Heartbroken, yet happy?

 

 

woman looking at sea while sitting on beach
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Tonight, I sit in my living room.  Happy to be healthy, happy to be home with my cats.  Yet, terribly sad…because I should be somewhere else tonight.  If only we were in different times.  You see, tonight is the night we were supposed to be attending Wrestlemania 36 in the amazing and wonderful city of Tampa, Florida.  And because of the current Corona Virus epidemic and Covid-19 Pandemic, we are all home.  Where we are happy, yet tonight it is not where we want to be.

I have been a die-hard and hardcore WWE fan for a very long time – over twenty-one years, to be exact.  And while I know exactly what wrestling is, and having been bereated and laughed at over the years, let me say this – I DO NOT CARE.  That night back in 1999 when I sat down with my children (spurred on by my oldest, who I am proud to say is STILL a fan) I never, ever thought that episode would shape my life and influence it like it has.  I have enjoyed so many events, laughed at and have been inspired by the amazing performances I have been lucky enough to watch – I have been truly blessed.

I have attended so many live events that I can barely keep count.  Yet, if I was challenged to – I am sure I could chronicle them all for the most part (give or take a few).  I have made friends and made memories that I never, ever thought I would be lucky enough to have.  I started attending the “Granddaddy of them All” which is WrestleMania in 2004.  And, with a one year exception of 2005, I have attended EVERY one since then.  I’m so very lucky to have achieved this streak.

My very best friend Christine and I have sat, stuck with large men next to us in Chicago.  We have waited on long taxi lines with rude policemen and ridden in taxi cabs where we questioned our safety and if we would arrive where we wanted to go.  We have laughed with friends we made from other countries.  There were times we commuted to and from matches in what could be considered monsoons, wearing plastic garbage bags as garments.  We have cheered things we never thought would happen and were thrilled when we watched what was anticipated.  We have gone to events when we paid next to nothing in commuting costs and other events where what we paid was north of $500.  We have been at events where we were treated rudely beyond belief, and we have been in areas where there were rodents greeting us from a distance in a grocery store.  We have met people we never, ever would have otherwise.  And we have memories that cannot be believed nor can they be equated in dimes and dollars.

And for this, I say thank you.  Thank you to World Wrestling Entertainment, for they are my heroes tonight.  This WrestleMania is different.  Would I want it to be any other way?  Hell yes, I would.  I want to be sitting in our seats, cheering, yelling, crying, laughing and being happy – like I have been for the past sixteen years.  Tonight, it is what it is.  Next year, which will be WrestleMania 37 – in Los Angeles, in California – get ready, the WWE Universe is coming!  Fifty one weeks from tonight – let the countdown begin!

Like a Boy Scout…

beprepared

(photo appears courtesy of farmgirlmarketing.com)

…we have to be prepared, and we should be.  Prepared.  Not overly prepared and not under prepared.  Given the current uncertainty of the Covid-19 situation, it is wise and necessary to do what is right so we all get through this in the easiest way possible.

You should stock up on things that you and your family normally like to eat.  I believe (and feel most comfortable) in having adequate quantities of things that I deem necessary.  Since I have always have enough food (frozen, refrigerated and pantry) on hand anyway, during the very few grocery runs we’ve done I have bought minimal items.  For example, I took one jar of spaghetti sauce and a box of spaghetti.  When we went down the canned vegetable aisle, I took maybe three or four cans – peas and carrots, spinach, corn and some chili beans.  I bought two frozen portions of ground turkey – brought it home, fried it and froze in three portion sizes for meals.  Jeff works for Chewy.com, so we usually get the cats food from them.  Just the same, when we were in the store I took 4 or 5 cans of wet food and a bag of the dry food that they eat.  We walked through the paper goods aisle, and surprisingly they had toilet paper and paper towels.  We took one package of each.  The goal is to be prepared but to not hoard, leaving nothing for others.  It is time to be kind and to think of other people besides ourselves.

It might be a good idea to contact your doctor for any prescription medications that you take.  The recommended supply to have on hand is thirty days, but it might be possible during these times to get your physician to write an exception limit to your medications.  And if your insurance company offers mail order, now is a really good time to begin using this service if you haven’t already been.

Speaking of your doctor, contact the office and see if they can (electronically) send you your health records.  This might not be possible if their office is running with a skeleton crew.  If nothing else, make a detailed list of all the medications you take on a regular basis.  Follow these guidelines and see if your Veterinarian can help you with records as well.  Natasha ended up with a very nasty case of worms on Thursday, and though the office was open, they were seeing emergency patients only.  They were good enough to prescribed her deworming medication over the phone (after me weighing myself holding her, then not holding her – to get an fairly adequate weight).  I was able to drive to the Vet’s office and pick up the medication through the drive-thru window I didn’t realize they had.

Go through all of your health care medicines – tylenol, etc. – and first aid supplies.  Again, I usually have an adequate supply of these things on hand.  It would be a good idea to get a decent thermometer – I was suffering from a fever towards the beginning of last week, and it truly is primitive to take your temperature with one of those old fashioned, mercury-filled thermometers.  It takes a lot of wrist action to wind it back down after use, and let me tell you – trying to read the numbers and tiny dashes is no easy feat.

I have always treated myself good in terms of having things I like to eat and drink around the house.  We enjoy coffee in the morning.  Since I’ve been plagued recently by kidney issues, I have had to eliminate tea for the most part.  I’ve been drinking water, but I like to make it flavored with Crystal Light type drink mix (I make it half strength).  I enjoy beer, so that is always here in the refrigerator.  And don’t forget your comfort foods and snacks – get chocolate, candy, ice cream and chips (in reasonable amounts).  Of course when I’m saying get these things, make sure you pick them up on your hopefully infrequent shopping trips.

Take care of your mind and yourself during this time.  Give yourself a break.  Do what you enjoy around the house.  Watch whatever you like on television.  Scroll all the silly things you enjoy on the internet.  Virtually you can stay connected with your loved ones.  Try to make the best of things.  Be informed – watch the news, but take a break from it every now and again.  These are the times to do what you normally might feel is wasteful, silly or non-productive.  I never need an excuse to snuggle with the cats.  If I sit down to watch television and one of them jumps up to sit with me, I eat that up and I indulge us both with cuddle time.

We are all going to get through this.  Hopefully it will end sooner rather than later.  If we are prepared, the cross we have to bear might be a bit lighter to carry.

Let them eat…Pasta!

bunch of pasta
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First off, let me say that me referring to “pasta” goes against everything I learned growing up.  It was called “noodles.”  We had tomato sauce and noodles (a family comfort food) and tuna fish and noodles (also a comfort food for us).  The only pasta that wasn’t referred to as noodles was spaghetti – spaghetti and meatballs (my Mom was not Italian, but I did LOVE when she made hers).  Fast forward to when I was raising my boys, and they called it pasta – either from school, or from their friends’ houses.  Who knows.  Either way, I have always loved pasta – in every form.  I don’t care what shape it is, or what sauce goes on top – it has always been one of my top favorite things to eat.  And, because of this – I always keep a wide variety of shapes, etc. in the house to make meals from.  Considering the current crisis we are in, I decided to think about (and write about) different easy kind of meals, based on pasta.  Or noodles.

You can make a Pasta All’Amatricana – which, before I looked it up, never really had an exact name in my mind. This dish is about six strips of bacon, some crushed red pepper (how much depends on how hot you like things), some chopped onions and two cans (medium sized) of peeled/chopped tomatoes (with or without basil or garlic – your choice).  Cook your bacon, then saute the onions.  As these finish cooking, add your tomatoes – at this point it will start to thicken, and if you want – you can sprinkle grated cheese on top.  Combine and mix with either a 12 or 16 ounce box of pasta, previously cooked (spaghetti or something similar is recommended) and serve.

A very easy and basic dish is Spaghetti with Garlic and Oil.  Boil a box of spaghetti (whatever kind you like, regular or thin).  Once this cools, add a bit of olive oil, a bit of minced garlic, some black pepper, dried or fresh parsley – maybe even some grated cheese.  This is always referred to as a side dish, but to me – it is a meal in itself.

If you want a MEAL meal, try Spaghetti (or “pasta”) with Eggplant.  Take a large eggplant, and cut it up – you can do slices, you can do chunks – it is up to you.  Taking your cut eggplant, drizzle with oil and spices – garlic, onion, parsley, Italian seasoning.  Bake in your oven, 350 degrees for about an hour, give or take.  I usually pour a bit of sauce over the top – either homemade if I have it handy, or jarred sauce – as it is cooking.  With this meal, I would probably serve ziti or rotini – it is so good, it is so filling.  And it is usually well received.

Spaghetti with Lemon Butter, Spaghetti with Lemon Butter and Tuna, Spaghetti with Lemon Butter and Peas – sounds good?  I thought so too.  Boil your spaghetti – again, whatever kind you like – regular, thin, angel hair – or even fettucine.  As your noodles (haha, yes I know – pasta) are getting done – make your sauce – use 4 tablespoons of butter (or margarine, if that is what you like), and add the other ingredients – some lemon zest, some canned tuna (part of, or a whole can) or peas (whatever kind you like to use), maybe even some grated cheese – toss, and toss good.  Here is your meal, and it will be SO delicious…

Elbow Macaroni with Sausage, Broccoli and Mozzarella – sounds easy, and it is.  Cook your pasta, and get your other ingredients ready – cook/brown the sausage, cook/boil/steam your broccoli and cut your mozzarella (if you don’t have already shredded).  Once the pasta is done, dump the other ingredients on top, and toss, toss, toss.  Always feel free to add whatever spices might sound good to you.  This will be a meal that you will love – I promise you that!

It is pretty easy to make a Lasagna – any kind.  You can use only meat, mostly meat, mostly veggies or only veggies.  Totally up to you.  The basics of lasagna is layering – sauce, noodles, filling (and here is what  you want to add) and then sauce, noodles, filling.  I usually do three layers.  I am a firm believer of mozzarella cheese and sauce being the be all and end all.  Once your layers are done, cover.  Bake for about 40 minutes.  Take out of oven, cover with shredded cheese and put back in the oven for 20 more minutes.  You will soon have dinner perfection!

I have made sauces, which are simple enough and once poured over “a” pasta, you will have a meal to enjoy.  Heat your sauce – either homemade or jarred – and add a large dollop of grated cheese – simple, easy but oh so good.  Do the same thing with the sauce and cheese, but add a small can of sliced mushrooms (drain the liquid it comes with).  Add some previously grilled frozen pepper mix, with grated cheese.  Take some of your frozen, pre-cooked ground meat – spaghetti and meat sauce.  The best ideas come from all of our imaginations.

I love pasta (noodles), and as many ideas as I have to enjoy it – I want more!  What can you recommend?  Help a pasta addict, please!

 

Treat Yourself…

 

enjoy

(Photo courtesy of ebay.com)

If there is ever a time to treat yourself, now is that time.  We are all going to be spending quite a bit of time at home (and we should be).  You can be “cooped up” and mad about it, or you can take this time and use it to your advantage. I love being home, because I am happy there.  I enjoy doing things in the kitchen – trying new recipes and making old favorites.  None of what you do or try in the kitchen has to be fancy and it doesn’t have to be expensive for you to enjoy yourself.

This time of year can be iffy, weather-wise.  Soup goes good around now.  You can use homemade chicken broth (I usually have some in the freezer) or canned broth.  Heat a portion up on your stove, and make dumplings to include.  They are easy.  All you have to do is gather your ingredients – one cup of flour, two teaspoons of baking powder, one teaspoon of white sugar, one half teaspoon of salt, one tablespoon of margarine and one half cup of milk.  Mix this into a soft dough.  When your soup/broth is boiling, drop a heaping, rounded teaspoon and take out when your dumplings rise to the top.  If you feel like it, add a can of canned carrots (minus the liquid).  You’ll have a nice, warm and comforting meal.

Why not try a peanut butter sauce to pour over noodles, like they do in Chinese restaurants?  The ingredients include a bunch of green onions/scallions, two tablespoons of sesame oil, a teaspoon or so of ginger (I use powdered), one third cup of peanut butter, a quarter cup of soy sauce, one quarter cup of hot water, one teaspoon of white sugar, and one quarter teaspoon of crushed red pepper flakes.  Heat consistently until mixture gets hot and bubbly.  Have your pasta done in advance – I use regular spaghetti or fettucine noodles – toss with the sauce, and enjoy!

Most of us have cans of tuna (or even chicken) in our pantry – but sometimes, a boring tuna (or chicken) sandwich is just that – boring.  Jazz it up a little bit – google some tuna casserole recipes (I’m not really a heated-up tuna fan, that is why I can’t recommend any).  I do like tuna melts – try to melt it with some Monterrey Jack cheese, it’s really good.  And you can get away from the boring sandwich idea of you cut lettuce leaves (iceberg works best) into bread shapes and make your sandwich like this.  It’s at least something different.

Bananas are a great snack.  If you want to jazz them up, peel one.  You can then roll it into crushed cereal – it’s sweet and it’s pretty if you use Fruit Loops.  A banana can be rolled in cinnamon sugar, some mini chocolate chips, or even coconut.  You can get about ten little banana rounds for yourself.  Very good, and good for you too.

Going with the Chinese food idea, make some white rice.  Open up a small can of peas and carrots.  Heat/cook up a few chicken nuggets if you have them.  Toss everything together and serve – use some of the little packets from Chinese takeout that we all have in either our cabinets or refrigerators.

Everyone (well just about everyone I know) likes Tomato Soup and Grilled Cheese Sandwiches together.  If you don’t want to bother making your sandwich grilled, why not have toasted cheese?  While your soup is heating up, take two slices of bread with two slices of cheese on top – and put them in your toaster oven.  When they are done, cut them into shapes – you can make squares, long strips, some kind of angled ones – whatever strikes your fancy at the time.  I like to make them big enough so I can dip them into the soup.  It’s a nice change from the ordinary and usual.

Have a good old fashioned snack – enjoy milk and cookies.  You would be surprised that when you ask people if they still have these two things together at how many people will tell you no.  Another thing to try that you may not have (or probably haven’t) had recently is chocolate milk.  Every time I have chocolate milk, it makes me feel like I am eight years old again.  I really like a glass of it from time to time.

So, what other comfort foods will make you feel good during this time of boredom, uncertainty, and whatever else we are going to call it?  It is a time to try to be as happy and content as we can be.

Permission to Binge!

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Now is the time to binge watch and catch up on television programs (or movies) that you’ve been dying to see.  I don’t binge watch – I never have.  I do, however have favorite television shows that if I decide to binge,  these would be the ones I would watch.

My current favorite television series is Modern Family.  I enjoy each and every character on the show.  I don’t know how actors are chosen for roles, but this show is absolutely perfectly cast.  Ed O’Neill is as perfect as Jay Pritchett as he was when he was Al Bundy.  The rest of the cast makes you believe that they ARE who they portray.  There are so many fun, warm and real relationships on the show.  Despite the bickering that goes on in the family, the love is there and it is obvious with the portrayals of the actors.  Modern Family is set to have their series finale on April 8th.  This is a series that I plan on buying every season on DVD to keep for always.  I don’t say that about many programs.

Another television program I enjoy immensely is The Odd Couple.  This is one of the few shows where I own the entire series on DVD.  To me, Felix and Oscar are the perfect couple.  When they fight, they fight hard.  Yet when they are getting along and band together for a cause, there are no two closer friends in the world.  Felix is so neurotic.  Oscar knows this.  My favorite scenes on the show include Felix apologizing or explaining his odd behavior, and the look on Oscar’s face while watching his friend.  The two of them are priceless, they absolutely are.  No matter how many times I watch my favorite episodes, I laugh hard as if I’ve never seen them before.

I have watched many episodes of Everybody Loves Raymond.  My oldest son loves this show almost as much as he loves Married With Children (Ed O’Neill’s portrayal of Al Bundy is so magnificent to Michael that he can’t and won’t watch him in another role – he’s never really watched Modern Family).  Every time I have watched Everybody Loves Raymond I have enjoyed it – and I’ve laughed.  I’ve laughed hard.  When this show was coming to an end, there were a lot of interviews on television, on line and in magazines.  I listened to a television critic who described all the good points about the show, the actors and the writing.  He described it as the overall best series on television ever.  My son would almost tend to agree (even though he has an Al Bundy tattoo on his leg).

All in the Family was a classic television program in every sense of the word.  It was laugh out loud funny.  The cast worked perfect together.  It broke barriers, and it got away with situations and comments that would never be tolerated on television today.  The show tackled controversial topics with humor – racism, religious prejudice, menopause, crime.  It was also said to have made one of the biggest errors in television history when the writers killed off the character of Edith Bunker in response to actress Jean Stapleton not wanting to continue in her role.  Carroll O’Connor was able to (partially) break free being typecast from his role as Archie Bunker when he starred in the series In the Heat of the Night in the late 1980s up until the mid 1990s.

You have to give credit to All in the Family for the show The Jeffersons, which was a spin-off.  The Jefferson family had been neighbors of the Bunkers – Edith and Louise got along famously, but Archie and George – they butted heads.  The Jeffersons moved on up, leaving Queens for the high life of Manhattan.  They had a wise cracking maid named Florence, an odd neighbor named Mr. Bentley and upstairs neighbors Tom and Helen Willis.  Helen and Tom  were an interracial couple who had a daughter named Jenny who was dating the Jefferson’s son Lionel.  This didn’t make George happy at all.  But as the series went along, they all grew to love one another, and George and Tom became best friends.  One of my favorite scenes happened when George, Louise, Helen and Tom had a pillow fight.  It makes me laugh just picturing them hitting each other.

The Golden Girls is another good show to binge watch.  This program is so much funnier than I ever remember.  I also would say that I believe it is even more popular in reruns than when it was a prime time regular season show.  Again, a show perfectly cast with actors who made you believe that they really were Dorothy, Sophia, Blanche and Rose.  The girls took everyday situations and made them funny.  They were older women, yet they never lacked male attention.  They all had their signature character traits.  Dorothy told it like it was.  Sophia also spoke her mind, usually with her pocketbook in hand. Blanche loved men, and they loved her.  Rose was sweet and ditzy.  They ate cheesecake frequently in that beautiful Miami Beach house.

As you can tell, most of my favorite programs have been comedies.  I do (and did) like dramas also.  There were quite a few over the years that I have enjoyed, but three favorites come to mind – The Sopranos, NYPD Blue and Hill Street Blues.  Each show had classic episodes that are hard to forget.  Tony Soprano was not the same at home as he was out in the street.  NYPD Blue and Hill Street Blues both had actor Dennis Franz, who played classic television characters Detective Sal Benedetto (and later Lt. Buntz) on HSB and Detective Andy Sipowicz on NYPD Blue.  The Sopranos was a great show that had many notable scenes, with the most popular and talked about one being the way the show ended.  The screen cut to black and viewers were left to think that the broadcast had malfunctioned (it hadn’t).  NYPD Blue had it’s most emotional scene with Detective Andy having to deal with his partner dying.  Dennis Franz and Jimmy Smits put on one of the best tearjerker performances of all time.  Their portrayal was brilliant.

So there you have it – my choices for a binge watch.  Some of these programs will make me cry as I laugh, as I have memories of watching them with my parents.  But as I cry and laugh, I will smile.  I will enjoy them, again and again – just like I did the first time.

 

When Worry Is Overwhelming…

greyscale photography of woman wearing long sleeved top
Photo by Kat Jayne on Pexels.com

It is hard to stay positive in a situation where worries are in the forefront.  The recent situation with the COVID-19 virus seems to change every day (or even every hour) and the news is not good.  It can be overwhelming and concerning for almost anyone, even those who claim to be handling it well.  As a society, we have never experienced anything like this before.

When your fears get the better of you, write down your thoughts.  It can be in a journal, a piece of paper, or you could even email yourself.  Acknowledging fears, finding coping mechanisms and possible solutions can be freeing by putting these thoughts into written words.

Accept the situation for what it is.  These are frightening times.  When negative thoughts come into your head, if you can – immediately try to replace them with something positive.  There is always something good to focus on.  Every cloud can have a silver lining.  You just have to look for it.

Keep your thoughts neutral.  Make them gray.  Keep clear of  black and white.  Avoid words like always, every, and never – use them with caution.  Don’t assume – we all know what happens when you assume (just trying to be light and easy during this rough time).  Also, forget must, should have and have to – these words can bring up preconceived thoughts that might leave you feeling guilty, frustrated, worried or just plain sad.

Follow your passion.  If possible, do what you enjoy.  Watch what you want on television.  Listen to the music you like.  Take this time “being home” to indulge in your favorite guiltiest pleasure – there’s never been a time like this before.  Get organized.  Catch up on some extra sleep.  Make phone calls to people you haven’t spoken to in a while.  Write a letter – try an old fashioned snail mail one.  People love receiving actual mail instead of always just getting email.

Remember, this too shall pass.  It doesn’t appear that it will, with the news seemingly getting worse every time we listen to a report.  Try not to pay attention to the doom and gloom.  Understand that this darkness will not last forever, and we will emerge into the light – maybe not soon enough, but it will happen.

If you think it will help, let yourself have a cry session.  Cry to clear out the bad feelings.  Acknowledge that this is awful, and this is scary.  Let yourself feel.  Do not let it go on for too long, however.  The goal of this is to feel better, not worse.

Give back.  Be the reason someone else feels better.  Do something to make them laugh, to make them smile.  Try to comfort them into a good mood.  When you make someone else happy, you will feel happy also.

Exercise.  Eat well.  Be active (as active as you can be at home).  Get extra sleep, which is a good thing for everyone.   It is helpful to find something to watch (or listen to) to make you laugh.  Laughing and smiling are very good things to experience when life and problems have you feeling down.

Be vigilant.  Wash your hands as directed.  Sanitize objects you come in contact with, like door handles, gas pumps and shopping cart handles.  Stay away from people who are showing obvious signs of being sick.  Don’t go out in crowds unless it is absolutely necessary.  Listen to the recommendations of those in charge.  If you follow these guidelines, you’ll be very well prepared to weather this storm.

 

 

 

My List of Aggravations

irritated

(Photo courtesy of WordPress.com)

 

There are some times when I seem to be more annoyed than at other times.  I can’t even pinpoint why this happens – it just does.  People and events can just irritate you, and you feel as though you can’t take it.  Much of it goes according to my mood – if my mood is good, then things won’t bother me as much.  But if my mood is not good, then every little thing bothers me.  The following is a compilation of things that annoy me, regardless of my mood.

I don’t like hearing people constantly cracking their knuckles.  I don’t know if it is a necessary thing for them with their bones or whatever.  Or maybe it is just a nervous condition.  All I do know is that it annoys me and also almost makes me feel weak in the knees, if that makes any sense.

I cannot stand people who chew with their mouths full.  No one needs to see what is in your mouth, buddy.  And I also do not need to hear you chew.  So, please – in consideration of those around you – stop this.

Why in the world would you sprinkle on a toilet seat and not wipe it off?  Do you not have any pride or decency?  And on the same topic, why would you use a toilet and just decide, you know what…I’m not going to flush.  Because I don’t want to.  I cannot tell you how many times I have encountered these two situations recently – within the past six months or so, it’s been too many times to count.  And it’s been at different places – at work, at restaurants and at arenas.  Just disgusting.

I do not like people who are intolerant of the political leanings of others.  We don’t all have to agree, but I think it’s the responsibility of everyone to behave like decent human beings.  It is very disturbing to read an exchange between political rivals on Facebook.  You see supposed friendships getting fractured by name calling and holier-than-though attitudes.  It is just wrong.

I can say that I absolutely hate when people use the word cancer to describe something they are opposed to or something that they strongly dislike.  Cancer is an awful disease.  My opinion is that it should never be used as a descriptive term to describe personal likes and dislikes.

I don’t like when people get away with poor behavior and bad actions because “that’s how they are.”  This shows they are petty and immature.  It gives them an excuse to act and say things however they want without consequences, and with no responsibility for their words and actions.  I find this irritating and offensive.

Show offs and Know It Alls – who do they think they are?  People should show humility, even if they have more than the average person.  Grace goes a long way in showing a person’s character.  Those who claim to know it all – well, maybe they do know a lot.  That brings it back to humility and grace.  Yet if they don’t know it all, that will be revealed soon enough and their secret will be out.  Why lie?

I cannot stand when you hold the door for someone, they take it from you – and avert their eyes, not saying thank you.  Two simple words to be polite and to not look like a social buffoon.  I say thank you to anyone who does anything for me.  More often than not, I get a nice response from those who hear me.  Seems to me that some people were just not raised right.

Put your shopping cart back in the corral at the store.  Besides saving cars from dents and dings, you’ll be saving the “cart wrangler” some work.  My son did this job, and he did it in all kinds of weather – rain, snow, sleet and burning hot heat.  It doesn’t take much effort – do the right thing.

I do not like to be waiting with a “line stepper.”  They will either move closer to you, to the side of you and before you know it, they are outright waiting to take your spot.  Wait your turn like everyone else!

So, what other day to day things grinds your gears, as they say?  I would be very interested to hear…

Small Tips for Large Savings…

Photo credit – Pixels

I have so many things I want to do!  So many places I want to travel to!  In order to do these things, I’m going to need money.  I’m pretty frugal, so I have no doubt I’ll be able to pull off most of the things I want.  Even so, I’m always on the lookout for more ideas and different tips to help me out.  Sometimes a little goes a long way.

To keep yourself busy while saving for something you really want, do a google search of “free things to do in (insert your town here)” and see what comes up.  Looking at results of a search for things here in my hometown, I found several parks, museums and libraries that all have interesting and fun things to do – things I didn’t realize that these places even offered.  The list included activities that had minimal costs as well.  You really can have a good time without spending a whole lot.

Drink water – but don’t buy it.  Refilling your own containers is not only cost effective, it is good for the environment.  There is really no better liquid in the world for you to drink, and the fact that we all have access to it at no cost makes it all the better.

Stop using your dryer – especially for items that could be considered gentle or delicate.  It will save electricity and/or gas, and it will be better for your garments.  For t-shirts with screened prints, I have found that washing them inside out in cold water, and then hanging them to dry on a hanger really extends their lives.

Go through all of your subscriptions – all of the things you pay money for monthy.  Maybe these are things that are mindlessly deducted from your bank account.  Once you have a complete list in front of you, decide what you really want to keep spending money on – and cancel the rest.  Of course, research whether there will be a fee or not before deciding.

Regularly schedule no-spend days or no-spend weeks – this is a time when you spend NOTHING except what is absolutely essential.  Be honest with yourself during this challenge – only you know what is truly necessary.

Reevaluate your entertaining budget.  You don’t have to cut out entertaining entirely.  Maybe you should scale down how you entertain.  Instead of offering several snacks before hand, offer one or two.  Offer soda and beer, or soda, beer and wine – it is not necessary to put out a full bar set up complete with mixers.  Make your main meal (if this is a kind of event where you’ll have one) one main dish, and one side to go along (if needed).   For dessert, it’s the same way – simple is the way to go.  You can have one main dessert, and an additional tray of cookies.  The most important aspect of entertaining is being with people you want to be around – if they’re judging you on the things you serve, maybe they shouldn’t be coming over in the first place.

Travelling by car is without a doubt more cost effective than a bunch of people getting on a plane and paying those high flight fees.  But do the math – one person driving a long distance (which means only one person paying for gas) might not be cost effective.  In this situation, check out flights and do the math.

Unless you are absolutely and totally desperate, do not ever buy an item that is not on sale.

Tuesday.  Some say it is the most boring  day of the week.  And yet some others say it is the best day of the week to get special deals.  It has been said that you can book the best flight special on a Tuesday.  Many restaurants run specials on Tuesdays.  Movie theaters sometimes have special deals on a Tuesday.  It’s time to give Tuesday the respect it deserves, and a thank you for saving us some money as well.

If you like a particular product, go to the website for it – or to the website of their parent company.  You can frequently find discounts, deals and coupons there.  Why not save money on something you’re going to buy anyway?

What other money saving tips have you used recently?  Always on the lookout for good ones..

 

Not the last, but the first…

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We were talking about driving the other day at work.  The topic turned to the last time we had all driven in really bad weather.  I remembered thinking as we spoke about the first time I drove in a bad snowstorm.  It was much more scary at first.  That got me thinking of a few more firsts that I’ve had.  It was fun remembering them.

I don’t remember who I had my first real crush on, as in a boy I knew – but I did have celebrity crushes when I was young.  I liked Don Adams who played Maxwell Smart on Get Smart – I even insisted on naming our cat Max.  I also had a crush on some host from the game show Supermarket Sweep.  He was appearing at a store near my Grandmother’s house, and I remember chickening out on going to see him.  I was nervous back then – I am very much NOT nervous around famous people anymore!

The first trip I ever went away alone to was on a plane to visit a high school friend who had moved to Florida.  I felt like a big shot – I was just about to turn seventeen, and while it wasn’t the first time I flew, it was the first time I remembered it.  I flew frequently with my mother when I was a toddler.  My grandparents lived in Florida at the time.

The first trip I ever took to another country was a summer vacation with my family to Niagara Falls.  We spent time there, and even drove to Toronto and saw the Hockey Hall of Fame.  It was a great time, a special trip that my sister and I remember with great fondness.

The first pet I ever remember owning was the one I spoke about above – Max.  Our landlord at the time had a cat who gave birth to a few kittens, and she said I could take one as a birthday gift.  My mother said there were three or four beautiful white ones but I insisted on the tabby in the back.  He was the absolute best choice.

My first sporting event was (of course) a hockey game.  I guess I didn’t ask my Dad – I just assumed there would be play by play announcers, giving us details.  Imagine my surprise as we sat there, watching the game – yet only listening to the other fans.  I remember feeling shocked.

I went to see David Cassidy in concert – it was the first one I ever attended.  I was young, maybe seven years old or so.  My mother said I seemed jealous that so many other girls loved him too.  It was as if I thought it was me and him alone forever.

My first job was as a Cashier at a Supermarket, and I can remember the first paycheck I ever received – $39.93.  As a sixteen year old, I thought I was rich!

The first car I ever owned was one my then-boyfriend (later ex-husband) and I bought.  We got it from an elderly neighbor of mine.  It was a 1976 Pontiac Ventura, and it was manila-folder yellow.  I think quite possibly it was the ugliest car of all time.  I believe this.

Growing up, I had a very happy life.  The first time though that I ever remember feeling  absolute joy was the afternoon of May 24, 1980.  This was the day that the New York Islanders won their first Stanley Cup.  They won it in dramatic fashion – they won in overtime, and it was simply amazing!  It is a feeling I am so glad I was able to experience.

In contrast, I remember feeling terribly sad when my Grandmother died.  It was 1975, and I was twelve.  We were very close, and her passing surprised a lot of people.  I missed her very much, but what made me the saddest was later on during that first night, with all the hustle and bustle of people being there – I looked over to see my father sitting in a chair, head in his hands.  Crying softly.  It was heartbreaking.

My first health scare was when I was pregnant with Michael.  Things were going very good, and then all of a sudden – I started bleeding.  I was only in my seventh month. The doctor didn’t know why this happened.  He said there was no real reason.  I was put on bed rest and told not to do much of anything.  I didn’t – I absolutely complied.  It worked, because Michael was born pretty much on time and was perfectly healthy.  It was frightening.

So, what other firsts come to your mind?  Please, share them – this is a good conversation starter…

Thoughts on the Corona Virus

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The Corona Virus is all the rage.  If you’re not careful, you can get very carried away with all the hype and information that is being presented.  We would all be wise to be prepared and aware, but not crazed.  Here are a few guidelines to follow and recommendations to look into…

Be aware of where germs can grow.  They can be found on money, ATMs, touch screens, utensils at buffet type restaurants, gas pump handles, shopping carts, office phones, office keyboards.  Have supplies available to properly sanitize your hands after coming in contact with these surfaces. You can make your own hand sanitizer by mixing 2/3 cup of isopropyl alcohol with 1/3 cup of aloe vera gel, and to make it smell nicer feel free to add 8-10 drops of scented oil.

Do not hoard items. If you do want to prepare (though some people say “over prepare”) an appropriate time period would be to have supplies for about two weeks.  This simply means having in your possession the items to sustain you and your family for this time period.  Take advantage of freezing items.  Have a supply of canned goods that your loved ones enjoy.  Start bottling your own water – in reusable bottles and containers.  You will need an adequate amount of paper goods, not an excessive amount.  Be reasonable.

It is not time to be in large crowds unless you need to be.  Do not become a hermit, but do not take excessive risks.  When you are in a crowd, stay away (if you can) from people who are exhibiting obvious signs of being sick.  If you yourself feel the need to sneeze or cough, properly protect others from what you might (or might not) have.

As an employee, do not go to work if you are sick.  Also, do not take advantage, staying home and saying you are “sick.”  As an employer, do the responsible thing and tell employees who say they are ill to stay home – and do not have repercussions against employees who don’t show up for work.  Employers and employees need to be both responsible and honest.

Keep your hands off of your face.  The more your hands are where they don’t need to be and then are on your face, the more germs of any kind you’ll get on you – and not just those that can cause the Corona virus.

Do not be lulled into thinking you’re protected if you wear a mask.  You won’t be.  The proper mask to protect people against this Virus is the N95 mask.  This mask needs to be properly fitted to your face by a professional.  Regular citizens should not be ordering these, reducing supply.  These items need to be worn by the people on the front lines against this Virus – medical professionals.

Be diligent and careful when using chemicals, etc. to sanitize your home and items.  Improper ventilation with these cleaners can potentially damage the mucous membranes in your nose, making you more vulnerable to irritation and infection.

Most importantly, wash your hands often and properly.  We have been taught this for our entire lives; it seems kind of ridiculous that this advice needs to be in the forefront now.  Officials have said to wash your hands with soap and water while (maybe silently) singing “Happy Birthday” two times.  This small recommendation is our best defense against many illnesses – not just the Corona Virus.