Monday, May 14, 2012

Monday- Mental DeClutter

I'm going on vacation for the week.....I need some serious R&R. Have a good DECLUTTERED week!

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Thursday- Physical DeClutter

9 Sneaky Ways to Get Your
Kids Moving

Getting your kids to exercise shouldn't have to be a struggle. Here are a few ways to get them going without the usual song and dance.
Get Your Kids Moving
Kids are more sedentary than they've ever been, which should come as no surprise since, as a whole, the US population is too. Some causes are obvious: Playing once involved baseball gloves and sweat, and now it involves joysticks.

As a parent, you have a huge influence on how much activity your children get: You're not only a role model but an on-site coach.

But mandating exercise won't always work. "If you say, 'That's it, Billy, you have to sign up for a sport,' there's generally backlash," says Karen Miller-Kovach, chief scientific officer at Weight Watchers International and author of Family Power: Five Simple Rules for a Healthy Weight Home. So it may require craftier tactics.
Below are nine stealth tactics to get kids under 12 to exercise without realizing it.
1. Buy video games that make them sweat
There are games that force children, including Nintendo's Wii Fit system, to move around in order to win. "If you're at the arcade," says Molly Carmel, senior clinical director at the Academyof the Sierras weight-loss boarding school, "think Dance Dance Revolution instead of Tetris."
2. Rotate active chores 
Mowing the lawn, vacuuming, taking out the trash — they all count as activity. Change the assignment board every week so everybody gets to do something new and work different muscles.
3. Make family night about moving around 
Ditch the movies in favor of bowling or miniature golf — exercises that are fun, competitive and can involve the whole family. Bike, hike, run races or play soccer or catch with a football or softball. All of these will help keep them on their feet.
4. Have a step competition 
"Something we've seen be really successful is when everybody in the family wears a pedometer and keeps track of how many steps they've taken over the course of a day," says Carmel. Write each person's daily score on a white board on the refrigerator. "At the end of the week, whoever wins decides the activity for the weekend." Low-end pedometers can be had for less than $10, and as long as everyone has the same model, all should be fair.
5. Walk, walk, walk
Encourage kids to walk to the store, the library, their friend's house. Or anywhere the kids look forward to going. Walk with them. Strolling aimlessly for exercise is an adult quirk in their view, so make the destination count.
6. Give in 
Speaking of putting them on the heel-toe express as much as possible, cave in and get them the puppy they've been asking for. Dogs, after all, need to be walked two or three times a day. Make caring for the pet a condition of bringing Fido home, and you've built in additional daily exercise.
7. Pool resources 
Not every family has the money or a back yard big enough for a pool. To mitigate the temptation to crank up the AC and stay indoors when summer hits, Carmel recommends signing up for the community pool. There, the kids will have so much fun, she says, they won't realize that they're exercising.
8. Be handy 
Buying a badminton or tetherball set can't hurt, but after five minutes any game you suggest can mysteriously be labeled "lame." Instead, strap on a tool belt and ask them to help you install a floodlight. Or a backyard basketball hoop. Or anything else extremely cool. They'll be your happy gofer and proud to take credit with you when the task is finished.
9. Be creative 
There are "very simple things you can do, like set up an obstacle course in the basement," says Miller-Kovach. "Think up ways they can actively play rather than sit in front of the television on a rainy day."

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Wednesday- What's Cooking?

We had a mother/daughter Cupcake Wars at church tonight. It was fun to spend time with the teenage daughter (who most days drives me crazy). Here is what we made tonight!! We were the Galactic Gardners....Princess Leia in a beautiful garden of flowers.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Tuesday- Temporal DeClutter

Summer is just around the corner and I can hardly wait. Time to relax and play with the kids. What do you have planned for this summer? Found this great Summer Fun Chart over at, Go print one for your family and declutter your schedule to spend some time with the kids. Make it a summer they won't forget!!

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Friday- Financial DeClutter

Learn What the Student Loan Forgiveness Act Could Mean for You

March 21, 2012 RSS Feed Print
On March 8, Congressman Hansen Clarke (D-Mich.) introduced H.R. 4170, the Student Loan Forgiveness Act of 2012
Normally we don't go into the findings of particular pieces of legislation, but the Student Loan Ranger thinks findings like this are refreshing and show Rep. Clarke is living in the reality most of us inhabit, including:

Total outstanding student loan debt officially surpassed total credit card debt in the United States in 2010, and is on track to exceed $1,000,000,000,000 during 2012; 
Excessive student loan debt is impeding economic growth in the United States. Faced with excessive repayment burdens, many individuals are unable to start businesses, invest, or buy homes; 
Because of soaring tuition costs, students often have no choice but to amass significant debt to obtain an education that is widely considered a prerequisite for earning a living wage."
If you want to hear more from Rep. Clarke, you can watch him introduce the bill in the House. But right now we're going to do what the Student Loan Ranger does best: explore the details.
The act would create a new 10/10 Loan Repayment Plan (with new forgiveness provisions), cap interest rates for all federalloans, greatly improve Public Service Loan Forgiveness, and convert some borrowers' private loans to federal loans. That's a lot! Here's more information on four key parts:
1. 10/10 Loan Repayment Plan: Cleverly called 10/10, the plan caps payment amounts at 10 percent of a borrower's discretionary income (the same 10 percent cap as President Obama's Pay As You Earn proposal in terms of payments) and can provide forgiveness in 10 years.
The forgiveness provision kicks in after a borrower makes 120 payments, which must be either payments under the 10/10 plan; payments that were not less than they would have been under the 10/10 plan; or "payments" of $0 during a month the borrower was in deferment due to an economic hardship.
[Learn more about deferment.] 
For borrowers on or after the date of enactment, forgiveness is limited to $45,520 in principal and fees plus the interest accrued on the principal and fees. That's a huge amount!
There is no forgiveness cap for borrowers who predate enactment. And because prior payments can count, many borrowers who have been repaying their loans for 10 years or more could be eligible for complete forgiveness right away.
One of the Student Loan Ranger's reservations about the plan is that it currently requires borrowers to agree to have their payments electronically debited from a bank account, which could penalize low-income borrowers who may not have bank accounts. We're also concerned that requiring borrowers who leave the plan to repay on a standard plan could put some into a catch-22 where they can't afford payments in 10/10 but also can't afford to leave.
Finally, we're hoping that the plan will be open to help all borrowers with federal loans, without having to meet a threshold like the "partial financial hardship" required forIncome-Based Repayment.
2. Capping interest rates for all federal loans: The act would cap the interest rate on federal loans at 3.4 percent. This is great news for borrowers, since the interest rate is set to be 6.8 percent for all federal Stafford loans as of July 1, 2012.
[Find out more about changes to graduate Stafford loans.]
3. Improving Public Service Loan Forgiveness: The act would also provide for Public Service Loan Forgiveness after 60 monthly payments instead of 120. It is impossible for us to overstate how much this would help borrowers who have committed to careers at relatively low-paying public interest jobs, who could actually start saving for their kids' education and perhaps owning their own home half a decade earlier than they anticipated.
4. Refinancing private education loans: Certain eligible borrowers would be able to obtain a Federal Consolidation Loan to discharge private loans (which lack the protections of federal loans). While we have a few questions about the details, such as whether this would be open to borrowers who had to borrow private loans in addition to federal loans, overall, this would be an incredible help to borrowers struggling with private loans.
This is an act that really needs public support if it is going to move out of the House Education and the WorkforceHouse Armed Services, and House Foreign Affairs committees it has been referred to. If you agree with the plan, the Student Loan Ranger urges you to sign the petition and to personally call your Representative and Senators. And use the Twitter function on this post to tell all your friends about the act.
Of course, you can also keep in touch with us via Twitter (use #studentdebthelp) and Facebook. And register for one of our upcoming student debt relief webinars to get the details you need to know on existing student debt relief programs.
Isaac Bowers is a senior program manager in the Communications and Outreach unit, responsible for Equal Justice Works' educational debt relief initiatives. An expert on educational debt relief, Bowers conducts monthly webinars for a wide range of audiences; advises employers, law schools, and professional organizations; and works with Congress and the Department of Education on federal legislation and regulations. Prior to joining Equal Justice Works, he was a fellow at Shute, Mihaly & Weinberger LLP in San Francisco. He received his J.D. from New York University School of Law.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Thursday- Physical DeClutter

Losers' Lentil Salad (Biggest Loser Quick and Easy Cookbook)

This dish makes an excellent side dish at a picnic or barbecue and is a great to-go lunch. It's easy to prepare, especially if you buy pre-steamed lentils, which are available in the refrigerator section of many major grocery storesthese days. Plus, it packs 10 grams of fiber, which means that it will fill you up!
  • 2 cups steamed lentils, chilled
  • 2 cups cubed red bell pepper
  • 1 cup cubed English (or hothouse) cucumber
  • 1 cup red onion, diced
  • 3 tablespoons low-fat, low-sugar, low-sodium balsamic vinaigrette dressing (I used Follow Your Heart Organic Balsamic Vinaigrette Salad Dressing)
  • 4 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • Sea salt, to taste
  • Fresh ground black pepper, to taste
  • 2 ounces (1/2 cup) reduced-fat feta cheese crumbles

In a medium mixing bowl, toss the lentils, pepper, cucumber, and onion with the dressing and vinegar. Season with salt and pepper. Top with the cheese crumbles. Serve immediately or refrigerate for up to 3 days.

Makes 4 (1 1/2-cup) servings
Per serving: 214 calories, 13 g protein, 33 g carbohydrates (10 g sugar), 4 g fat, 2 g saturated fat, 4 mg cholesterol, 10 g fiber, 279 mg sodium

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Wednesday- What's Cooking?

Skinny Chunky Monkey Cookies Recipe:

3 ripe bananas
2 cups old-fashioned oats
1/4 cup creamy peanut butter
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/3 cup unsweetened applesauce
1 tsp. vanilla extract 

Preheat oven to 350°F. Mash bananas in a large bowl, then stir in remaining ingredients. Let batter stand for approximately 20 minutes, then drop by teaspoonfuls onto ungreased cookie sheet. Bake 10-12 minutes. 

Freezing Directions:
Cool completely, then place cookies in a freezer bag. Seal, label, and freeze. 

Nutritional Information (per cookie): 
47 calories; 7.5 g carbs; 1.6 g fat; 1.5 g protein; 1.3 g fiber; 1 WW PointsPlus

Tuesday- Temporal DeClutter

I'm sharing a post I wrote last December.....just wanted to remind myself about what's important!!

Time......How much time do you waste during the day? I got to thinking about this the other day as I found myself spending WAY TOO MUCH time on a project. While I was working on this project, my poor kids were on their own, fed themselves dinner, got their homework done alone...etc. When I finished, I realized I really didn't need to spend that much time on the project to begin with. It could have (should have) been SIMPLIFIED! But, I didn't take the time to figure that out before I started. How many meetings do we go to that could be cut in half? Too much talking about unnecessary things...getting off track, etc. How much time do we waste watching TV or playing on Facebook? After I saw my kids fend for themselves that day, it really got me thinking about how I spend my time. Especially with summer approaching, I think we all need to stop and think about DeCluttering our schedules to make more room for our priorities...for me, it's my FAMILY! What are your priorities? Where can you cut back?