Find a Feeder

Monday, December 31, 2012

Go For The Gusto! And I Don't Mean Your Beer

First of all, let me say this post was inspired by one written by a gutsy friend and fellow blogger, Sherry Aikens, and her post titled Facing Fears Being Vulnerable on Superexhausted. Sherry writes about all the things she's done in her life that have left her open to being hurt or taking risks. Wow! She is one gutsy lady.

Each year I try to make a New Year's resolution and every year I forget all about them within a few weeks. Someone suggested making a bucket list. Bucket list--oh no! not me! Yes, I admit, I don't have a bucket list. (I know, I am the only one right?) But life is too busy to write bucket lists! Better I just get up and do it! I've always love the sneaker company slogan "Just Do It!" because it is so... me. (more like if I took the time to write it down I'd chicken out, so I need to Just Do It! and the sooner the better!)

So I want to ask you, what have you done that involved taking a risk, trying something new, something out of your comfort zone? What do you have on your 'bucket list' of things to do that terrifies you the most?

At 50 I was laid off from a job doing medical research that I'd had for almost 20 years. As I looked for a new job I kept coming back to a job listing that had intrigued me--working for reality TV. I know, leap off the cliff right? Well at least if I failed I wouldn't smash into pieces at the bottom of the cliff! Nothing like going from something I know to something I know nothing about--but that's typical, sometimes making decisions that lack 'smarts' all because I want to try something new.

Amazingly enough it was a great job! At least while it lasted. Like many jobs my job was absorbed into someone else's job description, alas, because I really enjoyed it. Ah well, time to hunt for a new job again! At 55 I was once again looking for a job but didn't want to go back to Center City to the big research hospitals, so I snagged a job doing medical editing--a bit of everything I'd ever done. Once again, it lasted, until it didn't. So now, I blog. A lot. And I work with helping people with intellectual disabilities live independently. I zig, I zag, and yes, I guess you could say I do JUST DO IT! 

A lot of my scary stuff is nothing to a lot of people. It's their everyday life, but for me, not so much. One thing that I was afraid to do... chemistry class.  In high school I absolutely could not master balancing equations. Yet when I had to do it again in college a few years ago, it was a piece of cake. Why couldn't I do it before? Fear. Fear of failure was holding me back. When I couldn't master it the first few times I tried it, I let fear paralyze me. (See, as I said, not your usual 'bucket list.')

What else used to make me crazy? Driving in Philadelphia. Again, college forced me into facing that fear (I learned a lot of things in college that had nothing to do with getting a degree.) I was terrified of driving from my home in the suburbs through west Philadelphia and into Center City. Buses, people swerving in and out, bikes...all of it make me nuts, but nothing so much as those narrow lanes! Now I wonder why it ever bothered me. Again, nothing you would put on a bucket list, like skydiving, ballooning, bungee jumping, sailing around the world--but everyday scary stuff for me.

I'm old enough that I remember when I didn't know how to use a computer. (OK OK, stop holding your sides laughing at what a dinosaur I am!) But I was terrified of it. The darn thing jammed up everytime I tried to use it. Finally after hours of driving my coworkers crazy (thank you Chris, Rob) I figured it out. Ah! Finally! I refuse to become intimidated by a machine ever again!

What else is on my list of terrifying things? Navigating the subway systems, whether in NYC or Philadelphia, subways scare the beejesus out of me! I think it has to be with being enclosed underground (I will not be a happy corpse!) I had the same problem with scuba diving--as a child my dad took my brothers and my sister and I diving--I was sure I was going to be pressed into the sand at the bottom of the ocean! Of course obviously it didn't happen. You'd think that would have cured me of the fear--'fraid not...you still won't find me scuba diving though. But I may ease into the subway next year--stay tuned!

Yes, you won't find me making a bucket list, it would scare me to death. I think I'll go ahead and JUST DO IT! Before I chicken out--AGAIN! So I guess you could say 'just doing it' is my New Year's resolution for 2013.

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Elk and Gorillas and The Fiscal Cliff

From Pinterest
 
A group of geese is called a gaggle, a group of swans is called a bank, a group of elk is called a gang, and a group of gorillas is called a congress. I guess that explains a great deal about our government doesn't it? Actually I'm not sure our legislators should be called a 'gang' or a 'congress' in D.C.
 
So do you think those gorillas in Washington can get their acts together so we don't go over the fiscal cliff? Contact your senator and congressperson today and tell them their future employment depends on their job performance. Face it, you or I have to complete tasks on time at work, why shouldn't they?

Les Misérables Is Coming To The Academy of Music January 2, 2013



Coming soon to the Academy of Music is Boublil & Schönberg's legendary musical, Les Misérables. But don't expect your usual Les Mis. This is Cameron Mackintosh's 25th anniversary production and it boasts "glorious new staging and dazzlingly reimagined scenery inspired by the paintings of Victor Hugo."

The New York Times calls this Les Misérables 'an unquestionably spectacular production from start to finish.' The London Times hails the new show 'a five star hit, astonishingly powerful.'

Sounds to me like it's time to get your tickets now. Les Misérables will be at the Academy of Music from January 2-January 13, 2013.

If you've never seen Les Mis this is the year to break the piggy bank and buy those tickets. If you are looking for a date night you'll never forget, take your significant other out for an evening at the Academy of Music to see this production that is breaking box office records. Enjoy.


**The writer received tickets to see Les Misérables as compensation for writing this post. The content was not influenced by said tickets and opinions are my own.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

2012 Charitable Donation Time


As the year end approaches have you sent out your charitable donations for 2012?

This year may I suggest donating to the March of Dimes? Through December 31, 2012, your $25 or more donation (up to  $65,000) will be matched by PerkinElmer. PerkinElmer is committed to protecting the health of expectant mothers, babies and families and is proud to be a national supporter of March of Dimes NICU Family Support®.

It's that type of commitment that helps us have a healthier generation of babies. For more than 75 years, the
March of Dimes "has funded research, partnered with medical experts, sought volunteers, provided training, and advocated for access to health care for mothers and babies." Please help them continue this tradition of excellence by giving today. Your donation, no matter how big or small will help them toward their goals. PerkinElmer will help as well.

March of Dimes, a not-for-profit organization recognized as tax-exempt under Internal Revenue Code section 501(c)(3). Donations to March of Dimes are tax deductible to the extent permitted by law. Up to $65,000 will be doubled. Matched money does not count toward March of Babies incentives nor President's Society membership.
 
For more information about the March of Dimes, visit our website at marchofdimes.com.

Sleep Hygiene-How to Get A Peaceful Night's Sleep



Sleep hygiene. No, this isn't about being sure your have clean sheets and pillowcases. Instead it is tips for getting a peaceful night's rest. Whether you're aging and need to get a better night's sleep or are trying to get your children to sleep, these tips will help you all.

Here are tips from the pros for how to get better sleep and a restful night.

Use a good quality mattress and pillow. Without these two products your body won't be comfortable and you will toss and turn all night long, never getting in to a deep sleep.

Keep you bedroom dark and quiet. No music, no TV, no lights, no phones.

Do something relaxing before bed like taking a warm bubble bath or reading a book(not one of Stephen King's thrillers!)

Keep the temperature of your room steady. Not too hot, not too cold--just right.

Try not to exercise in the three hours before you head to bed.

Avoid alcoholic beverages when trying to get to sleep.

Avoid caffeinated beverages in the late afternoon and early evening.

Avoid eating a large meal before bedtime.

If you need more information about sleep problems contact your sleep center at your local hospital. Many have cognitive behavioral sleep specialist who can work with you on your sleep problems. Some individuals may need a CPAP machine to help with sleep apnea or other issues. Or head over to the National Sleep Foundation (703-243-1697). Brochures on sleep issues can be ordered from the American Academy of Sleep Medicine (630-737-9700.) Sleep is important--take the time to learn how to get the best night's rest you can from the experts.

Brides Against Breast Cancer Wedding Gown Sale Coming To Philadelphia

Photo from Brides Without Breast Cancer
 
 
Brides Without Breast Cancer comes to the Philadelphia area on January 4, 2013 at the Clarion Hotel Conference Center in Essington PA. Brides and designers both donate their dresses and the proceeds go to help fund programs for cancer patients and their families. Outreach and educational efforts during the "Tour of Gowns" bridal shows around the country help ensure that people impacted by cancer have the resources and information they need in their battle with cancer.
 
 
As a bride, this is a great opportunity to get your wedding gown at a discount price (savings up to 2585% while supporting a great cause. There are more than 1000 name brand and designer wedding gowns.
  • Philadelphia area brides can buy one ticket and bring a friend to this event for free.
  • Most gowns range in price from $99-$799.
  • Meet distinguished bridal partners who have helped make this event possible.
Don't miss this great event that lets you get a great dress at a bargain price!
 

Friday, December 28, 2012

The Forrest Theatre Host Jekyll and Hyde


This week at this Forrest Theatre Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde visit the city of Brotherly Love. The book and lyrics of Jekyll and Hyde is by Leslie Briccusse. Music and Co-conceiver Frank Wildhorn and Co-conceiver Stever Cuden characters attack the stage at the Forrest bringing the duality of Jekyll and Hyde to Philadelphia audiences.

The good doctor is played by Constantine Maroulis, best known to the majority of Americans as a finalist on American Idol, but he is also a Broadway veteran of shows like Rock of Ages and The Wedding Singer. Female leads are played by Emmy Award winner Deborah Cox as Lucy and Teal Wicks as Emma, the doctor's fiancée. Cox first appeared on Broadway in the lead role in Elton John and Tim Rice's musical, Aida. She is also a Grammy nominated and multi-platinum recording artist and film and television actress. Wicks is best known for her role in Wicked, where she played Elphaba in the Los Angeles Company of that show.

Should you invest in tickets for Jekyll and Hyde? Fans of Maroulis will buy tickets just to see his performance. And Cox (as well as her understudy Emmy Raver-Lampman who was playing the role the night we were there) are well worth the ticket price. Raver-Lampman as Lucy owned the stage, stealing the show from Maroulis, and showing the audience just how good a 'bad girl' can be. She steals Teal Wicks' thunder as Jekyll/Hyde's fiancée, although when the two sing together they can't be beat. This show is owned by the women in the cast. (Sorry Constantine, loved you in American Idol, but the ladies own the stage in J&H.)

The show was directed and choreographed by Jeff Calhoun who recently staged Disney's Newsies and he brings the same look and feel to J&H. Lighting by Jeff Croiter and Sound by Ken Travis are also reminiscent of Newsies. Anyone who has seen Newsies will recognize the work of  these three as J&H progresses. (Not that this is a bad thing.)

The show is on it's way to Broadway, and hopefully they'll tighten up on the road. They missed a few opportunities to connect with their audience when a humorous line fell flat, but it's worth the ticket price just to hear Cox or River-Lampman as well as Teal Wicks sing. Some songs could use some work especially early in the show. Also of note, the chorus is Broadway ready, giving a tight and enjoyable performance every time they take the stage. 

Fans of Cox/Raver-Lampman, Teal Wicks, and Maroulis will enjoy the show. Maroulis' fans will think he's been robbed by the ladies in the cast but it's worth it to see his transformation from Jekyll to Hyde.  



**The author was provided with tickets as compensation for posting about Jekyll and Hyde's performances in Philadelphia. Any opinions are her own and have not been changed by the provision of tickets.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Give Teens and Tweens an Experiential Holiday Gift They'll Never Forget


Still stuck on what to get your tween and teen grandchildren for the holidays? Why not give them the gift of Cirque Éloize | iD. Take your whole family to see this innovative experience at the Merriam Theater in Philadelphia the week after Christmas. The new Cirque is full of up to date moves and music sure to appeal to tweens and teens. (and adults alike)

This Cirque show is full of music and moves your grand kids will be familiar with because the show sports the looks of break dancing and the X Games. iD shows off Cirque Eloize's reputation as one of the foremost theatre circus acts combining music, dance, and theatre.

Cirque Éloize | iD will be at the Merriam Theatre in Philadelphia Wednesday, December 26 - Sunday, December 30, 2012. Some dates have matinees as well as evening performances.

These are the perfect tickets to get for tweens and teens when you don't want to buy them some electronic gadget or game but want a family friendly gift where the whole family can go together, Cirque Eloize is it. Tickets are available, priced from $25-$65 so it is possible to take the everyone.

Montreal-based Cirque Eloize has seven productions and has presented them in more then 3,000 performances in 375 cities and 30 countries worldwide. They recently formed a strategic partnership with Cirque du Soleil that will help Cirque Eloize further enhance their presence on the world stage of theater circus productions. So look for Cirque Eloize to come back year after year with a new production.

Take time to buy those tickets today. While the soundtrack may not be your personal favorite, it is sure to be a hit with the grand kids (and even your kids.) And shopping from your seat and not on your feet is so much easier!

**The writer received tickets to see Cirque Eloize iD as compensation for writing this post. The content was not influenced by said tickets and opinions are my own.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Tragedy At Sandy Hook Elementary School

The recent tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School has brought up the issue of better gun control. But the other and as important issue is how our country views mental illness and how we help our citizens who have mental health problems.

Liza Long recently wrote a blog post called I Am Adam Lanza's Mother and posted it on  The Blue Review and reposted it on The Anarchist Soccer Mom and called it Thinking the Unthinkable.

Her blog post details her day to day life with her 13 year old son who suffers from mental illness. She tells the story of her family's daily life, living with the possibility of her son will have an episode that results in calling paramedics and police and a trip to the local hospital. Where her other children have to run and lock themselves in the car while she attempts to wrestle whatever weapon her son has away from him.

She asked the social worker what her options were to deal with her son's increasingly frequent disturbance. She was told the only way to deal with it was to have him charged with a crime. She quotes the social worker as saying  “If he’s back in the system, they’ll create a paper trail,” he said. “That’s the only way you’re ever going to get anything done. No one will pay attention to you unless you’ve got charges.”

The sadness of having to charge someone who is ill with a crime in order to get the appropriate treatment for them horrifies me. In the United States we are failing our citizens who are mentally ill. Before we have another Sandy Hook or Columbine, let's make a concerted effort to help the mentally ill before they hurt someone. Whether it's their families or others. It's time for a call to arms, not to arm ourselves with guns but to arm our citizens with the knowledge and the power to care for the mentally ill.

Liza Long is an author, musician, and classicist. She is also a single mother of four bright, loved children, one of whom has special needs.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

On Stage In Philadelphia


Photo used per Allied-

This week in Philadelphia, Tony award-winning Broadway musical Million Dollar Quartet made it's Philadelphia premiere on December 11-December 16, 2012 at the Forrest Theatre. The Forrest in located on Walnut Street and is an easy commute from suburban Philadelphia, South Jersey or Delaware.

Why do you want to call NOW for tickets? This show is the story of a famous recording session when Sam Phillips (better known as the "Father of Rock 'n' Roll) brought together big names Johnny Cash, Carl Perkins, Jerry Lee Lewis and Elvis for an unforgettable night in the recording studio. The show follows this incredible jam sessions and is filled with over 20 hits you all know like "Blue Suede Shoes," "I Walk The Line," "Fever," "That's All Right," "Great Balls of Fire" and the famed "Hound Dog." Who could resist an evening filled with songs we all know and love?

Get ready for a night of toe tappin' singing and an audience who is dying to sing along with the cast as they see this "Million Dollar Quartet" take the stage and show all the newbies how Rock was REALLY done. We were there opening night and the audience was on their feet, clapping and some singing along as the show came to rousing close.

Yes, we've had some greats since their time, but these are some of the biggest names from the beginning of rock 'n' roll. They showed all the rockers who followed them just how it's done.

While it's not really Elvis, Jerry Lee, Carl or Johnny (that would be quite a trick!) the cast does a great job of taking you back to the '50s and making you feel like you're right there listening to the men who started it all.

It would be hard to say which of the actors gave the best performance. Why? Because it didn't seem like they were acting at all. They literally became their characters, and got the audience to believe they had been transported back to the 1950s as these young men came into their own as artists.

Starring in Million Dollar Quartet are Martin Kay as Jerry Lee Lewis, Robert Britton Lyons as Carl Perkins, Cody Slaughter as Elvis, and David Elkins as Johnny Cash. They rocked the stage singing over twenty great songs. (I listed these artists from stage right to stage left because I was hard put to decide who had given the best performance.) Vince Nappo owned the stage as Sam Phillips the legendary rock 'n' roll promoter and marketer. Kelly Lamont played the part of Dyanne, Elvis' girlfriend and sang some notable songs on her own. Rounding out the cast are Billy Shaffer on drums and Corey Kaiser on base.

The show is directed by Eric Schaeffer, book by Colin Escott and Floyd Mutrux. Designs by Derek McLane(scenic design), Howell Binkley(lighting design), Jane Greenwood(costume design), Kai Harada (sound design), and Chuck Mead (musical arrangements and supervision.)

Million Dollar Quartet is a story of broken promises, secrets, betrayal and celebrations of these young men as they rock their way across the stage telling their tales. Songs ranged from rock to gospel, R&B, and country, this show truly had something for everyone. So get your tickets today, they won't last long!

Get your tickets now. They won't last long!


***Disclosure: This policy is valid from 12 December 2012 This blog is a personal blog written and edited by me. For questions about this blog, please contact  nancycels@aol.com. This blog accepts forms of cash advertising, sponsorship, paid insertions or other forms of compensation. This blog abides by word of mouth marketing standards. We believe in honesty of relationship, opinion and identity. The compensation received may influence the advertising content, topics or posts made in this blog. That content, advertising space or post will be clearly identified as paid or sponsored content. The owner of this blog is compensated to provide opinion on products, services, websites and various other topics. Even though the owner of this blog receives compensation for some posts or advertisements, she always gives her honest opinions, findings, beliefs, or experiences on those topics or products. The views and opinions expressed on this blog are purely the blogger's own. Any product claim, statistic, quote or other representation about a product or service should be verified with the manufacturer, provider or party in question. This blog does not contain any content which might present a conflict of interest.


Saturday, December 8, 2012

Artisan Living With Autism Makes Beautiful Blankets

 
Who is Brent? He's a talented artisan who makes blankets in a variety of colors and sizes. He has been making his blankets for over 20 years. He is also a man who lives with Autism but who has not let it limit him. He's put his creative skills to use and crochets blankets for family, friends and the public to enjoy. He sells his work at the West Grove Farmer's Market and through personal contact.
Visit his small business Facebook page Blankets By Brent.

Brent showing one of his blankets
 
Support Brent's business. Order a blanket from him. The blankets are unique and not quite rectangular in shape. Brent combines colors and designs in each blanket and follows his creative muse. All the blankets are different. Give a gift this winter that will warm your body and your heart.
 
Brent lives in suburban Philadelphia at  Juniper Hill Farms with other men with autism.

Juniper Hill offers a unique opportunity for a small group of men living with autism to experience life on a farm. To find out more about Juniper Hill, you can visit their Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/JuniperHillFarms.

At Juniper Hill Brent helps to take care of the fiber animals and hopes to someday be able to crochet shawls and neck warmers from his own alpaca's fiber. 
 

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Holidays, Shopping, Hell? Not Necessarily

 
It's holiday time again and you're headed to the hell, oh I meant the mall to shop. You know the parking lot will be a crush. You are dreading that long walk from the farthest reaches of the parking lot that you know is waiting for you when you get there. What do do? Ah! I have a magical way to get that parking space you want near the door.
 
'How do you do that' you ask? I'll tell you. The best part is not only is it easy, it is free. As you leave your house imagine the entrance you want to park near at the mall. Then imagine the parking space. You know the ones, five spaces from the mall or less. The primo spots. Where it's easy to drop off packages as you shop so you do not have to drag them all over the mall with you. Ah, yes, I see you are familiar with those spaces!
 
As you drive to the mall imagine the spot. Think positively. See it in your head as you drive. When  you get to the mall, ta da! You'll often find that the very spot you imagined is available or a driver who is parked there is just walking away from the entry door. Magic I tell you! And the power of positive thinking too.
 
Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to my readers. (Who will likely be parked in my favorite spaces the next time I go to the mall!)

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Women Helping Women

I have to admit, I've been very proud of my sex lately. I've watched women bond together to help families suffering through Hurricane Sandy, I've seen women generously getting together to raise money for everything from AIDS research to the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation to St. Jude's to Cradles to Crayons. And I've seen them generously reaching out to their friends or colleagues on a one on one basis.

What makes women so giving? Why are women always out there willing to help someone in need? Whether storm victims or abuse victims or someone with a child who needs help, I've seen women reach out to help each other in times of need. Women supporting women. Supporting others who are in need.

I have to say, I'm proud of them, all these other women. Some of them are people I know either through business or just casual contacts, some are family, some are total strangers, but all of them have one thing in common--they care. And they do something about it.

I've personally seen people reach out to help my daughter who has a disability or two, but who is really quite capable with a little help from her friends--that's the key. All of us need a little help now and then. You never know when it will be your turn to need help, so it's always time to give help if you can.

So if you can give, just a little, to someone else in need this holiday season please do. And it doesn't have to be monetary giving. Give your time. Your efforts. Your smile. Take the time to listen to someone who is lonely and needs an ear. Those are equally appreciated. I know, we're all busy, but fit it in. Your holidays will be the richer for it.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Recipe for A Great Party

Grandma's Meatball Surprise
 
Are you planning a holiday party but not sure what to serve? I have the perfect recipe for a great party. For years my mom has made these meatballs with surprise ingredients. So for those of you looking for an easy appetizer for the holidays, this is it. The ingredients are surprising but result in a meatball that you'll never find in your local Italian bistro.
 
To make these meatballs you need three things: Mama Lucia's Meatballs (check you local grocery store's frozen food aisle, you want to use about a pound of meatballs per recipe.) Some chili sauce (a whole bottle, you'll find that in the aisle with the condiments at your grocery store) and a jar of grape jelly. That's it. How easy is that?
 
Yes, I know, sounds like something your three year old would put together but trust me, it isn't. Just dump the meatballs into a slow cooker with the jelly and chili sauce and you are good to go. Let simmer on low for six hours or so. (The real trick? To avoid taste testing so you have some left for your guests.)
 
Trust me, these are meatballs you will love to hate (because you'll easily pack on the pounds eating too many of them.) But they're also so easy to make and serve that they will become a family staple for parties. Have a nice holiday!

Sunday, November 25, 2012

You Can't Be What You Can't See--Can You?



Miss Representation, is a documentary by Jennifer Siebel Newsom that first aired at the 2011 Sundance Film Festival, and was later shown on Oprah's OWN Network. It is a documentary about women in the media and power. It shows why if we want to become a force to be reckoned with we have to take control of the images and the voices in the media. The documentary explores media’s misrepresentations of women and how it has led to the under-representation of women in positions of power and influence. Wow! Heavy stuff. Yes, heavy and important.

Are you tired of the violence against women in media? Repulsed by the way sex and women are exploited in the media? I say if you do not want your daughters growing up in a society where these attitudes prevail, it is your responsibility and mine to speak out and to be the agents of change.

In my small way I try to do this with my blog, what are you doing? Are you speaking out? Are you being sure your daughter sees documentaries like the preview of the one shown above so that you can raise the consiousness of your daughters (and your sons?)

Let me make one thing clear, it is just as important to raise the conciousness of our sons as our daughters. You can't uh...do a half a**ed job. You need to address both sexes for this to be effective.  So take your children to see this documentary. Get it on DVD. Suggest it to your schools. Be an agent for change. Raise your voice and let the advertisers and media know that status quo is NOT OK.

Miss Representation’s Curriculum gives media literacy a much needed gender focus. The curriculum asks girls and boys alike to think about the effects of the images they see—particularly the ways media affects women and girls’ ability to see themselves as leaders and be seen as leaders by others in society.

Per it's web site the film provides a curriculum for educational purposes. It includes the feature film as well as customized footage and lessons for the following age groups:
  1. University
  2. High School
  3. Middle School
  4. 4th-5th
  5. K-3rd
As you attend your child's school PTA/PTO meeting this year and are considering ways to spend money, give some serious thought to acquiring this curriculum for your school district. What better investment could you make in your children and their future?

Saturday, November 24, 2012

My First Post-Kindle Christmas




 


It's holiday season again  and I face my yearly question 'to send or not to send, this is the question.' Christmas cards that is. Somehow Christmas/Holiday Cards are my Waterloo.

Each year I shop for holiday cards, each year I buy some. And each year I faithfully put notes in each one, slide them into their envelopes and affix the appropriate address and return address--and then--nothing. Somehow I always put them aside and forget to mail them. Sometimes even with stamps on them.

I don't know why. I'm sure a psychiatrist would have a field day analyzing my 'problems' with mailing these on a yearly basis. But since I now have this blog, I thought this would be an easy way to 'mail' my Christmas cards this year.

Why did I choose this card? It's my first holiday post Kindle. --nuff said. Figured I might as well use my old books for something useful! I do love my Kindle!

If you love me, you're already reading my blog. If you are a friend, you read my blog,and if you know me just casually, some of you are reading my blog, and to those who don't know me at all, now that you've been reading my blog you know me pretty well. So Happy Holidays! This year my holiday wishes can be considered 'mailed.' And before December 1. It's possibly a first!

Friday, November 23, 2012

Holiday Gift Giving and Clutter-Free Living

The holiday shopping season is here, and no matter which holiday you celebrate, a clutter-free gift is always appreciated. Organizing specialist, Darla DeMorrow of HeartWork Organizing, has written the definitive list of great gifts for families or individuals trying to  live 'clutter-free.'

If you are like most of us, you are involved in a variety of organizations or social groups that gift small presents at the holidays. Add to that, family and friends, and each year you end up with items on your shelves that might not otherwise be there.

Unfortunately, some of these 'small gifts' end up filling your closets or shelves with items that, frankly, you will never use.

So here are a few ideas for 'clutter free gifting.' Read Darla's article to find still more (and to finish off your holiday shopping gift list.)

Downey's Cakes photo from Amazon.com

One trick of clutter-free gifting is the item should be consumable. Food or wine are great clutter-free gifts, so are soaps that can work double duty as sachets until you are ready to use them. Some of my personal favorites are Downey's Cakes. They come in assorted flavors, Amaretto, Irish Whiskey, and more. Suffice it to say a glance at my hips will tell you just where each of these ended up! But they do make great gifts for others, just wrap them as soon as you get home to avoid temptation!

                                                        Photo courtesy of Amazon.com

Darla also offers some ideas for some great photo and tech gifts that will help control your clutter. (How about that Kindle I got last year--if all those books were sitting around my house I'd be in serious danger of 'burial by books!')

She has a whole host of other great ideas for clutter-free gifting so head over to Darla's blog HeartWork Organizing and start making your clutter-free holiday gift list today!

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Company Wants To Hire 100 Workers by New Years

What company wants to hire 100 people just in Delaware County, Pennsylvania before the New Year?

Are you unemployed or underemployed? Are you past the 'prime' hiring ages and do you feel like human resources is circular filing your resume based on your age? Do you need some extra cash to help pay those holiday bills or the cost of your child's orthodontia?

Have you faced the long lines of the unemployed at every job fair or waited in line to be interviewed only to be told 'we'll call.' And you never hear from them. No 'would you come in for a second interview?' or 'sorry we chose another candidate.' Nothing. The great wall of silence from human resources around the country.

One company is aggressively hiring people and offering health benefits. Who is it? Avon. OK, before you groan and say 'I'd never...' or 'I couldn't...' stop and think, Avon is a reputable company who has been aggressively growing over the last century. They offer products that people use up and need to replace as well as impulse buys, sounding easier isn't it? They offer training for their employees and have supervisors whose only job is to make YOU successful. And I have to admit, selling Avon is, dare I say it, FUN!

So if you are searching for a job that pays you for the work you put in, doesn't require a large purchase of a kit or specialized training courses, but will make you as successful as you want to be, maybe it's time to give Avon a call. Come to one of their meetings for potential reps and see if it's the job for you. And men, don't let their previous rep as a woman's cosmetic company make you think you can't sell Avon. Many men are highly successful Avon representatives in our area. So give it try! Come out and talk to us. Email me at nancycels@aol.com and I'll hook you up with the local Avon districts.

Why I'm Pulling My Hair Out Today

I know there are a lot of you who follow my blog just to see what is making me pull my hair out today. Well today's irritant--trying to do the right thing, only to hit a brick wall over and over again.

Like many of you, I pay a lot of my bills online. Today I went to pay one that I knew was due shortly and was surprised to see it said: Amount Due: $0. 

OK, it did not say Total Due $0, just amount due $0. I had not idea why this oddity was occurring so I attempted to call the company. This was my first mistake. It seems companies today have no desire to talk to their customers. Instead they have installed a variety of numbered prompts designed to answer every and any question you might have without having you interact with a real person. OK, I get it, the machine doesn't need health benefits, but still...

Have you tried calling a company with a question lately? Here's what happened. FRUSTRATION! Over and over again, 'push 1' (the number indicated for questions about payments) and it sends me on a runaround through yet more choices with canned responses none of which answered my question: WHY did I have a zero payment due. I was just trying to pay them. But I wanted to know if there had been an error made or if there was a valid reason behind the zero amount. Not an unreasonable thing to ask--but obviously not an option that whoever set up their canned responses had ever considered might be an option needed by their customers.

It told me my balance. It told me my credit limit. It told me my available credit. It even told me what to do if I wanted a larger credit limit. But it still did not answer my question. And there was no option that took me to someone I needed to talk to.

After getting frustrated and finally (OK, I admit I actually did this) yelling into the phone (with all it's canned responses) I finally got a response, 'let me send you to customer service.' THIS was all I wanted to begin with. An ENGLISH speaking representative who had the vaguest idea what was going on. (and believe me the answer was still vague!) I wasn't mad at the customer service rep but I was mad at this company who made it so hard to pay them money!

Yes, I could have simply paid them a 'guess-timated' amount, but I guarantee if I'd done that and it had not been enough, and it was an error, I would have been blamed and charged a 'late fee.' It's just the way it goes.

It seems there were two possible reasons for the $0 amount. One, I'd made a return that was more than the amount of what my payment should have been. Two, they were giving customers in the 'hurricane zone' a month free from payments. If either of these options had been presented as 'if you have a zero listed under amount due it could be because of : .... ' it would have saved me fifteen minutes of frustration and phone bashing. (OK I didn't really bash my phone, but I was AGGRAVATED beyond belief.) Why do they make it so hard to do the right thing?

So if you see a bald woman walking the mall on Black Friday, you'll know it's me. (Or one of the many other people who have run into the 'brick wall of corporate America' when trying to pay a bill online.)

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Getting Something For Nothing

Ever wondered how you can get some of your holiday gifts for free? Oh do I love the word "FREE!" Getting something for nothing, the feeling just can't be beat. Whether it's using coupons, stumbling on a buy 1, get 1 free sale, or a company that wants you to promote a product for them and is willing to send you a free full size product to hold a giveaway on your blog or write about it, it all has the same result, I get something for nothing. Free, the very word is mellifluous.

One of my favorite ways to save money and often get things for free is to use CVS Pharmacy's Extra Care Bucks. (CVS has double bucks right now!) Other stores have similar promotions, but I admit, I am in love with CVS. It is possibly the most dangerous store to go into when I am trying NOT to spend money. I've learned to only go in with exactly the amount of money I need to purchase what is on my list (always things I get Extra Care Bucks back from purchasing) and nothing else. I also always take my coupons holder in with me (filled with the Extra Care Bucks I've earned on previous visits.)

While I cut coupons religiously. I haven't moved to electronic coupons on my cell phone yet, it's a hassle to get to the place on the 'net that I have to in order to get access to them, but sooner or later I'll find just the right app to make this easy. 

My other favorite way to save dollars is to act as a hostess for home party companies. Whether it's Pampered Chef, Tastefully Simple, Tupperware, or my personal favorite, Avon, you can earn free products just by inviting your friends to your home and letting them shop from your living room! Wow, how easy is that? This is particularly effective near the holidays when people are shopping for gifts and are looking for a way to avoid THE MALL.

What can you expect to earn? It varies with the rep and the company, but you can often earn 20% of your gross sales. So if you invite a few good friends, fill your living room with fun, and shop till they drop you can earn a nice chunk of product. Be sure to choose a company whose product you need or want to give as a gift. Some companies have 'hostess gifts' others offer you a choice from their current catalog.

I admit, after doing this a few times for my Avon lady I was hooked. Since I love their high end face creams and lotions it's nice to be able to earn my product by having a few friend over. Friends who can't make it can shop online. How cool is that?

So if you are looking for a way to finance your holiday gifts without finance charges, consider hosting some holiday home parties to help pay for your gift purchases. I can hear it calling me now... FREE PRODUCTS, FREE PRODUCTS, FREE PRODUCTS!

Eventually I got so hooked that I became the Avon lady, but I still go to and host home parties to earn the gifts or products I love! I didn't even attempt to list all the companies that do home parties, you probably know them all. If not, let me know and I'll pull together a list.

If you live in Delaware County and want to act as the hostess for an Avon home party (and earn free gifts) you can reach me via my Avon website, just look for the little envelope that says "contact me." If you live in the surrounding counties I can help you as well.

Do you have a home party in your future? (Not to mention free gifts?) Oh yeah, the word 'free' just makes me smile!

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Necessity Is The Mother Of Invention

Photo courtesy of Maker Faire Africa

Four African teens, 14-year-old, Duro-Aina Adebola, Akindele Abiola, Faleke Oluwatoyin and 15-year-old Bello Eniola have proved the maxim that necessity is indeed the mother of invention (note I said mother not father.) They came up with an innovative energy source and  powered a generator using (excuse the expression) pee. Yes, it's a pee powered generator. Thought you'd heard it all didn't you? Then along comes this story.

The young women invented their generator for a innovation fair. While it is not meant to be a way to power your home, and would not be efficient for this purpose, it might have applications for use in the waste water treatment plants where the urea is being removed from the water anyway. Why not harness it and use it to help power the plant? Obviously their idea is 'not ready for prime time' yet, but with some serious tweaking, it could help offset our energy needs at waste water plants in the future.

Gerardine Botte, a chemical engineer at Ohio University who invented the urea electrolysis process, told NBC News "what these kids are doing is taking urea electrolysis and making hydrogen and then using that hydrogen to make electricity.” Botte applauds their ingenuity in taking one liter of urine and turning it into six hours of electricity. Professor Botte has her college students at Ohio University's Russ College of Engineering and Technology model, design, construct, and test novel electrochemical technologies like this one.

While I don't quite see all the denizens of the Jersey Shore powering their homes using this source during the recent storm outages, it is an example of how people can be creative and take simple objects and turn them into an energy source.

I admit I am in awe. At 14 I had not even heard of urea electrolysis, let alone considered entering innovation fairs with the resulting technology.

The Next Web explains how it works:
  • Urine is put into an electrolytic cell, which cracks the urea into nitrogen, water, and hydrogen.
  • The hydrogen goes into a water filter for purification, which then gets pushed into the gas cylinder.
  • The gas cylinder pushes hydrogen into a cylinder of liquid borax, which is used to remove the moisture from the hydrogen gas.
  • This purified hydrogen gas is pushed into the generator.
  • 1 Liter of urine gives you 6 hours of electricity.
While I don't see us converting our power stations over to this method of creating power anytime soon, it shows us that when someone thinks outside the box they can come up with all sorts of creative ways to do a task.

These young ladies provide the rest of us with a good example of how to make something out of a formerly 'flushable' product.

**(the details of their innovation are courtesy of Good, a web site that puts challenges out there and invites you to solve some of the larger problems facing our communities and the details are courtesy of The Next Web.) 

Friday, November 9, 2012

Acorns Aren't Just For Squirrels Anymore


Yes, it's true, acorns aren't just for squirrels. They're for people too. I was reading a cupcake blog the other day and came across a recipe for acorn cupcakes. Yes, that's right, acorn cupcakes. Must admit I'd never heard of them.

Out of curiosity I googled the term. It seems that some of the cupcakes are simply decorated with acorns on top (fake ones of course) like the photo above, while still others are make using acorn flour. See the photo below.


Acorn flour? Hmm... guess it adds a nutty flavor, sure to please all the squirrels if your family doesn't like them. Also acorn flour is that great buzz word "Gluten Free." Aficionados suggest mixing it half and half with another type of flour to get the best taste.

Seriously though, it seems you can grind your own acorn flour using acorns from your yard that you wrest from the paws of those rascally little rodents before they can bury them in your front yard. You grind them between two rocks. Too primitive for your?

Actually according the cupcake blog, Cupcake Project, acorn flour was originally made by Native Americans and is the best way to eat acorns. It has a walnut-like flavor, a nice change from your white flour. Unfortunately, it can take three days to grind your own.

However the good news is you can also purchase it in your local Korean supermarket, this would be my option. Or you can buy it online at Sue's Acorn Cafe and Mill.

But if you are looking for a long term family project that your kids will enjoy, let them help you gather and grind the acorns, perfect for little Pilgrims and Indians at Thanksgiving. Learn how to make your own acorn flour here. It will make great family photos of all of you working together to create part of your Thanksgiving feast.

Cupcake Project is one of the most creative blogs out there. If this project doesn't appeal, they have dozens of other great ideas that are fun for bakers at every level. And even if you don't bake but just like to read about food, it's a great read.

Let me know if you decide to make some acorn cupcakes. Would love to know how your grinding turns out. I'm going to go the easy way, and order the flour online.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Presidential Politics and Pizza


Decision 2012. Did you help decide the outcome of the Presidential election in 2012? If you live in Drexel Hill, two of the local polling places reported almost half the registered voters had already voted by 4PM. And the 'after work rush' was still to come. Poll workers and voters all seemed in good spirits, there was no arguing in lines over partisan issues. Actually the workers moved voters through so seamlessly that there were little or no lines at the times I was there.


What made the difference in your decision to vote? I talked to a variety of people who all reported having voted tonight when we talked to them after the polls had closed. This unofficial poll, conducted chatting with the other diners at one of my favorite restaurants, Bertucci's in Springfield PA, showed a split down the middle almost equally between the President and Mitt Romney.

But what was impressive was only one person said they had not voted. It was good to see that people had taken the initiative to get out and vote. If for one reason or another you did not get out to vote in this election, be sure to register the next time you renew your drivers license this year, it is so easy, just click 'yes.'

Monday, November 5, 2012

It's Beginning to Look A Lot Like Christmas


It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas...traffic that is. This weekend I was on Baltimore Pike in Springfield and I realized Christmas shopping has already started! Yes, the shoppers were out, ready to put a dent in their holiday shopping. Drivers were nudging their cars in without using blinkers, going crazy at Best Buy, and coming out of Kohl's carrying huge bags.

Fortunately, I didn't go down as far as the mall, I suspect it was just as bad down there. Even if the rest of the mall isn't too busy, Target is mobbed!

Personally, I was out doing some last minute wedding shopping (my daughter is getting married this winter, not doing any Christmas shopping, but I could tell when I stopped for lunch and saw the Hallmark bags filled with wrapping paper that people are getting into the swing of the holidays. (Those long rolls of wrapping paper are dead giveaways!)

My personal Christmas shopping? I do a lot of it online. And I never leave home for my brick and mortar shopping without a specific plan for exactly where I am going and knowing why I am heading to each store. And like many other Americans, I am leaving my plastic at home--no credit card bills!

But as important as hitting the sales is saving on gas and saving my sanity by spending as little time in stores at Christmas as possible. And as little time on Baltimore Pike!

So save your sanity, stay home and boot up your computer to shop. I hate to take the business away from the local stores but when I weigh the choice between sanity and being stuck in Baltimore Pike traffic, I'll take sanity any day!

Friday, November 2, 2012

Jon Bon Jovi and Friends Performing to Help Victims of Hurricane Sandy

Photo courtesy of NBC Universal

8 PM Tonight--Watch and Give as media and rock stars join together to aid victims of Hurricane Sandy. As the residents of the East Coast begin the clean up from the disaster left by Hurricane Sandy, NBC Universal and Matt Lauer stepped up to the plate and planned a disaster aid concert. The concert called "Hurrincane Sandy: Coming Together" will be broadcast on NBC, CNBC, Bravo, E!, G4, MSNBC, Style, Syfy and USA. Lauer will host the event that will air on Friday at 8 PM. Proceeds will benefit the Ameican Red Cross funds for Hurricane Sandy relief.

As we get closer to the event it is possible that all networks will decide to air it simultaneously. It will also be simulcast on Springsteen's E Street Radio on SiriusXM. There will be a tape delay for the West Coast.

If a decision is made to air the concert across all networks, it won't be unprecedented, in 2010 the telethon for the Haitian earthquake spearheaded by George Clooney aired on NBC, CBS, ABC and Fox and MTV, HBO, PBS and more. Hopefully everyone will join in again.

Artists planning on performing? Jon Bon Jovi (the face of Avon's newest fragrance, Unplugged), Christina Aguilera, Billy Joel (of Asbury Park fame, a town hard hit by the storm), and Sting are all scheduled to perform at the benefit. Jimmy Fallon and Brian Williams are also scheduled to appear, possibly performing together (although no announcement has been made, I'm just hoping!) Aerosmith's Steven Tyler just announced on The Today Show that they would be performing as well.

In case you've been living under a rock and  haven't heard any news in the last week, Hurricane Sandy devastated the East Coast. There is a massive need for aid in New Jersey, New York, Connecticut, and parts of Massachusetts and West Virginia. Also hard hit were Pennsylvania and Delaware.

Some people lost homes, others lost family members. There is a massive need for financial aid in all these areas to help individuals and businesses get back to normal. Hospitals say the need for blood donations is critical. So even if you cannot donate $$, you can make an appointment to donate blood. We all have that to give.

I saw shore communities where I spent my childhood happily playing on beaches and walking the boardwalks destroyed. Some of these communities are not just summer vacation communities but have year round residents who have lost their only homes. Often their businesses were also destroyed.
Many are still living without power.

If you gave when New Orleans was destroyed, or for other natural disasters farther from home, it's time to dig even a little deeper in your pockets and donate one more time to your friends and neighbors in need. Tune in to watch Hurricane Sandy: Coming Together and enjoy the music (and give) at 8 PM tonight.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Mother In Law MIA

During Frankenstorm (my favorite nickname for Hurricane Sandy) we lost my MIL. We can't find her. She hasn't called, hasn't texted and frankly we're worried. She lives near the Jersey Shore and they were hard hit by this most recent high powered storm. 

We are hoping she's headed to a local shelter with some of her neighbors. We tried reaching some of them but can't get an answer from their homes either.

We tried to get her to evacuate before the storm but she didn't want to leave her home. I understand, she's comfortable there. But since I remember a storm that hit in  '62 or so (when I was a child) and I saw the photos of the devastation then, I'm concerned.

I am hoping she didn't try to get in her car and drive to a shelter. I'm hoping her house wasn't the one I heard the governor talking about that was found floating down Highway 35 (which is a few blocks from her house). I know the statistical probability of that one house being hers is very low, but... still we worry.

This whole situation points up the reason we all need a network of people to contact in case of emergency. A contact manual or even just a cell phone loaded with emergency numbers.

I hope your family survived the storm. Better yet, I hope they didn't live in the areas affected by it. But just in case of a future emergency, consider putting together a manual of info they'd find useful if another Frankenstorm came along.

Hey Mom, phone home!





Monday, October 29, 2012

Charging In The Storm



Worried about recharging your cell phone battery if you lose power at home?  @NBCPhiladelphia tweeted and @Joshpt0 retweeted you can charge your phone using your car as long as you have a car charger (obviously!). Ingenious!

I never use my car charger but this would be a good time to dig it out! My phone is sure to need it!

Hate using my cell phone for internet/tweets etc. but it's a good way to keep it charged for emergency contacts. Thanks!

The Sky Turned Blue

If you live in Delaware County you  may have  noticed a blue light in the sky. No, it wasn't lightening, a transformer blew up in or near Darby PA. Unfortunately, this means the residents of parts of Darby will be without power. Not sure yet what this means to shelters in the area. Stay tuned, I'll update you if I find out anything new.

08:48 Signs of transformers blowing near Westbrook Park. Lights out on Oak Avenue in Clifton Heights. Residents report seeing signs of fried transformers all around the area.

Live from Drexel Hill

Are You Essential Personnel? You Might Be Surprised

Hurricanes and snow storms change the definition of essential personnel. The hurricane today is one of those days when you really hope your employer doesn't consider you essential personnel.

Formerly my definition of essential personnel were people like nurses, doctors, police, firefighters, and other emergency personnel. But essential personnel has come to mean 'whoever your boss can force into either staying at work or coming into work even in extremely hazardous conditions.' Should a casino worker be essential personnel? Should a retail sales person? My answer to this is NO!

Essential personnel should be needed for the health and welfare of the community. This does not mean the manager of the local convenience store should be essential personnel just because you need ice. It doesn't mean if you work at a casino they should be able to keep you at work.

It does mean if you go to the Emergency Room there should be staff there to care for you. Or if you need the police they will have as many officers as possible on duty to eliminate extremely long waiting periods. Or if you have a medical emergency ambulance personnel will be on duty.

Did your boss call you in to work stating the 'essential personnel' rules? Just out of curiosity what job do you perform that is so essential that you had to risk your life driving on the roads in hazardous conditions.

Where Are All The People?



Where are all the people? Well this morning they are probably home in bed, but yesterday I know where a lot of them were! I was driving down Baltimore Pike past the Wine and Spirits Shop in Springfield PA and I wondered why the parking lot was mobbed. Then it occurred to me, STORM PARTIES.

Yes, some people, instead of hitting the grocery store were hitting their local liquor store to stock up...just in case (or by the case as I saw). Bad weather brings out all the crazies at the food store, obviously they hit the liquor store as well.

I didn't stop in at the Wine and Spirits Shop, there wasn't a parking space to be seen (and I didn't want any wine or other spirits) but wow, I was amazed at the number of people who were obviously planning on being marooned for a long time based on the quantity of liquor they were buying.

I guess it never occurred to me that stocking up on liquor might be one thing many people consider part of their 'emergency preparedness.' No first aid kits or generators for them, nope, give them those cases of alcoholic beverages of their choice!

So I hope they are all enjoying their wine and other spirits... Different strokes... This blog post was written by the woman who has a bottle of rum at her house, for the sole purpose of making rum cake! So I guess that is why it never occurred to me to make a wine run! Hope everyone enjoys their Frankenstorm partying!

More Water Where?

With all the emergency preparedness happening I am not sure where there is more water, indoors or out. It seems my house has ended up with six cases of water...per person!

If the storm doesn't float us away drinking all that water will.  I made the mistake of sending someone (who shall be nameless) to the store for me for some bottled water. Fine. But I said get six bottles of water... obviously there was a huge misunderstanding! Six bottles turned into six cases of 32 bottles each per person!
I'm the first to admit I drink a lot of water. But...but... not 198 bottles in a few days! Or even a week.  Or two. Or more. So now I have so much water I could refill the cases at a convenience store! The good news, I have plenty of water. The bad news, my grocery budget got seriously depleted for items I didn't need.
 
Preparing for a storm is serious business. We all should consider having some products ready for a storm each season. Get an extra first aid box (be sure to keep your antibiotic ointment current). Keep some dry soups, jerky, peanut butter or whatever your favorite storm food is on hand. Have a lighter, some candles, flashlights, and all the other things you'll need in case of prolonged bad weather. But don't buy as much water as we did... bad idea. Yes, I'm smiling now, but when he came in the door with it...not so much.
 
 

All Alone In Frankenstorm!

The storm, whether you call it 'Sandy' or 'Frankenstorm' has resulted in many people being isolated and away from the rest of the family and friends. Isolation. Not a good thing. For anyone. Especially in a weather emergency.

And then I remembered. Upstairs at my house, all alone, there is... (Well the good news is, it is NOT my mother! She's a smart woman, she's not where the storm can reach her.) It's my daughter's wedding gown. And the wedding gown, like many people in this storm hangs alone. The dress is the lone occupant of the upstairs of our house.

 My daughter, husband and I all decided our best option was to sleep downstairs--but I woke up at 3AM and realized we had left my youngest daughter's wedding gown upstairs. Upstairs where if we get a roof leak it will get damaged.

It was the last thing I thought about as I was getting my house 'storm ready.' No one on the news reminded me to move wedding gowns to a safer location. Frankly I forgot it was up there. Why didn't she keep it at her apartment? Now I have one more thing to worry about.

If I evacuate I can see it now, my husband, my oldest daughter, my guinea pig and 'the dress.' Come on, stop laughing, how could I leave it? But somehow I doubt the people at the shelter will be thrilled. They won't be thrilled with my pet, let alone "the dress." There I'll be, the old lady with the cane, the guinea pig cage in tow and a wedding gown thrown over her shoulder--please pray my roof doesn't leak and we don't have to evacuate!

I wouldn't be so worried if our roof was in better shape. It survives normal storms but this one, I have some serious doubts. So if you see a woman at the shelter where you are, wedding dress and guinea pig in tow, well, you'll know it's me. Come over, say hi, and offer to hold the dress for me, just for a minute. Do you know how heavy those things are?

Thankfully her wedding isn't this weekend. I feel so sorry for brides who were supposed to get married this weekend. Usually this is the perfect time of year to get married--not this year. Not if you live anywhere on the east coast of the United States.

I'm thinking, wedding insurance might not be a bad idea. Her wedding is in February. Yes, it is time to buy some wedding insurance. Just in case we get a big snow storm and she can't have her wedding that day.

So, if the dress survives, Tuesday or Wednesday I'll be on the phone getting quotes for insurance. One more wedding expense... If it doesn't survive, I'll have to break the news to my daughter... not so good. Brides don't take kindly to ruined wedding gowns.

Yes, it's been moved now. (I dragged it down the steps in the middle of the night so it could 'sleep' with the rest of the family.) So it wouldn't be isolated and alone if we got leaks. I'm not sure it will save the dress if we get leaks downstairs but I've done my best... one more time.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Fun During Frankenstorm

Who is coming to your door (well your cyber door) during hurricane/tropical storm Sandy (better known as Frankenstorm?) Ding Dong! AVON calling! Yes, it may be pouring rain outside but AVON ladies (and men) are always available. (We are better than the US Mail!)

I admit, this storm is going to be hell! For all of us. So what do we need most? A little retail therapy! Yes, as long as you have a battery in your computer or cell phone you can shop. During any storm some stores stay open 24 hrs (or at least online they do!) And it's so more comfortable to shop from the comfort of your own desk chair.
 
My store will be open, ready and waiting to help you look and feel beautiful. Yes, you can buy AVON during any storm. You can even get it delivered to your front door, no need to have an AVON rep drop it off. I know, sometimes it's hard to find an AVON lady (or man) when you need one. So bookmark this story so you can find one anytime!

How do you get to my store? Here is the address. And the store is lookin' good this week, Bon Jovi is on the front page. I don't know about you, but just looking at that man is enough to make me feel better! I do love eye candy! AVON's newest fragrance is Unplugged by Bon Jovi so you'll see him around a lot. There is also a men's cologne coming out soon, so keep your eyes open!

If you visit my store you can browse every current AVON catalog. Just click on the words eBrochure along the top of the page and the various catalogs will show up. See how easy it is?

Also there is free shipping for $30 orders! Code FS30REP. So take some time and start your holiday shopping during the storm. 24/7 any day, any time, any weather. AVON and their reps really love you!

Fighting Frankenstorm!

As most of you know our area is in the path of Sandy, a tropical storm/hurricane depending on which weather forecast you are listening to. All of us are scrambling around trying to secure items that are outside and get ready for a possible three days of power outages and nasty rain and wind. Here are a few of the things you might want to think about doing (it's never too late to start unless you're at the shore and under mandatory evacuation.

  • Matches or something similar to light candles. The last storm (yes, I'll admit to it, we didn't have any matches. Which of course was my fault, I made my husband quit smoking. While in theory it was a great idea, it meant we didn't have matches! Yikes!)
  • Batteries for a battery powered radio, clock, or flashlights. (with backups!)
  • Food that doesn't need refrigeration. Peanut butter? Beef Jerky? Or something you can keep heated up with Sterno.
  • Bottled water.
  • A list of emergency phone numbers programmed into your cell phones. Police, ambulance, contractors, tree surgeons, electricians and plumbers, heating contractors and your insurance company. Your phone numbers for family members.
  • Rake up leaves that might block sewers once it starts raining. This is critical.
  • Have a first aid kit and be ready to use it.
  • Have you ice maker keep making ice. Just keep emptying it into zip lock bags. The fuller your freezer the longer your food will last. Have a cooler? Some of those cold blocks you freeze in the summertime? Be sure to have those on hand too.
  • Have a basement that floods?(I know mine will if my sump pump isn't working) which happens whenever our electricity goes in the middle of a storm. Either get a pump with a battery back up, or better yet a generator(which will likely cost a fortune.) Also be sure to get a supply of buckets and mops for cleaning up water.
  • Bring in or tie down: trash cans, grills, patio furniture or anything else that's loose outside.
  • Park your car in your garage or away from large, older homes without a garage park your car as far from trees as possible. This storm may knock down some of the older trees.
  • Pack an emergency kit in case of evacuation. All medications, toothbrushes/paste, whatever you think you might need. A first aid kit would be a good idea. Take emergency documents with you. (See www.readypa.org)
This is by no means a comprehensive. Be safe. Be dry.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

When Was The Last Time You Said 'I Love You?'


Today families that were once close geographically live hundreds if not thousands of miles away from each other. We lose touch with brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles, cousins and parents.

While the Internet has allowed us all the ability to connect via email or Skype, sometimes it's not the same as 'being there.' And sometimes we don't take the time to connect. We are so....'busy.' How sad!

There's no way to replace that hug, being there in person, or knowing that your closest family live down the street or five minutes away. What I call 'touching distance.'

Several years ago I was watching a talk show, I don't remember which one since I usually blog while the TV is on in the background. It might have been Oprah, but the guest or maybe the host asked 'when was the last time you told someone important to you that you love them.'

Wow, I thought, I am SO GUILTY! I presume they just know. Even when we see each other we are so busy catching up on each other's lives we don't take the time to 'say it.'

Whether it's your son or daughter, your husband, your mom, dad or the rest of your family, often we forget to verbalize those three little words that have such power. Power to heal. Power to support. Power to help in times of stress and distress. Too many times we face regrets after the loss of a loved one that we didn't say 'I love you,' and let our family members know that no matter how far away we may live, or how little we see each other, we still care and are there for them.

After the show aired I took the advice to tell my mom and other family members I loved them. In each situation it ended up with the two of us tearing up and hugging each other. I guess I'd been guilty of not saying it, not showing it, not letting them know just how much I cared.

So if you haven't told your family or good friends you love them, take some time to share your thoughts with them. You will feel good, they will too. After all, who can resist a hug fest and love all around?

Don't wait, sometimes your love will be what helps them through the toughest times when it seems like there's no end to a problem.

Also you never know when it might be the last time you see that person. I lost my dad suddenly as a teen, I went to school one morning and came home to find he'd died. I wondered when was the last time I'd told him I loved him? I was a typical teen, self-involved, not given to telling my parents how much I loved them. I regret not saying it before we left the house in the morning. Hearing that one last silly joke, or getting that last chance to be 'Daddy's Little Girl.' I missed that last chance to tell him, to show him I cared no matter how often we might have disagreed. Don't miss your last chances, you never know what might happen.

So don't put it off. Tell the people you care about that you love them. There's no time like today. Now!

Friday, October 26, 2012

Holiday Fun For The Family

 
 
The American Swedish History Museum celebrates the holidays with some great fun for your family. On November 6, from 10 am - 5 pm Sweden's leading shop for children's wear will join the Swedish History Museum and present a Sample and Warehouse sale of garments made by POLARIN O. PYRET.
 
POLARIN O. PYRET is a classic children's brand of clothing known for durability, comfort and quality. The Sample sale will offer their clothing at up to 75% off regular prices (size newborn to 12 years old.) There will be refreshments, a Swedish fika and free admission to the museum.
 
Help support the Museum and get some of your holiday shopping done!
 
 
One December 7, at 6 PM join the ASHM for a traditional Swedish feast complete with a Christmas Market selling holiday items and baked goods. (YUM!) Tickets are $45 for members, $55 for non-members. Come visit the museum for a very special Swedish holiday tradition. Drinks (a cash bar) and an authentic Christmas smörgåsbord dinner are followed by the Lucia procession.   Register by phone by December 3, 2012.
 
If you can't make it on Friday, come Saturday, December 8 11:30 am to 4:30 pm for the family friendly Lucia processions at 1 pm and 3 pm. The Christmas Market will include favorite holiday deli items, Christmas decorations, gifts and bakery items. The Christmas Cafe will be selling holiday foods and sweets. While reservations are not required, tickets can be purchased in advance online.
 
On December 15, there will be a Holiday Concert at the ASHM. Singers will perform classic Swedish classics and some American favorites with a Swedish twist. Glogg and cookies will be served free with museum admission.
 
Planning a holiday party? The museum can be rented and is the perfect venue for a holiday party that is 'just a bit different.' Tables for cocktails and appetizers can be set up in the lobby and among some of the exhibits. There is a dining room. The museum is handicapped accessible but call ahead, it is a little tricky to find the door.
 
Come see this local museum that too many of us miss! It will be both educational and fun for the kids. Check out their web site and call for additional information and other events.
 

Appetizer To Die For

If you're like me you are always on the lookout for a new appetizer recipe. While this one is a couple years old, it still is one of my family's favorites.


 
To make this appetizer really easy you need some mini phyllo(fillo) shells. Athens Foods make them or if you really have a lot of time you can make your own. My suggestion, splurge on the shells. Check the freezer aisles in your favorite market.
 
The next ingredient is some fig jam... yum! OK, I know there are some of you who are thinking Fig Newton filling and going 'yuck!'  Trust me on this one, you do want to try this appetizer even if you HATE Fig Newtons. You can buy fig jam at Whole Foods, but I like hitting my closest Home Goods store or Marshall's and picking it up there (bargain is my middle name!)
 
 
 
Next you need some Gorgonzola cheese. The crumbles that Treasure Cave sells are perfect for this recipe. Again, not my favorite in large quantities but mix it with the fig jam -- You will feel like you've gone to heaven! Actually you aren't going to mix them together, but put some jam in the phyllo cups, top with some Gorgonzola, and heat until cheese melts somewhat and the jam is warmed up. Remove from your oven (if you have a small toaster oven it's perfect for making these!)
 
 
 
Serve and listen as your guests rave! I love this recipe for Thanksgiving because it's fast, easy and you don't have to use your big oven for it, the tiny toaster oven does the job. This means you turkey and other dishes can cook while you make your appetizers. Enjoy! (Oh and be careful, that jam gets HOT!)

For links to other ideas for appetizers for Thanksgiving visit Confessions of a Stay-At-Home Mom, Redefining the Modern Day Donna Reed.