November 25, 2016

How Many People Are Living in Their Cars? Simple Living in 2016


It's been a long, long time since I chose to live a simple life -- I started this blog as a part of that process, back in January 2006.  It's amazing to realize this blog is almost 11 years old.

Your life is your life.  You only get one.  YOLO, right?  With your free will, you make choices that have consequences.  Not choosing is still making a choice.

So I chose to live a voluntary simplicity lifestyle.  What that means, to me at least, is all over this blog.

Choosing a Simple Lifestyle

I'm proud I had the courage to choose the path less traveled way back when. As a lawyer, choosing to live a life of simplicity back in the mid-2000's was not understood by lots of folk.  To many, I was nuts.

I don't know how much that's changed or how much I've just stopped worrying about the approval of others.

The Economy Around Me

For awhile, I'd post here about economic things that concerned me.  Over there in the sidebar, you can see categories for "2008 Economic Crisis," and "2011 Economic Crisis," for instance.

Then I stopped blogging about it.  Truth be told, I got busy with other things and just didn't post very much.

But this fall, I decided maybe I should blog again.  Blog some.  Blog more often.  And so I began, even though participating in National Novel Writing Month sideswiped some of that blogging schedule in the past few weeks.

Which is why I'm publishing this post today.

What the Heck?  

All this meandering to get to here.  My point.

What the heck is going on here?  I know Preppers.  Heck, there are some of my Fancy Friends who think I'm a Prepper.  They worry because I don't know the trends and don't like credit cards.

Then the Preppers worry that I'm not doing what I need to do in order to survive the impending economic explosion.  I'm not working each week on implementing a Survival Plan.  I don't know how to can food.

But back when I began on this road, I don't think there were that many folk living in their cars.  And I mean cars or vans, not RVs or Travel Trailers.  That's the subject of another post for a different day.

I have used YouTube quite a bit this past couple of months to research my NaNoWriMo thriller, and in the midst of all that video surfing, I have discovered a great many YouTubers chronicling their lives as they live in their vehicles.

Go look at the search results yourself in YouTube for "living in car." 

It's amazing.  I'm seeing young women, brave and happy and apparently well-adjusted, choosing to live in their sedans or small SUVs because they've decided it's a great idea.  

Some are doing this to pay off student loan debt ASAP.  Others have their own reasons.

Living in Your Car as a Simple Living Lifestyle Choice

This choice, just like any version of simple living, isn't a One Size Fits All.  Each story is unique, as is how each person approaches simplicity -- or minimalism, the term that's arisen since I started this blog.

Thing is: when I began looking around online, it's not all fun and games.  There are people living in their cars because they have no option.  They're more the homeless stereotype of the "van down by the river" and they aren't so happy or excited.

So, it's something I'm thinking about right now.  Times are changing.

How bad is our economy really? I don't know.  I'm thinking about this.  Back in May 2010 I wrote a post after reading a London Times article on the 'Great Depression of 2010."  I am thinking about that frog in the pot right now.

One thing I do know.  When I started simplifying, it was far from a trend to have folk living in their cars like they do today.

The continuum on simplicity existed but van-dwelling wasn't really on the charts back then.  It is now.  That is telling me something, I think.

See, "Living Out of a Van Is The New American Dream," written by David Jagneaux and published in Vice on February 5, 2016.

Here's a YouTuber video example for you:

Will all this pondering cause me to make changes in my lifestyle?  Will I go more prepper now?  Will I decide to get a vehicle that if necessary, I can live in comfortably?

What about expatriating?  It's these kinds of thoughts that lead me to prayer and the Bible and get me in the kitchen cooking up some sort of dish filled with melted cheese.

October 30, 2016

Free Public Domain Image No. 9: Encouraging Word

I created this image using Canva's free service and I release it into the public domain.

This file is in public domain, not copyrighted, no rights reserved, free for any use. You can use this picture for any use including commercial purposes without the prior written permission and without fee or obligation.

October 23, 2016

Free Public Domain Image No. 8 - Encouraging Word

I created this image using Canva's free service and I release it into the public domain.

This file is in public domain, not copyrighted, no rights reserved, free for any use. You can use this picture for any use including commercial purposes without the prior written permission and without fee or obligation.

October 16, 2016

Free Public Domain Image No. 7: Encouraging Quote

I created this image using Canva's free service and I release it into the public domain.

This file is in public domain, not copyrighted, no rights reserved, free for any use. You can use this picture for any use including commercial purposes without the prior written permission and without fee or obligation.

October 15, 2016

My New Jumbo Coffee Mug Arrives Today!


I admit it.  I am actually watching the front door, waiting for the mailman.  I'm thinking about getting the dog involved -- let him monitor through the screen.  Seriously,  This is a BIG DEAL.  I'm really excited.

Why?  USPS will be bringing me my new, wonderful HUGE coffee mug today.  Here's what it looks like in the Amazon site:

 It's the simple things, people.  

This mug holds FIFTY-TWO OUNCES.  That's right.  52.  It's promised to be SIX INCHES high.  Wow.

Of course, Snoopy hugging Charlie Brown is sweet.  Makes me happy.  And the message is a good one:  "Lots of Love."

But the thing that is making me want to dance is its capacity.  I want a big coffee mug.  A BIG one.

Why such a jumbo mug?

Here's why.  I want a mug with some extra space on top so I don't slop liquid onto my desk while I try to drink with one hand, type with the other, and never let my eyes leave the computer screen.  It's a bad habit.

(Odds are high this will happen if I'm laughing at something online.  Things like this.)

Plus it can be a soup mug.  A tea mug.  Water, sure.

Maybe it will hold iced tea for me.  Lord knows I'm tired of drinking iced tea out of a mason jar, and that's the only option if you want to hold something that's glass and 24 oz or more these days.

Go ahead.  Look for yourself.  No iced tea glasses that hold 24 ounces, made of glass.  (I don't drink out of plastic.)

The secret: it's my reward.  

Here's the secret:  this big mug is a REWARD.  I've learned that to make new habits, it's important for me to have rewards.  After all, the bad habits reward me in some way or I wouldn't keep doing them.

So I get this pretty Snoopy Hug Mug today because I've checked off stuff in my Planner Trackers and I've earned it.

Makes me happy.  The Hug Mug.  The reward system.

It works for me. I am a child. I am not ashamed.  LOL

October 9, 2016

Free Public Domain Image No. 6 - Encouraging Quote

I created this image using Canva's free service and I release it into the public domain.

This file is in public domain, not copyrighted, no rights reserved, free for any use. You can use this picture for any use including commercial purposes without the prior written permission and without fee or obligation.

October 6, 2016

Thanksgiving Day is 48 Days Away: Planning Ahead

Thanksgiving is such a wonderful holiday.  I hate that it seems to get lost between Halloween and Christmas - or at least that's how it seems out in the stores.

I saw Halloween stuff competing with Christmas decorations in the last week of September!  Ye Gads.

Meanwhile, maybe some would say I'm just as bad.  Why?  I'm doing menu planning now.  For Thanksgiving.  Forty-eight days in advance.  Yepper -- crazy, right?

Planning Ahead for Turkey Day

Well, here's the thing.  I'm participating in National Novel Writing Month in November, so I need to get ready for that added work load.  (Which is writing 50,000 words or more in 30 days.  I plan on writing a very bad first draft of a thriller novel.  LOL)

But I might be planning for Thanksgiving this week anyway.

Why Plan for Thanksgiving Now?  

Why?  It's gonna save me money and time and stress.  And it makes me happy.

That is Simple Living, at least in my view.

How is it saving me money and time?  Well, I'm planning the whole weekend.  Bill will provide his famous hash brown and egg tacos, that's a tradition.  There will be leftovers.  Natch.

No one in this casa cares about Black Friday, so no worries there.  Well, if there's an online special for a TV or laptop for a penny or a dollar, we might be a little interested.  Maybe.

Football may be involved.  To me, this means snacks.  Walks in the park will occur.  Naps.  Soup. Movies.  Fingers crossed, we'll have sweater weather!

Today, I'm going to have all the recipes together, including the snacks and the drinks, right in front of me. I'm buying in bulk at Sam's Club -- and watching the food ads --  for things I can store or freeze and have ready come T-Day.

I'm looking for deals.  (Yesterday, I found a nice price for pecans at HEB.)

I'm keeping the recipes simple, too.  No Bon Appetit here.  Simple stuff.  Good stuff.

Plus not so many choices.  Two desserts.  One kind of coffee.  Chips and queso.  Turkey Chili.  Iced Tea. You get the idea.

I'm excited thinking about Thanksgiving.  Counting blessings; eating queso while watching an Alfred Hitchcock movie; the turkey-induced nap.

I'm plotting things that are fun and free.  Walking in the park, bringing bread to feed the ducks and geese while the dogs sniff the goose poop?  This costs nothing and it's amazing.  Memory-making.

Ditto the movie night with popcorn and classic movies.  At some point, there may be watching sports on TV; I never do this -- but I'll be writing that thriller novel.  As long as no one is hogging the chili con queso, we'll all be fine.

Oh, my, this is fun!!!  I like this planning ahead plan.  It makes me happy.  Maybe it will bring a smile to your face, too, Dear Reader.

October 2, 2016

Free Public Domain Image No. 5 - Encouraging Word

I created this image using Canva's free service and I release it into the public domain.

This file is in public domain, not copyrighted, no rights reserved, free for any use. You can use this picture for any use including commercial purposes without the prior written permission and without fee or obligation.

Psalm 27:1

Scripture source is the World English Bible - a version placed into the public domain. 

September 28, 2016

Resistant Starch: Potatoes are Good for You (Again)

Resistant Starch Helps Fight Inflammation and Does Lots More Good Things

Awhile back, I shared Bill’s Hash Brown Potato Salad recipe. Now, admittedly Bill likes to put hash browns in most anything. And he’s usually right. Hash browns combined with eggs and bacon in your morning breakfast taco? Nothing better, my friend.

Now, however, there seems to be medical research supporting eating those hash browns along with other kinds of potato fixings as well as other starchy stuff you thought was on the Bad Food List.

Potato flour It’s called “resistant starch.” Time Magazine covered the topic in its May 2016 article, “Eat This Carb and You Won’t Gain Weight.

That’s right. That is the title – from an article in Time Magazine. 

Good news, right? You’re already thinking French Fries, aren’t you?

What is Resistant Starch? 

Resistant starch is found in potatoes, as well as beans, unripe bananas, brown rice flour, and more stuff. It’s found in lots of leftovers because cooking certain foods and then cooling them down helps to create it.

There are different types. All forms fight against being digested in the human digestive tract, which means that they help fight against weight gain as well as boost consistent blood sugar levels.

They are also supposed to help fight against bad bacteria in the gut (as in the evil Candida that causes so many problems).

From Today’s Dietitian: 
"As their name suggests, resistant starches are starches that resist digestion in the small intestine. Their definition is “the sum of starch and products of starch degradation not absorbed in the small intestine of healthy individuals.”2 Starch polymers are present in granules in plants and exist as either a straight chain (amylose) or a branched chain (amylopectin). The structure of both the granules and polymer chains affect the starch’s digestibility, making some more digestible than others. 
Resistant starches are classified according to structure or source, as follows2,3: 
• RS1 is physically inaccessible to digestive enzymes. Its sources include whole or partially milled grains, seeds, and legumes. 
• RS2 resists digestion because of the granule’s nature. Sources include raw potatoes, underripe bananas, some legumes, and high-amylose starches, such as high-amylose corn. 
• RS3 is produced in the cooking-cooling process. Sources include bread, tortillas, cooked and cooled potatoes, rice, and pasta. 
• RS4 is a chemically modified starch found in a wide range of products. 
Check out the full article from Today's Dietitian here.

Exciting news, isn’t it?

Read more in this May 2016 article by Samantha Olson published in Medical Daily, “How To Eat Carbs And Still Lose Weight: Resistant Starch Foods Improve Gut Bacteria.

September 26, 2016

Time Ladders in Planning:Thank You, Ben Franklin

This month, I'm pretty obsessed with Time Ladders.  I suppose the first one I saw was this one, created by Benjamin Franklin as he planned how he would spend his day.

You can find it here, in the free online version of his Autobiography, provided by (see pp. 68-69):

However, there are different ways to build a Time Ladder, and different uses for it.  I'm discovering that they really help me in planning out how much time a project should take, from research to final draft, among other things.  

For more examples, check out "time ladders" as a search in Pinterest or Instagram.  

September 25, 2016

Free Public Domain Image No. 4 - Encouraging Word


I created this image using Canva's free service and I release it into the public domain.

This file is in public domain, not copyrighted, no rights reserved, free for any use. You can use this picture for any use including commercial purposes without the prior written permission and without fee or obligation.

PSALM 46:1

Scripture source is the World English Bible - a version placed into the public domain. 

September 21, 2016

Will OTC Dog Relaxants Help My Pup’s Fear of Thunderstorms?

My senior dog has developed a terror of thunderstorms. Will a dog relaxant help him? 

I’ve written before about my old boy and how he has developed a real fear of thunderstorms in his senior years. He paces, he shakes a bit, and it’s very disturbing to him and to those who love him.

 This is a big concern here in our neck of the woods, because we get something called “super cell thunder storms,” which bring with them heavy rain and high winds along with lots of booming thunder and lightning strikes.

Supercell near Teague, 04-25-2011
2011 Supercell Thunderstorm near Teague, Texas 
When one passes through, my pup is hearing not only the thunder itself but the sound of the wind whipping through the trees, and things getting bounced around outside. Like patio furniture, or trash cans, or tree branches.

Recently, I heard about something called “dog relaxants” made from natural ingredients and by they sound great. After lots of investigating I’ve ordered some and we're going to get them a shot.

Dog Relaxants: Big Variety of Products 

Will they help him? We’ll see – the next time that there’s a big band of yellow and red and purple storms on the South Texas radar, we’re going to give them a try.

There are lots of different recipes out there. I ordered one that is liquid and another that comes in easy to dispense chew treats. The Lord only knows how I’m going to get those liquid dropper doses down this boy; he’s very stubborn and cranky!

Maybe I won’t have to worry about it – maybe the chews will do the job.

What are Dog Relaxants? 

Now, these are not heavy duty drugs. They won’t make him sleepy or knock him out. They’re supposed to take the edge off a bit. I’ve read all the reviews and researched the ingredients and purchased products made in the United States from companies that I trust.

He has a Thundershirt. I have found that tying one of my old long-sleeve tee shirts around his neck works better for him. This does help him some but it does not do all that much. He’ll pace around the house with the shirt tied around him. It looks adorable, but I don’t think he appreciates it as a fashion statement.

So, fingers crossed. Especially since we’re apparently getting an active hurricane season this year. 

September 19, 2016

5 Things to Help Make Paper Planners Fun and Productive

Last week, I talked about my path to “planner peace,” and the variety of paper planners and time management systems I have tried along the way.

One of the key reasons that I use paper planners is because I enjoy using them, for all sorts of reasons. There’s the feel of the ink flowing on the paper as I write; the control I have over the colors (I like color-coding); even the weight of the paper itself has a bearing on the experience of working with a paper planner.

Paper Planning Works Better for Me Than Online Productivity Systems

The bigger deal: having the siren song of creativity helps me stay on schedule. It’s more fun for me to use a bullet journal combined with a Happy Planner than it ever was for me to insert information into an online program.

I’m easily pleased, I suppose, but having those little squares in the Tracker that I fill in with different colors of ink every day when I’ve accomplished a task? That’s enough to make me do the task, and enough to make me stay current in my time management, too.

5 Fun Things That Keep Me Dedicated to My Planners and Time Management

Here are five things that help me with that creative spin on scheduling my days and weeks:

Pilot FriXion Erasable Gel Pens 

When a friend recommended these pens to me, I smiled politely and thought “no way.”

Why? They are erasable, and I’ve had lots of bad experiences with erasable ink. It didn’t work. Or it worked but to get rid of the ink, you were likely to tear the paper.

Not with these. I love the Pilot FriXion Gel Pens. They don’t write as deep or dark as other pens, that’s what you’re giving up by using them. But it’s well worth it in my book, because heck – they’re ERASABLE.  

Washi Tape 

I love using washi tape on my monthly and weekly calendars, as well as in my Bullet Journal. I divide the weekend from the weekdays; I block big project deadlines; you get the idea.

Heck, I’ve used Washi Tape in my Bible – I have put tape around the entire edge of the pages for the first page of Psalms, Proverbs, Genesis, Matthew, and Revelation because it’s a great index tool.

That red in the back of the book? I know it’s the first page of Revelation. The blue one? That’s Psalms.


There’s a mad, mad world out there for you if you like stickers for your planners. Etsy Shops have all sorts of inviting stickers, dedicated to specific planners and their sizes. Erin Condren? Go find your Erin Condren sized stickers there. Ditto for Filofax, Kikki K, all lots more.

Me, I’ve stuck with Amazon and Hobby Lobby so far. And I’m playing around with making some of my own using sticker paper that I can feed through my printer.

You can get Calendar Reminder Stickers (birthdays, etc.) if you like. Me, I like stickers that have “to do lists,” flags, and other references which allow me to write whatever I want on them. I’d rather have a blank sticker where I write “Bill’s Birthday” than have a sticker with Birthday already printed on it. That’s just me.  

Clear Plastic Ruler 

I need a ruler because I like my lines to be sharp. Having a clear plastic ruler lets me see where I’m going with my pen.

The shorter six inch ruler works better for me in my Bullet Journal, which is a Moleskine.

Markers and Gel Pens for Color 

As for markers, some people love Sharpies, but not me. Not for my Planners, it’s too easy for them to bleed through the paper or at least leave a heavy shadow. Instead, I like Bic highlighters that I can get at my local HEB grocery store. Nothing fancy.

When I want to highlight with color, they work just fine. And I also like to use Gel Pens to add color, too. I have one of those sets that they sell for adult coloring books, and it has come in very handy in my Bullet Journal (and in my Bible Art).

September 18, 2016

Free Public Domain Image No. 3 - Encouraging Word

I created this image using Canva's free service and I release it into the public domain.

This file is in public domain, not copyrighted, no rights reserved, free for any use. You can use this picture for any use including commercial purposes without the prior written permission and without fee or obligation.

1 Timothy 6:12

Scripture source is the World English Bible - a version placed into the public domain. 

September 14, 2016

Cursive Handwriting vs Typing Your Words

Cursive handwriting may be old school, but it’s something I love to do and it’s got scientific backing for having cognitive benefits, as well. 

Most of my day is spent using a keyboard. In fact, I have a special mechanical keyboard that I use with my desktop for most of my work. It has a fun clicking sound as I type, which is nice. More importantly, it is designed to fight fatigue for those who type for long periods of time.

Does it work? I think it helps. I like it. This does not mean that I prefer typing over using a pen and paper. I like both, and when I am writing by hand I appreciate that I am adept at writing in cursive. Sad to think that cursive handwriting is not being taught in schools any longer.

Palmer Method alphabet
Example of the Palmer Method of Cursive Handwriting

Benefits of Cursive Handwriting 

There are lots of good arguments for writing in cursive. For me, the benefits are personal but there are lots of educators, psychologists, and researchers who argue that handwriting, particularly cursive or script handwriting, benefits the human brain.

Why I Like Cursive Handwriting 

  • It’s faster than printing your words.  Personally, I like cursive handwriting for the purpose given to me long ago by my teachers: it is a faster way to get thoughts down on paper when you are writing by hand. That’s true. (Sure, typing is faster than both.) 
  • It’s also pretty. I like using cursive handwriting in thank you notes, birthday cards, etc. It also makes my planners look nice. 
  • It’s great to use in brain dumps. When I am trying to dump all sorts of random thoughts down on paper, I appreciate cursive handwriting. It may lose some of its beauty with the speed, but it works well when I’m fighting to get control over all that junk in my head by getting it down on paper. 
  • It’s nice to use in my journals. I have been journaling all my life, it seems. Diaries, if you will. I have tried to journal online, but it’s not the same. Writing down entries in my journal suits me, it seems more personal maybe. Or it’s just one more excuse to use a nice pen. (I admit to being a pen addict.) 

The Science of Handwriting and Your Brain 

However, these are just my reasons for using cursive handwriting. From some news stories I’ve collected over the years, it appears that there are some scientific reasons to use cursive handwriting, too.

For instance, from the Neuroscience section of The Guardian, an interesting article discussing how cursive handwriting may have an impact on how we learn – including how we read and assimilate information.

And in Mental Floss, coverage of the trend to return handwriting back to the classroom, after Common Core removed any kind of handwriting instruction (print or script) from schools. Why? Cursive handwriting helps you learn as it connects your motor skills (what your hand is doing) with your mental thought processes (what you’re thinking) in ways that typing does not.

More discussion on the connection between cursive handwriting and cognitive abilities in the following articles:

Why Writing by Hand Could Make You Smarter,” by William R. Klemm, Ph.D., published in Psychology Today;

How Handwriting Trains the Brain: Forming Letters Is Key to Learning, Memory, Ideas,” by Gwendolyn Bounds, published by the Wall Street Journal; and

What’s Lost as Handwriting Fades,” by Maria Konnikova, published in the New York Times.

How to Write in Cursive Handwriting 

Wanna try it?  If you didn’t learn cursive in school, or if you are very rusty, then surf around for online instruction. For instance, there are some nice practice worksheets provided online at HandwritingWorksheets.

September 12, 2016

Choosing the Kind of Paper Planner for Managing Your Time: My Road to Planner Peace

Time Management Tools: I prefer the old school paper and pen approach.

Productivity and time management are popular topics these days – but most of the stuff that I read on the web has to do with software.  Calendars like those offered by Google; task lists and project management that can be coordinated between phones and laptops through online tools like Trello or Asana.

Sure, I use Google Calendar.  I like it.  However, when it comes to keeping track of my time, from my calendar for the week or month, to how I will be spending my day, I prefer to use pen and paper. 

That’s right.   I use a physical planner made of paper, and I don’t use a time management system that appears on a screen. 

Why I Like Paper Planners Instead of Online Time Management Tools

Why a paper planner?  I enjoy them.   It’s fun to use a paper planner.  Fine!  Okay.  I love pens.  

Pens!!!  Blue ink, black ink, green, red, or purple: always a fine point, preferably an extra fine.  I like to write as much or more as I like to type. 

Plus I like buying pens.  Using planners is another reason to feed my pen habit.   

Some people like shoes, I like pens. 

However, I do think that working with a paper planner works better for me.  It makes me stop and think in more detail about how I will be spending my time – it’s too easy for me to type in an entry here or there and keep going without much thought.

Writing the events into the paper planner’s calendar makes them more of a commitment, somehow.  

Deciding how I am going to delegate my 10 hour work day between three rush projects is less stressful for me when I’m using pen and paper. 

Maybe I’m strange in this; maybe not.  I just know what works best for me, and it’s not keeping track of time on a computer screen. 

Different Kinds of Paper Planners and Finding Planner Peace

Not that dedicating myself to paper planners for my time management has been the end of the road in decision-making here.  Nope.

Why?  For me, once I got to the stage of deciding I would be using a paper planner, then I had to decide which kind of paper planner I wanted, and which system I preferred.

There’s a phrase to describe this process:  it’s the search for “planner peace.” 

And I’ve learned that if you do find your planner peace, don’t get comfortable – as time goes on and your life evolves, that peace may evaporate and you’ll be back on the hunt again. 

Not to say this doesn’t have its perks. For one thing, you may have more excuses (ahem, reasons) to buy fun things like stickers … and pens!!!

6 Kinds of Paper Planners - My Reviews

There are all sorts of paper planners out there.  Here are six that I’ve personally tested and liked, for various reasons.

Franklin Covey Planner

I used a Franklin Planner for many, many years.  The most that I ever did was change the size.  I’ve had them all: Classic, Pocket, Compact, and Monarch.  The key thing about using a Franklin Planner is the system it provides:  you are working with a planning system set up to sync with Stephen Covey’s book 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.  

You can use these paper planners without reading the book or going to the Franklin Covey classes, sure, but these planners work best if you understand them as tools for this approach to time management.

What I like best about these planners:  the time sheet feature, where you can keep track of your day as it progresses.  Reminds me of my years as a Baby Lawyer, writing down my time on my time sheet each afternoon before I left the office. 

DayRunner Planner

The Day Runner Planners are designed to compete with Franklin Covey.  They cost less.  Similar additions are available for purchase, too: things like contact Information lists; lined paper pads; pocket dividers; etc.

You can get them at your local office supply store, which is really convenient.  (And it’s so near their pen aisle.)

BlueSky Planner

When I first veered away from Franklin Covey-esque Planners, and I admit to feeling a bit rebellious in doing so, I bought a Blue Sky Planner at Border’s Book Store.  Since Border’s is long gone, that should give you a hint on how long ago this happened, right?

Mine was pink.  It was pretty. 

How did it work for me?  Well, it was a change. Here, there’s a spiral ring binder system holding your planner’s inner workings together.  No ring binder like the Franklin Planner, which I did come to miss.  I like adding things into my planner – it’s not the same to clip or tape something into a spiral bound planner as it is to punch holes and insert it into the rings.  I like that.   

However, I did enjoy the ease of use here.  Less muss and fuss.  I didn’t have to ask myself if I was “SharpeningMy Saw” (a key component of the Franklin system). 

However, it didn’t offer me a daily time sheet and I missed it.  Plus, I started making my own To Do Lists on separate paper (or index cards), which I clipped into the Blue Sky Planner.  That got bulky and hard to control.

So, my search continued.

Tools for Wisdom Planner

My next step in my search for planner peace was a Tools4Wisdom Planner.

I bought this one off of Amazon after searching online about planners for a bit.  It seemed to combine what I liked about the Franklin, which is the ability to keep track of my time during the day, with the more informal and light approach to time management.

It had pretty graphics with inspirational quotes, for instance.  

And while it was another spiral binder, I was willing to get it a try.

I don’t think it lasted the year.  

Happy Planner

After the Tools for Wisdom fiasco, I tried using online time management tools for a bit.  It didn’t feel right for me.  I wanted to go back to paper, but not to Franklin Covey – though I was leaning toward returning to them when I discovered the Happy Planner.

For many, a Happy Planner is a less expensive alternative to an Erin Condren planner.  I get that.  

However, I was none too sure about using one of these whimsical planners, where a new world of stickers and washi tape (what, washi tape?!! Oh my!!! Fun stuff!!!) was open to me.

I suppose you could put some washi tape on a Franklin Covey planner, and I did try it.  It felt bad.  It just seemed wrong somehow.

But washi tape on a Happy Planner?  Zowie!  That was fun.  Stickers on a Happy Planner?  Ditto.

I bought a Happy Planner with a coupon at Hobby Lobby for around ten bucks.  That's simple living, folks ... and I was happy right off the bat, when I compared that price tag to a comparable Erin Condren! (Not that they aren't nice, of course.)

I'm so grateful for that Happy Planner.  I learned that having this planner freed me somehow, allowed me to be creative in building my monthly plan, or weekly plan.  

This was fun, and it brought me back to that planner more and more often just because it was a pleasure to work with all this creative stuff.  I used it more.  I got more done.  That's key.  

Now, Happy Planners don’t have a time sheet function.  That’s a problem.  However, they do come in a format that breaks each day into “morning,” “afternoon,” and “evening,” which I like.  So it has time blocks, but not the actual hours. 

There are horizontal spreads and vertical spreads (I prefer the vertical).  And they do have a nifty ring-binder like method of holding the pages together.  See those gold gizmos on the side in the image?  Martha Stewart likes these gizmos, she sells a planner version with its disc-binding at Staple's, I believe.  

As for the Happy Planners, they do make me happy.  I still use one today, but they aren’t the ones that I think are bringing me planner peace.  At least, not by themselves.  

For that, I’m able to pick up just about any paper notebook because I’ve discovered Bullet Journaling.

Bullet Journaling with a Moleskine

Today, I have a blue Moleskine notebook that I call my “Blue Brain” and here I track my goals, my projects, the meals I eat, well … just about everything.  I use all sort of pens here, and I get to try out my cursive handwriting as well as doodles, too. 

I have a second basic notebook, leather and a Moleskine-wannabe, that I use specifically for my daily stuff.  Each day, day by day, is recorded in here. 

My month at a glance remains in my Happy Planner.  Ditto my Week at a Glance.

But the guts of my day gets recorded using the bullet journaling method.  This includes diary entries as need be. 

Keeping track of all my personal stuff that I will need over time goes in the Blue Brain. 

This is working for me … for now.  

Have I achieved planner peace?  Maybe I have.  I think so.

September 11, 2016

Free Public Domain Image No. 2 - Encouraging Word

I created this image using Canva's free service and I release it into the public domain.

This file is in public domain, not copyrighted, no rights reserved, free for any use. You can use this picture for any use including commercial purposes without the prior written permission and without fee or obligation.

Philippians 4:6 

Scripture source is the World English Bible - a version placed into the public domain. 

September 7, 2016

Mosquito Gizmo That Works: ThermaCell Mosquito Repeller Review

This Mosquito Device Is Working Great on Our Texas Patio 

This spring, we saw lots of storms here in South Texas. Big Texas Thunderstorms, with thunder and lightning and drenching downpours. 

They come and go fast here – it’s true that if you don’t like the weather in Texas, just wait 30 minutes. It’ll change.

One thing, though. As soon as those storms come with all that rain we can count on one thing not changing: the skeeters’ arrival. They were really, really bad this June.

On the phone, I was comparing how bad things were here in San Antonio to the mosquito problem a friend was having over in Miami. We couldn’t decide which was worse (this was pre-Zika).

So, I surfed around on Amazon and found this cute little “mosquito repeller” for a nice price. And it was pink. How could I not give it a try?

I Ordered a Pink Thermacell Mosquito Repellent 


It was really easy to put together and it was silent as it sat on our black metal patio table that evening. Key here, though, is that it WORKED.

I would turn it on about 15 minutes before we were going to go outside. Morning or evening (I like to start my day at dawn, out on the patio if weather permits).

And no skitters! Now, there were still flies. It doesn’t stop the flies from buzzing around my coffee cup.

This Thing Really Worked: It Kept the Skeeters Away

There’s also the need to buy replacement butane cartridges as well as the little “repellant mats” that you slide behind the gizmo’s grill. (It works by heating the “mats” which release an odor that the mosquitos hate. You can’t smell it.)

Lesson to remember: You need to turn off the device when you’re done sitting outside. This will keep your little butane burner supply around a lot longer.

I made the mistake of forgetting to turn it off because I was busy blabbing with a friend who popped in to visit, and when I returned to my little oasis, I was out of fuel. About thirty minutes later, the skitters were back and I was online, reordering a refill pack.

September 5, 2016

What are Dollar Tree Hauls?

I’m addicted to watching Dollar Tree Hauls on YouTube.  Here’s why.

Right off the bat, you have to know about Dollar Tree before this will make any sense to you.  And you have to know that I’m an enthusiastic fan of this chain of stores. 

I’ve been shopping at Dollar Tree for years. 

I can’t remember when I first entered into a Dollar Tree store, but I know that I was writing about making homemade dishwashing soap using stuff from Dollar Tree back in July 2006.  

Yikes! That was over ten years ago!  Wow. 

And as a long time shopper at Dollar Tree, I can confirm that shopping there gets better as time passes – something I don’t know that I can say about some of the other places where I spend my money.  You?

Example?  Back in September 2013, I was excited to find really great books at my local Dollar Tree. Good stuff, not strange topics by unknown authors.   

I remember being soooo excited to find several Janet Evanovich paperbacks there – I really love her Stephanie Plum series.  Well, most of it.  But that’s another topic, for another day.  Plum series lovers know what I’m talking about here ….

What is Dollar Tree?

Dollar Tree is a national chain of stores where every product sold is priced at $1.00.  That’s right: One Dollar. 

There are competitors out there that have Dollar in their name, but they don’t have the same deal once you go inside.  They will have products that cost more than a buck.

Two big selling points for me and my Dollar Tree loyalty:  first, the stuff that they sell isn’t junky or dirty or dusty on the shelves.  Many of the Dollar Tree items are good quality.  You can find name brands there, too.

For instance, their web site is promoting Betty Crocker Food Storage Containers with Lids this week, for $1.00 per pack.  And there’s an in-store special of Top Ramen five-packs for a dollar, in case your kids (or you) want to try Kylie Jenner’s Ramen recipe with garlic salt and butter.

The second selling point for me:  most of these stores are clean and tidy, with helpful clerks, and well-stocked shelves.  Not all of them, but almost all of them.  And they are located in nice shopping strips or centers, with good lighting and ample parking space.

So, now that you have the warning that I’m a big Dollar Tree fan and what Dollar Tree is selling, let’s get to the Dollar Tree Hauls.

Hauls of Dollar Tree Stuff on YouTube

Dollar Tree Hauls have been around for a while -- at least a year.  I stumbled upon them on YouTube after I added the YouTube channel on my Roku Streaming Device. 

These are short videos (anywhere from a couple of minutes to around 20 minutes long) where real people are showing you the bargains that they’ve found at their local Dollar Tree. 

Some of these folk go there every single day – or pretty close to it.  Some of them upload Hauls every so often, maybe with a theme (School Supplies at Dollar Tree) or with reviews (products they or their families love, like Joanne DelBalso’s family addiction to Dollar Tree pretzels with cheese). 

3 August 2016 Dollar Tree Haul Videos on YouTube

Here are a few of the Haulers who shop their local Dollar Trees that I watch on a pretty regular basis.  

One is shopping on the East Coast, one on the West Coast; it’s interesting to see what they are finding that isn’t in my San Antonio store.  Sometimes, it’s a hint to be on the lookout for something that is coming in the next couple of weeks.

Now, these three videos are just a sample – surf “Dollar Tree Hauls” on YouTube for yourself, and see what you find. 

September 4, 2016

Free Public Domain Image No. 1 - Encouraging Word

I created this image using Canva's free service and I release it into the public domain.

This file is in public domain, not copyrighted, no rights reserved, free for any use. You can use this picture for any use including commercial purposes without the prior written permission and without fee or obligation.

2 Samuel 22:31 

Scripture source is the World English Bible - a version placed into the public domain. 

July 26, 2016

God Is Speaking: Another Tool In The Battle Against All This Bad, Depressing News

I stumbled across a video by Anne Graham Lotz on YouTube yesterday and it was comforting to hear that she was feeling exhausted from all the bad news being reported these days, too.

As I discussed in my last post, I'm declining that invitation to be bummed and depressed from all these evil reports by trying to laugh more and working hard to find things to laugh about -- in my day, on the screen.

Stephen Wright had me laughing last night.  So did Jeanne Robertson.

Gotta find the funny in each day, it's important!

And I've signed up for Anne Graham Lotz's "God is Speaking" program as she discusses below -- for the first eight days in August, listening to the Word for two 30-minute segments, and focusing on what God is saying.

You can sign up too, if you're interested (or if you just want to learn more about what is being offered) at the God is Speaking website.

Here's the Anne Graham Lotz video:

July 21, 2016

Jeanne Robertson Is Really Hilarious and I Need a Good Laugh These Days

I don't know about you, but the daily news is getting downright overwhelmingly depressing for me these days.

And it's not like reporting really bad news is a trend.  I remember those daily Vietnam War casualty reports given by Walter Cronkite, and my mother crying over them.  And all those assassinations: JFK, RFK, MLK Jr. ....

My 8th grade health teacher, Mrs. Barnes, was famous around our middle school because she had an official Bomb Shelter in her house, in case of the Big One.  And she was serious about it.  She and her family were ready.

And I bet you remember where you were when the Space Shuttle Columbia exploded in mid-air, against a bright blue sky, killing all 7 crew members.  Such a sad day.

So, no, horrible and heart-wrenching news stories are not some recent development -- but it sure seems different to me today.

I feel bombarded by badness, like evil is having a Heyday.  I wonder if you feel it too. 

Right now, I limit myself to checking online news once or twice a day -- but that's because I need to keep my work schedule and not get sidetracked surfing the web.  When I visit my preferred news sites, I leave them weary and worn-out.  You?

Recently, I began thinking about having a No News Weekend -- just avoid any news stories for 48 hours.  Because I really could use a breather.

Maybe I'll do that.  Maybe I won't ... it seems wrong somehow, irresponsible.

I Have Discovered Jeanne Robertson

But there is one thing that I am doing to help me feel better in these dark and depressing days, and that is finding ways to have a good laugh.

And thanks to You Tube, I have discovered Jeanne Robertson.

She's hilarious!  Added bonus: you'd feel safe having your grandmother or your baby granddaughter listening with you as watch her stuff.

Truly gifted.  Why don't more people know about her?  Why isn't she setting on talk show couches?  I dunno.

But I'm very thankful she's got lots of YouTube videos available for me to watch.  Because I need a good laugh, and Jeanne Robertson knows how to be funny.

Watch this one as an example:

June 20, 2016

I Have a Very Old Dog and I Don't Know How Long We Have Left.

I have a very old dog.  His paws are solid white now, along with his neck and jaw.  The rest of him remains black.

He's frail.  He has arthritis.  It's a slow walk now, not a fast run.

We play catch the ball in the yard now, not fetch.  Well, sometimes we do a little bit of fetch, so he will walk a bit.  But it's far from the young days, where he was speedy and quick.  I wonder if he remembers being that way, if he dreams about it still.

If you have an old dog, you'll understand.  This is such a bittersweet time.

Because I know what's coming.  I've been through this before.

It's my job now to be strong and sturdy and solid for him, because this keeps him feeling safe.  All day long, he wants to be near me.  On his bed at night, he will periodically look around, just to make sure I'm there.

For so many years, I know that he has thought of his job as being my protector.  And now, it's my turn to protect him and keep him feeling safe.

There's not room in his world for me to be sad or scared or fretful.  So I can't be any of those things.

I must be strong and confident.  I must be fun and happy.

We had a bad episode recently.  There were a series of thunderstorms that came through here.  Bad ones, lots of thunder and lightning.  When he was young, this didn't bother him.

About a year ago, he started to be scared of storms.  Terrified of the sound of thunder.

So, he was facing night after night of the terrors, and then the roof leaked and a strange man had to come by to fix it.  The back door became so swollen that it wouldn't shut fully and lock; another strange repairman had to come into his world.  Stranger Scents in the house, on the back porch, in his yard.

Two strange dogs got loose in all these storms and kept running up and down the alley, causing my old boy no end of distress.

And then I went off to the grocery store.  I wasn't gone that long, maybe an hour, but I could hear him howling as the garage door rose.  Now, my boy never makes a sound.  The only time I've heard him howl was the night after we had to put his baby sister to sleep last year.

So I knew he thought I was gone, like his sister.

And for the past two weeks, he's been recuperating from that stress.  At first, it was hard for him to get to his feet.  He barely ate that first night.  He slept a lot.

Today, things are better.  He's bounced back but not all the way.

And here's the thing I want to share with you, Dear. Reader.  Not the sadness or the grieving or the tears that I am fighting against.

It's the beauty of all this.  The lessons that he's teaching me in all this.

Things like:

This is how you live life to be happy.  You take the day.  You take the morning.  You take the afternoon.

And you look for the beauty in it.  The face of a smiling dog.  The sun on the leaves of a tree. The heat of the sun on your face, or the smell of freshly brewed coffee.

You must relish life.  A bite at a time.

I thank God for the blessing of being entrusted with the spirit that lives in this dog's body.  I am honored.

January 11, 2016

Ricky's for Dog Arthritis: Ricky Litchfield Dog Anti-Inflammatories Are Almost a Miracle

This past Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving, was a cold, wet, and rainy day here in San Antonio.  

My old boy was hurting -- and hurting badly.

I had resorted to giving him baby aspirin, which I hate to do because it's so bad on his digestion.  It didn't help much.  The natural pain pills (Aches & Pains) did less.

My Arthritic Dog Was In Lots of Pain 

He had trouble getting up.  Standing, his tail curled under his butt and you could tell he was in pain.  He huddled near me wherever I went.  No smiley faces.

He would venture out only as far as necessary to do his business in the yard, and then scoot back inside.  To lay near me, wherever I was.

He ate little.  He turned down treats.  He stood or he laid down.  No sitting.  Toys? Forget it.

I was so upset, I thought I might be losing him.  He was one month away from his 13th birthday.

So, I went online to see what I could find.  And I prayed a bit (a lot!) while I was at it.

And I found Ricky Litchfield pills online, at  The customer reviews were so encouraging!  The ingredients seemed to make sense.  (They are Buchu Oil and Salmon Oil - go check them out.)

And they had a vet who was there to answer your questions via e-mail.  A vet.  A real, live vet.  Wo Nellie.

So I ordered Ricky's on a rush delivery and that next day, Saturday, my beloved boy got his first dose of Ricky's.

It's January 11th now, so it's been around six weeks.  I CANNOT TELL YOU HOW BIG A DIFFERENCE THESE PILLS HAVE MADE FOR MY DOG.

Results From Six Weeks on Ricky's Arthritis Pills Have Been Amazing

These have truly been a life saver.  Today, my pup and I played fetch outside in the yard.  We're back to doing this all the time!

  • He has a better appetite that he's had in years.  
  • His fur is thick and smooth and glossy.  
  • He smiles all the time.
  • He's waking me up, not to go outside to pee or poop, but because he's ready to play and start the day.  
  • He's gone and found a green ball that he hid Lord Knows When (or Where) and now we're playing with it, as well as his stuffed squeaky toy.  
  • He rolls in the grass.  
  • He chases squirrels.  
  • He jumps into the back seat of the car again -- and we're bouncing along the path at the park now.  (We're walking at the park again!) 

Part of a Plan -- But a True Answered Prayer

Now, this isn't the only thing that my boy gets.  He gets really good food that I cook for him.  No grains.  He gets a probiotic daily.  He gets vitamins and he gets Osteo pills with gluco, perna, etc.  

But I am thanking God every day for these Ricky's pills.  They are a God Send.  

I share this with you Dear Reader, in case you are investigating how to help your arthritic pup, too.  I lost a beloved pup at 10 years to Rimadyl-produced liver cancer -- I won't go near Rimadyl.

January 4, 2016

Legal Stuff

This is boring legal stuff that applies both to my Everyday Simplicity web site as well as my Everyday Simplicity blog.  Just so you know ….

It’s All Me.

I own both this web site and blog and I am the only person who contributes to them.  If you visit or shop here (I have plans to sell stuff on the web site at some point), then you accept the following terms and conditions.  Please read this information; hopefully, most of the annoying legalese has been edited out.  I’ve tried, at least.


I am in Texas.  The laws of the State of Texas apply to all that I do here, and by visiting my site or my blog, you agree that the laws of the Lone Star State apply, as well, should any controversy arise between us.  Heaven forbid, right?


I am providing information here that I think may help you because it’s helped me.  Information regarding living a simple lifestyle, with all that entails.

Everything provided on my web site and blog is provided on an “as is” basis, and I’m not making any representations or warranties, expressed or implied, about the operation of the site or blog or any of the information, content, or products included or referenced here.   

If you use my site or blog, then I hope you enjoy it and find it helpful to you as you simplify your life.  However, I’m not giving you any guarantees here.  By reading my site or blog, you are expressly agreeing that your use of the blog or site is in your wheelhouse and at your own risk.  I’m not your doctor, your lawyer, your therapist, or your grandma.

Insofar as all applicable law allows, I disclaim all warranties, express or implied, that this site, or its servers, or any email sent by me, is free from viruses or other evil and harmful things.  I will not be liable for any damages of any kind arising from the use of the site or the blog.

Now, as for as the substance of the stuff found on my site or blog, I research things and try to be as accurate as possible.  Still, we’re all only human and so here’s my legal lingo on this issue:
I do not represent nor do I endorse the accuracy of any of the information found on my site or blog, and this includes the information that can be found on any site or blog that is linked in my content.  
The information contained in or accessed from any hyperlinked location is out of my control and I am in no way warranting what those site owners or bloggers are doing or may have done with their stuff.  Anyone reading my site or blog acknowledges that if they rely on the stuff that they find on third party sites as hyperlinked in my content is at their sole risk. 

Privacy Policy

I do not collect information here like some other sites or bloggers choose to do, using services like FeedBlitz, for instance.  I do not provide newsletters.  I do not collect personal information and I do not have any kind of mailing list database.   If you send a comment that may have too much personal information from my perspective, then I may edit that personal stuff out of the comment before it’s published to protect your privacy. 

Using Content Found on my Site or Blog


1.      Copyright

All the content placed on either the website or the blog – and this means the written content as well as the graphics, images, data compilations, you get the idea, is my property.  I own it. 

It is protected by the copyright laws of the United States as well as those copyright laws established in other countries.  It’s exciting to think I have readers in other countries and therefore need to mention international copyright laws.  Love that. 

If I have released something into the public domain, then this will be clearly stated and explained in the blog post, or on the web site page. 

2.     Licensure

I’m fine with your personal use of the content on my web site and blog and I officially grant you the limited license to access my site and blog and read the stuff and maybe even save some of it for your own self.  That’s cool, I like the idea that some of this stuff will help you and you want to save it!

However, I have been the victim of thieves taking my stuff and then selling it as their own stuff and that’s not right.  Even worse, I’ve had scoundrels take my content and then put it into pdfs and send those puppies out to try and entice people to download those things, which are traps for their malware or other evil plans. 

So, here is the official legal lingo that points to that sort of evildoing:  I do not grant a license to anyone to take my stuff and modify it, even a part of it, unless they have my written consent on a paper document and my official pen and ink okey dokey to do so.

I do not license anyone to reproduce, copy, duplicate, sell, resell, or in any other way use or exploit for their for-profit or commercial purpose anything on either my web site or blog.  I do not license any downloading or copying of anything found on the site or blog for your own commercial use, period. 

Comment Policy

Comments are great.  Love them.  However, I hate spam and trolls, too.  So I have things set up so I have to approve comments before they appear on the web site or blog.  Anyone is welcome to comment, submit suggestions, reviews, ideas, new info, etc. and questions are always great. 

However, I reserve the right to edit the stuff that appears on my web site and blog.  This means that I reserve the right to omit and not publish anything submitted that is illegal, vile, obscene, threatening,  hateful, or objectionable, and this includes (legal verbiage warning) submissions that are or may be defamatory, invasive of someone’s privacy, possibly infringing on someone else’s copyright or trademark, or in some other way potentially harmful to third parties.

This reservation of my rights also includes the right not to publish on my site any submissions that have or may include software viruses, political stuff, advertising aka commercial solicitation, mass mailing, or other things that you might consider to be “spam.”

If I think you are using a phony email address, then I reserve my right not to publish your submission.  In fact, if I think that your submission is in misleading in any way as to your real identity and purpose, then I reserve the right not to publish it. 

As for comments that do get published, by submitting your stuff you are allowing me an irrevocable, non-exclusive, free, and perpetual, right to use that submission on my site and blog, which includes my ability to publish it, modify or change it (for instance, to remove personal information and protect your privacy), translate it, distribute it, and display the content throughout the world in any media. 

This includes the right to use your name as you submitted it with your comment.  You are warranting that the stuff you submit is your stuff, and that you own the rights to that comment’s content.  If you have been sneaky and it’s not really yours, then you will indemnify me for any and all claims that might result from your bad acts here. 

Bottom line, I cannot and do not take responsibility and I assume no legal liability for any comments or other submissions that are posted and published here that come from any third party.

Also, if you try one of my recipes, that’s great!  But cooking in your place and being safe is up to you and at your discretion.  I will not be legally liable for any harm or injury suffered by someone who uses a recipe found on my site or blog, whatever the cause. 

Same goes for trying out any spices or supplements or dog stuff that you read about on my site or blog.  Try this stuff and use it at your own discretion and after you’ve done your own research.  I will not be legally liable for any harm or injury suffered by someone or their pet using a product recommended or discussed on my site or blog, whatever the cause. 


If you have any questions on any of these things – or about anything else related to my web site or blog, then please feel free to get in touch with me and ask!  The current contact information will be located in the Contact information sections of the web site and blog.  (Same stuff in two places.)

Changing Stuff

I reserve the right to change my mind.  I may change anything on the site or blog and that includes this Legal Stuff from time to time.  (Legally, I’m reserving my right to modification.)

And if anything here (including the Legal Stuff) is found to be invalid, void, or otherwise not legally enforceable for some reason, then that specific part of the site or blog, will be severed and removed but everything else on the site and blog will not be affected and will still be cool, i.e., it remains valid and enforceable. 

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