Sunday, August 30, 2015

NEXT WEEK - Inaugural Free and Fun Friday Link-Up Blog Party! Printable and Downloadable Freebies, Plus Humorous Posts to Make us Laugh! Linkies / Linkys Here!

I don't know if y'all have noticed, but two of our favorite things here at Devastate Boredom are a) laughter and b) free stuff.  What better, thought I in a moment of SHEER inspiration, than a link-up party for others like us, who love funnies and freebies? 

So get excited, because next week we will welcome our very first FREE AND FUN FRIDAY, a link-up party featuring all kinds of bloggy fun and free stuff too!

Here's the rundown so you can know what to expect... from the FREE and the FUN!
 
This link party will be to highlight personal freebies, offered by the author.  Wall art, craft templates, ebooks, ecourses, clipart, wallpaper, fonts, printable games boards for kids, Mp3s, coloring pages, etc, are all welcome, as long as they are completely free, in their entirety.  Also, it is fine to link to posts showing things you have personally created/crafted using online freebies IF the original downloads are still available for free and you link clearly to the original post/author.  Giveaways are fun too!  Recipes do not count as a freebie, sorry.
We also love humorous, entertaining, lighthearted posts, that will perk up our Friday and set the weekend off on the right foot.  That crazy thing that happened last week, hilarious media reviews, pinterest disasters, chuckle-worth DIY projects... anything that will make us smile!
Basically, when it comes to  FREE and FUNNY, you are in the right place!

 
This party will go live at 11:30 am central time next Friday.  Follow me on twitter for instant notification!  The most-clicked items, as well as my personal favorite posts, will be featured the following week.

I can't wait... another great reason to look forward to Fridays!  :D 

Now I have to ask, what is your favorite existing blog party / link-up to attend?  What makes it extra fun?  I'm happy for any advice on how I can craft an absolutely fantastic linkies party! 

PS  Want to get a jump on joining up?  Commenters will receive early access to the party!  ;)

Big thanks to my monumentally talented friend, Samantha York, for putting together the graphics of our blog button! 

Friday, August 28, 2015

Friday Frivolity: Babies & Kids Edition -- Small Humans are Cute! And Funny! And Messy, and Sometimes Smelly!

Welcome to Friday Frivolity!  You've worked hard all week, time for a smile and a laugh, courtesy of some adorable small humans!
 
Oh, be still my heart... this kid is precious.  Maybe the most precious thing ever. 
 

 
 
Growing up is rife with so many difficult truths...


She wins all arguments. All arguments EVER.

 
Green beans?


 
 Most epic cake smash ever!


 
Have an awesome weekend! 
 
Like what you're reading?  Look to the right to subscribe via email, feed reader, or your other favorite service, and I'll keep the good stuff coming!
 



Thursday, August 27, 2015

#TBT - How to Meal Plan When You Don't Even Know How to Cook, by 2009 Sarah Eliza - Step 1, Learn to Cook...

Throwback Thursday!  This post first made its appearance in February of 2009... Can you tell how I'm trying to pretend that I know how to cook?  Oh how times have changed!  Be watching next week for a post about Paleo -ish meal planning and recipes... I'm a MUCH better cook now, I swear! 

"Is that egg HATCHING?" 
"Cook at home, cook at home!" We constantly hear that one of the key methods of living frugally is to whittle down expenditures in the food/restaurants/groceries department. However, that's easier said then done for many people...  In fact, the non-cooker or recent college graduate might certainly comprehend that she would save money by eating in more often, but if she's standing in front of a refrigerator that contains only yogurt, beer, french onion dip, a carton of milk, and eggs that under happier circumstances would likely be hens by now, the situation is indeed dire.  One would predict a high likelihood of a few cries of "woe is me!" and then a run to Wendy's instead of any actual options for a home-cooked meal. Even under a slightly better-case scenario, where the refrigerator might contain an actual onion instead of the onion dip, and a few oranges or a bag of slightly wilted spinach too, the frustration would probably be largely the same. A person can only eat so many spinach-and-onion omelets before breaking down and going out for a three-course meal...

In any case, grocery bills can add-up horrendously, especially during that space of time when a person takes his or her own nutritional welfare firmly in hand for the very first time and decides to make a go of "that cooking thing." In fact, this one pretty much comes down to being one of those ironic situations where you must spend money in order to save money. So! To begin. Students of frugal living, please ready your pencils.

No matter where you are in your kitchen-skills evolution, the first thing you will need to do is to make yourself a meal-guide overview for the upcoming week or two. Start slow in easing away from the more expensive/unhealthy habits you might have, making choices according to your priorities. For example, if every day you're unhappily handing over money at a food court for lunch, resolve to bring it from home the next Monday and Tuesday (starting out strong early in the week, before you can lose your enthusiasm...) and decide what will be easiest to prepare and transport without boring yourself to death with a PBandJ. Or, if you went to great lengths to avoid admitting to your coworkers at the Christmas party that your idea of cooking is EasyMac, then maybe you will choose to focus on finding some healthier options in the frozen meals / pre -prepared food category, while tentatively experimenting with cooking a few simple meals a week. A word of encouragement: "Recipe" is just another word for "directions" -- I promise! You obviously can read, as evidenced by your presence on this blog, so the most difficult part is already mastered...  ;)

Or perhaps you are slightly further along in your kitchen development.. If you already do a bit of cooking and sometimes remember bring your lunch from home, but generally find your kitchen shelves naked and depressing, and yourself aimless and uninspired when dealing with them, then the next step is to go online and click around some recipe sites. Your goal is to make a Master List of Ingredients for four or five recipes in particular... Preferably ones that overlap, at least when it comes to the perishable ingredients that might otherwise spoil forgotten in the back of your refrigerator. Begin by purchasing the ingredients for just one of the recipes, and then proceed with strategic grocery shopping to gradually build up a pantry of things that will actually be helpful to have on hand.

Once you have figured out your priorities for the week and have done any necessary recipe-research, create the meal-plan that will support your efforts. Don't view it as a strict guide, or as a taskmaster, but simply a tool to keep you aware of what food is readily available to you... hopefully helping to avoid both waste and the desperation-fueled purchase of Double-Stack Cheeseburgers at nine o'clock at night. When possible, shop sales to supplement your growing master list of ingredients, and frequently recycle these ingredients into new recipes as well. Keep the recipes that you have tried and liked in a centralized location... and if you are really inspired, develop a repertoire of four or five quick recipes that you could pretty much make in your sleep.

This approach to kitchen-life obviously requires you to sit down and do a few minutes work, and then muster the self-discipline to follow through with the plan you develop, but the nutritional and financial paybacks are well worth it. Keep it up for long enough, and it will become second nature… and onion-orange-yogurt omelets will thankfully become a thing of the long-forgotten past. 

Awww, 2009 Sarah Eliza was so cute!  We pat her patronizingly on the head!  We will see her periodically going forward.  :) 

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

How to Find Your Style - Minimalist Style for the Rest of Us - Step 1 in Transitioning Towards a Capsule Wardrobe Without Losing Your Mind!

Super girly post alert!  Writing today about fa-SHUN... ready to be glamorous and sophisticated with me??  First in a weekly series of six. 

Minimalist Style for the Rest of Us --
aka, How to Transition to a Capsule Wardrobe* Without Losing Your Mind -- Part 1



For a while now I've been fascinated by the idea of having a smaller, minimalist wardrobe, one that would be easy to mix -and-match and that would eliminate the "I have nothing to wear!" morning paralysis. I was inspired especially by the idea of a "happy closet" - one that I would feel comfortable and confident in because it was entirely made up of clothes I loved.  Isn't it sad that that wouldn't be a given? That so much of our closet space is often taken up by clothes we don't even like? 

I've done a ton of reading and pinterest-browsing in the search for what constitutes a "happy closet," and I thought I would pass along the steps I've identified in how to make that transition without losing your mind...  Going from our fast-fashion, cluttered-closet, shopping-as-a-hobby** culture to a curated collection of favorites is a pretty seismic shift, but it IS possible to cut down on waste and clutter, and achieve a capsule wardrobe* that you love, without being overwhelmed.  I promise! 

* Capsule wardrobe, dahhhling, is just fa-SHUN speak for "mix-and-matchable." 
**  Please note, I love shopping!  But now I shop in the spirit of looking-for-new favorites, which as you will discover below, are far more elusive creatures than you might previously have imagined.

Note:  This series is for non-models and other "normal" females, who like to look good without spending ridiculous amounts of time and money on it.  Hence the "rest of us" in the title.  If you are a model or otherwise making your career out of fa-SHUN, just go ahead and stop reading now... you can always guest post instead!  ;)

Ready?  Here we go!

Step 1:  Recognize that you want your own wardrobe, not somebody else's.  A friend of mine told me how she found a pair of shoes she really liked, at a price she liked even better, but that she didn't get them because she knew someone else who already owned them... deep down, the call to be unique is strong in each of us!  This is part of why I can't stand the "15 pieces you MUST own" type of lists... the things I "need" to own are going to be different than the things you "need" to own, because we each have different occupations and environments, different ideas of comfort, and, oh yeah, what I wear to feel confident and at ease is very likely different from what you do.  So, the first thing to do is to determine what you like to wear (actually LIKE to wear) and go from there.  Pinterest can be a fun tool for this, but it can also suck you into a confusing abyss of "oh that's so pretty... and this is so cute too... and oh my gosh, that's the best yet..." so this is also the time to realize that just because something looks good doesn't mean you want to own it. 

Shift your perspective to realize that you can admire something, and find it visually satisfying, without wanting to claim it as part of your identity by putting it on your body.  Being more deliberate in curating your clothing collection can be a game-changer in terms of attitude, enjoyment, and confidence!

An example -- I love the artsy, dreamy, "boho" look, but what that look communicates isn't what I'm most interested in saying about myself.  I actually feel like a flowery, filmy imposter when I wear it, so it certainly doesn't add to my confidence!  But I can love it on other people, in the same way that I can admire art at a gallery without necessarily wanting to buy each piece.

Your assignment:  Tonight, or this weekend if you're going to need more time to deal with it (set an alert on your phone so you don't forget!), count how many items are hanging in your closet.  This is just a starting place, so make a note of the number and move on.  Then, go through each item, and pull out your favorite pieces.  How many things can you definitively identify as favorites?  Is there a theme?  Color, style, brand, comfort factor, or otherwise?  Right now, you are trying to determine your personal preferences, under all those layers of "but it was on sale," and "but my mother always told me I shouldn't wear such-and-such" and "but everyone in the office wears this kind of thing"...  What do you enjoy wearing?

When I did this experiment myself, I realized I like simple, minimalist combinations of color and style.  I like long silhouettes, clothes with unexpected details, and solid colors.  Oh, and stripes.  I really like stripes.  I love neutrals (white, grey, black, not big on khaki), and gravitate towards red, turquoise, and blue.  Do you like patterns?  Florals?  Lace?  Collars?  Sweetheart necklines?  All this is data you're collecting on yourself.

When you have finished, leave your favorite clothes clustered together in one section of your closet, for ease of access going forward. 

Done with that?  Assuming that you are now tired and/or have other things to do than play with your clothes all day, you can wait until tomorrow to... do the exact same thing with your folded clothes.  ;)  Then check and see - do the "favorites" from your dresser fall in line with your closet favorites?  The end result should be at least a drawer and a section of your closet full of "favorite" items... plan to wear favorites every day for a week.  Try to notice if it changes your mood and attitude to be wearing things you enjoy.  Does it speed up the morning selection time?  Do you identify anything new about what makes those items your favorites? 

Confident, unique style is in reach for each of us!  I'm so excited about taking this fa-SHUN journey together.  Together we can curate and organize that closet into a thing of beauty... just like you! 

Be sure to subscribe for next week's post on transitioning towards a capsule wardrobe without losing your mind -- Step 2:  The Winnowing Phase! 

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Crazy Stuff I've Seen in Dallas TX: Sketchy Signs Edition

I'll admit, moving to Dallas has meant some mild culture shock.  Take this for example...  Dallas seems to have a rather impressive number of oddly named "stores of a certain type" if you take my meaning.  For example: 

"To go" as opposed to... condoms to stay?  Would that be like, some kind of in-house rental program?  Just... no.


What's under my bed?  Um, besides dust bunnies, a couple of monsters, and my secret stash of money because I don't trust banks, I guess you're expecting me to answer... condoms? 


And then there's this gem, clearly a legitimate business seeking employees on the up-and-up...

That one actually makes me sad, because it reminds me there are desperate enough for work that they'd look at that sign and go, "totally worth a shot."  That kind of sucks.  :(  I'm tempted to call that number and yell at them for trying to con poor innocent jobless people... but I'm not really the yelling type.  So, you do it and let me know how it goes!

And those are only the ones I was quick enough to capture with my phone's camera, so stay posted for more Crazy Dallas posts soon...!  And if you haven't already, hop over to check out my Cicadas will Rule the Earth post, with accompanying video... my dog thinks its hilarious.

Monday, August 24, 2015

Monday Free Music Madness: Yo-Yo Ma Album! 8 Classical Cello Tracks, Ave Maria, Meditation from Thais, legal MP3 downloads

Like what you're reading?  Look to the right to subscribe via email, feed reader, bloglovin, twitter, etc, and I'll keep the good stuff coming!

Mondays are better with new free music!

This week we have a really wonderful free album download, from the renowned cellist Yo-Yo Ma!  The Sound of Yo-Yo Ma features eight tracks, including the breathtaking Meditation from Thais (if you don't know it by name you'll recognize it when you hear it... either that or you've been living under a rock all your life... come out from under the rock!  The sun is out, and there is beautiful music to be had for FREE!), Dona Nobis Pacem, and Ave Maria, along with five other classical pieces featuring the cello.

Snag it today!  This will make a wonderful addition to the Music for Focus and Contemplation collection we began last week... if you haven't already, hop over to that post for a free Celtic album, a free new age electronica album, and more!  :)


Linking up with Mama Moment Mondays, Making Your Home Sing, Not Just Homemaking, Works for Me WednesdayFellowship Friday, and Good Morning Mondays!

Friday, August 21, 2015

Friday Frivolity, Puppeh Edition: Funny DOGS and Funny PUPPIES and SO MUCH CUTE!

Like what you're reading?  Look to the right to follow me via email, feed reader, bloglovin', twitter, or google, and I'll keep the good stuff coming!  ;)
 
It's Friday at last!  Here's a little Frivolity... we all know you've earned it! 

Cats having had their moment last week, today we feature Puppehs!



Was that you this week?  Hopefully not, but especially for all those teachers going back to school it might have been... we love you teachers!


Puppies plus babies = double win on the cuteness scale.  


Oh we are Puppeh.  Oh we are!


amazingphel:

my mum asks me to show her this almost every day
 
I'm pretty sure this is actually a fuzzy tap-dancing robot...

On that note we must leave you... have a happy weekend!

Linking up with Mama Moments Monday!

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Guest Book Review: The Wedding Wager, aka, "Car Crash with Destiny"

After my life-long bestie Samantha York regaled me with a hilarious description of the book she was currently reading, I just knew I needed to have her guest post with a review!  Enjoy!


A Review of The Wedding Wager, or as I would have called it, "A Car Wreck with Destiny"

As a habitual insomniac, I've seen the wrong side of midnight one too many times. We're not talking about productive, crazy-genius awakeness a la Nikola Tesla. On the contrary, it's stubborn restlessness of mind that refuses to be entertained. In these moments I prowl through the free offerings on Amazon's kindle bookstore, braving archaic texts and the un-famous undead. While I'm not entirely above a Harlequin-esque romance, I generally stick to the ones billed as sweet and clean by reviewers. Although in this case, they entirely missed tagging it as "idiotically unrealistic."

The book is called The Wedding Wager. The gist is as follows. All alone in the world, freshly discharged from a six month hospital ordeal following a catastrophic car wreck, 20 something Megan answers an obscure want ad searching for a "personal secretary."  Feeling alone in the world and like she has no other choice, she hops unquestioningly into the limo sent for her. Because, after a whole hour spent looking at want ads, she clearly has no other options. /sarcasm. Does she end up on the 11 pm news? Kidnapped? Sold into slavery?

No! *spoilers ahead.* She ends up married to a billionaire! A young handsome billionaire who is going to pay all her hospital bills! All she has to do is look pretty! And spend his thousands on new designer clothes! And pretend to love him! Until....surprise! They aren't pretending anymore. It's worse than Disney princesses, y'all! I kept at it, page after page, hoping for a plot twist, a surprise, anything. But no deviation from the formula was to be had. Even an angry, verbally abusive father-in-law could not thwart the moral of this sugary tale.

And what was the moral of the story? Thousands of dollars in hospital debt justifies answering sketchy job postings and completely ignoring common sense. These behaviors never end badly! They end up with billionaire husbands! Now go forth and conquer, my fellow women!

No really don't. Please don't. I don't want to see your tragic end on my tv set tonight. Be bold enough to look past the iffy, glitzy offers and make a wise decision instead!

We hope you enjoyed that edition of "What not to read," with Samantha and Sarah!  And if that book was actually right up your ally and you're excited we brought it to your attention, check it out on Amazon.  It's free!  And as we hear, the first in a riveting series.  ;)

Psssst, everyone!  Follow my blog with Bloglovin!  I just joined, and it looks like fun!

Linking up with Booknificent Thursday, Book Review Blog Hop, and Literacy Musing Monday!  Check them out for more great book reviews!


Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Crazy Stuff I've Seen in Dallas, Cicadas will Rule the Earth Edition

So you know Cicadas?  Noisy bugs that live all over the world (more than 2000 species of them!), have a crazy long lifecycle (up to 17 years), and are pretty dang huge as adults?  Well, wouldn't you know also, that as part of our recent move to Dallas, we'd choose to move into a dwelling situated LITERALLY ON TOP OF A NEST OF NYMPHS, just  in time for them to complete their 13 year life cycle and hatch all around us?  Yep, not making that up...

Yeah, yeah, this isn't the first time I've seen Cicadas -- I've seen both adults and the exuvia (the discarded husks -- why yes, I am a teacher, how did you know?) before in Georgia.  But these suckers are EVERYWHERE here right now!  Which led me to make this video, hilariously narrated in the background by me, trying to "sing" the Jaws theme-song, but quietly enough so the neighbors won't hear and think me demented.  What those freaky little husks really made me think of was Alien, not Jaws, but I don't know the theme song to Alien, so oh well.  Also, you get to say hi to my dog at the end. 


For the record, Cicadas don't really freak me out -- I totally let one live peacefully on my back steps for about a week before it molted... I just was impressed by the number of exuvia, and then they reminded me of horror movies, and here we are!

And here's an amazing time-lapse of a Cicada molting over the course of two hours...  It's a lot like butterflies, only grosser and thus cooler...  I'm bummed that four years of Kindergartners missed out on seeing this!
 


Monday, August 17, 2015

Free Music for Focus & Contemplation - Steve Roach, Hearts of Space, Celtic, David Arkenstone, more, all legal! PLUS Country!

Like what you're reading?  Look to the right to follow me via email, feed reader, bloglovin, or twitter, and I'll keep the good stuff coming!  :)

Bogged down by everything you have to do?  Here's some new music to perk us up!
 
Since I've been trying to focus in on writing lately, this week I was drawn to look for instrumental, wordless music, that would be a nice background for curbing my ADHD while not boring me to tears.  I present to you, free music for focus and contemplation!  So to start... Celtic is always fun! 
 
This collection, Green Hill Celtic Music Sampler 2014, features music from David Arkenstone, David Davidson (self-centered much, parents of David Davidson? You named your child after your own last name...), John Mock, Cynthia Wyatt, and Craig Duncan.  If you like this kind of thing, you should check out my favorite all-time Celtic instrumental album - Jeff Victor's Scottish Moors - not free, but oh-so pretty.

I'm probably most excited about this awesome collection of new age space electronica ambient music (so hard to describe!  I'll just keep stringing words together...), called The Hues of Infinity.  If you've ever listened to the NPR program Hearts of Space, this will be your cup of tea!  In fact, Steve Roach, who is included in this compilation, has been featured on the program many times.  LOVE his music (this is a great example) and it's almost never free!
 
Oooh this freebie fits perfectly with this post topic too!  Mindful Guitar (Slow Guitar for Focus & Meditation) from Inner Harmonies -- I would call this, "classical guitar meets new age melodies".  Very soothing!

Less my style but worth mentioning, an hour long album of ocean sounds.  I prefer melody mixed in with my nature sounds, something this app kindly provides:  Relax Melodies app.  You can mix and match sounds (everything from "ocean" to "wind chime" to "breeze") along with snippets of melody that play on loop.  It is currently free as well, hurray! 

My streaming choice for this week is the free album and program available on the Hearts of Space website -- I had kind of forgotten how much I love this style of "electric space ambient music" so I'm excited to rediscover it.  They also have their weekly program available to stream for free every Sunday, so be sure to set an alert on your calendar if you want to tune in for that!  More extensive streaming is available by subscription.

All right now, enough internet browsing.  Go play your new music and focus!  :)
 
PS  This doesn't fit the topic AT ALL but I never know how long free stuff will stay free, so tacking it on just the same -- google play currently has a free sampler album of Country Hits available.  Be sure to click "free" and not "subscribe for free" which will sign you up for their music service.  I don't know if it is any good... because I don't listen to country... but if you do, let me know what you think!  ;P
Posts may contain affiliate links -- outta work teachers turned writers gotta earn their coffee money!  All opinions are my own.

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