Saturday, 28 November 2015

We already have a new Christmas tradition: the Elf on the Shelf

All of you that know me in person, know how I like to adopt new traditions and this one is great, so from now, it's going to be one or our family traditions.

This is my new Elf just arrived from the North Pole (a.k.a. Amazon)

He comes inside a box with a book telling the history (in English).

Well let's go with the important matter... what does the new tradition consist on?

The Elf arrives home at the start of each Advent (December 1st) to watch the kids and to prepare his/her report for Father Christmas.

If is the first day of the Elf in the house, we should put him/her a name, here you will find a list with name ideas that you may download and print.

Kids cannot touch the Elf or him/her will lose his/her magic.

The elf, if there's someone near will not move and will seem a doll, but when nobody watches him, he may move, change his position or even make some pranks, you only have to take a look on  Google Images to see how he enjoy

Each night the Elf travels to the North Pole to give his report to Santa.

The kids, each day will search him to see from where he will watch them that day or even try to catch him 'in fragranti'.

The last day of his stay (December 24th) the Elf may leave them an official report telling if they will be in the nice or the naughty list, here I leave you a pair of ideas of how could be designed the formats: (These are from, in her page you may pay and download them)

Well this is all about how much we want to work on it :)

Do you like it? Are you thinking in adopting any new tradition in your family? Do you already have any special tradition for Christmas?

Tuesday, 17 November 2015

Ten tips to save money in the groceries

Traducción al español

Some weeks ago I checked how much we spend in the supermarket for our family (that is in food, cleaning and hygiene products) and I was surpised at realizing that in a month the spends almost reach the 500€, OMG, 500€! That's a lot. So I have done an excel document to check our expenses and I have begun recording tips to control our groceries list.

This is my graphic in 2015, my purpose from now is to keep under 300€ per month (Christmas holidays will have an exception, of course)

groceries expenses
So, here I am with some tips that I'm going to use when doing groceries.

save money groceries

1. Do just a weekly shopping

This is one of the things that worked worst with my budget, I used to buy in a supermarket with some sales but not a lot of variety, not much fresh products, etc, and that forced me to make extra trips to other supermarkets in order to finish the shopping with the consequent danger of buying some extras. From now I'm just going to buy in two supermarkets, they don't have as much sales as the other but there I may do just one shopping.

2. Plan the weekly menu at the same time than the shopping list

Sundays in the afternoon I use to plan the next week menu, so I take my menu planner and my shopping list, open the fridge and start planning with all I have inside (You must priorize what you already have) and if I need any ingredient then I write it in the shopping list.

3. Take always the shopping list when going to the market/supermarket

It's obvious but sometimes I have left it at home and walking through the shop looking for the inspiration what I have found was sweeties and chips.

4. Look always the expiration date of the products

I has happened to me some times, to see at home that my new products expired in just 2 o 3 days (and they weren't on sale, hum!)

5. Check the Kg price (or whatever other weight measure)

It seems that we are psycologically ready to relate big pack = savings, well, in most cases (at least in Spain) you have the same price and you only win more likelihood to have it rotten.

6. Be careful with the great sales

You should think a lot if you really have so much discount buying the offer product rather than the one you were looking for. Anyway if there is a non-perishable product that is just in your list or you use to buy... buy it!

7. Convenience is expensive

I have just discovered this one, preparing some swiss chard. From some time ago I used to buy them clean and chopped, ready to cook. The last week there wasn't ready-to-go vegetables so I bought a big plant of it with the same price than the ready-to-go bag, today I was preparing them for the lunch and I have realized that the bag has less than 2 or 3 leaves of swiss chard (the plant has a lot more), I have prepared just 3 leaves (they were really big) and I've gotten more food than I use to.

8. Basket better than cart

If we use a cart we are more prone to fill it, I only take it when the items I'm going to buy are heavy.

9. Look for season products

This is simple, always will be cheaper (and fresher) the season products than the imported.

10. Avoid prepared and pre-cooked

If you like a bit cooking is better to spend a bit of the weeking cooking to freeze than buying those products that besides expensive are not quite healthy.

Well, so this is my tips list. Do you have anyone more to share?

Wednesday, 11 November 2015

Tips to be more productive

Traducción al Español.
Here I share with you some of the tips that works better for me to increase my productivity and get to finish all those tasks I have been doing. Do you know any other?

tips productivity

1. Make a list with all your tasks.

And have it near you to add the new tasks, this way we will achieve two things, not to let half done what we are doing and not to forget what we should do after finishing the task.
Here you have a 'To Do' list, you may also use an app in your smartphone if you don't want to waste paper, but for me is a pleasure to mark the finished tasks :D.

2. Plan your day the night before.
We just need 10 minutes to do it, we take the tasks list and we choose 3 of them (let's start only with a few), the ideal would be to choose the most complicated one as first and so, avoid the temptation of procrastinate it eternally.
Here you have my daily plan to write your 3 most important tasks, some others if you have enough time, an space to write down pending calls and emails, and urgent purchases, and, of course, don't forget to hydrate.

3. Get up early

There's an Spanish saying that says literally: 'God helps whoever gets up early' (Equivalent to the english 'The early bird gets the worm'), well theologies apart, almost all human are more productive in the morning just rested, so we have to take advantage of those first hours. I use to wake up between 1 hour and 1 hour an half before the rest of my family and that silence little while goes really well for me.

4. Let emails and news for afterwards

If we wake up full of energy and rested, instead of burying ourselves reading emails or watching news, we should take advantage of that moment to progress with the tasks that need a bigger effort and let the emails and news for later (of course, the social media too)

5. Take frequent small rests

When you feel more overwhelmed and think you don't have time to rest, then is the moment you most need to rest, this way your mind will clear and will permit you to better focus. The idea is to take those rest minutes to breath, relax, hydrate or just not to think in anything. We may use time organizacion techniques that force us to take rests, one of the most used is the Pomodoro technique that consist of dividing the work time in half hour blocks, working during 25 minutes without distractions and taking breaks of 5 minutes before startin the next block.

6. Organize your stuff

Keep organized our stuff, from tools, documents, notes, etc., help us to have them ready when we will need it, and so we don't waste time looking for them.

7. Appoint a specific time in the day for repetitive tasks.

If you make some repetitive tasks during the day is better to designate them a time, so they will not distract you. For instance, we may asignate specific hours to check email, the phone messages or social media.

8. Not to multitasking
Ok, there are some people that are good at multitasking, but let's face it, most of us end up leaving most of those task half done and, in the better case, although we don't forget to continue with it, the lost time until we get the working rhythm again doesn't compensate. Focus in a single activity ensures complete it in less time and with better results.