Five Hundred More Reasons to Follow Me!

Who’s into Instagram? Don’t be shy, chime in! Odds are y’all started using Instagram for the same reason I did. You’re nosey. I don’t mean that in a negative way, I just mean you enjoy seeing pictures of people’s children and pets and vacations and birthdays and holidays and houses and gardens. My boys are 25 and 18, so I love to see baby pictures, first steps, first and last days of school, plays, dance recitals, marching bands, all of it! I just inherently want to be up in everybody’s business. I blame my mom. JUST KIDDING, MOM! (She says she reads all my posts, but that may just be a ruse.)

But ever since I found out I’m getting a GRANDDAUGHTER this spring my Instagram activity has shifted. I follow people around the world who offer the most wonderful handmade, eco-friendly, age-appropriate, STEM-focused, and simply beautiful baby and toddler items imaginable! And yes, some uber-cute adult clothes, accessories and home decor that this Nonna-to-be adores! In today’s economy I like to buy from small businesses whenever I can. For every apathetic teen at the checkout of a chain department store there’s a couple of moms running their shop as a side-gig who’d be doing a happy dance when they get your order!

Everyone knows that Michael and I use Nerium products and encourage others to use them (if it’s a good fit and you’d maybe even like to get your products for free) or even to start their own business if the timing and the motivation is right. (i.e. Do you need more time freedom or financial freedom?)

After the holidays are over and we’ve made our New Years’ Resolutions what’s next on the minds of most adults? Taxes. I don’t want to rain on your parade, but if you suspect you’ll be paying taxes this year CONTACT ME! If you become a Nerium business owner before the end of the month you can take your start-up costs off your taxes as a business expense. And you’ll get more than your money’s worth in products only, with support, training, and a free personalized website as an extra. It’s a business you integrate into your life, so the busier you are already the less you have to do!

I ramble on when I’m excited. I’m sorry. Sometime this evening, around 8 or 9 EST, get on Instagram and check out my post. I’m @angieballard. You can then enter to win a GC from a fabulous shop that starts with an A and ends with an E and carries gorgeous stuff like this:
or you can take your money in Paypal cash and run! How much? Well, it involves this number

plus two zeros! I’m pretty stinking excited, because I’ve never been part of a giveaway this big before! So go over and at least check it out to make sure I’m not looking like some sort of dork. I’d appreciate it!

When Christmas Sneaks Up On You

— 1 —

Buy gift cards, but package them cleverly. I am severely clumsy, but even I can make an origami box from last year’s Christmas cards!
There are also puzzles you have to solve to get the gift card out (cruel, but fun for the right person!) and my personal favorite for the person who tries to figure out what it is before unwrapping it (me, since birth) a brick or glass-block square. Yeah, the people at Lowe’s will look at you weird, but trust me – they’ve seen stranger. Tape it securely to the brick or put it inside the glass-block and tape it shut with plastic. Maybe throw in a dog treat for funzies. My dad is an expert at this after fifty years of dealing with me!

— 2 —

Do a DIY that impresses everyone, but is super-easy. Last year we had just enough money to buy gifts for the kids and do DIY stuff for everyone else. (That’s better than this year.) The easiest DIY was also the cheapest (free) and the most fun!
old-vinyl-smPreheat oven to 350. Select an old, warped album (or one you’ve picked up at Goodwill) and put it in the oven over the top of a bowl. Glass mixing bowl, stoneware bean bowl, whatever’s handy. Watch it closely. At about the five-minute mark it will start to melt. Pull it out immediately. It will be warm to the touch, but not hot. Quickly push down the middle and form the outside curves as you like. Fabulous for popcorn, chips, or as a fruit bowl!

— 3 —

Make a lot of one thing. If you’re doing treats for co-workers, neighbors, and your own celebration do it all the same. Seriously. It’s as easy to make five pumpkin rolls as it is to make one. Make a huge batch of Neiman-Marcus cookies. Or a ton of your award-winning fudge. Don’t make it harder than it needs to be. Or hunker down and make something special if you’re feeling inspired!

— 4 —

Don’t do the things you don’t enjoy! I sat my boys down one year long ago when I knew I was going to be working more than expected that holiday season (yes, someone quit the day after Thanksgiving). I had a list of all the things I usually tried to pack into one month and had them prioritize them. I kept Christmas cards, because I always enjoyed sitting near the tree with a glass of wine, Christmas carols playing softly in the background, and writing out personal messages. We haven’t been able to afford that in several years, which is just as well since my tremor makes even my printing nearly illegible. But the boys didn’t really care about decorating cookies together, or going to see The Nutcracker. I think I cut my holiday stress about 50% that year because of things that I mentioned that rated blank stares.

— 5 —

Turn off the electronics and interact. Watching a movie together is not interacting. But neither is expecting kids to carry on a conversation with people they only see once or twice a year. Play a board game or a card game. A couple of years ago we played a three-generation Cards Against Humanity and my mom won. And I thought we’d have to explain some of the cards to her – LOL!!

— 6 —

Set priorities and make plans for next year. Hit the after-Christmas sales, especially the craft stores. Buy ribbons, ornaments, fabric – anything that catches your eye. Even a chia pet looks great wrapped in an eco-friendly cloth bag , tied with a satin ribbon and adorned with a fabulous ornament!

Seven Things that Bring Me Comfort

— 1 —

Prayer. Yeah, I know you thought I was going to say chocolate, wine, coffee, or dogs first. SURPRISE! Since I’m alone most of the day every day I have an on-going casual prayer session all day long. I do keep a prayer journal to focus on particular things I’m thankful for and people or situations I’m praying for. If I comment on FB that I’m praying for you I really mean it. I also pray more formal prayers, rosaries and novenas, because the repetition helps me focus my priorities. My favorite rosary app has audio that I can listen to with headphones in bed at night and beautiful stained glass images for each of the mysteries. I subscribe via email to Pray More Novenas, and my favorite is the St. Jude rosary. He’s the patron saint of lost causes and desperate situations, so I feel pretty comfortable hanging out with him at prayer time. This is the picture I have in my hallway.
And yes, Portraits of Saints IS where I bought it if you want one of your own.

— 2 —

Cards in the mail. Weird, right? But in this age of email, text, and social media a card or letter is so unexpected I’m happy before I even open it! I have a couple of friends who send me cards “just because”, and it always perks me up no matter how bad the pain is or how down I’m feeling that day.

— 3 —

A “happier ever after, at least for now” at the end of a book. If I want something depressing and thought-provoking I’ll just live my life. If I borrow a book from the library I fully expect a happy ending. (Clearly, I’m not a fan of literary fiction.)

— 4 —

Soft socks. Really, it’s the little thinks in life. If it drops below seventy degrees I want soft, fuzzy socks. In fact, last night I slept with socks on my hands because I can’t figure out why this very minor rash on the side of my nose won’t go away. Michael suggested I might be scratching it in my sleep. It’s no better today, but my hands were quite comfy all night 😉

— 5 —

Snuggles. With my husband, my son (who hugs me every single day!), my two big fur-babies, and the two adorable little boys I hang out with most Friday nights, helping their GiGi keep them fed, clean, and uninjured while their parents have a peaceful meal out. Really, there is just nothing like a hug from a little one. If I could bottle that feeling no one would need Prozac.

— 6 —

Writing. Even though I can only write for 15-20 minutes at a time and I may never publish a single book I like knowing I have a creative outlet and that I’m being productive. That’s important to me.

— 7 —

Music. It’s amazing how the right music can be energizing, or romantic, or comforting. I’ve always found Country Christmas Carols comforting. I’m not ready for them yet, but once my decorations are up I’ll be listening to Thistlehair the Christmas Bear ASAP!

For more writing prompts go to Mama Kat’s Writers Workshop!

For more Quick Takes, visit This Ain’t The Lyceum!


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Anything worth doing can be done in jammies!