I am very big into family, and I have a big family as well. 5 brothers and sisters (I'm the 5th of 6). 14 nieces and nephews (R Russell Patrick II joined us 10/13/13). 5 great-nephews & 6 great-nieces (Brooklyn Grace joined us 10/2/13). And no, with that many family members, I do not keep up with birthdays very well. Not well at ALL! Even with a master list on my fridge.
I'm also married. My husband and I got married here in San Antonio at the historic Sheraton Gunter Hotel downtown. And we are the proud parents of a 12 year old Alaskan Husky named Moo and three 1 year old kittens: Wicket, Willow, and Winter.
Like all Texas moms, I made my kid pose in the bluebonnets.
Use energy-efficient mini lights or light-emitting diode (LED) holiday lights, instead of traditional C7 or C9 bulbs.
Turn off holiday lights and inflatable yard decorations before going to bed and whenever you are away from home. A programmable timer adds convenience and can help optimize savings.
In the kitchen
Do not preheat the oven for foods requiring several hours of cooking time. When preheating is necessary, heat to the exact temperature required.
A well-stocked refrigerator uses less energy because there is less air to cool. Keep your refrigerator full without overfilling; too many items packed together closely will reduce air circulation.
Bake several batches of cookies or bake more than one pie at a time.
Lower the thermostat before you leave. The recommended temperature setting is 65°F.
Use timers on lights inside and outside your home, this will save energy and provide security.
But these aren't the only tips. Learn more great ways to save here.
Ok, sure, it's partly to hype their new business venture, but it's still super cute and well done. And who doesn't love Christmas jammies!?
Give tips to:
Landscaper/gardener: $20 to $50. If he or she comes frequently, give up to a week’s pay.
Trash/recycling collectors: $10 to $30 each for private service; for public service, check your local municipality for regulations as some areas may not allow tipping.
Buy gifts for:
Boss: While not necessary, a simple gift is a nice gesture. Talk to coworkers to see if they’d like to chip in to buy a gift card or a restaurant gift certificate.
Teacher/tutor: Don’t spend more than $25. Assuming the school allows gifts, give something such as a bookstore or restaurant gift certificate, a picture frame, a coffee shop gift card, or a homemade gift from your child, accompanied by a hand-written thank-you note. Gifts aren’t as common at middle schools and high schools where each child has five or more teachers.
Day-care staff: $25 to $70 each for those who have direct contact with your child(ren), plus a small, personal gift from your offspring. If only one person takes care of your kids, shoot for the higher end of that range. A gift certificate is fine, but take the time to include a hand-written card.
Tip or give a gift to:
Babysitter: Cash or a gift equal to one or two night’s pay. A personal gift from your child(ren) is always appreciated as well.
Hairstylist/manicurist/barber: The cost of one visit, or a gift of equivalent worth. If you deal with more than one person at a given establishment, give cash so they can split it among themselves.
Personal caregiver: Up to a week’s salary and/or a modest gift.
Not finding someone? Then get a more complete list here.
The people at WestJet decided to bring the holidays to travelers, literally making their wishes come true! See how they did it and the reaction of the passengers. It's really sweet and you may even get a tear or two!
It’s cold, it’s rainy, it’s too humid. I don’t want to exercise outdoors, but being indoors can be monotonous. So let’s shake it up!
Park your bike. If you love to cycle, don't stop. Use a training stand to convert your bike into a stationary model that you can pedal indoors. You might watch your favorite action show and stay revved up as you ride.
Head for cover. Is walking your activity of choice? You might hit your stride at the nearest shopping mall. Of course, treadmills are a given at most fitness centers — but some have indoor tracks, as well.
Hit play. Fitness DVDs can be like having personal trainers at your disposal. Rent a few for variety — and see what you like. Your public library may also have some available. Or, you might start a workout DVD exchange club with friends.
Get more ideas to keep it fresh here.
Congratulations to the Texas A&M Traditions Club who have built the world's largest gingerbread house in Bryan, Texas! And yes, that's a new Guinness World Record! In order to be eligible for the world record, the house must be (and is) edible on the outside.
The home is 39,000 sq ft and almost 36 million calories! Unlike the prior winner, this house was built outside. You can even walk through it. No word on whether you can taste test it though.
Check out the article that includes photos and video here.
Protect your body…
When You’re Wrapping Gifts
Sit in a chair at a table, with your abdomen pulled in, your stomach muscles engaged, and your shoulders back and down. Keep all materials within easy reach to avoid awkward stretches.
When You're Cooking
Lessen back strain by standing with your feet shoulder-width apart, shoulders back, and knees soft. Your counter height should be no more than a few inches below your hands if you have your arms at your side and your elbows bent at 90 degrees. If it’s too low, stack cutting boards; if it’s too high, stand on a sturdy stool.
When You’re on the Road
Sit with your legs uncrossed, your feet flat on the floor, and your spine straight. Place a small pillow behind your lower back to support it without exaggerating the natural curve.
Take a look at other ways to protect your body here.
You hear people saying it all the time, “Forgive and forget.” Or “It’s better for you if you let it go.” But why should you and how do you when you’ve been hurt so badly?
Remember that when you don’t forgive, you stay in the same place. There’s no moving forward, no growing, no getting better. So, it’s easy. To forgive takes strength and work. Lots of both actually. But it really IS better for you if you forgive. Why?
It can restore your feelings of being in control of your life and give back a sense of control over your life. It can also help get rid of stress and anxiety which in turn will lower your blood pressure.
To forgive requires a process. So here are some strategies to get you through.
Focus on the rewards. You may be able to sleep at night. You may feel happier.
Lean on someone. Friends and family can be confidants, shoulders to cry on, spiritual advisors and more.
Do things that make YOU happy. Instead of focusing on your anger or hurt, focus on your happiness and the happiness of the friends and family around you.
Get more ideas on how to be forgiving here.
Barbara has picked the celebrities she thinks are the most fascinating of 2013 for her last "Most Fascinating" special.
That list includes
The special airs on Wednesday, December 18th, at 8:30pm on ABC. The #1 Most Fascinating Person will be announced during the show. Barbara plans on retiring in May.
Read more here.