one click (or clip) away from free

My soccermom-ish tendencies, as I like to call them, astound me by the day as I find myself doing things I never thought I would do. Point and case: rambling on and on about the thrill of saving money with coupons.

Coupon clipping isn’t too soccermom-ish, is it?

I like discounts. Even more than discounts, I like free things. If you were asked, “Would you like to get this at a discount, or would you like it for free?” of course you would say, “For free!” Who wouldn’t? It doesn’t get any better than free. (Unless of course the seller decides for some unknown reason to pay you. If you learn how to pull off this bargaining trick, let me in on it.)

All this to say, it’s not that hard to find discounts or, yes, sometimes even freebies by searching online and in magazines, newspapers, etc. I’m still new at it, and saved more than $15 at the grocery store this week alone. Oh, yea. (One free bag of wheat flour? I’ll take it!)

the challenge

Start a blog about your money-saving tactics and excursions. Give insider advice on saving money for just about anything. Review coupon websites, tell us the best coupon magazines to subscribe to, lead us to the best stores. What’s the deal with Groupon? How do you double coupons? Is it worth it to join a library coupon swap group?

possible blog names

  • CouponMe
  • CoupForChicks
  • GreyCoupon (maybe if your last name is Grey, or Mustard)
  • GetYourCoupOn
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do it yourself (DIY) projects

How I admire those handy Renaissance men and women who can do things themselves. They can make a lamp out of three toothpicks and a light bulb, a lawnmower out of some pipes and a blade, a glove out of half a spool of thread and a dull needle. It’s miraculous, really. And in consideration of practically impractical people like me, they share these DIY projects on the Internet. Hooray!

Of course, I really enjoy DIY projects for a few reasons. One is that I’d like to consider myself thrifty. Economical is the way to go. So if I can use an old worn out t-shirt to make a trendy scarf instead of having to buy a new scarf, then of course I will. Or if I can use hundreds of egg cartons to improve the sound in a room instead of buying expensive equipment, then of course I will (Even though that means I’ll have to eat a lot of eggs. Good thing there are so many ways to cook them.). And then there’s . . .

Okay, so that’s the main reason that I like DIY, but also, getting to try out fun projects helps me gain skills. Yea, practical skills (After you graduate with an English degree and start looking for jobs, you feel a little impractical.) – like using a heavy duty wire cutter to make a leaf wreath. Sounds skillful, right?

Want a leaf wreath? DIY!

the challenge

Start a blog of DIY projects. Showcase all the things you learn how to do. Share what you already know. Include pictures and easy steps for readers.

possible blog names

  • WhyDoIDIY
  • LetsDIYtogether
  • WireCuttingAndOtherSkills
  • DIYorBust

words you mispelled / misspelled / mispeled (?)

We all have that list of sneaky words we always seem to misspell (Don’t forget the two s’s and two l’s.). Spelling these words correctly seems quite (not quiet) elusive, and despite our better judgment (Although the word judge has an “e” at the end, the word judgment is e-less.), we continue to spell them, albeit accidentally, in an unacceptable fashion. Each time, we are conscious (“aware”) of a little voice – a little wordsmith conscience, if you will – pleading within us to become better spellers. 

Surely our poor habits are changeable (Keep the “e.”)! We must discipine (“sc”) ourselves and avoid the harsh embarressment (I myself had to look that one up.) of misspellings. Perhaps we can acquire (which is different from “a choir”) tricks and mnemonic (Don’t you love silent m’s?) devices to help us remember the right spellings. Or perhaps we can spend exhilirating hours in spelling bees, eventually exceeding our own expectations. Perhaps if reading the dictionary is not foreign to us but rather a hobby for our time of leisure (no “z”) then we will guarantee much spelling success for all our days!

Be advised (versus adviced – Is that even a word?). We may not see noticeable (Notice the “e” before the “a.”) results immediately. Occasionally (Argh. I spelled this one incorrectly at first.), there will still be occurrences (double “c” and double “r”) of misspelled words, whether (as opposed to weather) we like it or not. But I strongly recommend that you persevere and experience the personal privilege of spelling correctly.

the challenge

Start a blog that documents your growth as a speller. Initial entries may include samples of your writing at present, as well as a list of words that you struggle to spell correctly. Use later posts to share experiences of spelling correctly and incorrectly. Perhaps take note of when you see misspellings in the world at large.

possible blog names

  • CastingSpells
  • StellarSpeller
  • OneLetterAtATime
  • TheDictionaryIsMyFriend

blogging is the most technologically-advanced thing i do: a plea to innovators and early adopters!

I still have a cell phone two versions earlier than the razor. Yea, it flips open, but not in the hip-flip-phone-kind-of way. I don’t own an iPod, or even a decent pair of headphones. I don’t have a Twitter account. Blogging is probably the most technologically-advanced thing I do all day (Sorry, it’s been a while. Don’t you hate when all of your posts have to contain apologies?), and it took me years to start a blog. I was the pitiful classmate always waiting for a tech-savior during glitches in my PowerPoint presentation.

Ever since studying the technology adoption lifecycle years ago in my Intro to Mass Comm class, I’ve envied the innovators and even the early adopters. These are the ones who joined Facebook before it was a thing, the ones who know how to use new operating systems before they’re even officially released. They could easily list PhotoShop as their second language.

Oh, why have the gods of technology cursed me so?

The technology adoption lifecycle, modified to include the latest of the late, a.k.a. me.

the challenge

So, if you’re one of those 2.5% of innovators, or even if you’re an early adopter, start a blog about it. Post how-to’s for the rest of us. Share your expertise, your wanderings and explorations in the technology universe. Teach us where to buy, what to look for, how to do cool stuff with our gadgets. Help us out.

possible blog names

  • ForTheLaggards
  • InvitationToInnovation
  • TechnifyUs

needless guides for miscellaneous tasks

the need for needless guides

I make my peanut butter and jelly sandwiches the same way. Every time. Put the bread out on a napkin. Spread the peanut butter over the piece on the left side (Why the left side? I don’t know.), avoiding the very outer edges. Plop the jelly (Well, I prefer preserves really.) in the center of the slice on the right, spreading it out but still leaving the majority in the center. Merge. Consume. The true test of if I got enough jelly or not is if some falls out while I’m eating. If it doesn’t fall out, then I didn’t put enough jelly.

Sandwiched between the “big” and “important” things we do each day are the small, almost trivial tasks, along with the small decisions about how we will perform those tasks. Whether it’s making a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, selecting a table to sit in at a restaurant (Booth or not?), naming your pet Bactrian camel (Bactrian camels, as opposed to dromedary camels, have two humps.), getting lost effectively, cleaning out the multicolor-fungus-infected leftovers in the back of your refridgerator, or holding an olympic pillow fighting tournament, you have your own way of doing things. And some of us need your expertise. But maybe there’s also just a joy of analyzing how we do the small tasks.

I like booths better, and I'm becoming pretty effective at getting lost.

challenge

Start a blog of needless guides for the miscellaneous tasks that fill your life. Maybe you’re a writer or a computer geek or an equestrian. Give guides for those skills you have. Or maybe you have no specialty, but you have cute, peculiar ways of doing the random. Or maybe you want to learn new and interesting ways of doing things. Or maybe you’re an excellent people-watcher and you can simply record the ways that you see people doing things or even let the blog be a documentation of sorts of what people say when you ask them how/why they do these small things.

possible blog names

  • AndOtherNeedlessGuides
  • HowtoDoSmallThings
  • ThisisHowYouDoThat
  • GettingLostEffectively
  • BigSmallDecisions

quick, easy meals for non-chef, experimental kitchen inhabitants

I’d like to begin this blog post with an audacious statement: is there really any ordinary part of a day that’s better than food? That might have sounded like a question, but no, it was really more of a rhetorical question, which is in practical terms much more like a statement since everyone knows the answer. I can’t think of any other just “normal,” “mundane” part of human existence that is so fulfilling and filling both. Think about it. We often plan out our days around meals. We share meals and food with those we’re closest to, and that time is often the most conversational and heartfelt. In the Lord’s Prayer, the only physical request is “daily bread.”

I like to cook. I did maybe as much cooking as Mom growing up, just because work often kept her late. Still, somehow, I’m not a chef. I’m a non-chef, experimental kitchen inhabitant at best.

This last semester was my first semester “out on my own.” All the meals were up to me. And to be quite honest, I rarely cooked. I heated things up in the microwave. I made sandwiches. I snacked. I ate at Chick-fil-A and McDonald’s weekly. But cooking was more like a full moon in the phases of food attainment.

But it’s a new year, right? I like how you can make even the smallest changes and claim that for your reasoning. New beginnings and fresh starts (just like coffee and peanut butter) inspire the best in us – in me, I know. So I’m aiming to cook more this time around.

Attempt #1: Salmon Patties – This has been one of my favorite meat entrees that my mom makes for many years. She’s always told me it’s very easy, but I’ve never really attempted it. Today was a first, and they turned out deliciously!

Sizzle, sizzle.

Ingredients (in order of appearance):

  • olive oil
  • 1- 14.75 oz. can of salmon
  • crackers of your choice (I used Great Value’s Mozarella and Sun-Dried Tomato crackers, which added a burst of flavor.)
  • 1 egg

Directions: In a pan, heat oil over medium heat. In a mixing bowl, add canned salmon. Do not drain. Crush approximately 20 crackers (my estimation). This part is where you just have to use your best chef judgment. Add the crushed crackers in the bowl with the salmon. With your hands (the chef’s secret weapon), mix together the salmon and crackers until all the mixture is of the same consistency. It shouldn’t still be juicy, but it should be fairly moist – about as moist as meatloaf before it’s cooked. Finally, add an egg to the mixture and stir together with a spoon. Using the spoon and/or your hands, form circular patties about 4 inches in width and 1 inch in depth. Fry each patty for around 3-5 minutes on each side, or until brown. Remove from pan, let cool, and then devour. If you’re feeling daring, eat them with ketchup or barbeque sauce. Makes 6-8 patties. Time: 25 minutes. (Of course, if you buy pre-crushed crackers, it may not take as long. But this may take away the joys of making loud noises in the kitchen and being questioned by family members.)

Delicious salmon patty, served with brocolli and cheese.

Wow. That was extremely fun – writing a recipe out. Wouldn’t it be great for someone to start a blog with more quick, easy meals for non-chef, experimental kitchen inhabitants?

remodeling, or minor fix-ups around the house

Somebody should start a blog about remodeling, or minor fix-ups around the house . . .

Houses are under construction until they’re fully built. Homes seem to be always under construction.

This is the room in our house that is currently under construction.

We have one room in particular in my parents’ house that has been remodeled more times than I can count. I don’t know the room’s initial purpose, but eventually, it became my sister’s bedroom. Then it became a bedroom that both my sister and I shared. Later, it was my stepbrother Justin’s room. That’s when it was painted Donald-Duck’s-shirt blue (of course, that’s probably not what he would have called the color, but that’s my interpretation of it).

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Now, it’s once again under construction. It was going to be a workout room, but last I heard, it’s going for more of a guest bedroom now.This room isn’t the only one of its kind, though. It seems like all of the rooms in our house have changed at some point. Mom always has some kind of project.

It would be very cool for someone to start a blog about remodeling their house, or a house they bought for the sole purpose of fixing up. Or the blog could be used to show minor fix-ups around the house throughout the years. Of course, there should be lots of pictures and how-to’s.