill out a form. Then, an Avon rep in your area will contact you. It costs $10 to get started, which pays for the “kit” you’re given. If you have a good upline manager, you will also be supplied with a few brochures for your first few campaigns.

I’d suggest you register for the website youravon.com as soon as possible, which will be a couple of days after you are appointed as a representative. The website gives you access to product reference guides, online ordering and payment, and much more. Some of the useful things took a while for me to find, on my own. I would specifically point you to the “community” tab, where you can find forums (message boards) for communicating with over representatives and, on the left hand side, a link called “Avon advantage,” which will show you all of the business partners that will give you discounts on products for being an Avon rep. One of the most useful ones will even give you free business cards, minus shipping costs.

Do the online training courses, especially if your upline manager is not in contact with you frequently enough to answer all of your questions. You should try to finish these within the first few campaigns if you have the time.

Marketing:

When I first talked to my sister about Avon, she immediately assumed that, since the brand is so well known, I must be doing little-to-no work and getting tons of sales. Wrong. As evidenced by my own sister, who has known of my business for a month but has ordered nothing, Avon does not simply make money grow on trees for me. It does, however, sell itself. To a degree.

The good thing is that it is well-known. But you have to get your name, and more specifically your brochures out there. Buy some printable address labels as soon as you can and print out something with your name, phone number, email address, and website if you’re an E-rep. Stick them on your brochures. Get on some nice, business casual clothes. Then go out and do it. If you walk into a business or up to a stranger with a brochure, the worst that they can do is say no (to avoid embarrassment, check businesses for “No Soliciting” signs). The more brochures you get in people’s hands, the more potential customers you have, and the more calls you can get.

More than anything demos or samples or gift baskets or sales, you should make it a priority to get brochures out. Just do it.

Bookkeeping:

Keep your Avon money separate from your personal money, and keep accurate, thorough records. This means saving receipts for anything that might be a business-related expense. Traveling to make a delivery = gas money. Printer cartridges, printer paper, internet service, and gas money are all business expenses to track. I’m no tax expert, but I know you can write off business expenses, so keep good records! Start early so that at tax time you’re not running around stressed, trying to find those long lost receipts.

Things I Didn’t Know:

When I started my Avon business, I was probably less familiar with Avon than most people. Maybe you’re in my position, maybe not, but I want to go through a few things I didn’t know or understand at first. Hopefully it will help you out.

1. Campaigns & Brochures – Each brochure is good for one campaign, and a campaign is 2 weeks long. At the end of the two weeks, the brochure is expired. The new brochure may have different products available, or it may just be they’re available at different prices. You put your order in at the end of the campaign, and then you receive your products and make deliveries. And that’s how it goes. Every. two. weeks. Also, you pay for your brochures. They’re not expensive, and they do get cheaper the more you buy in bulk, but they’re not free.

2. Upline & Downline – Your upline manager is whoever is above you, who appointed you. It may or may not be your district sales manager. It may just be another representative. At any time, you, too, can become an upline manager, but be aware that the first “appointment” you make must be done with you, your upline, and the new rep. And you won’t receive any extra commission right away.

3. Ordering Early – Don’t do it. I learned the hard way, following the advice of my upline. If you want to submit your regular order early, forget it. If you try to add another order to your regular order after it has processed, you may be stuck with an “additional order” fee. For some reason Avon refuses to add items to an order once it has processed, even if the deadline for submitting orders hasn’t passed yet and the order hasn’t shipped yet. So I’d advise to just avoid it. Don’t order early because it gains you nothing.