Criticism

How do you deal with criticism on your blog? I would like to say I am a perfect adult and always take criticism well. But my first reaction often is “HOW DARE YOU FIND ANY FLAWS IN MY BABY! DON’T YOU KNOW, LIKE ALL BABIES, IT IS ABSOLUTELY PERFECT!”

Once I get over my temper tantrum I then try and take a more objective look at the critique, and appreciate the time and consideration that went into it.

This has been a week of critiques. First, I found out, quite by accident, that KatalinaMau.com was reviewed by Bloggeries. Bloggeries is my favorite blogging forum, and you will often find me hanging out there, usually when I should be doing something else! I am thrilled that they choose to review my blog, but I am surprised that they did not find my blog to be perfect. (Please see first paragraph) You can read the review here. While they did have some very nice things to say, there were more than a few things that they felt could “use improvement”. One of which was the overall look of my blog. Ouch! I worked hard to make it look like that! I felt much better when a few days later a commenter said she really liked the look of my blog.

And then there is the issue of posting. I know I have been bad about keeping up with the posts. There are just so many other things to do! But not only did Bloggeries mention that I should be more regular in my posting, Reward Rebel took the time to send me a PM saying pretty much the same thing. To both of you I want to say a really big Thank You! Sometimes we all need a friendly little kick in the behind to get moving.

So the whole purpose of this post is to let you know that I have listened to the critiques, and found them valid. Over the next few weeks I will be working on the overall look and feel of KatalinaMau.com. Let me know what you think of the changes. I will be trying out different themes, seeing what I can do with them.

The other thing I am going to do is take the Alan Lest’s 30 Day Blogging Challange.

I am going to do my best to make a blog post every day, for 30 days in a row. I just hope I can make most of  the posts something someone would actually want to read! I know that by doing anything for 30 days you can make it a habit. I have heard from other people that once you get started it becomes much easier, and you become a better blogger. And that is what it really comes down to. While my inner child fumes that anyone could find anything I create less than perfect, the adult in me knows that these types of critiques will make me a better blogger.

Thanks again everyone!

Paying Off Your Mortgage

One of my lifetime goals, was to pay off my mortgage and live in my home debt free. I set that goal 20 years ago, and I achieved it 3 years ago. Paying off my mortgage, and all my debts, has been one of the best things I have ever done. Having no debt payments allows me to live quite comfortably on a small income, while being able to save for retirement.

Paying off a mortgage early isn’t easy. It takes discipline and the ability to look to the long term. But while surfing the net today I found an interesting tip that would be easy for most people to implement, and could take a few years off of your mortgage. It only works if you have an adjustable mortgage. With an adjustable mortgage your monthly payment is going to vary along with your interest rate. When your interest rate is higher you have a higher payment, and when your loan adjusts down, so does your payment. In an article titled “Borrowers can pay off mortgage early by keeping payments up”, the site, Money Magic suggests that when interest rates go down, and your mortgage payment goes down, you should continue paying the higher payment. By continuing to pay the higher payment (which you’ve already managed to squeeze into your budget!) even a relatively small interest rate drop can take years off your mortgage!

Along with news and tips relating to your mortgage, Money Magic offers a First Time Buyer Mortgage .  The sooner you have your mortgage, the sooner you can pay it off!

I Love My Readers! Who are You?

Happy Valentine’s Day!

I have been trying to think of a way to thank all my readers this Valentine’s Day, and to let you know how much I appreciate you. It just wouldn’t be practical to send chocolates, or flowers, or cards. I could send e-cards but that might be a little spammy. So I thought and thought and then I thought some more. I wanted to make sure whatever it was went to my readers, and not those who were just passing through. That’s why this paragraph is a little long and wordy!

So I finally came up with an idea, it’s not much, but it fits my budget! I am giving away links, to everyone who wants one. Here is how it will work. This blog is a do-follow blog and I have Comment Luv installed. That means if you comment on a post you get a link back to your blog plus, comment luv adds a link back to your last post. And of course they are all do-follow links.

Now usually I just delete comments that I feel are blatant self-promotion, but on this post I am welcoming it! I’d like it if you would tell me a little bit about who you are, but if you are in a hurry go ahead and make a one word comment, or no comment. You could even include another link to your blog. (Only one please)

Now only a few restrictions. This is a PG-13 blog so if your site is adult, gambling, or adult pharms, than I’m going to have to say sorry, this offer doesn’t apply to you. And if you like my idea, feel free to copy it. Just please be nice and provide a link back to this post.

Say Good Bye to Packaged Cereal

It has been too long since I last blogged about food. Anyone can tell just by looking at me that I love good food! So I thought today would be a good day to talk about how your choices in food can be good for your wallet, good for your health, and good for the environment. And if we are talking about good food and the environment in the same blog post we have to talk about granola.

First, lets make some granola. Then I’ll tell you why it is worth the time to make up a batch every week.

There are lots of recipes on the internet. Here is one that I have put together to get you started. You’ll soon be making your own variations! All measurements are approximate. Feel free to experiment, you really can’t go wrong.

In a medium size saucepan mix together.

  • 1/2 Cup Oil (I like to use strong flavored oils. Right now I’m using sesame oil because I got a gallon of it real cheap, but sometimes I will use coconut oil or a blend of the two)
  • 1/2 Cup Honey or Real Maple Syrup (More or less depending on how sweet you want your granola. You can also use white or brown sugar)
  • 1/2 Cup Water
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

Mix well, bring to a boil, then turn off the heat. Allow to cool a bit then mix in:

  • 1 teaspoon real vanilla
  • other spices to taste, I like to add about a tablespoon of cinnamon and a 1/2 teaspoon of nutmeg, maybe a dash of cloves

While that is cooking, in a large bowl, mix together:

  • 8 Cups Old Fashioned Oats (I buy organic oats in bulk at the co-op for about .30/lb)
  • 1 Cup Wheat Germ
  • 1 Cup unsweetened coconut flakes (you can find unsweetened coconut at co-ops and natural food stores)
  • 1/2 Cup Sunflower Seeds
  • 1/4 Cup Flax Seeds (or ground flax seeds)
  • 1/4 Cup Pumpkin Seeds

Pour liquid into dry mixture and mix well until everything is damp but not wet. Add a little more water if needed.

Spread mixture evenly on shallow baking sheets. Do not fill the baking sheets because you will need room to stir.

Bake in a slow oven (about 250 degrees).

I’m sorry I can’t tell you how long. Sometimes I cook the granola for 30 minutes and sometimes it takes over an hour. You just have to watch it. Check your granola about every 15 minutes, stirring each time. It is done when the oats have a nice brown color and everything is very dry.

Allow the granola to cool thoroughly. Then mix in:

  • 1 Cup Raisins or other dried fruit.

Store in an airtight container and enjoy. This makes enough cereal for my family of  granola lovers (2 adults and 1 growing teenager) for about a week.

Since I’ve been making granola I have pretty much quit buying packaged breakfast cereal.  It now seems to be a big waste of money.  Just yesterday I was looking at the cereal aisle and found that for the same price as a batch of healthy granola (around $4) I could get a brightly colored box with 12 oz. of  refined corn and high fructose corn syrup, with a few artificial colors and preservatives thrown in for good measure.  No Thanks!

I also don’t have all those brightly colored boxed waiting to go to the recycling center. Sure we can recycle the cardboard, but it is better for the environment if it is never produced in the first place.

My family loves the granola I make and love the money I save.  Plus, by making my own granola I can sneak in the flax seed and other healthy ingrediants my husband wouldn’t eat otherwise! Let me know how your granola creations go!

Valentines Day Gifts for All Your Love Ones

Today I am pleased to bring you a sponsored post about a company that I have been using for years! Most of my family lives out of town, and I find a great way to send them gifts is through 1800Flowers. I like to shop from home and the gifts are delivered right to the recipient’s door. What is nice about 1800Flowers is that despite the name, you can purchase more than just flowers. They have thousands of gifts in addition to flowers, including teddy bears, food baskets, spa sets and chocolates. All of high quality and sure to delight. I know my Mom looks forward to her valentines day gifts from 1800Flowers.

Today while looking at the site and searching for valentines day gifts I found their Valentine’s Gift Bundles. In this section alone I had over 100 great gift choices ranging in price from $19.99 for a cute stuffed dog with chocolates, to $1,000 for Love’s Lavish Luxuries. You know, men like to receive valentines day gifts, but they can be difficult to shop for. At 1800Flowers I found lots of choices, from a spa set for men, to a floral arrangement in a beer mug.

If you would like the convenience of shopping from home for valentines day gifts that your loved ones will adore, head on over to 1800Flowers.