info for today's total woman

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Due to the growth of My Totality, it is now two theme focused blogs.  

Check out :
Spaces 2 Live In (interior design info and inspiration)  at
The Classic Woman (a life-style blog) at


Monday, January 16, 2012

A Small Time Out

My Totality will resume in February.  I am in the midst of packing and moving and sorting and cleaning.  I would much prefer to be writing, but I must get this job done.  During this little break, I hope you'll take the time to read some of the previous posts and leave a comment or two.  Thanks! TTFN

Friday, January 13, 2012

Style Report: Purses Spring/Summer 2012

Purses rarely get my attention.  For me, they are a necessity, not a pleasure. However, after perusing this season's designs, I have discovered fashion's answer to "arm candy".  For Spring/Summer 2012 the focus is on the details -- bows, studs, rhinestones -- and colors ranging from nude to pastel to vibrant.  Color blocking, metallics and snakeskins are in abundance.  I have to admit it, one minute I was in "to die for" mode for McQueen's edginess and the next minute I could not get enough of Valentino's romanticism.  Then, of course, there is Jimmy Choo who never fails in "wow" appeal. Yes, it's a season of great variety, and even more importantly, great design!


Thursday, January 12, 2012

What's In Your Purse?

Quick, dump the contents of your purse (or bag) on a table or a bed or the floor, it really doesn't matter, take a picture of what lies in front of you and email the pic to me at  If you'd like, include a short description of the items and especially notate any "can't live without items" that you have.  I will be using them in the posts for Thursdays.  Thanks!

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Solar Power and Wind Power

Living off the grid intrigues me.  The thought of not having an electric bill excites me.  The how's of doing this baffle me.  What keeps me delving deeper and deeper into the world of sustainable living is the lure of independence, much like what the early pioneers must have felt as they left the comforts and the confines of their homes to venture westward.  I admit it.  I like the thought of being more in control of the things I use and the things for which I pay.  I like the idea of not being wasteful and using what God has provided. The idea of living off the grid is very alluring on paper, but very intimidating to me in practice.

Living off the grid, even partially off the grid, requires generating your own form of electricity.  This can be done by either solar or wind power.  Solar energy occurs, according to Donald R. Bell in his web article "Solar Energy Facts, " when the sunlight hits a photovoltaic (PV) cell in a solar panel, that solar power cell responds to the photons by generating a small electric current which is fed into and throughout the home using the same wires and other components as are used by the utility company."  He further explains how wind power generates electricity, "The kinetic energy or force of the wind turns propeller-like blades mounted on the shaft of a wind turbine. As wind turns the blades, the shaft spins a magnet wrapped by a coil of wire. As the magnet spins, electrons in the wire react to the magnetic force and are moved along inside the wire creating an electric current that's fed into the home. The operation of a wind turbine is simple in principle and quite similar to the way that a tiny dynamo resting on a turning bicycle wheel generates enough electrical current to light the bicycle's headlight, or the way a hand-crank LED flashlight generates power to charge its battery."

Although both forms of alternative power sources are renewable, the overall usability of solar power seems to have the edge.  Whereas solar power can be used in residential areas, the wind turbines are often too big and too noisy to use.  On the flip side, solar panels only have a 10% - 15% efficiency, and, although they are safe for the environment, there is obviously a lot of room for improvement. In addition, with an average price tag of $15,000 to $50,000 to purchase a home solar power system, it would take many years to recoup the initial cost.  So, while quite interested in solar and wind power, I still have many questions and would appreciate feedback for me and my readers.  In particular, has anyone had success with making their own solar panels and, if so, what was the cost?  Also, for those who are using either alternate power source, are you happy with your decision and what are the pros and the cons of your system?

Along the way I discovered a few interesting sites relating to solar and wind power:
Solar Energy Solar Power
Best Solar Energy
Get Solar
Off Grid Living

If you know of other informative sites, please share.  Thanks!

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Comfort Foods

Maybe it's because I'm in the middle of moving or maybe it's because I just sent my youngest off to boot camp or maybe it's just because ... anyway, I am in the mood for some good, old-fashioned comfort food -- the kind that makes you feel all warm and good on the inside. However, this time around, I want more from my comfort food than just warm fuzzy feelings, I want food that is good for me as well as good to eat.  Next time you're in need of a little comfort, regardless of the reason, try one of these recipes for a meal that delivers food's version of a good hug.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Money Matters: Saving Money on Your Food Bill

Savings Tip #2:  Saving Money on Your Food Bill

With food prices going up, up, up, it is becoming more and more challenging to get the food you need and stay within your budget.  What's a person to do?  Well, after a bit of research, I've found a few tips to help keep the food on your table and the money in your wallet.
  1. Buy produce in season and buy locally.  Check out your local farmers' market.  Not only will you be supporting local businesses and buying fresh produce,but you won't have to pay any shipping charges.
  2. Watch the sales.Get the local grocery stores' flyers and plan your meals around their sales.  Planning is key.  Sit down and plan your meals for two weeks. Reducing the number of times you walk through the doors of your local grocery store will automatically save you money.  I also like to put my list on my phone's memo app, that way it is always with me and not accidentally left behind in the car or at home.
  3. Use left overs. Resolve to eat them within 24 hours and allow yourself to get creative with them.  Meat can be used in a pot pie or a quiche.  Vegetables can be added to homemade soup.  Mashed potatoes can become tomorrow's potato soup. 
  4. Use coupons.  I have to admit I've never been a successful couponer.  I am intrigued by the number of  who significantly cut their food bill by using coupons.  I, unfortunately, always seem to have a bunch of coupons lying around in my purse, and, of course, none of them are the ones I need when I get to the check out.  I realize I need to learn more about the art of couponing and found an interesting site Couponing 101 - Learn Realistic Couponing  What I really appreciate is the emphasis on being realistic -- no hoarding 2 years worth of toothpaste -- but rather working around 12 week sales cycles. I'm definitely going to check into this further.
  5. Buy in bulk.  A membership at Sam's or Costco can pay for itself in savings if you watch your prices.  Just like shopping at other stores, some of their prices are cheaper and some are not.  Know your prices.  Take your calculator so you can compare the cost of their larger packages with the cost of the grocery store's smaller packages. The other tip is to stay focused.  Take your list and stick to it.  It is easy to get sidetracked with all the "goodies" in the store and impulse buying will eat up your savings.
  6. Cook in bulk.  There are some great cookbooks for cooking in bulk.  Your homemade food will be more nutritious than prepackaged foods and just as convenient, plus it will be cheaper. Sounds like a win-win to me. Here are a few titles to check out:  The Freezer Cooking Manual from 30 Day Gourmet, Cooking for 30 Days, and Once-a-Month Cooking Family Favorites.
  7. Plant a garden.  I know most of the country is in the middle of winter, but it is actually a great time to start planning your garden.  There are so many advantages to growing your own food:  you control the fertilizers you use (organic or not), you have access to fresh produce, and you get the much needed vitamin-D from being outside in the sunshine.  Some helpful sites to get you "growing" in the right direction:  The Garden Helper, How to Start a Vegetable Garden, and, one of my favorites, Free Garden Planner.
  8. Buy bread at a local day old bread store.
  9. If the store is out of an item on sale, ask for a rain check.
  10. We've all heard "don't go to the store when you're hungry" but add to that "don't go when you're tired".  Have you ever noticed that when you're tired, all you want to do is to get home?  The last thing you want to do is take time to compare prices and you're a lot more tempted to buy convenience foods -- something quick and easy.
  11. Have a budget for your groceries and stick to it.  While you are shopping, keep a running total of your purchases.  If you start to go over your budget, go through your cart and either eliminate items or swap them for less expensive brands.
  12. Finally, "look high, look low".  Stores have a tenancy to put their most expensive items at eye level, so look there last.