Couch to 5K

the-undigi1I’ll admit it.  I am not a runner.  In fact, most of my life I have hated it.  I was the kid who purposely skipped school (both high school AND college) on the day I had to run the mile.  In my Fitness For Life class in college I think I actually got a doctor’s excuse for why I couldn’t do it.  Really, I just didn’t want to.  I also remember one time when my husband and I were engaged and we decided we would run together.  Was that ever a joke!  We had “The Loop” around my campus and I made it about 30 seconds before I quit and told him I would never be doing that again.

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Fast forward a few years and two kids later and I was overweight and out of shape.  I made up my mind that I wanted to change that.  I started looking around the web for ideas on exercise for newbies and I stumbled across the Couch to 5k program. In short, it is a walking/jogging program that takes you from couch potato to being able to run 3 miles (or 5k) in just nine weeks.  The schedule has you jogging three days a week with a set walk/jog schedule.  For instance, in your first week you jog for 60 seconds and then walk for 90 seconds.  You repeat that for a total of 20 minutes. Each day/week, the intervals change a bit and you slowly work up to jogging more and walking less.  And then by week nine, you are running for 3 miles/30 minutes without stopping.  Believe me, I had my doubts.

However, I was desperate to try something and since I am not a very patient person (as far as weight loss goes or with much of anything else), I thought I would give it a try.  If a program could take me — the girl who does NOT run — to being able to run 3 miles in just over two months then it might just be the most amazing discovery ever.  Long story short — I DID it.  Some days were hard. Some days were easy.  But in the end, I accomplished it.  In ten weeks (I was sick for a week) I went from not being able to run at all to being able to run 3 miles.  To say that I was proud of myself is an understatement.  I was thrilled, elated, and admittedly, quite shocked.  Shocked because I actually could run and shocked because I found out that I really liked it.

So here I am, four years later (and two kids later), and I am at it again.  This is actually my third time on the program (I see pregnancy as a time of total rest so by the time I have had the baby and am ready to stop blaming the weight on that sweet kid, I am out of shape and look awful).  I am on week number three, and once again, am actually really enjoying myself. I don’t particularly like it while I am doing it but when I am done I feel so good and proud!  And, I can definitely say that in addition to the physical benefits of running, my level of mental and emotional stress has gone way down.  I am finding myself more patient, more calm, more ready to take on the day’s problems.

Maybe, just maybe, someday I actually can call myself a runner.  And so can you!

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P.S.  Want to read a funny story?  After my first time on the program I decided I wanted to run in a 5K race.  We were living in Malaysia at the time but were coming to the States for the summer. I had my in-laws find a race and sign me up. Jason signed up, too, for moral support.  He hadn’t trained at all but all around he is in decent shape, so he wasn’t worried.  The week of the race I chickened out but he decided to go ahead and do it anyway.  When he got there, he found out it wasn’t a 5K, it was a 5 mile!  So glad I didn’t try it! Ha ha!

Fun Finds

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I hope you are all recovering from your digi shopping yesterday and are now enjoying SCRAPPING with it!  While you are busy downloading you can check out some fun finds from around the web!

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THIS Etsy seller has the most DARLING stuff!  I LOVE it!

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A cool recipe for Mason Jar Cupcakes is on THIS blog

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THIS site has the listed Canon Instant Rebates…effective May 3- July 11, 2009

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I love the downloadable coloring pages from THIS site.  Our family has bought (and colored) quite a few of them!

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THIS site has the most amazing ..and FREE…downloadable paper projects

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THIS blog has some great resources and great articles.  HERE is one about gearing up for summer

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This website has lots of really cool ideas, too, like their DAILY TIPS.

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If you want to try a bit of sewing this summer but aren’t really sure about how to go about it, THIS Etsy seller is your answer!  She sells sewing kits with PRE-CUT fabric with finsihed edges, full instructions, and ALL OF THE MATERIALS YOU NEED (elastic, thread, etc).  How cool is THAT?

Happy DA{i}NSD

(day after international scrapbooking day 🙂 )

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If You Plan to Go to Disney World

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Our family  has been to Disney World over 50 times. Now before you think we are crazy, let me explain that we lived in Orlando for a year and had season passes for 7 months of that.  My husband and I also both worked from home and had days off (we worked mornings, evenings, and weekends).  So, with three (at the time) little ones, what better way to keep them occupied than by going to Disney World?  It was perfect — we could go for a few hours and come home. We all loved it!

One of the really good things about all the time we spent at Disney is that we learned a LOT about the place and have been able to help others who are planning a trip.  So, since I seem to answer questions a lot I thought I would just share my top ten tips for a trip to Disney World (please note that I am going to assume for the sake of these tips that you are traveling with small children.  I know there are adults who go without kids, but really, Disney is usually a kid trip).

1.  Pick your dates wisely.  Don’t go in the summer or over Spring Break.  Now I know that some of you aren’t able to avoid these times.  However, if you have any say in it at all do NOT choose to go in either of the times.  Summer is HOT HOT HOT.  Seriously hot. And spring break is CROWDED .  So, so, SO  many people. Check HERE for some other tips of when to go, including average temperature for various times of the year.
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2. Make reservations for character meals early.  The more popular character meals fill up fast (especially places like Cinderella’s Castle).  Disney allows you to make reservations up to 90 days in advance (a change from a previous 180 days).  If these meals are important to you, make your reservations early!  On a side note, I would HIGHLY recommend the Play ‘N Dine meal at Hollywood and Vine.  For preschoolers it is just so much fun!  Little Einsteins and Jo Jo and Goliath spent LOTS of time with the kids, there is a ton of fun music, the kids get to dance, and more.  Some of the other meals allow you just a minute or two with the characters and then you just sit there.

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3. Plan to bring or rent strollers.  I think most people know to do this, but I thought I should mention it anyway.  Obviously you would need something for the wee little ones but I mean plan to bring or rent strollers even for bigger kids.  There is so much walking/waiting involved that even older kids — 5, 6, 7 — get so tired.  You can rent nice big ones at the park, both singles and doubles.  We brought our duo stroller every day (and used it for all three kids!)

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4. Set a money limit for yourselves.  A place like Disney can drain your wallet very fast if you aren’t careful.  Decide ahead of time what you want to spend on the whole vacation and then stick to it.  Don’t get sucked into tons of souvenirs (really, how many Disney hats and mugs and sweatshirts do you need?) You don’t have to eat everything at the park, either.  We always brought lunch with us and found a bench and ate.  It saved us so much money!  Remember, too, that sometimes less is more.  The kids don’t need to go to character meals every day.  They are more likely to remember one really good one then going to six or seven in one week.  If there is too much going on, they don’t know what to enjoy. I would suggest choosing one or two special meals and one or two special souvenirs.  In our whole seven months we did two meals — Princess Lunch at the Castle in Epcot and the Play ‘N Dine Meal. We bought one souvenir — a Mickey and Minnie ornament to remember our time there (we also won quite a few things like Mickey Ears and pins for pin trading).

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5. Set a spending limit for your kids.  We always said that if we were coming for a week we would decide how much each kid could spend on extras.  Decide on an amount for each child and then make sure you stay within that budget.  If the kids just has to have a set of Mickey Ears then that comes out of their total.  If they really “need” a Mickey shaped ice cream bar then okay, but when the money is gone it is gone.  This helps the kids realize that they can’t have everything, helps them be in control of what they get, and helps keep you from going broke.  It also helps with the constant whine of, “But I want it!”  (a little P.S. on this one — stay out of gift shops.  If you don’t go in the shops you won’t see stuff you don’t need!)

6. Don’t go to Magic Kingdom on Monday and Epcot on Tuesday.  Disney World has four parks.  Most people arrive in Orlando on the weekend and then see the parks in this order: Magic Kingdom on Monday, Epcot on Tuesday, and then Animal Kingdom and Hollywood Studios on Wednesday and Thursday.  While I understand wanting to see “the good stuff” first, I disagree with the approach for two reasons.  1) Everyone does that making Magic Kingdom incredibly crowded on Monday.  You are better off going to another park early in the week where there will be few people and then hitting Magic Kingdom later in the week when the rest of the crowds have moved on. 2) Magic Kingdom and Epcot aren’t necessary “the good stuff.”  While the Magic Kingdom is the most “Disney” it is also the most crowded and not nearly as fun for older people. The rides and activities are more tame and geared for younger kids. Our favorite park — by far — was Animal Kingdom.  Great rides, great scenery, and not nearly as crowded.

7. Be prepared that you won’t get to see everything.  Even with over 50 trips to the parks, there are still a few things we haven’t seen.  Decide ahead of time what your priorities are.  If you really want to hit all the rides, don’t spend hours waiting in line to meet characters.  If riding in the front of the shuttle trains is what your kid would really love, forget other time consuming activities and head up to the front of the train and wait your turn. Just know that you cannot do everything in one week. Don’t let that disappoint you!

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8. Take breaks during the day.  While taking breaks may not seem like a good way to see as much you can, you will enjoy your trip much more if you get some rest.  I cannot tell you the number of parents we saw literally forcing their tired and worn out kids to just keep going and just see or do “one more thing.”  With the heat and the overload of sensory stimulation, kids get tired!  They don’t want to be dragged from character to character and ride to ride.  Don’t force it just to get the most of your trip.  Instead, plan on a few hour break in the afternoon.  Go back to the hotel, take naps if needed, play in the pool, and then if everyone is up for it, you can head back to the park. But be prepared that the kids may just want to stay at the hotel! Remember to ask yourself “Who is this trip really for?

9. Be prepared to split up.  With kids of different ages and the whole family with different ideas of what they want to see, be willing to split up.  If your little guy is willing to spend an hour in line to meet Lightning McQueen, don’t force your little girl if that is the last thing in the world she wants to do.  If one of your kids is tall enough the ride the big rides and the other is not, just take the opportunity for time with the the kids apart.  Mom and dad can split up and take kids (and themselves!) where they really want to go. Obviously you don’t want to spend your whole trip like this, but a few hours apart might be really good for you!

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10. Go see the Festival of the Lion King show at Animal Kingdom.  This was, hands down, the best part of my Disney experience all year.  It was free, incredibly well done, and fun for the WHOLE family!

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So there you have it — my best tips for a trip to Disney.  Whatever you do, think clearly, breath deeply, and love the experience. It truly is a Magical Place!

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Muffin Tin Monday

the-undigi1One of the cool things about reading lots of blogs is that I come across so many cool ideas.  To be honest, I come across far more than I will ever have time to try, but still, I like to look and see what other people are doing. There are so many really creative people out there and I love to be inspired in my art, my home, and my parenting.

One of really great ideas I have seen a lot of, and one I plan to do over the summer while we are all home together, is MUFFIN TIN MONDAY.  Here is the desciption:

Muffin Tin Monday is a weekly blog gathering (here at Her Cup Overfloweth and previously at Sycamore Stirrings) of mommies (are there any daddy MTM’s out there?) who serve one meal a week (or more:) ) in a muffin tin! We post submissions every Monday and enjoy sharing and encouraging each other as parents. You can be as basic or as detailed as you want!

Each week there is a theme (they are posted ahead of time) and people create and serve meals in a muffin tin.  I LOVE the idea for so many reasons — fun for the kids, something new to do for lunch, great way to introduce new foods, getting the kids involved, and more.  I also love that the people who participate share what they have made. They can link at the main post at HCO and there is even a Flickr group.  Here are some of the themes they have done (all images are linked):

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shape-challengeSHAPES

basedonabookBASED ON A BOOK

familyheritageFAMILY HERITAGE

holidaysHOLIDAYS

And some other really cool ones…

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So, tomorrow is Monday. What’s stopping you? If you want to keep with the groups theme, it is

“MTM goes AWOL! (Take your tin to another location-park, bedroom, friend’s house,etc.)”

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Everything I Need To Know I Learned From My Sisters

I (Steph) am so excited to be here with today’s un-digi!  🙂 I grew up in a family of four girls.  No brothers (my poor Dad, huh!?).  Now, that we are adults, we have transitioned into a different kind of relationship.  I don’t feel the responsability to take care of my younger sisters and protect them as much as I did when we were younger.  Our age differences seem to become smaller as we get older.  Each of them have talents and strengths that really help me out when I need it.  I know if I need to remember the name of a restaraunt we went to on vacation together, I call my older sister.  If I have a decorating question or fashion question, I call my sister just younger than me.  If I have a nutrition, exercise, or Apple (as in Mac) question, then I call the baby (although, I’m not sure she likes being called that).

So, today, I thought I would put together some GREAT sites and things that I have learned from my sisters.  If you don’t have a sister then for today, you can pretend you do and join or family of all girls –after all what’s one more?!  If you DO have a sister (or two) then, maybe you will see something you want to pass on.

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Everything I need to know about Allrecipes.com I learned from my youngest sister. I LOVE this site!  It makes menu planning a snap.  For those of you on the metric system, there is even a button you can click on to automatically convert the recipes!  I love that I can add the recipes to my recipe box for future use, but my most favorite thing of all is the SHOPPING LIST feature!  When I am doing my menu planning, I add the recipes to a shopping list (and my recipe box) and then I save the shopping list.  When I save the recipe to a shopping list, all of the ingredients pop up on the shopping list.  I can also go in and add things to the list that I might need.  During Christmas, I put together a shopping list of our traditional Christmas Eve meal, Christmas morning, and Christmas Day recipes (and even added the items I would want for the chocolate fountain).  Now, next year, all I will need to do is pull up that shopping list, print, and go to the store!  I have done this with several week-at-a-time menus as well, it makes meal planning a no-brainer…who doesn’t need that!?

Everything I need to know about decorating I learned from my sister just younger than me. She sends me links to decorating blogs she finds and they have the best, affordable, easy decorating ideas.  Check out this “uplifting notes board” by Joys of Home:

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One thing that all of these decorating blogs have in common is the use of SPRAY PAINT!!  I have even been inspired to pick up a can of black spray paint and “have a party”

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Go check out all of the really cool things Sarah a.k.a Thrifty Decor Chick did with spray paint.  I was shocked by the rocking chair!

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Everything I need to know about blog feeds I learned from my older sister. You might have noticed if you subscribe to us in a reader that there are some fun new links in there at the bottom of our posts.  Links for you to email this post, stumble it, or add to delicious to name a few.  My sister taught me all about Feed Burner.  Sometimes, I think I am the last to learn about these cool things, but if you don’t know what Feed Burner is, it is a site that you can redirect all of your feeds through, so you can see statistics on how many subscribers you have, how often the click, etc.  Since there are far more readers out there than Google and Bloglines (although those are the ones our readers seems to like most) it’s nice to be able to see just how many of you there are subscribed to our feed!

I’m very blessed to have three great and talented sisters!

The last site I want to share is one I came across today that was so fresh and inspiring that I wanted to right-click and save almost every image on the site…so BEAUTIFUL and SO MUCH TALENT!!!  Have fun being ispired!

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Etsy Love

the-undigi1One of my favorite things to do (and great ways to waste spend time) is enjoying the wonderful world of Etsy.  It still surprises me how many times I have mentioned Etsy to someone and they had no idea what I was talking about. So in case you didn’t know, Etsy is

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One of the things I LOVE about Etsy is the opportunity it gives artists to have their own business — often from home.  Real people with real talent being able to run real businesses.  I love it!  And there are some AMAZING treasures to uncover.  You can spend hours days looking through all the amazing things.  In a quick trip through with no real destination in mind, I came across these amazing products (all images are clicakble):

frogmug1A cool homemade frog mug

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This gorgeous sling purse is made by the same lady who makes some AMAZING laptop bags (I have ordered two from her!)

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Cotton Candy boutique has this cute bag (and lots more!)

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How about a cute handmade outfit for your favorite little pirate?

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Or how about an ADORABLE little dress?

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You can get hand painted room decor

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Or some cool wall decals

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Check out these awesome Scrabble Tile Pendants

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And page after page of gorgeous jewelry

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You can even buy patterns to make your own cool stuff!

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You can purchase homemade, custom designed cookies baked fresh!

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And you can find cool and unique gifts like this felt purse!

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Or if beautiful is more what you are looking for, you can get a hand-sewn quilt (or buy this and send it to me 😉

Whatever you need, want, desire…Etsy has it all.  Spend some time enjoying the amazing talent and fresh inspiration.  You’ll be glad you did!

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LOVE146

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Just a warning…today’s The UNdigi (and the accompanying videos) is a little heavy and is not suitable for children.  But you should really, really read it.

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Did you know that it is estimated that EVERY 2 MINUTES a child in the world is sold into slavery (labor or sexual)?

Did you know that UNICEF estimates that there are 1.2 million children are trafficked every year?

Did you know that it is estimated that there are currently 27 million people enslaved around the world?

Did you know that human traifficking brings in 32 billion dollars a year (making it the 2nd most lucrative crime in the world)?

Did you know that there are people and organizations doing something about it?

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Love146 is an organization I am just becoming familiar with.  They work in prevention and aftercare of children enslaved in sexual exploitation. They are passionate to spread a message and to be involved — with their heart, their time, and their money.  They want people to understand and to imagine…

I live in South East Asia where these issues surround us. However, you don’t have to live near it in order to hate it and to be involved.  Let the outrage sink in. Determine in your heart to be part of the solution.  Don’t just sit back with your TV lineup and Starbucks coffee and think it doesn’t matter. It does.

And be watching for ways for the digi community to be involved. Let us use our love of scrapping to fan the flame of action.  THE DAILY DIGI wants to be part of it.

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Balance

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Hi everyone!  It’s Steph here, first off, I want to say that I do not have any news on Janet’s daughter yet.  I do know though, that they will appreciate all of your thoughts and prayers, so keep them coming!

I have learned a lot from Janet over the years I have known her and one of those things I have learned is that you have to go with what is in your heart.  So, today’s un-digi comes from MY heart!

BALANCE.  It is something I have had on my mind a lot lately.  Sometimes, it can seem impossible to find balance in all of the roles I play in my life.  At times, I can feel like I am barely keeping my head above water as I take care of all of the people and things in my life that need doing and taking care of.  This weekend, I was so blessed to be able to hear some motivational speakers give speeches that were geared just to women.  One of them said something that resonated with me.  She said, “Sometimes, we have the misperception that balance is doing everything perfectly and we need to just let that perception go, because it won’t happen.”  I realized right then, that I have been working so hard to obtain what I THOUGHT was balance…I wanted to do it ALL perfectly!  She was right, I cannot do everything perfectly (unfortunately…haha 😉 ).  So, today, I am making a list of the things I want to do really well.  Then, I am going look at how I am spending my time and see how it matches up with this list and make some changes where it’s necessary.  I want to make sure that I am spending time on the most important things and doing them well!  The things I am spending time on that aren’t quite as important, will need to go (this does not mean that I will stop eating ice cream while watching American Idol each time it’s on, but I might need to multi-task in some other way…like preserving my family’s memories while watching AI…haha…because being a good memory keeper is very important to me).

I would like to invite you to join me in this challenge to find some BALANCE in your life, not perfection, but BALANCE!  I think we all might find that with just a little adjusting, we are doing a much better job than we thought!

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P.S. The Digi Files 3 will not being going up for sale today, so if you haven’t grabbed TDF2 yet, you have one last chance! 🙂

P.P.S.  Janet here — just walked in the door — 4:30 pm Sunday my time, 5:30 am Sunday EDT.  A quick update — we are home from the hospital (where we had no internet service).  The doctors have ruled out dengue fever and thyphoid, for which we are very thankful.  However, she still has a high fever (staying between 102 and 104) and no explanation for it and no other symptoms (other than headaches).  We didn’t feel that the hospital was doing very much for her and so once we knew for sure that it wasn’t dengue fever (a fairly common and  occurrence where we live) we decided to bring her home.  We are hoping that in a few days it will just run its course.  It the meantime, we will just do what we can to keep her rested and hope that the fever stays down.  I really don’t like that 104 range!

Thank you to everyone for your notes, thoughts, and prayers.  It means a lot to us!

Copy Cat

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The other day I was chatting online with a friend.  She was wanting to find a good Strawberry Shortcake recipe to use.  Easily I was able to go back in my mind to eating scrumptious servings of Ruby Tuesday’s Strawberry Tallcake.  The recipe is so delish…the cake is soft and moist rather than dry and crumbly like most shortcake recipes.  I gave her the recipe and since then have been thinking about all the recipes I have used and loved from my TOP SECRET RECIPE books.  These books, written by Todd Wilbur, have been a wonderful part of my life for the last ten years. I bought them when we were first married and we were working in a Children’s Home. I had to cook 2-3 meals a day for ten people!  Since that time, these books have been a huge part of my kitchen life. They are so, so good. I also enjoy reading the background of the companies and restaurants that made them so popular!

So, get ready!  For today’s the UN-digi I want to share a few of my favorite (sweet and sugary) recipes!  There are lots of other great ones, too, that aren’t for sweets, but we can all use a little bit of sweetness, right?  Get ready for some yumminess!  Click on the Recipe Name to be taken to an online copy of the recipe.  These are all exact replicas from the books, even though people claim their name as the recipe originator 🙂

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If you want more of these recipes, try going to the TOP SECRET COPYCAT RECIPE site, where they have a few of the recipes available online.  I would recommend buying the books, though, as they contain a lot more. I don’t have Restaurant Recipes #2 and I want it!

Enjoy!

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To Do or to Have

the-undigi1A few weeks ago, reader and fab scrapper Christine sent me a link to a blog entry she had done.  I read it and knew I had at least one kindred spirit out there.  Her post was called “Buying into Life” and was about the happiness gained by spending  money on experiences rather than things.  This is something that we have a family have chosen to do and it is interesting to hear that studies have been done on it.   So this weeks The UN-digi is all about bringing some more happiness into your life…not with new stuff but with new experiences.

I remember a few years ago I was telling someone about our plans to stay in a hotel for a night, “just for fun.”  She asked, quite shocked at our plans, how we had the money to do that.  That was  good question!  Our family has a lot of things but money has never been one of them!  I simply responded that we don’t usually spend money on things — we spend it on experiences.  I tried to explain that with an experience, everyone gets to enjoy it, you can savor it long afterward, and it brings the family closer together.  I did a poor job of stating my case, but I can assure you we had a great time at the hotel!

After reading Christine’s post and the related articles, it seems as though we are not alone in our belief that things can never take the place of experiences.  Christine did a great job summarizing what she had heard and read:

Basically, the gist of it is that people who spend money on experiences are happier than people who spend money on material possessions, because:

  • The initial excitement of a new possession fades over time, usually 6-8 weeks. (And in my opinion and experience, I think that’s why there are shopaholics. They crave the initial “high” of a purchase.) Experiences continue to provide happiness through memories long after the event.
  • Experiences draw people closer. Common and shared experiences with family & friends are often what draw us together. This fulfills our need for social bonding and brings satisfaction.
  • People felt a greater sense of “being alive” during the experience and in reflection.
  • When you spend money on experiences there’s less of the “keeping up with the joneses” phenomenon. Experiences are unique and so we are less likely to compare ourselves to other people and feel inferior.

Personally, here are the reasons our family chooses to spend time and money on experiences rather than things:

  • For the most part, experiences can involve the whole family while things are for one person or one group of people (adults or kids).  For a child’s birthday, I can buy a new toy that the child alone will enjoy for a few days (or hours!) or we can go and do something as a family and everyone is able to enjoy it.
  • We remember our experiences much more — and much longer — than the “stuff” we get. My kids wouldn’t be able to tell you what they got for their last birthday (we do buy them a few things) but they sure could tell you what we DID.
  • Going places and doing things together bonds us as a family…more than any new toy ever could. I firmly believe that relationships are built and strengthened through common experiences and fond memories, not over shared things.
  • By spending money on experiences (trips, outings, etc) rather than things, the amount of stuff in our house remains somewhat under control.  In many homes, Christmas and birthdays usually bring a ridiculous number of new things into a house (and most people don’t ensure that the same number of things go out of the house).  Choosing experiences instead of things keeps the “stuff” from accumulating.
  • We crave doing stuff together.  People, by nature, want more of what they already have.  If we give our kids lots of toys they will crave more.  If we give our kids lots of experiences, they long for more of the same. What would you rather have?  A child who begs for more toys or one who begs for more time together as a family?
  • Experiences can be cheaper. Of course there are always ways to spend money, but experiences can be inexpensive or free.  We often look for fun and cheap ways to do things together.

I want to touch for a minute on the last point: financial issues.  I wouldn’t want someone to read this and think, “well, we don’t have much money so this won’t work for us!”

1.  Yes, there are lots of expensive things you can do and places you can go.  We have spent money on some expensive options (like yearly passes to Disney World, nights at hotels, weekend trips).  We have made this possible by choosing to watch where our money goes. For example,  I think some people were surprised that we paid to have passes to Disney World.  They were expensive, but we made choices in other areas that saved a lot of money: we didn’t have cable.  We had basic cell phone service with no extras. We went to Starbucks only three or four times all year…think of how much money we saved by not spending $4+ on coffee several days a week!)  We chose to drive a cheap, older car. We almost never bought books or DVDs…instead we made insanely heavy use of the local library.  Obviously this was not just so we could go to Disney, but these choices (and many more like them), enabled us to have money for other things.

2. There are many, many cheap or free ways to invest in experiences rather than things.  Get creative in what you do and where you go.  The internet is an amazing resource for finding free stuff in your community and surrounding areas.  Look for things that the whole family will love.  Here are some ways that our family does inexpensive things together:

  • We go to lots of parks and playgrounds and try to decide which ones are the best
  • We do lots of crafts.  I am craft-blog obsessed and have found so many wonderful ideas of things to do as a family. The kids love it and are always so proud to show off their new creations.  Just this week my sons spent days playing with some swords and “hooks” I made out of cardboard and tin foil.
  • We create fun meal time activities.  We have had “no manners meals”  when everyone gets to “forget” their manners for a while.  We often invite people over for dinner and then the kids get to help cook and prepare for our guests. Just this weekend we created an at-home version of a favorite restaurant, the Pancake Parlour.  The kids created their own special placemats (and one for our guest) and we had a great time cooking up pancakes and then decorating them with ice cream, sprinkles, chocolate sause, chocolate chips, and more.  We turn the every day in a FUNday.
  • We look for ways to let the kids to do thing they think they shouldn’t be doing.  Kids love feeling like they are “getting away” with something.  One day I bought some cans of shaving cream and we had a shaving cream graffiti party in our backyard.  At first they couldn’t believe what I was doing!  But once they got over they shock they loved writing all over the sidewalk and walls.  We played shaving cream hop scotch and then painted each other white!
  • We find fun ways to get places.  Jason has a love for transportation adventures so he will often try to find fun ways to get “from here to there.”  You can take the bus instead of a car.  If you are in a bigger city, take the train. Ride bikes. Pull a sled…anything that makes the mundane new and exciting!

I encourage you to ask yourself, “To Do or to Have?”  Which is most important to you and to your family? What kinds of memories will you and your children take through life?  What kinds of things do you remember most from your own childhood.  Think through the answers to these questions and then takes some appropriate steps in the direction of your choice!

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P.S. If this is a topic you want to read more about, check out the THIS radio broadcast or read an in-depth study from Cornell University.