A Funny Little Toilet Paper Tip

Dear friends,

Have you ever faced this dilemma?

Almost empty toilet paper roll

It’s the almost-empty toilet paper roll. Does it have 13 squares left or 5? Will it be sufficient for the next visitor? It’s hard to tell, but basic tenets of thrift suggest that we not waste it.

On our last hotel stay, our kind cleaning staff handled the dilemma in a clever way I’d not previously seen:

How to use up toilet paper

The near-empty roll tucks right above the new roll and stays nicely in place. Isn’t that nifty?

How about you – did you already learn this trick years ago? Or do you have a different system for managing your dwindling rolls? Inquiring minds would love to hear your thoughts. (If you’d like to flush out this topic further, you may wish to read “Let’s Talk About Toilet Paper – Part 1” or “In Search of Good Toilet Paper – Part 2.”)

Hugs and have a wonderful week,

The signature for Eliza Cross

20 Ways to Cultivate Charm

Arlene Francis

Arlene Francis, always charming

When I was ten, my mom signed me up for Charm School classes at the Boulder YWCA. Unlike the tennis lessons where I felt gangly and uncoordinated, I took to charm school with a passion. We learned about cultivating nice manners, good grooming, the art of conversation, and how to set a pretty table.

Cultivate Charm bookCharm School and Home Economics classes have gone the way of the rotary-dial telephone, but I was reminded of my early love for these ideas when I stumbled across the book That Certain Something: The Magic of Charm, written by actress and TV personality Arlene Francis in 1960. Arlene was a regular on the game show “What’s My Line?” where she was always impeccably dressed and revered for her witty, thoughtful questions and remarks.

Fifty-five years ago Arlene shared her list of 20 shortcuts to charm, which I think are still wonderful concepts for today. See what you think:

Arlene Francis’s 20 Shortcuts to Charm

Arlene Francis

1. Get up happy.
2. Get organized.
3. Make sure you are well groomed.
4. Face the day without fear.
5. Forget past recriminations.
6. Do one special thing for someone else as a surprise.
7. Be a Sunday specialist – in just one subject.
8. Break down your work into small bits.
9. Do one thing a day to make your home more pleasant.
10. Wipe out one prejudice a day.
11. Force yourself to do one thing you have been embarrassed to do in the past.
12. Read something worthwhile for at least fifteen minutes each day.
13. Think about someone you dislike and wish him well even if it kills you.
14. Practice looking at a person directly in the eye, and concentrate wholly on what he is saying.
15. Spend five minutes analyzing your guilt and fears and check them for reality.
16. Clean up one job that you’ve been putting off doing for a long time.
17. Have faith in a power beyond yourself.
18. Resolve to hold your temper completely for just one day only.
19. Practice laughing at your own mistakes.
20. Practice forgetting yourself completely.

How about you?

Did you ever attend Charm School? Is charm an outdated idea, or does it have a place in today’s society? What do you think of Arlene’s list?

Here’s to your day, and may it be filled with charm and other good things,

The signature for Eliza Cross

My Favorite Recipe for Deviled Eggs

Deviled eggs with bacon

Summertime means cookouts and barbeques, and Deviled Eggs are one of my family’s favorite side dishes. I’ve tinkered with the classic recipe over the years, and this version makes filled eggs that are especially light and creamy. I top them with a sprinkle of crispy, crunchy bacon, and I usually leave a few of the eggs ungarnished for any purists in the group.

This recipe is adapted from the one I originally developed for my cookbook 101 Things To Do With Bacon.

CREAMY DEVILED EGGS WITH BACON

  • 12 hard-cooked eggs, peeled
  • 1/2 cup real mayonnaise
  • 1 teaspoon prepared yellow mustard (or more or less to suit your taste)
  • 1/2 teaspoon curry powder
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 3 slices bacon, cooked and finely crumbled

Cut each egg in half lengthwise; gently scoop out yolks and place in a bowl. Mash the yolks with a fork until they are very fine, then stir in mayonnaise, mustard, and curry powder until well blended. Add salt and pepper to taste. Spoon about 1 tablespoon yolk mixture into the hollow of each egg-white half. Serve immediately or cover and chill up to 4 hours, garnishing with crumbled bacon just before serving. Makes 24 deviled eggs.

Enjoy!

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How to Embrace Slow Living

Dear readers,

Today I’m excited to introduce you to one of my blogging friends from the U.K., Eleanor from Creative Countryside. She is a kindred spirit who writes wonderfully about the concept of slowing down, being present, practicing gratitude, and appreciating the rhythms and seasons of nature. Her posts are accompanied by lovely photos from around her home and the British countryside. Eleanor generously agreed to share some of her thoughts about slow living, which I know you will enjoy.

~ Eliza

How to Embrace Slow Living

Daisy at Happy Simple Living blog

You’ve probably heard of simple living, of conscious living and of mindful living, but what remains less well known is the concept of slow living. Shifting the focus from quantity and speed to quality of life remains at its core, and its effects have been transformative for me. Over at Creative Countryside I blog and teach others about this lifestyle, and today I’m so happy to be writing about slow living for Eliza here at Happy Simple Living.

Let’s get one thing straight before going any further. Slow living doesn’t literally mean doing everything at a slower speed. Don’t get me wrong, this might apply for some activities, but on the whole slow living is more concerned with prioritising your time in order to appreciate simple pleasures.

It’s a process of reconnection: with the world around you, with the seasons, but most of all with the things you love to do, that somehow get so easily lost in the chaos of modern life. Slow living embraces a simple lifestyle full of home-cooked meals, traditional celebrations and rituals and time spent wisely. There will never be enough hours in the day, but we can shape and mould the time we have according to our wishes and desires, and once we can do that, we’re able to live more slowly, mindfully and with care.

Daisy at Happy Simple Living blog

So how can you embrace slow living and all it entails? Well firstly I want to say upfront that my own experience with lifestyle change has taught me that nothing happens overnight. You’re not going to read this article and change everything by tomorrow evening, so patience (something I’m really not very good at!) is key. If (like me) you like to get started straight away here are some simple tips for embracing slow living that you can implement right now:

  1. Tonight, decide to cook a meal from scratch. Try to buy local and seasonal ingredients and take your time to enjoy the cooking process. Just before eating pause for a minute and be gracious for the simple pleasure of a delicious dinner.
  2. If you’re feeling a little disconnected with nature and the world around you, take a few moments to get grounded by standing outside barefoot. Scrunch your toes and feel the blades of grass tickling the underside of your feet. It doesn’t matter if it’s raining or cold – stand for however long feels natural and take a few deep breaths, embracing the weather that surrounds you.
  3. Bring nature into your home by picking a few stems from the garden, or to keep it simple bring in some greenery to display on your mantelpiece. For just a few minutes of activity you’ll have a week or so of pleasure.
  4. Pick out a seasonal celebration that’s on the horizon and make plans to celebrate. In the UK Lammas – signifying the first day of harvest – is on the horizon (1st August) so we’ll be making corn dollies and baking Lammas bread. Invite friends and family and plan to cook up a feast to celebrate.
  5. Tomorrow, set your alarm for 10 minutes earlier than usual, grab your camera or notebook and get outside. It doesn’t matter if you’re still in your pyjamas, bleary eyed and a little off balance – the whole point is to rebalance your awareness as the day begins. Depending on where you live you’ll be privy to the sunrise if you’re up early enough, and observing this primitive ritual is a stark reminder of a greater existence.

SONY DSC

While these tips can really make a difference right now, changing your lifestyle to live more slowly does – rather aptly – take time. Often we become so used to hurtling through our to-do lists at speed that we don’t realise that there could be any other way, and that life doesn’t have to be quite so chaotic. Changing that mind-set is a process that has to be worked through like any other, but I can guarantee you it’s worth it.

If you like the sound of slow living, I’ve got a free 7 day email course that would be perfect for you – it guides you through 7 simple steps to slow things down and includes free resources and templates to help you design a lifestyle you love – just click here to sign up and start embracing positive change.

Thank you Eliza for allowing me to share my passion with your readers!

A Mini Money Diet to Begin the Second Half of 2015

Lettuce coming up in the garden

Today begins the seventh month of 2015, a fact that amazes me. For those of you who participated in the January Money Diet, it’s been 181 days since we first decided to begin the new year with 31 days of no spending.

I caught up with a few January Money Diet participants to see how things were going, and thought you might enjoy some of their comments.

“The gains we made with the January Money Diet jump-started our emergency fund.  We’ve been able to keep it growing because of the habit of thinking before spending, which we established in January. Thanks so much for your encouragement to start 2015 off with a more mindful use of our resources.” – Annie

I have really committed to not buying new items unless the old one wears out, or they offer a significant value and improve our lives. I have not purchased any clothing, instead culling my wardrobe down to those things I really like. This way I don’t feel like I need anything new. Goodwill received multiple bags from me! Cutting extra purchases now leaves some money at the end of the month for a vacation fund. I am finally starting to realize the value of experiences over things.” – Lisa

“I think about that January challenge a lot. I don’t spend nearly as much as I use to on clothing and have toned down a lot of the other “useless” shopping. I don’t even go to the stores that much anymore.” – Lynn

A number of you expressed interest in doing a Mini Money Diet this month, and I am with you! With the year half over, I’ve been reevaluating my goals and savings plans to try and finish the year strong. I think it’s actually easier to spend less during the summer, and these are some things you might like to do during the month of July:

1. Figure Your Net Worth

If you haven’t done this exercise since January, I suggest you calculate your net worth now to see where you stand. With six months left in 2015, you still have plenty of time to get your net worth headed UP, UP, UP!

2. Enjoy Seasonal Produce and Find Alternatives to Restaurant Meals

Homemade pizza

Take-out, pizza delivery and restaurant meals can quickly derail a budget. With so much good produce in the stores and farmer’s markets right now, vow to cook easy meals from home in July and save big. Cook on the grill, enjoy garden foods and try easy stir-fries, salads or wraps loaded fresh veggies.

If you make a batch of dough ahead of time and freeze it, you can make a homemade pizza in less time than it takes to wait for delivery–for a fraction of the cost. Here’s my easy homemade pizza recipe. You can also find easy dinner ideas on my Happy Simple Suppers Pinterest board.

3. Make Adjustments to Your Savings Goals

Life happens, and you may not have saved as much as you wanted to in the first half of the year. Why not set a monthly goal to set aside in the remaining six months? If you can scrape up just $38 a week to divert to savings, you’ll have a $1000 nest egg at the end of the year.

4. Plan to Eliminate or Drastically Reduce a Debt by Year-End

Could you pay extra on your lowest debt and completely eliminate it by the end of the year? Do a little calculation, dividing the total by 6 and adding back the monthly interest payment. Could you set up an automatic payment for this amount and enjoy the peace of paying off a debt by the end of December?

5. Hold a Garage Sale While the Weather is Nice

Garage sale

If you sell items you no longer need, you’ll enjoy more space in the areas you declutter and earn extra cash to apply to debt or savings. Maybe you’ll do as well as our 2015 January Money Diet participant, Lynn:

“We had an extremely profitable garage sale and made over $600. Even better, I got rid of so many unneeded items and organized the storage area. It was a proud moment.”

I’d love to hear how your year is going, what you’re doing to save money, and whether you’ve changed any habits as a result of participating in the January Money Diet.

Here’s to a prosperous, happy 2015 for each one of you.

Hugs and happy July,

The signature for Eliza Cross

A Close-Up View of the Garden

Snow peas blooming

 

In late April, I posted about planting peas.

Planting Peas

 

I was worried that I hadn’t gotten them in the ground early enough. A couple weeks later, we had a huge spring snowstorm on Mother’s Day weekend. This week we’ve had temperatures in the 80s and 90s. The peas are hanging in there, though, thanks to regular watering… Peas blooming in the garden

 

…and a dense planting arrangement around a willow trellis. Peas on a willow trellis

 

Despite the heat, the peas are forming. Growing snow peas in the garden

 

I love the way my camera helps me focus on small details. It’s amazing to see the baby pea pod emerge from the blossom.

Baby snow pea pod emerging

We should be able to start picking a few peas later this week, a thought that brings me no end of joy.

How about you? What do you have coming up? I’d love to hear how your garden is growing in this lovely month of June.

Hugs,

The signature for Eliza Cross