5 Benefits of Teleworking/Telecommuting Jobs

teleworking


I work outside the home, and I am a telecommuting/telework mom.  Allowing employees to telework was implemented into my agency several ago.  By trade, I am an IT Specialist Supervisor.  The ability to work from home is not an option for all employees, especially those who do phone work, but for techies that can log into systems remotely and perform their duties from home it is heaven sent.  Most employees are required to report to the office at least 3 days per week for staff meetings and to sign paper work; however, we make exceptions if we need to.  We offer toll free numbers for them to call into meetings.   

I allow my staff to work from home on days that the kids are sick, deliveries are being made, medical appointments are on the agenda or they just need peace and quiet to complete a project. I take advantage of these liberties as well.

I have several requirements for my employees:  1) No kids interrupting calls, 2) No dogs barking while we’re on the call and 3) they must be signed on to their computer and get their assigned hours in for the day.  It’s a great way to be able to work in sweats and PJs in Corporate America. There are other benefits for employers and employees who implement this concept.  Here a few:


1)  Cuts down on employee’s absences.
2)  Allows employers to cut down on the expense of having a cubicle for each employee.  They can share space according to their schedules. 
3)  Cuts down on gas and parking expense for employees. 
4)  Boosts employee morale.
5)  Reduces employee stress.

For those who are interested in returning to the workforce and still being at home several days a week, this could be the perfect option for you.  Search for companies who offer this option.  You can bring home the bacon and still be a work at home mom, at least part time.

Note:  Photo courtesy of stockvault.net

How To Make a Sundae Bar For Kids

sundae bar for kids

 

First, I found these adorable ice cream bowls at my local Dollar General on the clearance rack.  They came in a set of 4, which included blue, green, white and pink with matching spoons.  I quickly grabbed them.  And thought they would be perfect for making ice cream sundaes with the grandkids.  Additionally, I loved the colors and the spoons.  It helped that they were nice and study for lifting a big scoop of ice cream covered with yummy candies from the bowl.

 

sundae bar ideas

 

Furthermore, did you know the most popular flavor of ice cream in the United States is vanilla.  Yes vanilla.  Second is chocolate, followed by strawberry, chocolate chip and butter pecan.  You should know, my favorite is butter pecan.  Yum, yum!  Also, children ages 2 – 12 and adults 45 plus eat the most ice cream.  I don’t indulge often, but I do enjoy a good bowl of ice cream occasionally.

sundae bar ideas


Needless to say, the kids love bananas and strawberries.  And  I love cherries.  So, we decided to use fruits on our sundae bar.  I was happy that they were receptive to add fruit to the bar.  Even if, it would end up covered with gooey chocolate.

In addition to the fruit, we added peanut butter pieces, walnuts, sprinkles, and Hershey’s chocolate syrup to the bar. Because the grandchildren love  vanilla ice cream, it was the ice cream of choice.  We had some much fun assembling our bowls.  But it looks like I forgot to include the bottles of sprinkles on the tray.  They were the attraction for the kid’s sundaes, lol.

Most of all, the sundaes were delicious and cheaper than going to Sweet Frog, lol.   Also, I let the kids add their own fixings and pour the syrup over the ice cream.  It makes it much more exciting.  Use your imagination, add whatever you wish.  Making a sundae bar for kids is a great family activity.

What is your favorite flavor?  We hope that you enjoyed our sundae bar for kids idea.  Leave us a comment, and let us know what other items you would add to your sundae bar for kids.

How To Make Bottle Greenhouses

bottle greenhouses, mini greenhouses, winter sowing

                                                      
First, I increased the number of sunflowers for the garden.  As a result, I decided to make bottle greenhouses out of 2 liter soda bottles.  Also, milk containers or any bottle that is clear can be used.  After I complete the setup, the bottle greenhouses on set on my deck to germinate.  I grew my sunflowers using this method last year and they did great.

Additionally, the American Goldfinch picked every sunflower seed off the flowers last year.  They’re such beautiful birds, I couldn’t get mad.  I decided to plant some for them and some for me to roast and store for the winter.   I have marigolds and Blue Buttons planted in the tray above.  Here’s my list of sunflowers.  Be sure to check out my other backyard vegetable gardening tips too:

  •  Lemon Queen Sunflower  (My fav)
  •  Autumn Beauty Sunflower
  •  Evening Sun Sunflower
  • Mammoth Sunflowers
  •  Mexican Sunflowers
  •  Marigolds (French Dwarf mixed)
  •  Blue Buttons
  • Cosmos

 

winter sowing. mini greenhouses, bottle greenhouses


As a result, if you want to try this method this is what you will need:

  • 2 liter or other large bottles that are clear
  • a box cutter
  • seed starting mix  ( I use Miracle Gro, just make sure it’s quality)
  • selection of sunflower seeds
  • duct tape
bottle greenhouse, winter sowing

Most importantly, bleach your bottle greenhouses to ensure all liquid has been removed and the bottle is sanitized. Allow to air dry.  Next, cut the bottle at the half way point all the way around with the box cutter leaving a small hinge. Leaving the hinge will make it easier to tape the bottle closed.  Also, once you have your seed starter mix ready, place a few inches in the bottom of the bottle and plant the seed the depth recommended on the package.

Once you complete this task, use the duct tape to close the bottle.  And you will want to mark the bottle with the name of the sunflower with the permanent marker.  Place the bottle in a location where it will receive sun, rain and close to your house to help shield from wind gust.   You may have to gently water the seeds if you don’t receive enough rain.

Last, once the seeds germinate and reach the height of the cut, remove the duct tape and top from the bottle by cutting the hinge.  You may need to add potting soil to the bottle once the plants takes off to ensure that the roots are covered.  Just remove the tape and add the soil to the bottle.

Finally, make sure the last frost has passed before removing the top permanently.  It serves as protection from those cold, frosty nights.  I’m in Zone 6B, so the last frost date is usually mid-May in my area.  I hope that you have been inspired by my bottle greenhouses.  Save a few throughout the year, and start your seeds in them next growing season.

Turning Wedding Gowns Into Angel Gowns: NICU Helping Hands

preemies, NICU

I wanted to share a story with you that touched my heart in so many ways.  These beautiful gowns that you see on the left were made for babies who never make it home from the hospital.  They are made from donated wedding gowns, so the mothers can use them to send their precious babies home to be with the Lord.
As many of you know, my Zarriah was a preemie.  She entered the world at 31 weeks weighing 2lbs. 10ozs, and fought for her life for 3 months in the NICU at Sentara Princess Anne Hospital in Norfolk, VA.  I’m proud to say that she is still fighting and gets time out quite often, lol.  I must also say those were 3 of the most heart wrenching months of my life.  I will always be grateful for the nurses in the NICU for their skills and the love they show the babies and parents. I am most grateful that my Zarriah survived, but my heart still bleeds for those precious babies who do not.

A lady by the name of Lisa Grubbs, founder of Angel Gowns at NICU Helping Hands, came up with the idea of turning wedding gowns into Angel Gowns to help grieving mothers in 2013.  Her husband is a specialist for premature babies.  The gowns are provided free of charge to families and hospitals across the country.  The tears are flowing as I write this post, because I can’t imagine any loss greater than the loss of a child.  I understand the fight, and I cry for those who loss their precious baby.  I also cry for those who fought the fight and won.  I understand the confusion, the despair, the desperation, sleepless nights and the many prayers.

I also know that a mother and father would be grateful to have a picture of their angel in one of these beautiful gowns as a memory, and to be able to send them on to their Heavenly Father in one will certainly help ease the pain if only for a moment.  

I’m always amazed at other’s creativity and their thoughtfulness of others.  I’m hoping that my daughter will donate her wedding gown, as she too understands the fight.  The organization is able to make approximately 12 “Angel Gowns” from one wedding dress, and all work is done by volunteers.  They are shipped across the country to hospitals for families who request them.  
I will continue to pray for families who are fighting the fight.  May each and every one be blessed in their despair or victory.    


Note:  Photo courtesy of NICU Helping Hands.  

You Call This A Prom Dress



It’s getting close to prom.  Going shopping for a prom gown/dress was always big deal in house.  My daughter and I would set aside a day and go from shop to shop to looking for that special dress and accessories.  We would muster enough strength afterwards to have dinner at a favorite restaurant and have a little girl talk. Those were special times for us.  It was an opportunity for us to bond, which is important in the teenage years, and share the latest gossip.

I still check out the latest fashion for girls since my granddaughter is a little fashionista now.  Yep at 2. She likes to pick out her own clothes and shoes, and I have so much fun looking for a bargain and shopping for her. I ran across an article promoting the latest styles in Prom dresses and I almost fell off my chair.  It’s a wonderful time in a young lady’s life when she’s asked to the Prom or makes plans to go with her friends.  She will always have the memory of shopping for her dress and all the festivities that occur on Prom night.  

Now I don’t have a problem with showing a little skin, but this dress is ridiculous.  I find it hard to believe that some designer thought it was appropriate for a teenage girl to walk into a school dance half naked.  In my opinion, this is something that you would see a celebrity wear on the red carpet, not someone’s teenage daughter.  I often wonder what goes through people’s mind.
 at times.
 

  



This one left me speechless too.  Has everyone forgotten what it’s like to be a teen?  This is just as ridiculous as the one above, but for a different reason.  Would this dress not make a teen look like they’re 50 or 60. Why does tulip keep going through my head, lol?  This would be appropriate for the bride who is fearful that her bridesmaids may look better than her on her wedding day, so she picks out a hideous dress for them to ensure they don’t upstage her.  

Short Strapless Sweetheart Prom Dress

I was happy to see one that was half-decent in the bunch.  At least it’s appropriate for a teen.  It covers her, but allows her to give off a little shoulder.  The colors are fun and the accessories minimal but catchy.  


When I shopped with my daughter I always told her that she could be sexy and beautiful without revealing her blessings to the world.  Today’s teens believe less is more, but in the wrong context. I think it’s important that we teach our daughters to respect themselves during this stage in their life.  They must learn that if they respect themselves young men will respect them as well.  I think it’s important for them to know that the boys may focus on the young lady who walks in wearing number 1, but he will never take her home to mommy.  Oh no, mommy will be able to read her from a mile away and will eventually read her the riot act.    

If you have a teen heading to the prom be sure to set aside a day and make it special.  They will always remember spending the day with you as well as Prom night itself.  Years later, my daughter still talks about our mother/daughter outings.

Photos courtesy of  www.promgirl.com, www.jjshouse.com and www.jovani.com. 

My 2014 Vegetable Garden Plan

home vegetable gardens


Spring is here and I’m making plans for my 2014 vegetable garden.  This is a picture of a few of my sunflowers from last year’s garden.  It was quite productive.  
I’m planning to put more flowers into my garden and cut back on the peppers this year since I have a nice supply stored.  My pepper focus will be belles this year for vegetable trays and the freezer.  

I started my seeds this week and have several that have germinated already.  I use my laundry room to start my seeds since they don’t need light to germinate.  I like to grow everything from seed, because it’s cheaper than purchasing plants from a garden center and because it gives me a jump start on the growing season.  Direct sowing everything can be quite challenging.

I purchase my peat pots on clearance each year from Big Lots or the Dollar Store and save them for the next season.  Each pot is filled with a seed starting mix, I use Miracle Gro, watered from the bottom by placing them in a tray filled with water, and covering them with Saran Wrap, which helps keep the pot moist and assists with germination.  Once the seeds have germinated, I immediately move them under this grow light to keep them warm and assist with growth.  My grow light is 4 foot long, so I’m able to get quite a few pots under it, and I raise the light as they get taller.

Here’s my list of seed starts for 2014.  I only plant vegetables that I will eat, can or freeze:


Fruit:



2 Sugar Baby Watermelons
1 Yellow Watermelon
2 Hales Cantaloupe

Misc.

2 Crookneck Squash
2 Zucchini


Tomatoes:



1 Mortgage Lifter 
1 Paul Robeson
1 Tiffen Mennonite
1 Oxheart
1 Early Girl
1 Delicious
1 Cherokee Purple
1 Red Brandywine
1 Sweet 100

Herbs:


2 Spicy Globe Basil
2 Genovese Basil
1 Oregano
2 Dill (Use to make dill and spicy hot pickles)
2 Cilantro (Use to make salsa)


Peppers:


1 White Belle
1 Golden Wonder
1 Mixed (It will be a surprise)
1 Jalapeno

I will be direct sowing the following:

Greens:



Blue Lake Greenbeans (Pole)
Jade Greenbeans (Bush)
Butter Crunch Lettuce
Noble Spinach

Cucumbers:


Boston Pickling
Marketmore
Lemon

Salt and Pepper

Garlic  (Already growing)
Red Onions

Carrots

Not sure I will get 100% germination, but I’m hoping for at least 80%.  I currently have 1 1/2 flats on the heating pads to germinate and about 6 starts that have already sprouted under the grow lights.  I’m hoping to have the 1/2 flat germinated by next week.  Stay tuned.  










Tips to Attract Baltimore Orioles

I decided to become more diligent in feeding the birds through out the year.  I’m hoping to attract Baltimore Orioles this year. I’ve never seen an Oriole in my area, but I did a little research and it seem they like oranges and grape jelly. Orioles are beautiful birds.  They are Maryland’s state bird, and since I’m across the Maryland line, about 20 minutes, I’m thinking my chances of attracting them to my backyard are favorable.  Check out my other posts on attracting backyard birds.

Oranges and grape jelly, oh what to do.  I love home made items, so I decided to make a feeder until I can find one that I like.  Oriole feeders are expensive, so it has to be just right. Until I find the perfect feeder, I decided to make a simple one out of a metal hanger.  My thinking, if I’m unsuccessful I’m only out a hanger and an orange.  To make this feeder you will need the following items.

  • wire hanger
  • 1 orange
  • yellow or orange ribbon
  • *grape jelly (optional)

Baltimore Orioles

 

attracting backyard birds



Bend your hanger until it looks like S.  Cut the end with a pair of wire cutters, and spread the 2 pieces apart.  You want to leave the hook, you will use it to hang the feeder.

Cut the orange into slices.  Cut a wedge out of each slice.  You will use the smaller pieces for spacers.  Alternate an orange slice and than a spacer.  You can smear grape jelly on the orange slices too.  Spread them apart as much as you can, so the bird can perch and enjoy the treat.

Tie on your ribbon and hang in a spot where you can bird watch.  Try placing the feeder where the bird can perch from another branch and reach the slices if you’re unable to get enough space between the slice.  You can rearrange them once you hang the feeder if necessary.  Refrigerate extra slices.  Slices should be checked every 2 – 3 days and changed if they dry out or start becoming moldy.  Wish me luck.

Should Boys Play Dress Up?

 

dress up

 

Should boys play dress up?  We talk about little girls playing dress up in princess clothes, having tea parties or walking in mommy’s high heels, but we rarely talk about little boys dressing up.   Yes, we rave about little girls putting on our make-up,  adorable beads, and serving up tea to teddy bear friends. But what about our little boys?

We accept little boys playing Cowboy and Indians, wearing a sports uniform or being a Super Hero.  But what if they want to dress up as a princess or put on your make-up?  Would that be acceptable or frightening to you?  What if they want to use one of your purses to house their army men or race cars?  Are you equipped to handle that situation?

What I found interesting is that we accept little girls being tomboys, but not little boys wanting to be a princess.  My grandson wanted to wear my heels one day.  He was about 3 maybe 4 at the time.  I allowed him to try them on. He had a grand time, looking in the mirror at himself.  Was I afraid that he would want to be a cross-dresser down the road?  Not at all.

He sees his mother and me wearing them, so he wanted to try them on too.  I think it’s important for him to experiment.  He has never asked to try on my shoes again, but if he had I wouldn’t love him any less.  Is it unusual for boys to want to try on mom’s shoes, beads etc.?  Experts say no, it’s not unusual.

There are many roles for children to play when they dress up and experts/teachers encourage it.  Here are a few benefits that children can obtain by playing dress up:

  • Encourages them to use their imagination
  • Encourages role playing
  • Helps overcome fear
  • Instills pride by performing good deeds while role playing
  • Helps them understand the world around them
  • Gives them an opportunity to interpret and translate what they see in their home

Purchase items that your son can use when playing dress-up.  If you don’t have costumes for him to utilize, here are a few ideas for boys:

  • doctor
  • pilot
  • construction worker
  • sports figure
  • teacher
  • chef

Head to the thrift store, clearance rack or clean out hubby’s or granddaddy’s closet and stock up on items that your son can use.  You can give him:

  • towel for a cape  (If you can sew, make a cape for him)
  • a hat 
  • sunglasses
  • brief case
  • pair of daddy’s shoes
  • football uniform
  • dad’s shirt
  • chef’s apron and hat
  • doctor’s bag
  • scrubs
  • construction hat

Use your imagination and allow your child to use theirs.  Encourage dress up and engage in role play with him. You will be helping them to develop social skills, psychological growth, and helping to understand the world around him.  When your child is playing, listen.  They may give you insight on how they see people and the world around them.  
.  














Breakfast Recipe: Sausage, Biscuit and Gravy Bake

breakfast casseroles



This dish is so delicious we eat it for breakfast, lunch and dinner.  It’s hearty and great for week-ends when you just want to relax, have guests, or you just want to enjoy each other and reheat for lunch.  If you have kids, they love it too.  It’s a great recipe to use for a brunch or office breakfast. The best thing about the dish is it’s easy to make.  Here’s what you need:


Ingredients

  • 1 pound ground pork or turkey sausage  ( I used hot Italian for this one)
  • 5 tablespoons butter
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 3 cups milk
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • Cooking spray
  • 8 refrigerated jumbo biscuits
  • 1/2 cup chopped green onions
  • 3/4 cup shredded sharp Cheddar cheese

Preparation
Preheat oven to 350°. Cook sausage in a large skillet over medium-high heat 8 minutes or until crumbly and no longer pink; remove from skillet, and drain. Melt butter in skillet; whisk in flour. Whisk constantly 1 minute. Gradually whisk in milk, salt, and pepper. Bring to a boil, whisking constantly; cook 2 minutes. Stir in sausage. Grease an 11- x 7-inch baking dish with cooking spray; place dish on a baking sheet. Split biscuits in half lengthwise; place 8 halves in baking dish. Top with half of sausage mixture and 1/4 cup chopped green onions. Repeat layers. Sprinkle with 3/4 cup shredded sharp Cheddar cheese. Bake 40 minutes or until golden.


Serve with scrambled eggs and fresh fruit.  Yummy!

10 Reasons To Love Spring

reasons to love spring

                                                                 Mallards in my wet weather streambed

Spring has finally arrived!  I am so ready for warmer weather.  First, snow hit us hard this winter in my part of the world.  Snow is great for removing impurities from the air.  Furthermore, it is beautiful when it is falling and fresh.  Snow loses its luster for me when it needs to be shoveled or plowed.  It turns into work.

Second, I love having something to look forward to.  So, spring brings me back to life after a cold dreary winter.  Have you noticed that things come alive in the spring?  The earth gives birth. At least, that’s how I feel about spring.  Also, I feel alive and excited.  Why, because the birds will be singing, trees will be blooming, flowers emerging, lawns turning green and the list goes on.  As a result, this is why Spring is a favorite time of year for me.

The one drawback is my allergies, but lets not dwell on this con.  Here’s a few other reasons to love spring:

 

  1. I never know what I will find in my backyard – Like the mallards swimming in my wet weather stream bed and the Robin’s egg below.
  2. Winter clothes are traded for lighter clothing and brighter colors –  Sweaters, boots, winter coats and hats are traded for lighter clothes.
  3. Days become longer – Longer days mean more time outside.
  4. Vacations and getaways are considered  – Vacation spots are considered.
  5. Backyard BQs are planned  – The grill is prepared for Memorial Day.
  6. I plant my summer vegetable garden –  My house will be filled with garden pots and grow lights.
  7. Yard sales, flea markets and farmer’s markets await me.
  8. Shop for bargain plants – I love incorporating flowers and flowering shrubs into my landscape.
  9. Clean out closets and refresh my house – Brighter colors and lighter bedding is used.
  10. Remove debris from the yard and clean the deck for summer enjoyment  – Summer furniture is cleaned and placed on the deck and in the yard.

 reasons to love spring

                                                                   A Robin’s egg that has fallen from the nest

Finally, I hope that you enjoyed my list of reasons to love spring.   Leave a comment and let me know what you look forward to when spring arrives.