Category: Tips

Ideas, suggestions, and lessons learned during our adventures.

Why You Should Read Your Insurance Policy

Why You Should Read Your Insurance Policy

The insurance company answers to its investors – and the secret most of the companies don’t admit is that you are not the investor. The goal will be to get you to settle at the lowest possible expense to the insurance company.

As long as they aren’t acting in bad faith, then they are justified in their actions.

That doesn’t mean you are going to be happy with where they want to settle.

Knowing what’s in your policy will help you get to a place where you are happy. Don’t expect the insurance adjuster to know what is right for you. Learn for yourself.

A friend recently shared that he’d had his heating and cooling unit go out. He and his wife had been getting by because the cost was so much. When he shared with another friend, that friend knew that the insurance company had added the central units to some policies. When he looked at his policy, he saw that he was covered.

Had he known his policy, he would have saved him and his wife a few months of discomfort.

You don’t know what you don’t know, and you can’t work with getting what you deserve if you don’t know what that is.

Know More by Knowing Your Insurance Policy

  • Read your insurance policy. It’s a good idea to read through your policy every year – especially if you make any upgrades or do any remodeling during the year. You have to be sure the coverage you have is enough, and you also want to be sure you not over-covered.
  • Keep your policy in an easy to access location – in this day and age, it might be a good idea to keep it on your phone. When something happens, you need to be able to access the details of how you are covered.
  • Learn the lingo. Like most industries, insurance has phrases that mean something unique to the industry. Having a basic understanding of replacement cost, cash value, and other terms in your policy.
  • Take time to understand the different sections of your coverage. Your policy will have limits for each one of the sections – for instance, your auto insurance may cover medical, car rental, repairs, and even passengers’ personal property.

The more you know about your insurance, the better prepared you will be to handle trouble when it shows up.

It took us two hours to hike out from the house to safety after the tornado hit on Easter night. Once we were safe, I made a call to the insurance company to start the claims process. As soon as the local office opened, I went to get a cash advance to help us get a room and some necessities.

I had taken the time to know what we had available because of past storms. Because I knew what I knew, we were able to immediately get a place to stay and start the process of finding a rental car. Not only did I need to know about the home owner’s insurance, but also three vehicles. Every little I knew made it a little easier to get things moving.

There is still a lot to learn, and with each learning opportunity, we are a little bit closer to getting things settled.

What tips do you have for dealing with insurance?

The Mom

How I Fight Back a Migraine Attack

How I Fight Back a Migraine Attack

Nothing ruins a day like a migraine attack. If you have never experienced a migraine headache then be thankful. It’s not just a bad headache. A migraine forces you to the point that you want to pluck your head off and throw it away.

You can’t rub your head to make it feel better, either. Migraines hide in a part of your head that mortal fingers can’t reach.

All you can do is try not to move, or see light, or sometimes even breathe – all with the hope that the pain will soon subside.

Most of my life I was plagued by migraines. I never had more than a couple each month, which may not seem like much but is when you have searing, blinding pain shooting through your skull.

Several years ago, I did some research on dehydration and discover that a lack of salt can be the top reason to get dehydrated AND dehydration is often the top reason for triggering a migraine.

“What if salt would stop a migraine?” I only asked myself in a joking manner because surely if salt would help someone would have told me that in all of my years of suffering. Of course, throughout all of my pregnancies I suffered from dehydration and I never once had someone suggest that I make sure to get salt.

So, I decided to give it a try.

The next time I felt a migraine trying to slither through my brain, I grabbed one of those salt packets you get in the drive-thru. I dabbed a little with my finger, put that little bit on my tongue, and washed it down with some water. I continued the process until all of the salt from that one packet was gone.

And the migraine never took off. I had defeated the migraine attack with a salt packet.

It could have been a coincidence. Not all migraines that try end up gaining a footing.

I tried the next few times, and for the most part, the migraines would never show. The ones that did were not so painful that I would have to shelter in a dark corner away from all sound until they went away. I could take some over the counter pain medication and within an hour or so I would be good to go.

My sons picked up the habit. If they felt a headache coming on or a migraine attack began, they would get a dab of salt and keep going.

About two years ago, I started dealing with Menopause symptoms and desperately wanted an answer to make them go away. After some research, I tried a supplement that included Dong Quai root and Black Cohosh.

For the next six months, I went without any headaches or migraines. I didn’t take any pain medication at all.

Could it be a coincidence?

I’m not a doctor and I don’t even play one on the television and I also didn’t sleep in a Holiday Inn Express last night. All I can tell you for certain is that my body responded to the choices I made.

Here’s the true secret.

Your body is unique. You can learn from what others say and what others do but you have to find what will work for you. It may be that salt (or salt and lemon as I recently read or supplements are your answer. It may be they are part of your answer. It may be that they lead you to your answer.

Learn. Test. Ask. Test. Listen. Test.

Your body is unique to you and only you can determine what is right or wrong for your body. Be bold enough to learn your body so you can stand up for what it needs.

What are some unique tips you’ve discovered?

Facing Down the Trees Trying to Keep You Stuck

Facing Down the Trees Trying to Keep You Stuck

It takes a village – almost literally – to maintain the gardens around my house. It’s my fault (mostly). I had grand visions of botanical gardens running through my head each spring so I kept adding to the beds until the beds overtook me.

And then I had kids. I kept up the beds until the third one arrived. After him, a series of life events got in the way and before I knew it I had a garden of gigantic weeds with root systems that apparently hold the world together. Think Boaboa trees (from the Little Prince, not from Southern Africa)!

Garden on Weeds

For the last several years I have had the mindset to get things back under control. It seems it’s easier to make the beds than it is to reclaim the beds. I do what feels like a lot, turn around, and it’s actually less than a little. When you are talking acres of beds, five feet of clearing and cleaning don’t make that much difference.

Besides, I couldn’t get anyone else to help me. Nobody would get the tiller running so I could keep the weeds out of the beds I did clean. Nobody would use the chainsaw to cut down the weeds that conventionally clippers couldn’t touch. Nobody would help me with the tasks that needed to be done just to make room for the tasks that had to be done.

Nobody looks suspiciously like my husband.

Last weekend, I had a mind shift in what I was doing for my business which lead to the launching of Stuck Writers. Apparently, dealing with stuckness in one area gave way for other areas because I started the week in the garden and am making a little progress every day. I have determined that if I only get five feet cleared then I will just keep that five feet of garden looking as amazing as possible all year long.

Yesterday, I hit upon something that I would never have considered before. What if I could launch a whole new garden with less work than it takes to reclaim the old one. So, I jumped on the tractor and went to experiment.

It’s not a perfect plan, but I said that before I set my flower beds on fire the first spring I gave that a go. The benefits of digging up and starting over is that I’m not restricted by what was. I have the freedom to do or to be whatever I decide.

So, let me ask you this, where are you stuck?

What part of your life, your home, your garden, is just sitting there getting bigger and bigger weeds because you are stuck in a rut of what to do next?

Getting Unstuck

  • Dare to do something – because something is more than nothing.
  • Don’t wait for others – you are all you need to take your step. Others may be needed for other parts, but you are only in charge of yours.
  • Start RIGHT now – and I mean right now – or at least as soon as you are finished with this article. Take one step (no matter how small) and get moving.

No matter how big the mountain or how deep the pit, you can get there. You start with the first step and then you add to that one step one step at a time.

Don’t stay stuck. Take your step!

The Mom

How to Change a Habit of Being Messy

How to Change a Habit of Being Messy

Messy is a habit formed by consistent practice the same as clean or organized are habits. It is the day to day practice that will create the difference.

break messy habits
The squirrel scampered up the tree with a dead limb three times its size. I watched it as it went up the tree knowing it was in the process of building a nest and curious where it had decided to create its home.

We have some very tall trees, and I’m always amazed when the squirrels perch so high that it seems like sheer will holds the nests in place.

This squirrel did not go very high. It stopped on a limb and went to work, right next to a limb that already had a nest built.

I thought it was odd the squirrel would build so close to another squirrel. “Maybe it’s starting a squirrely neighborhood.” I was raised in a rather squirrely neighborhood myself so I understood the appeal.

The actions of the squirrel drove me to do some research. Did you know when a squirrel’s nest becomes too messy the squirrel abandons the nest and builds another one?

I guess that is one way to deal with a habit of being messy, but it’s probably not the most cost-effective – especially for us human parents of boys!

Messy habits are learned behaviors. If I want to avoid having to abandon the house for a new abode then I need to develop the actions and behaviors to change my messy habits (as well as those of my children if I don’t want to be cleaning up after them for the rest of my life).

control the squirrels

Change a Habit of Messy

  1. Keep the table cleaned off. Over the years I’ve discovered any location near the door becomes a dropping place for random stuff. There are two ways you can avoid letting tables becomes storage locations. One, clear the table every meal. That is not only a way to get the table cleared but also a way to encourage family mealtime. Two, remove the temptation. If you don’t need the table then get rid of it.
  2. Put clothes away when you change. It is an easy habit to drop your pajamas in the floor because you know you are going to put them back on later. Instead, create a home for your rewearables. Have a space in your bathroom drawer or a hanger in your closet that holds your rewearables until it is time for them to be reworn.
  3. Put clothes away when they come out of the dryer. I have to remind myself that “in your room” is not put away. The clothes need to go into their home before that task can be marked off.

  4. Put the dishes away when they are clean. The longer you wait to put away the plastic drying in the rack or the dishes in the dishwasher, the more likely you are to create a backlog in the sink. Once dishes start piling up in the sink they magically multiply. The last thing you want is to wake up in the morning to have to face down a sink full of dirty dishes. Put the dishes away and you have space to clean as you go.
  5. Take out the trash when you get out of the car. If the small trash bag if full, take the whole thing. If there is one piece in it, then just take out that one piece. Again, this is the “clean as you” process that makes changing a habit of messy easier.
  6. Get rid of the boxes. Stacks of boxes might look better than piles of stuff, but you need to conquer the stuff instead of hiding it away. Take one large empty box and set it next to the door. Once a week, go through one of the boxes you have stacked up and determine if you want to keep, repurpose, or release what has been hiding in there. The key is you have to find a permanent home for anything you keep. Put all release items in the box by the door. When it is full take it to a thrift store or charity.

Messy is a habit. If you want to change the habit of messy then you have to make the choice to do things different. Don’t invest the time and energy you have into putting things off (which allows things to pile up). Clean as you go. Take one step at a time. And just keep going. You will get to the place where messy is no more.

What are your habit changing tips? Share your ideas in the comments below.

Need some help finding your change?

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Choose from the best option for your and then begin the procuses of gaining ground on making the messy habits.
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Six Tips for Meals on the Go

Six Tips for Meals on the Go

Following a few simple tips can help you make the most of your meals on the go. Taking to the road does not mean you will leave a wake of fast food containers or restaurant receipts in your wake. I have learned from experience.

Take the Meal on the Road

Feeding my man family – two teenage manboys, a husband, and ready to be a man but not quite a pre-teen – almost requires taking out a loan when we stop at restaurants or fast food establishments. I long for those days when one meal could be spread out between a child and a parent . . . but I fear that longing will be all that I get to do.

The kids are growing, and that means some creative meal planning when we are going to hit the road. As long as I think ahead and pack well, we can eat healthy and happy without having to hit a bank along the way.

My Tips for Feeding the Family on the Go

  1. Offer something different (or maybe it would be better to say special). Road meals should be treats that will not be had at any other time. I have a fond memory of peanut butter and honey sandwiches that they gave us at summer camp, but only when we went on the canoe trip. I loved those sandwiches. That is one of my favorites for “only get this when we are on a road trip” meals. I up the healthy status by baking the loaf bread from scratch and using almond butter in place of the peanut butter.
  2. Keep the meal easy. The more moving parts to the meal, the more opportunities there will be for a train wreck – which means messes. I have taken the morning biscuit to a new level by modifying the sausage ball recipe. I added extra flour mix and several eggs so that the resulting “sausage baseball” is more of a well-rounded breakfast meal than just a meaty appetizer.
  3. Make sure that it can close. I have used drink bags and even canned items in the past, but sooner or later (and often both) a spill is going to happen. We have gone to individual water bottles that we use for hiking and camping. I can pack a container of sweet green tea and we know that even if the car makes a sudden stop the drinks will not end up everywhere. Be sure that the main container will also seal shut for that moment WHEN it tips over (because it will).
  4. Provide garbage cans for all the rows in the car. We have several of the little bathroom cans in the Suburban. We use the leftover plastic grocery bags to line the cans. This makes for easy cleanup. Be sure to empty the cans each time you stop – even if they are not yet to the point of being declared full. Roll up extra bags and keep them stored in the bottom of the can underneath the liner.
  5. Take a moment and eat outside the car. Use gas stops and bathroom breaks as meal breaks. You will have more opportunities to enjoy the unique scenery of the places you are passing through. You will keep the driver from trying to eat and drive (because something gets spilled or messed up no matter how nice the intentions). Most importantly, it helps to keep the car clean.
  6. Consider a travel cooler. We have several full-sized coolers that we use for camping and activities. Our travel cooler is about two feet by one foot and offers just enough space for some sandwiches and a few snacks. It is the perfect size for sitting in the middle of one of the rows of seats and it is easy to access while we are on the move.

Eating on the road can become a fun part of family travel traditions. The right planning can help you save on your travel costs, but also allow you to see even more while you are out on an adventure. These top tips can help you make the most of your meals on the go.

Let me know if they work for you and if you have any great tips for meals on the go.


The Mom

Travel Fun to Make the Going Easier

Travel Fun to Make the Going Easier

Make travel fun for everyone with a little planning before you go. Too much of anything can be bad thing – even what should be a good thing.

My son, the youngest at the time, crawled up in my lap and sighed. “Can we go home now? I’m tired of opening presents.” It should have been a magical time for him. My mom had loaded him down with so many presents that it lost its fun.

That moment locked in my mind and flashes anytime I am planning something for kids and for adults. The motto “keep it simple” rings true because it is true. Piling too much into your trip will take some of the magic away from the experience and leave you all too exhausted to enjoy the things to come.

Tips for Making Travel Fun

1. Do stuff. The longer the trip, the more you will need to discover. Find little nooks along the way so that you not only get to stop and stretch but you get a chance to enjoy the stop. One trip to Quincy, Indiana took us near Metropolis. We detoured long enough to get our pictures taken with Superman. The internet makes it easier than ever to find the unexpected and to plan a trip around a visit.

2. Don’t do too much. Our last trip to the gulf allowed for a stop at Battleship Park in Mobile, Alabama. The website said that the tour would take about 2 ½ hours but that you could stay as long as you wanted. It turned out that the estimate was on the fast side. We had another event to attend, so we had to cut the visit short and missed out on several of the other attractions because of our lack of time. Next time we make it to the port city we will plan for a longer visit to the amazing park.

3. Plan to splurge. We are stretching our budget so that we can visit more places by camping it along the way, but sometimes a hotel room or special meal hits the spot. Activities can also run up the cost of the trip (Battleship Park ran our family around $50). Calculate the cost of these specials when adding up your travel budget.

4. Don’t overdo it. The specials can add up fast. Setting a budget in the beginning and setting out a plan for the trip (with different options for activities) can keep you from getting caught up in the moment and throwing away your traveling budget.

5. Make a new tradition that costs little to nothing. Every place we visit, we make one of those engraved pennies. The resulting souvenir takes up very little space and costs less than a dollar. We are also starting the tradition of planting letterboxes in some of the places that we visit (be sure that you have permission from the location). It gives us something to visit in the future. It gives others something to enjoy. The total cost for planting a letterbox is around $12 (depending on the items you put in the box). We are also trying to find letterboxes where we visit, which cost us nothing. These little traditions give us something to take with us from our trip beyond the ordinary and expected.

6. Take turns picking the activity, attraction, or even the location. Get the whole family involved in the research and the planning. You will all learn more about the destination and have more fun if you all plan together.

Taking time to see the sights and enjoy each other’s company make traveling worth the trials and errors that will come along. Making a few choices ahead of time and following these simple tips can make family travel the fun experience you desire.

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What are your top tips for making travel fun for the whole family? Be sure to share here or to visit us on our Facebook page. We look forward to finding more ways to make our upcoming trips all that they can be.

Flexibility in Camp Cooking

Flexibility in Camp Cooking

Developing flexibility in camp cooking can be a necessity when you take off for the wild unknown. Equipment had been known to malfunction. Campsite design may not meet your specific needs. Items can be left behind when pack up occurred.

Flexibility in cooking – under any circumstances – can be a valuable tool for survival (or just to stop the growling of the hungry menfolk). A few simple changes can help you adjust to any of the circumstances that might show up while camping.


Develop Flexibility in Camp Cooking

    1. Pack spices – you can purchase small containers of garlic powder, onion powder and other multi-purpose seasonings. You can also make use of small containers (like old candy containers (like Tic-tac) and fill them with your favorite spices. Be sure you also pack salt and pepper. Just being able to add seasoning to your cooking can make all the difference.

    2. Pack a variety of cooking utensils. Campfire cooking will require longer utensils, so pack your grilling set. Stove cooking can be done with pots and pans, but fire cooking will need heavier items. Aluminum foil can be formed into cooking items for the fire or the stove.

    3. Plan a snack. Shifting the cooking method may mean more time to cook. A snack of cheese, fruit, or chips (try some nachos) can hold back the horde until the food has time to cook.

    4. Chop up the food for easier (and faster cooking). Whole potatoes can take over an hour to cook on the stove or in the fire. Chopped potatoes will take half that time. The same goes for many of the camping food favorites.

    5. Accept that the plan may not fit the means. The wrong cooking option can throw the whole menu out the window. Make a new menu.

    6. Keep it simple. Healthy and tasty meals can still be simple. Include vegetables, a meat, and a starch and you should be able to cook any meal with any means available.

The last two trips, my menu had to be tossed. The first time the fire ring was so deep that I had no way to use it. The second time the single burner was left home alone. A few adjustments in the desired cooking method, a few tweaks of the menu, and a few changes in the preferred cooking pan allowed us to eat well, eat healthy, and eat happy with my camp cooking.

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Be sure to take a moment and share your secrets for camp cooking. All of us have faced different challenges and you never know what may come up the next time you camp out.