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My Five Biggest Distractions (and how I TRY to avoid them)



You know how it goes, you sit down at your desk to be all sorts of productive, then BAM it's two hours later and you've accomplished precious little. Is it just me? Anyone else? You can raise your hand, we will get distracted together. No, no we won't. All joking around aside, I tend to get hopelessly distracted so easily. My intentions are always good; doing homework, banging out a post, cleaning out my inbox. Somehow my mind all too often wanders. Here are my five biggest distractions, or time sucks as I call them, and ways I try to combat them.

1. Social Media
Social media and I have a love/hate relationship. It's such a useful tool for bloggers, freelancers, authors, and so many more. Social media is also my enemy, in a few ways.

  • If I need to post on Facebook or be more active on Twitter, I tend to get caught up in writing the "perfect" tweet, post, nugget of info, whatever. In my mind everyone else int he world is wittier, smarter, or more engaging, thus I obsess over getting it right. This is ridiculous, I realize it, but it often times doesn't slow my brain any. In an effort to combat this, I set a timer. I give myself so long to get my social media "business" done for the day, then call it quits. It gives me the kick in the butt I need to get things done and not make myself crazy.
  • When I'm not obsessing over not being a social media superstar (ha, ha, ha) I get sucked into the vortex of feed reading. Whether it's news on Twitter, friend's stories on Facebook, or the five million things I want to DIY on Pinterest (seriously do not get me started on Pinterest), I very, very easily get lost devouring info online. My solution to this is once again setting a timer, but I do it a little differently in this instance. I will only allow myself leisure social media browsing time once I've ticked three things off my to do list for the day. Generally this means homework, editing on a freelance piece, and replying to emails. It gives me a break as well as keeping me from spending to long dawdling on the interwebz.
2. Research
Research is great! Hang on, let me clarify, research for some things is great, but when it comes to research papers it can be kind of a drag. It's so easy for me to get lost looking up info that I am interested in. One would think this is good, and it can be, but other times I get so caught up in fact finding that it leaves very little time for actually taking what I've learned and putting it into action. My solution to this is to first outline exactly what it is I am looking for. Once I've found what it is I need, I stop. There's no need to keep looking and collecting a ton of information I do not need/will not use when doing so takes away from the time I could actually use to complete the project. No matter how interesting a subject is, there's no reason to distract myself from what I actually need to accomplish, at least that's what I keep telling myself.

3. Food
This is how it goes: sit down, work, get hungry. Simple, right? It should be for most people. At this point, the following things happen. 1. Go get something to eat. 2. Decide to clean the kitchen. 3. Decide the kitchen is not clean enough, so sweep, mop, do things that don't necessarily need done. 4. Thinking about food makes me think about dinner and how I have no plan. These thoughts bring on a month worth of meal planning. 5. What was it I was doing? Maybe I have adult ADD, it's entirely possible. My mind doesn't always work this way, but when it does, oh boy! If this chain of events doesn't happen, a trip to the kitchen will bring on a recipe search binge that will take up hours. Learning to combat this has meant implementing meal planning and prepping, as well as putting myself on a strict time schedule. If I plan ahead some it greatly helps keep this from happening.

4. Reading
Do you love to read? I sure do! Unfortunately, I do not get in much leisure reading these days. When I do manage to sneak in some reading time it's hard to tear myself away. Usually I am either taking away from time I need to have my nose in a textbook or when I should be sleeping. There is no telling how many hours of sleep I've lost with my "just one more page" or "I'll just finish this chapter" thinking. The main thing working against me here is that I feel guilty taking time to do something that's "not necessary". Taking care of this situation has meant adjusting my thinking some. I deserve time for me and taking some isn't wrong. So, on days I finish my work as I should, I carve out some time for me to read. The world doesn't stop when I do so and it's part of taking care of me. We all deserve some fun downtime. Once again, my timer comes tot he rescue. When my time is up, it's up and that's it. This keeps me from losing out on hours of sleep wrapped up in a Caroline Kepnes novel.

5. Disorganization
Okay, so this whole post basically could be titled disorganization, but oh well. Not having my ducks in a row is the surest way for me to get distracted. On days I actually write down a to do list staying focused is much easier for me. There is a sense of satisfaction in ticking things off a list, so it helps keep me motivated. Staying organized is such a broad idea, but it can mean a few simply things. Planning for the unexpected, knowing how to ward off and deal with distractions, and scheduling your day can work wonders. My solution is to make a list, have time dedicated to work, school, etc, and a set stop time for the end of this "work day". It's how I deal and if I am consistent, it works for me.

I've shared mine, so what about y'all? What are your biggest time sucks and how do you try to combat them?

Creamy Chicken Chowder Recipe


Do you love good, warm, comfort food on a cold winter's day? I sure do! In fact, adding soups, stews, chowders, and comforting casseroles to the menu is one of my favorite parts of winter. My absolute favorite recipes to warm us up are those that combine great flavor with affordability. This creamy chicken chowder recipe was thrown together by raiding my pantry and turned out to be a bowl of rich, delicious comfort food. Not only is it tasty, but it comes together rather quickly, making it a great choice for a weeknight dinner. I hope your family enjoys it as much as mine does!

Ingredients

1 lb boneless skinless chicken, cooked and shredded - Thighs, breasts, whatever you want to use works!
1/4 cup butter or margarine
1 large white onion, diced
1 teaspoon minced garlic - I use the refrigerated stuff in the jar.
1/4 cup all purpose flour
6 small potatoes, peeled and diced
1 can no salt added whole kernel corn, drained
4 medium carrots, peeled and sliced
6 cups chicken broth - I've used broth reserved after boiling chicken, store bought broth, and even water with chicken bouillon successfully. 
2 cups half and half - You can sub milk with no problem, your chowder just won't be as rich.
Salt and pepper to taste

Method

In a large pot, stir butter over medium heat until melted.Toss in onion and garlic, stirring and cooking until tender. Add in flour, stirring constantly until slightly browned, to make a roux. Pour in broth and continue stirring until well blended. 

Add carrots, potatoes, and seasoning, let the pot come to a boil. Lower heat to medium low, cooking about 20 minutes or until vegetables are tender, giving the pot an occasional stir. 

Stir in corn, half and half, cooked chicken, and corn. Reduce heat to simmer and cook another 15 to 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.

This is one of those recipes that you can add to and/or take away from depending on your tastes and what ingredients you have on hand. 

Inspired by and adapted from CookingClassy.com

Saving Cents



With the New Year comes a whole new set of goals, or if you are like me, old goals you didn't quite meet in the previous year. High on the list of most of my friends is saving more money in the new year. There are no shortage of suggested savings plans out there: the 52 week challenge, putting all your dimes away in a two liter bottle, squirreling away every five dollar bill that ends up in your hands. I have tried numerous savings methods over the years and none that I followed really worked for me. A few weeks would pass with me successfully saving, then something would derail me. Not dealing in cash, making very little money, unexpected emergencies, all those things and more would throw a hitch in my plans and my saving would stop or my stash of cash would have to be used for something. Many families are low income like we are and I am sure, also like me, think long term substantial saving is a near impossible goal.

This way of thinking was getting me nowhere, so I decided to change things up in 2017. Enter my newest saving strategy, the pickle jar. This thing is big, a glass pickle jar I picked up months ago at a yard sale with the intention of using it as a kitchen utensil holder. The mouth of the jar was a little narrower than I needed for the purpose I intended, so it ended up sitting on the counter a few days. During that time something magical happened, loose change started to accumulate. It happened without much effort or thought on our part, we'd just empty our pockets into the jar before tossing clothes into the laundry hamper. Once money appeared in there, none of us touched it. In my case it started as a matter of curiosity, wanting to see how much could accumulate before life threw a curve-ball necessitating raiding our jar. There's no thinking about it, counting out a certain amount of money to hide away, which is why I think this works for us. The jar has moved from the counter to the bookcase, but location doesn't seem to have hindered our habit of tossing coins there daily.

What's the point of this ramble about a change jar? Don't overthink it. Any savings is progress, even a small change can lead to a good habit. Don't stress that you aren't putting away $50 a week, especially if you truly cannot afford to do so. All you need to do is save SOMETHING. Change adds up and positive habits are positive habits despite the amount you sock away. Don't stress it, just do it. So far it's working for us.

Saving in the New Year: Getting Started With Coupons



As the New Year approaches, I've heard many folks say that saving is one of their top resolutions. Couponing is one way to save your family some cold, hard cash. You would be amazed at what some planning and coupon inserts can do to change your life. To give you some inspiration and get you pointed in the right direction, I've rounded up some of my posts from way back on how to get started clipping your way to savings. It is something I intend to embrace at full force once again in 2017. Good luck and happy shopping!

How Do You Save That Much?

I Don't Know Where To Start!

Know When To Hold 'Em, Know When To Shop

Thinking Out Loud



I've found myself discussing this blog often in the past week, so much so that is has me reminiscing. I started blogging so many years ago because I had figured out how to do something that was helping my family survive on a very meager income. We were barely getting by and I was doing anything I could to help better our circumstances. I learned to coupon, stockpile, shop smarter and cook smarter. Everything about how I ran our household changed. I wanted to share my knowledge with others like us, those who were living well beyond the poverty line. Those who could use skills like couponing to keep their families from going hungry. It worked. I helped people. It was an incredibly rewarding experience and I can honestly say looking back that I am proud of what I accomplished.

I fell off the wagon. My marriage imploded. Life completely turned on it's head. I made some not great choices, but I made my share of good ones as well. Like many who find their lives taking a completely new turn, I struggled. Sometimes I feel like I barely survived drowning. Somehow, I got my head on straight, pulled myself up by the bootstraps, and moved forward.

Here I am now. I am a single mom. A full time nanny. A full time college student. I've accomplished a lifelong dream of becoming a published author. Things are by no means easy, perfect, or constant sunshine and rainbows. After years, I am finally making my own life, on my own terms, and loving every moment. Each up and down teaches me something. It can be scary. Overwhelming. So stressful. It's also an amazing ride.

What I have decided is that I want to share this journey. It's not the vision I had when I began writing here all those years ago, but it's my life, and that was always sort of the point. Plus, I know their are others like me; single parents who work, struggle, laugh, cry, and just hang on when they find themselves starting over. So, I am going to share, try to help, and hopefully empower. If I help even one person realize they aren't alone, then my heart is happy.