Do Your Backups!

What do you have on your computer? Finances? Emails, addresses, and other contact information? Precious photos? I’d include recipes, articles I’ve written, all the records from my small photography business, and the books I’m editing for my paying job.

Can you afford to lose any or all of those file? I didn’t think so. I know I’d be in big trouble if I lost all our financial records, and I’d be heartbroken to lose all the photos I’ve taken, especially of our granddaughters.

There’s a simple solution, but for some reason, it’s one that’s often ignored, or put off until later.

Do your backups!

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Where’s the Water?

Storm moving in_XG_20090826_LAH_9761Where’s the rain? We haven’t seen a storm like the one in this photo for several years. In spite of our recent snow (finally!), Colorado, like much of the nation, is experiencing severe drought. Last year brought only half our average precipitation, and the preceding years haven’t been much better. With water rationing looming in the near future, we might be feeling a down. After all, who likes a brown lawn?

I garden for pleasure, to make my flower beds look attractive, and to provide fresh, healthy food that supplements what we buy at the grocery store. Farmers and ranchers, on the other hand, raise food for their livelihood—and so we’ll have something to buy at when we go shopping. A lack of water can be catastrophic, not only for their bank accounts, but for all of us who depend on their products.

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When You Can’t Pray

I was totally overwhelmed. Mind going around and around on an endless track of useless thoughts: Now what? What if? How? I hardly slept. I could barely eat. I couldn’t focus on anything, much less God. No way I could pray.

Yet, I had never needed to pray more.

Have you ever felt this way? You’re in the deepest pit, and God is your only salvation. You know you need to pray. But you just can’t. And that makes you feel even worse. Like you’re a failure.

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Make a Christmas Tree Dimmer Switch

med bright tree 5596-2After years of debate, dead needles, and adamant kids (“It has to be real or it’s not Christmas!”), we finally broke down and bought an artificial tree. The cost of a fresh fir has gotten out of hand (and they sure didn’t last very long in our dry climate), plus our kids and their husbands had their own places, and could make their own fake-or-fresh decisions.

We looked long and hard to find a tree that looked as real as possible, and I’m happy to say that it fools many people. Even better, it came with the lights already integrated into the branches. No more tangled strings of lights, with all the reds in a clump and whole sections of tree dark. No sirree, things would be easy now. Continue reading

Saving Energy: Computers

I was recently criticized by a conservation-minded friend for leaving my computer on all the time. As I consider myself a fairly passionate environmentalist (at least in some areas), I took her concern seriously, and did some research. That is, I asked Pete, who is very knowledgeable in these things. Here’s a summary of what I learned.

I leave my computer on for a number of reasons. For one, other people need access to it even when I’m gone. That may or may not be true for you, too. Plus, my back-up software runs every night.  Gotta have that! (When do you do your backups?)

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Cheap Eats: Membership Warehouses

The current issue of “Real Simple” magazine contains the statement, “… members-only markets can be an indispensable source for saving on essentials, such as steak, shrimp, and [washed and bagged] salad greens.”

OK, here’s mom’s advice: If you are trying at all to cut costs, steak, shrimp, and bagged salads are not essentials. They are special treats, maybe even reserved for occasions such as birthdays or anniversaries.

Buying groceries at Sam’s, Costco, or similar store can definitely save you money. But remember, just because something is cheaper doesn’t make it cheap. This brings us to the question: is a membership warehouse always cheaper?

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Cheap Eats: Learn to cook

So you would like to spend less on food. This is one of the easiest places to trim the budget, but it will require a little effort on your part.

The single best way to save money on food is to learn to cook!

It is usually much cheaper to purchase ingredients rather than prepared meals. The results are more nutritious and frequently lower in sodium, fat, and calories.[1] With a little bit of practice, your meals will taste a lot better than the packaged, frozen “convenience foods” available at the market. Cooking doesn’t have to use a lot of time or expensive ingredients. Plus, it just feels satisfying to serve a meal you made yourself.

Learning to cook isn’t hard. A recent Amazon search turned up 93,928 cookbooks, while a Google search turned up 98,400,000 hits for “recipe.”  Most functional adults are able to follow at least  simple directions for preparing a dish.

I never learned to cook when I was growing up, so I had to figure things out on my own. Since I was a college student at the time, it seemed totally logical to pick up a textbook and start reading. At the time, the most popular comprehensive cookbook was The Joy of Cooking, so that is what I read. It provided a solid foundation that still serves me today. The fun started when I got to the point where I could wing it, inventing my own recipes as I went along.

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