Category Archives: General

Away From Home

Hello, followers and friends!

Thoughtfully Sought has been neglected these past few months, as I started a full-time position outside of the home.  Being a full-time mom doesn’t change when you become a full-time employee.

This has been an eye-opening experience, to say the least.

SAHD

Although I am quite sad to miss out on my babies’ activities for much of the week, I am blessed with a wonderful husband who is trying quite hard to “fill my shoes” as a stay-at-home dad.

I keep telling him (and have to remind myself) that neither of us should be expecting him to do as I did when home with the children.  We are different people; we are going to pursue common goals differently.

Plus, his workload while home with the kids isn’t what mine was.

I worked on the house.  I was a mother as much as I was a cook and housekeeper and teacher.

The BHE just isn’t.  He is the driving force behind all the work that needs done on all of our properties.  Getting two houses ready for the market while doing upkeep on the third so it won’t be so much work when we go to move into it is much different than what was on my plate when the kids weren’t demanding 100% of me.

Still, this has been bumpy.  That’s parenthood.

And marriage.

Goals

The Murphy Momentum is the same.  We still want to get the little house done and on the market to be sold, so we can use the proceeds from that sale to fix the house at the farm.  When the farm house is ready for us to move in, we can finish the work on the big house to sell it.  And those proceeds will go into creating the farm itself.

The property is there; soon we must prepare it for animals and gardens and more.

My long-term goals have not changed since I began my job.  The steps I’m taking to get down this path are to be thought out differently, though.  Let’s not neglect the idea, either, that some of my loftier goals may need moved to the Dreams column on one of my ever-present spreadsheets.

Blogging

Sadly, this blog has been moved further down my priority list.  Spending time with my children, catching up on the housework that’s been neglected, and sleeping are really my top three just now.  I feel like I’ve fallen behind with my friends, too.  There’s just so much and it feels like it is all at once.  Even though I’m constantly thinking, “Hey, that would make a great blog topic,” I know that blogging is on my back burner.

Speaking of back burners, I’m losing my touch with creating new menu items.  I feel like it is more of a rush to get food on the table than before.  I have two new recipes to share with you, though, so stay tuned to Thoughtfully Sought to learn how I make a super-fast Italian dinner for a weeknight and our family favorite Asian-inspired dish that changes every time I fix it.

Bear with me

I want to grow this blog.  I want my readership to grow.  I want to reach more people to help them discover their own paths through life and how to thoughtfully seek out the best steps to take towards their goals, be it with family, diet and weight, marriage and children, household, or faith.

Stick around.  I will do what I can when I can.

Make sure you’ve liked Thoughtfully Sought on Facebook and are following my path on Instagram.  You’ll find me on eBay and Etsy and Bloglovin’ and Twitter and Goodreads… and there’s more to come.

Thanks for your support.  God bless.

Friday Facts: Introduction

I am going to start this series, and this new formulated long-term goal accountability, with a brief introduction of what the heck we’re doing and why.  Feel free to leave feedback in the comments.

I have our plan through to April 2022.  I know where we currently stand financially.  I believe we are generously blessed with intelligence and entrepreneurial spirits.  I know we as humans were never meant to go through life alone.  I know that more change is ahead and that my plans can be derailed at any time.  I also know to trust in God because every step off the course I foresee is actually a step on the path He’s laying out for us.

The Short Version – Housing

We now have three properties.  All three properties need some serious work.

The plan is to sell the smallest property as soon as possible (re:  flip it) because it needs the least amount of work and there’s no debt attached to it.

Then we plan to use the proceeds to do the necessary work on the house at the farm we inherited from the BHE’s father; it isn’t a farm yet but a very old house in desperate need of renovations sitting on a big ol’ chunk of beautifully wooded land.

Once that is complete, we will move our little family and our pared down possessions into the farm house so we can begin the serious work on the big house where we currently live.  So much is already complete but there’s still much to be done and much to be redone (think:  serious repainting).

Once the big house is sold and the remaining debt on it paid off, the equity, the cash in our pocket so to speak, will go back into the farm to build up our dream, to complete the house, to finish the barns, to create the pastures and paddocks, to purchase our first chickens, cattle, and goats, or whatever we plan between now and then.

Recap:
Small house– fast work on the windows, gutters, carpet, and yard- on market ASAP- sold by August 2017– proceeds to Farm house
Farm house– quality necessary renovations like gut of kitchen and upstairs, redo of wiring, addition of outdoor wood burner and a water filtration system- ready for move in April 2018, on the BHE’s birthday- completely empty the Big house
Big house– complete all major renovations like the foyer and stairwell, repaint each room, refinish downstairs wood floors, update the curb appeal- on market by June 2018– sold by the time the Angel starts kindergarten

The Short Version – Farm

My husband’s father bequeathed to him a renovated 1800s schoolhouse on an acre of yard surrounded by almost 35 acres of woods.  From before I was ever a figure in his life, the BHE had grand plans for this house and property.  All through our relationship, he has discussed ideas and dreams for what he’d do with all of it if it were to become his.  A very serious conversation over 7 years ago between my husband, his father, and his sister about estate planning included the discussion and eventual documentation of my husband becoming the heir to the property.

Now we have it. 

It needs a ton of work.  The house, the yard, the woods, everything needs some serious TLC.  Or slash-and-burn, depending on if you’re asking me or him.  But the dream, folks:  the dream is a farm.

“Deich Mile Feirme” is our name for the farm that is ten miles in any direction to the nearest anything, our home in the country, our dreams coming true.  Here we will raise our children and our livestock, plant our roots and our vegetables, and grow in our faith, love, independence, and dirt.  This farm will hopefully be off-the-grid and organic, self-sustaining and supportive of our lifestyle as well as our families and communities.  This is where we will create and cultivate.

Planning and blogging and blogging about planning


The Short Version – Career

The BHE has never wanted to work for The Man.  He is fiercely independent, and he wants to work with his mind and his own two hands to build something to honor God and family, the earth and the community, free of someone else’s yoke.

I have always looked forward to entering a workplace each day, prepared to use my considerable brain and strong initiative to make changes for the better but with the assurance of first-world niceties like bi-weekly paychecks, business attire, one hour lunches, paid time off, and the like.  I would feel much more confident in my parenting skills if I knew my children were being provided with health insurance and regular dental check-ups.  Plus, I like getting out and about, interacting with people, trying new things, and getting feedback from peers, customers, community members, and friends.

Now that the BHE has left the workforce (for good), he can focus on his “career” of Christian, husband, father, farmer, and maybe even house-flipper.

Now that I am returning to the workforce, I can focus on honing my skills and developing a broader network, or a network of networks, to help us reach our major goals regarding a village to support ourselves and our children and a financial cushion that will enable us to live free of debt, to give and give some more, to leave a legacy for our children’s futures and our church, to never again worry about making it to the next paycheck or if we can afford the necessities or even our reasonable wants.

I don’t know – can’t know – what will happen with my current job.  I can see how it is potentially a long-lasting career or even the doorway into a long term career with the Church.  I can also see how my work could one day be “done” and there be another employer on my path between comfortable income and benefits to confidently independent farmer.  I will always have a passion for libraries, I will always have a passion for the Church, I will always have a passion to do better and help others more. 

I will always be looking forward.

Momentum Monday: Last Week of SAHMing

This week, I plan to complete the typing and inputting of our steps and goals into the spreadsheets I’ve created to keep us on target.  The path is laid out in front of us, complete with deadlines, and I need to start putting together the dollar figures to find a doable budget.

This week, I plan to take a day to shop online and around town for capsule wardrobe* pieces to bring my wear-to-work options up to par.  There’s no way I can continue wearing my yoga-pants-and-cardigan uniform, complete with messy bun of unwashed hair, as I reenter the work force.  Speaking of the hair, I could really use some guidance on what cut and style will work best for my hair type (uber thick and ridiculously frizzy with lots of short hairs from the new growth associated with childbearing), face shape (I honestly don’t know, and that’s after taking beauty magazine quizzes), and lifestyle (fast and easy—don’t take it out of context).  Help!

This week, I plan to finish everything to do with my father-in-law’s estate.  Well, everything possible, like filing his income taxes and setting aside money for his property taxes.

This week, I plan to wrap up everything to do with my volunteer position as treasurer for the non-profit that will be holding its annual meeting this weekend.  I also need to prep my house for out-of-town guests.  These two things alone will take up a bulk of my time.

This week, I will start setting my alarm AND ACTUALLY GETTING UP to prepare my mind and body for the return to work.  I also hope to guide the BHE through routines with the kids, to show him how I do it, to explain the kids’ needs and wants in more detail, to remind him I have faith in the job he’ll do with them, and to promise him I will try my best to reign in my control freak.  I have already drawn up a list of what aspects of our household running I plan on keeping, sharing, and giving over to him; I figure we need to communicate these things or we’ll end up resentful and living in a filthy house with no food.

This week, I plan to secure care for my children for two days a week to enable my husband to be more than a SAHD but also our very own contractor, the guy who will fix things and plan things and buy things and get things done.  There’s just so much and he can’t do everything in the time we need it done if he’s busy with our children.

This week, I plan to stay calm, trust in the Lord, be thankful for every blessing and road block, and accept with grace and gratitude all that comes to us and at us.

*Capsule Wardrobe sources:  Efficient Momma, Unfancy, Be More With Less

Murphy Momentum: Plans and Thoughts

So much change in so little time…

We are still reeling from the changes of the past year.  Our path has been altered so much, yet we are still able to see how we must and can move forward.

After the deaths of three of the most beloved people in our lives, we became inundated with grief…and their stuff.  We accepted furniture and dishes, we inherited a house and property, we have had to reimagine our dreams and redesign our goals, and we now feel confident about this new path we’ve been set upon.

Forward Thinking

All our hopes and dreams seem within grasp now.  It will not be easy.  The steps we see laid out in front of us, the process we’ve created to handle what comes our way, the plans we have developed to see us from this point to the fruition point are all thoughtfully sought and spiritually guided as we rely on our Maker once again.

We have been through hard times, and we have always been surrounded by bountiful blessings.  Now that we recognize them, we see where we have been blessed, we know how to be thankful and less fearful of the future.

Where We are Now

Yesterday morning was greeted with a lot of excitement and a little trepidation as I phoned my new boss to inform her that I would accept her offer of a position.  I will be the Communications Specialist for the local diocesan office.  My “vast skill set” and “impressive education” have landed me my dream job!

We worked hard to get to this point, but this is merely one step.  Much work will still need to be done.

The BHE will be stepping up around the home as he steps out of the traditional role of breadwinner.  Shortly after I got off the phone, he called his boss to deliver his two-weeks’ notice.  The BHE is now a SAHD!

That’s right, folks:  my bearded, hardworking, dedicated, driven, intelligent husband will be caring for our children day in and day out.

But what about the projects?!  We have so many projects between the three properties we now own that, yes, the BHE is going to need some help.

We discussed at length how we must set aside our control-freak natures and accept the assistance of others.  We must tamp down our pride and stubbornness to get ahead by asking our friends, family, and neighbors for help.

Assistance and Accountability

I’ve been working diligently on 1-year, 2-year, and 5-year plans to show us each step of the way to our goals.  I have been plugging projects into a spreadsheet and constantly jotting down ideas that I toss at the BHE and he tosses back at me.  I am researching ballpark figures for what we want to do, where, and when.  We even had a realtor come out to give us some advice.  Yes, folks, we are moving forward like a steam engine, chugging along but aware we need to slow well before the curves.

The first thing I believe we will ask for is help with the children.  When I enter this 8-5 M-F office job, the BHE is going to need someone to rely on a few days a week to care for our babes.  He can’t get work done with two toddlers!  We figured with the Angel starting PreK in the Fall on MWF, it would be best if he was SAHD those days but a friend or neighbor watched the kids on Tuesdays and Thursdays.  Evenings and weekends will see me back in my Mommy role when he can get even more work done.

What is that work, you ask.  Well, that’s where the Accountability comes it.

As much as we would like physical help, like people to paint or build or mow or roof or watch the kids or whatever, we also need to be reminded where we are on our path.  It is all well and good if I print up a pretty checklist or create a spreadsheet that we look at from time-to-time, but we need to be reminded to check things off and follow the steps we have laid out.

When I complete my projects list, when I finish those long-term plan sheets, I will post them here for you to see where we are and where we are going.  I keep thinking something cheesy like Friday Facts to share what we’ve completed and learned then Momentum Monday to explain where we hope to go next.

For instance, this week, I’ve built up our inventory on the eBay site and accepted a new job; next week, I will complete my father-in-law’s taxes so we can be (almost) all caught up on the clean-up of his estate and take a day to myself to prepare my body and wardrobe for the return to the workforce.  This week, the BHE made serious progress on finishing the final bedroom upstairs at the big house and made some dough taking a truckload of cans to the recycling center; next week, he will complete that bedroom and order the replacement windows for the little house.

See?  I’ve told you what we are doing.  Now I feel like I’ll be letting you down if we don’t do it.  That’s how this accountability thing works on my end.  On your end, you get to share in our triumphs and pick us up when we falter.  Thank you, dear reader, for agreeing to be part of our village.

That’s What Friends are For

I look forward to not only getting stuff done but getting connected to my village as we complete projects, move forward, and stay on our thoughtfully sought path towards our dream goals.  In return, I will learn more about you so I can find opportunities to assist you where you need it.  Networking is a powerful tool.  Apply it correctly and we all see our goals come to fruition.

Where are you on your path?  Do you need some help getting up and moving forward?  Do you know how you can help others in your village to do so?

Thoughtful Thursday: The Lord Hates

I find solace in this as well as a chance for introspection.  See, this one used to be such a finger-pointer for me.  I can see so easily in others when they do the seven things the Lord hates.

There are six things the Lord hates— no, seven things he detests: haughty eyes, a lying tongue, hands that kill the innocent, a heart that plots evil, feet that race to do wrong, a false witness who pours out lies, a person who sows discord in a family.
-Proverbs 6:16-19

But I am guilty, too.

I have looked down on others, put myself above them with my education or morals or work ethic. I have told fibs, which I may believe to be harmless but could possibly hurt others.  I do not consider myself a liar and hold quite tightly to the belief that I am one of the most honest people, even to a fault, that I know.  Which takes us back up to the first point.  While I have never committed murder with my hands, I have hated in my heart, which Christ said was another way to kill someone.  Isn’t that a freaking eye-opener! I am not a vengeful person.  I do not plan revenge.  I do not race to do wrong but there are times where I should have raced to do good.  I should not stand back as often as I do and wait to witness the falling out of those who plot evil.  I do not lie nor have I slandered, but I have been a victim of such and know how it feels, how it hurts.  When discord was sown in my family, I am guilty of not pulling everyone together to put an end to it.

Introspection hurts, folks.  What are you thinking on this Thoughtful Thursday in Lent?

I can tell you that the main reason this is one of my favorite passages is that I find solace in knowing that behaviors from others which hurt me so deeply are behaviors that God abhors.  I do not need to seek revenge.  I do not need to lash out against those who sow discord, lie, plot evil, find joy in causing drama and dissension, or even commit murder.

Want to know why?

Because the Greatest Judge takes umbrage with these as well and He will take care of all His people as He sees fit.

So part of me is a bit vindictive when I say that whether in this life or the next, the evil will get their due.  But mainly, I know that God put these people in my path to teach me something, about the world or about myself.  I do not claim to fathom His goals and intentions beyond expecting me at my best, seeing me at my worst, and empowering me to empower others.  And to lead, when I can, the haughty and the liars and the family members seeking to cause harm, away from that which the Lord hates.

What verse helps you stand up straight in the face of those who would drag you down?

100 Blog Post Ideas!

This is my 100th blog post!

Thank you for following along on my Thoughtfully Sought path through life.  Sometimes the way is clear, other times the road is bumpy, and there are days where the path is washed out.  Thanks for sticking by me, reading and learning and maybe even growing with me.

 

So, for your pleasure, particularly if you are also a blogger, here are 100 ideas for blog posts (mainly based on what I’ve already done or have planned to do):

  1. RECIPES! Start snapping photos of what you’re up to in the kitchen.  Even the easiest stuff helps someone out there.  (Seriously, I once forgot to drain the water off the noodles when making macaroni and cheese.)  Here are some of  my top-visited recipes:  PancakesHoosier Caprese Salad, Beer Bread, and Chicken Pot Pie.
  2. Photo posts. Took a series of pictures while walking in the woods, playing with your kids, trying on clothes at the mall?  Share ‘em!
  3. Top 5 lists. Best Instagram accounts, worst parenting advice, favorite kids’ movies, date night ideas, and anything else you get excited about.
  4. Blogging tips. LOOK!  RIGHT HERE! THIS POST!  Hahahaha!
  5. Other bloggers. When in doubt, see what your friends are doing.  Most bloggers follow other blogs so make a list of your five favorite blogs then see what their last five posts were about.  You’ll get inspired AND you’ll have a Top 5 List for a blog post.
  6. Personal blurb. The “About Me” and “About Us” sections on a lot of blogs are very short and to the point.  Round out another point for your readers.
  7. FREE STUFF! Everyone loves a deal so explore something free in your area and blog away.  Make sure you take pictures.
  8. Cheap stuff! Again, everyone loves a deal.  Tell us about your coupon experiences or that deals website you found.
  9. Review products. What do you use in the bathroom?  The laundry room?  Why?
  10. Review services. Convince me why I should or shouldn’t pay for Amazon Prime or Grove Collaborative or that automatic diaper delivery.  I wrote one here about Kroger’s ClickList.
  11. Book review. Or movie or restaurant or whatever it is you really like to do.  I love to read so have linked my Goodreads account to my blog, so I can share what I’ve been spending my “free time” on as well as how I liked the books.
  12. Social Media. Tell your readers about your other accounts.
  13. Review social media you use. Write a whole post about what you do and do not like about Facebook or Instagram.
  14. Review social media you don’t use. Why is that LinkedIn account so hard to remember?  Does that networking really help people land jobs?
  15. Try a new one! My foray into SnapChat was a disaster.  I should’ve told my readers about it.
  16. Share your goals. You’ll not only motivate your readers but also feel like there’s someone holding you accountable.
  17. Technology.  We’re surrounded by it, we’re using it every day, and we are all looking for the “perfect” computer or phone or ereader.  If you are blogging, you obviously are using some THING to get your words out there.  Tell us about your laptop, your Internet provider, your local library’s wifi…
  18. Life lesson. You did something recently that you may think is mundane but is really a life lesson for all of us.  Check out my cleaning challenge post or my approach to Minimalism to get inspired.
  19. Vacation!  You finally got some time off and away so tell us about where you went, what you did, who you saw, and what you spent.  Really, we want pictures and to know what hidden gems you found in that town no one has heard of.  Or we can live vicariously through your beach pictures.
  20. Location.  Where do you blog from?  What’s going on around you as you talk to us?  How comfy is your chair or how loud is your barista or what do you do to keep your 10 month old from slapping the keys as you type?  No, really, I need to know.  He keeps trying to make the clackity noise with me.
  21. Pose a question. If you do this on Twitter, you can blog about the feedback.  Or blog about how you’ll get feedback next time.
  22. Quotes.  Tell me some words you live by or are inspired by.  Let your readers know who inspires you or what Biblical message fills you or why you lean on the words of your grandmother.
  23. Embarrass yourself. Seriously, we have all been there and done that.  If you want to connect with someone, tell them how human you are.
  24. Memory lane. It may be cathartic for you but it will also show your readership you are human.
  25. Positive from negative. Take a negative comment you’ve received on social media and flip it around; give the haters a taste of their own medicine but also show how you can put a positive spin on anything.  Or at least explain how taking the higher ground is so hard but ultimately more satisfying.
  26. Gratitude.  Write a thank you note to your readers.
  27. Oldies.  Revisit an old post.  You can rewrite it, add your current perspective, take newer and better photos, or trash it completely and tell your readers why it had to go.
  28. Seasons.  Write a post celebrating whatever season it is in your hemisphere.
  29. Weather.  Tell us what is has been like where you live and how you’ve been coping, whether it is super-hot and sunny but you don’t have a pool or it is super rainy but at least the hurricane went around you.
  30. Why.  Tell your readers why you started blogging and why you keep blogging.
  31. Future.  Write a letter to your future self.
  32. Past.  Write a letter to your past self.
  33. OOTD.  We want to see the face behind the words, and we want to see what you’re wearing.  I’m a SAHM who wears roughly the same thing every day.  I should show you my skirts, my breastfeeding tops, my stains and fingerprints, my love of cardigans… that shows a lot about me!
  34. Debate.  Pick a controversial topic and explain why you think and feel as you do.  Or take the route I did and explain why you don’t debate.
  35. Best posts. Compile a list of your most popular posts.
  36. Unpopular posts. Compile a list of your least popular posts and see if you can up your numbers.  Or if you need to do some housekeeping and delete those posts.
  37. Anthem.  What song gets you going?  What music inspires you?  What do you listen to when you need to calm your mind?  What is on your Pandora station?
  38. Hobbies.  You do more than blog so tell us about your other hobbies.  Here’s a little something I did about reenacting.
  39. Network.  There are people out there like you that are making money doing what they love.  Are you making bank?  Could you use a little extra?  Maybe you could use the help of your readers to land the perfect job.
  40. Presents.  There was a gift-giving occasion recently in your life, I just know it, so tell us what you bought or made and who you gave it to.  People like me really need help on this.
  41. Survey.  Conduct a poll or survey to better guide you on what to write next.  My posts are all over the place, from recipes and reenacting to child rearing and crafting.  Ask your readers what they want to see more of.
  42. Apps.  What do you use every day?  What apps are on your first home screen?  What apps got deleted within days?
  43. Profile.  You told us about yourself; now tell us about someone you care about or someone who inspires you or who you are voting for next election.
  44. Rant.  Get it out there!
  45. Diet.  What do you eat?  Why?
  46. Shopping.  Where do you buy what you eat, wear, decorate with?  Why?
  47. Open letter. Write something personal from you to a personal hero or new mothers or late show producers.
  48. Blogiversary.  Look here!  A post commemorating 100 blog posts.  Or do a post commemorating the age of your blog.  Or the number of “Likes” or “Followers” you have when you hit a milestone.
  49. Crafts.  Everyone is looking for a DIY they can do for cheap or fun or a gift or for recognition.  What did you create?
  50. Honor.  Write a post in honor of a holiday or Pi Day or Breast Cancer Awareness Month.
  51. FAQ.  Pay attention to who asks you what and how often you get asked the same question.  I had so many people ask about how we handle our finances that I wrote a post about it and shared a spreadsheet.  But I bet I could come up with a post of FAQ regarding cloth diapers, rural life, and living so close to ALL of my in-laws.
  52. Printables.  Everyone loves free items they can download and use to make their lives easier.  Check out my grocery shopping helpers here and here.
  53. Interview.  You know someone influential, whether in your family, your community, your niche, or even more famous.  Write up your Q and A to spread their knowledge and influence.
  54. Pros and Cons. Pick a topic and do some research. Make a list of the pros and one of the cons, and you can generate interaction by asking your readers for their input.
  55. Before-and-After. This can be funny (your child before the first day of school and then after), a tutorial (your face before make-up and after), or inspiring (your pantry before you clean and organize then after).
  56. News.  Pay attention to multiple news sources and viewpoints, and research and write your own news article about something that matters to your blog’s readers.
  57. Case study. Switch internet providers, unplug everything when not in use, line dry your laundry, or go without television for a month, then share with your readers what differences you saw in your lifestyle, mental and physical health, monthly bills, etc.
  58. Stream-of-consciousness. This was a writing prompt idea that I did in various classes throughout junior high and high school.  Just write.  Don’t worry about spelling, punctuation, points, plots, or any of that.  Just write whatever comes to you.  Set a timer or give yourself a word/length limit. For your blog, just click “post” when you’re done.  Or add a selfie from while you were writing.  It gives readers a view inside your mind at the same time it will help you generate new blog ideas!
  59. Comfort zone. Make yourself uncomfortable by doing something no one would ever think you’d do:  try a different church, eat at a Thai/Indian/Russian restaurant, shop exclusively at the mission store, or strike up conversation with a random stranger every single time you enter a coffee shop or use public transit.  This could make for some really good stuff.
  60. Call them out. If you’ve got something going on in your life that is dragging you down or driving you crazy, call out the people who are involved.  Maybe don’t name them or point the finger, but at least share what you’re going through and how anyone who may think they are part of the problem can now see you’ve tossed the ball into their court.  This post did that in my life…and I didn’t mean for it to!
  61. Coloring book. Draw something fun and then take a picture to post on your blog.  Invite adults to release some stress by printing and coloring the image you drew.  If that means a cross with the sun’s rays or a flowery swear word, have at it.
  62. Recap.  Write a post about the posts you did the month before or during this month last year. Revive your old posts for new followers.
  63. Experiment.  Try something new, like go vegan for a week or shop at a grocery you’ve never been to, and tell us about your experience. Heck, drink 10 glasses of water a day for 10 days and blog about it.
  64. Hometown.  Give a shout out to the village that raised you, the place you grew up, the neighborhood where you learned to ride a bike.  Country music stars make millions off of this idea.
  65. Video.  Break out from behind the keyboard and get behind the camera to record yourself.
  66. Collaborate.  Contact other bloggers in your niche to learn what you can do together to generate more readers. Then blog about it.
  67. Host a giveaway. Note that you’ve contacted other bloggers, determine what each of you can contribute to give to your readers, the ones who will follow each blog for a chance to win something.
  68. Repeat.  Grab any of these items and do it again.  And again!
  69. Advice.  There’s something you want your audience to hear and think on, something you think all of us are falling short of, so throw caution to the wind and tell us how we ought to live our lives. Controversy will spark conversation.
  70. Implore.  Tell us why we need to get out and vote. Convince me the Paleo Diet is necessary for my health and that of the planet. Get readers to donate to a worthy cause…or their local libraries.
  71. Guests.  Invite your readers to submit guest posts, or share about a blog where you’ve posted as a guest.
  72. Share.  Ask your readers to share your blog, whether your tweets, photos, FB posts, whatever. If they like you, chances are, they know others who would like you, too.
  73. Bucket list. Think about accountability here: the more people who know what you really want to do before you die means the more people that can not only remind you of your goals but maybe help you see them come true.
  74. Birthday.  Wish yourself a happy birthday, and tell your audience what your boyfriend/kids/parents did or got for you. Or what you did for you.  You could include your dream birthday experience, too.
  75. Compile answers. Think of a question often asked in your industry or niche, and look up memes or quotes by famous people who have answered that question.
  76. Bad habits. Sure, I post about eating organic and using Seventh Generation cleaning products, but I should be more honest and open about my vices. Your readership would like something juicy about how you sneak in watching trashy television, how you only go to story time for the snacks, how you binged on the kids’ Halloween candy…
  77. Opposition.  Research an opposing viewpoint, some stance that contradicts how you think or live, and let your readers know what the differences are and where you can agree.
  78. Reply.  Go through all the comments you’ve ever received on your blog.  Copy them and reply to them in one big post.  Show your readers that you care, you’re listening, your blog is interactive.
  79. Plug-Ins. Share what you think are the best plug-ins for your blog.  You’ll help other bloggers or inspire newbies.
  80. Meme.  Create a meme about your current situation at work or home and share it with a short blurb.
  81. In memorial. Write a short bio of someone you’ve lost and what about them was so special to you.
  82. Hypothetical travel. Use the fantastic online world to discover more about a place you’ve always wanted to visit.  Then share with your readers a mock itinerary and ask if anyone has actually been there and can add to your post.
  83. Celebrities.  Who do you like to follow?  Who makes you roll your eyes?  Who do you think should have won an Oscar?  Share your views, tabloid style!
  84. A day in the life. From when you wake to when you lay your head down, walk us through your typical day.  Tell us what you want to change and what you hope to do every day of your life.
  85. TV.  You’re busy; we all are.  With everything you’ve got going on, you still make that one show a priority.  Why do you watch it?  What makes it worth the time you give it?
  86. Lotto winner. Go beyond your bucket list or your date night ideas.  Write the post about where in the world you would travel.  Now write a post about how it your life would be, where you would go, what you’d do with your time if you won the lotto.
  87. Go-to piece. There’s something in your wardrobe you always have, no matter the season or the occasion, no matter the cost, that you just have to have and know you can grab it whenever.  Tell your readers about that flashy scarf that dresses up any outfit or those jeans from college or that pair of earrings you haven’t taken off since you put them in.
  88. Local festival.  Attend a festival or fair near you and tell us about it.
  89. Get free stuff. Sign up for one of the hundreds of websites that want to give you stuff, like BzzAgent, or a survey site, like Inbox Dollars.  Write about your experience.
  90. Finding time. Tell us how you find time to write and edit your blog.
  91. Other writings. Let your readers in on what else you plan to share with them.
  92. Job vs Passion. So many people identify with their jobs just to turn around and say they don’t like what they do for a paycheck.  Imagine you meet someone at a party who asks, not what you do for a living, but what are you passionate about.  This idea is shared by the Minimalists.
  93. More coverage. What do you think there should be more mainstream coverage of:  influential teachers, sporting events with your favorite animal, the layout changes at your local supermarket?
  94. Downtime.  Let us know what you do to recharge.  Everyone is so overworked and we’re all looking for a calming outlet, so share what you do when you’re not blogging, not at work, not functioning as your kids’ short-order cook.
  95. Cleaning hacks. Housework is a necessity (unless you’re ok with hoarding and filth); you know you cut corners somewhere so admit it to your readers.  Maybe it isn’t even a cleaning hack!  My kitchen floors always look clean and shiny because of the type of ceramic tile we chose.
  96. Buyers’ remorse. This goes beyond the common review of an item you purchased.  Really let us know why you keep kicking yourself over that one buy.
  97. Worth the cost. Again, go beyond a review and share what amazing thing you’ve found that is so worth the price.  Free isn’t always better!
  98. Finding blogging ideas. This post was a struggle after about 74 items.  I should tell you where I found these last items.
  99. Build upon your village. There is some part of your life that you geek about, like a show, a clothing line, a character, a scent.  There are others around the world that geek the same thing, trust me, no matter how strange or uncommon you think it is.  Tell us your closet passion and gather the together the other freaks like you.
  100. 100 blog post ideas. Share your triumphs and pains after wracking your brain for 100 different ideas on what to blog about.

Personal Review of ClickList

In effort to cut back on money and time spent on food’n’stuff, I decided to give Kroger’s ClickList option a try.

I am not receiving anything to tell you about my experience:  nothing free, no money or credit, nada.  But that’s okay, because on my Thoughtfully Sought path through life, I’m hoping to share what I’ve learned with others for the sake of sharing and possibly learning something new.

To make a full disclaimer, I do have family members and friends who work for the Kroger Company.  No, they aren’t getting anything from this blog post, either.  Sorry, guys!

ClickList

Before I go any further, I would like to state that I think this is a stupid name.  The Kroger Company probably spent a big ol’ chunk of money on a team of well-educated individuals to come up with that name, so I apologize to all who put effort into it.  But I could toss out about 15 better names in 40 seconds if you asked me to.

Anyway


Where I live, I shop at the Pay-Less stores of the Kroger family.  I was on my Android phone looking at my weekly sales ads and going through my digital coupons when I saw the “shop online” option.  After recently reading an advice book suggesting one creates more time with her family (or for her other priorities) by shopping for groceries online, I decided to give it a whirl.

I poked around on the site for a bit, saw how they save my previous purchases, looked into payment options and the cost, and decided to take it a step further and get out the laptop.

Once I logged into my Pay-Less account, I got a full screen with all my shopping options.  I used my list from these free printables to “shop” for what I needed.  Thankfully, the webpage shows what items cost and if they are on sale.  Then I looked through the digital coupons offered and added a couple more things to my “cart”.

ClickList does give a total amount of what is in your “cart” but it does not factor in the digital coupons.  It also doesn’t take into account any paper coupons you might have.  Note that Kroger/Pay-Less still accepts the coupons, though.  When you call to say you’re ready and in their parking lot, they will ask about your paper coupons while the computer will automatically access the digital ones you’ve loaded to your card/account.

So, let’s see, where was I?  Right.  I loaded up my “cart” and went to “check out” where it let me review what I was ordering and select a date and time frame to pick up my groceries.  Shortly after choosing my options, I received a confirmation email.


I was expecting another email or text or call or something once my order was ready, but I didn’t.  They only send you that first confirmation, pull your order before your time slot, and eagerly await your arrival.

Ok, maybe they aren’t eager.  I don’t know, I couldn’t see them from the parking lot.

I arrived at the store near the end of the time frame I chose, pulled into one of the designated spots, and called the number on the sign.  The friendly individual who answered asked which spot number I was in, talked with someone near him, then informed me it would be just a moment before a clerk came out to my car.

Since I could see said clerk helping another ClickList patron, I was cool with just sitting for a few in my air conditioned vehicle with two slumbering babes in the back seat.

Soon, the nicest guy I’ve ever met at a grocery store came out with another man and a rolling cart with some black plastic tubs full of white Kroger grocery sacks.  The friendly guy asked where I would like my groceries and if my doors were unlocked.  While the one man loaded the rear of my SUV with the bags (even putting the frozen and refrigerated goods in the cooler I had back there for that very reason), Mr. Super-Friendly-Nice talked with me about my experience, coupons, who I talked to when I called the number, et cetera while he ran my debit card on his tablet.

For whatever reason, the tablet didn’t like my card, and Mr. Super-Friendly-Nice ran back into the store for another one.  Meanwhile, the other dude was still loading my 60+ items.

Finally, I was loaded and paid for (that sounds inappropriate) and rolling out of the lot within less than 10 minutes of pulling in (yep, really inappropriate).

Extra Benefits

  • I don’t know if it was promotional or what but there was no fee associated with getting my groceries this way.  After telling a girlfriend who lives in another city about my experience, she said it cost her $4.95 to use the ClickList service.  For me, it was free and super easy, plus I didn’t have to drag my littles through a grocery store.
  • Ok, so not having to take the kids through the store was a huge plus.  That hour that we didn’t spend in the store?  I made a point to go to a free city park with them.  How’s that for awesome!
  • Also, I didn’t have any impulse buys.  I saved money by not setting foot inside and being lured by sights, smells, and sale signs.  I got precisely what was on my list, or on sale, or what I had a coupon for, because I was able to directly search for those things.  It was great!
  • I only had the one store to go to!  Normally, I would run to a handful of different stores on grocery shopping day.  This time, I decided the convenience of ClickList was worth the extra 10 cents on the marinara and the 40 on the salad dressing that I wouldn’t have paid having gone to Aldi’s for those things.

Unknowns

  • I chose not to get produce or meat during this experiment.  I am, as many others are, particular about my meats and fruits (heh heh, inappropriate again).  We get our meats at a local meat market, so that wasn’t a concern, but I do like to get quite a bit of my produce at Kroger.  However, I just don’t know if I can trust a clerk to pick precisely what I want.  And what if he or she accidentally drops my bananas?  What if there was a bigger melon? How do I know the best peach, tomato, avocado, etc was selected?  I don’t, so I didn’t get produce that day.
  • I also don’t know how refrigerated and frozen items were handled.  I should have asked.  I would think if you ordered ice cream, frozen peas, a gallon of milk, and some eggs that the staff would somehow ensure those items stayed the temperature they needed to.  For instance, I selected the time slot of 3-4, and Mr. Super-Friendly-Nice informed me that my order had been ready since about 2:55.  But I didn’t get there until almost 4.  I didn’t order ice cream, but I’m hoping if I had, they would’ve somehow noted that some of my items needed to stay frozen.  I don’t know.  But I hope.
  • Since I didn’t have paper coupons to use this time, I am not entirely sure how that process works.  They say they take them, but I don’t know what that means.  I’m assuming a clerk comes out, gets your coupons, goes in to scan them, and comes back out to take your payment.  I don’t know, sorry.

Arriving Home

I drove straight home, and the BHE helped me unload sleepy kids and all the groceries.  My cold things were cold in my cooler, and everything else was set on our kitchen table.  Since they gave us both a receipt and print of my order on a 8.5×11 piece of paper, I had no issues checking off the items as I put them away.

Yes, everything was there.  Every last thing I requested online was in my kitchen.  How awesome is that!

I decided I must write a blog post about my experience with ClickList because it was easy, free/cheap, and accurate.  I did my grocery shopping one night while my family slept and I sat in my pjs in my bed with a glass of moscato.  I didn’t have to get out of my car and, more importantly, I didn’t have to get my kids out of the car, into a cart, around a store, through the check-out line, and back into the car to drive all the way home and unload the whole mess.  I saved money and time (and a headache).

If this service stays free, I’ll keep using it.  If they begin to charge, like maybe $4.95 each trip, I may have to rethink how often I buy certain items.  Because, really, five bucks to save money and the hassle, I think it is worth it.

Your Thoughts

Does your preferred store have this option?  Have you tried it?  What did you like?  What didn’t you like?  Or why haven’t you tried it?

I’d like to know.  Maybe my other preferred stores do this, too.  It was a fun experiment.

How do you like shopping for your groceries and goods?