"Bludgeoning hard times with a rolling pin"

"Bludgeoning hard times with a rolling pin"

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Unemployed? Broke? Live a Little.

Watching episodes of Real Housewives recently, it occurred to me how they never drink from lidless sippy cups. Even while consuming their mandatory six glasses of water, they do so from elegant stemware. Not only that, but these socialites are consistently decked with bangles and baubles. Oh and how they love to rub elbows!

Yes, the rich and famous exude panache. But is that because they are rich and famous? No. Their status merely allows them to expect a particular lifestyle. That does not mean they are the only ones permitted to indulge. Heck no!

Here are some ways to enjoy such privilege without cracking a nest egg. Spoil yourself, Sweetie. Be a little fussy even!

Raise your pinky, Dahhhling.
Practically every household has funky or fancy dishes which rarely get table-time. Bring them to the front of the cabinet. (So what if they need hand-washed? It’s worth it.) Bask in change. Feel pampered.

No, no--not $20,000 bracelets. That’s just silly. But even reality offers hope. Isn’t there a forgotten pair of dangly earrings in the jewelry box? Frame your face like a portrait with them! Catch a glimpse in the mirror. Feel like a million bucks, even if the earrings were picked up at a garage sale two summers ago.

Party! Party!
Big money does not a party make. Guests are the event (You knew that). Invite some buds over and then just fill in the blanks. Light candles. Infuse the background with soothing tunes. Nosh on grapes, crackers, cheese slices and a bottle of wine. Desserts can be inexpensive yet elegant. Make shortbread or try a new cookie recipe. For a snazzy effect, drizzle thinned white icing over just about anything. Lovely. This fantabulous spread can be had for around $20 (depending on number of guests, of course).

Clean up your act.
It costs next to nothing to have a tidy home. Just go for the illusion of clean—don’t knock yourself out. Open the curtains and bask in sunlight. Ahhh.

Now that’s living!

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Temporal Mechanics? Maybe.

So, I was at the store the other day loading my groceries into the back of the car when I noticed her. She was about 75 years old and had red hair--obviously dyed.

She looked sincerely joyful, was wearing something colorful (borderline loud) and I thought, “Hmm. I wouldn’t mind looking like that when I get to be her age.” Then it hit me.

Maybe she was me.

You never know. What if…just what if…time travel is invented--sometime in the future, of course? Then humans just might be able to take a vacation to a different time period. Like instead of going to the Wisconsin Dells this summer, one goes to the Wisconsin Dells, 1945.

The idea doesn’t seem so crazy. After all, Fermilab in Batavia, Ill. has been working on particle beam physics for a while now. I don’t claim to know any more than that about the whole thing, except that time manipulation is thrown in there somewhere.

Fermilab is a Department of Energy laboratory, so I doubt they run it just for cool tricks in time travel. But, you never know.

There may be a “you got your chocolate in my peanut butter” kind of moment and then BAM. Temporal mechanics.

Now when I look around at people, even children, I think all kinds of deep things. What if my great-grandchildren decide to take a trip back in time to visit me, their dear Grammie, before I lose my hearing?

Next time daily monotony numbs you, get lost in a freaky daydream of time travel. It might not be fantasy after all.

Think about it.

(picture courtesy of www.designedtoat.com)

Friday, June 11, 2010

15 ways to save green--right now

I wrote this a while back. Reading it again, I notice it sounds kinda preachy. Still some good ideas, though.

The high cost of everything these days makes sticking to a budget more difficult than ever. When prices keep going up, but incomes don’t, there is only one thing to do—implement frugality.

Here are 15 ways to save some green—starting right away:

Work to reduce debt. This isn’t as easy as it sounds, but a lot of creditors are willing to work with their customers. It’s important to pay even a little something to perhaps avoid a late charge in addition to interest build-up. It does not hurt to call the creditor and attempt to work out a payment plan. You may be able to agree on better rates or a time table more suited to your needs.

Ditch the cable or satellite TV. Come on, now. Is this a necessity? If your internet and phone service are all tied to your satellite plan, then at least try to reduce your plan to the very basic service necessary.

Send e-mails rather than make long distance calls or mail letters. Every little bit helps. A long distance call can easily cost $20 and if you e-mail that note instead of mail it, you save almost 50 cents.

Do the kids really need all those lessons and activities? Consider swapping a stressful schedule for a more relaxed one by dropping a superfluous activity. You’ll save money in fees and gas. If this leaves your child too bored, visit Grandma. If Grandma doesn’t live nearby, visit someone else’s grandma at a local nursing home. Thinking of others is a valuable lesson, too!

Cold cereals—forget about ‘em. At $4 a box, they are a budget-buster for sure. Enjoy instead toast, oatmeal, muffins or cornbread—home-made, of course.

Give soda the heave-ho. Noticed the price of soda escalating, too? It’s crazy out there! Soda isn’t healthy for you anyway. Besides, those plastic bottles are ugly and fill up the recycling box too fast. Make iced tea or lemonade at home instead.

Don’t buy books, CD’s or DVD’s—get busy with that library card instead. Just watch due dates and avoid those late fees!

Cook from scratch. For every convenience food, try to make a from-scratch equivalent. Pizza is an easy one to crank out. Same with brownies, cookies and popsicles. The crock pot is a time saver. Check out this recipe for crock pot brats.

Rediscover entertaining at home. Invite some friends over for a dinner of pasta and salad. Pull out some board games, watch a movie or just chat while the kids play.

Does Mr. Spiffs really need special toys? Cats love string. String. How inexpensive is that?

Let those coins accumulate. If you drop your day’s change in a jar, you’ll have a couple hundred dollars in a few months without even trying.

Zap the frapp. Even if the small is the tall it’s still about $5 for a cup of diluted coffee and whipped cream. Learn how to make one at home. Check out this recipe.

Consolidate car trips. With gas prices consistently breaking price records, driving has become a splurge. Make a plan before heading out. Map the route beforehand to use the least amount of gas. Be sure to gather all you need while you’re out. Carpool with co-workers for rides to and from work.

Recognize bad spending habits. Getting a soda from the machine each time the kids are at soccer practice quickly becomes an ingrained routine. It takes keen awareness to identify the pattern in order to change it.

Challenge yourself to take the savings as far as it can be taken. Like this: Instead of buying that soda from the machine, bring soda from home. Better yet, bring a water bottle. Better yet, bring the water in a re-usable cup instead of a purchased water bottle.

These days troubles are touching everyone, families, singles, retirees—everyone; but, many have already discovered that the simple life can be a refreshing and overdue change of pace.

Peace of mind is priceless.

Copyright 2008 Neighbors About Town

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Well, h'aloe vera

I adopted her a couple months ago and named her Vera. She keeps me company whilst I cook and do dishes. She absolutely adores sunning in the kitchen window and is growing by the minute. (I refrain from saying she’s growing like a weed. She takes offense.)

Though she sacrifices limb and sap for her love of nursing, she is passionate about first aid. I might add…she’s also quite succulent.

You’ve probably guessed that my bff, Vera, is an aloe vera plant.

Vera is not high-maintenance at all. She spends her days sunbathing. I just take her a refreshing drink when her soil goes dry.

As a kid during the 70’s, I remember aloe vera commonly complimenting the d├ęcor of homes. Maybe it was a style thing, but aloe vera is such a practical home companion, it deserves a space in every household.

Aloe vera’s sap is said to be effective in treating wounds and can be used topically on burns as well. Wikipedia states that aloe vera has antibacterial and antifungal activities. It may even aid in fighting cancers in cats and dogs. Interesting.

Of course, her medicinal traits are probably challenged by skeptics. Whatever. Those people probably don’t even talk to their own plants.

What I know is that when someone has a boo-boo, Vera’s right there to lend a leaf of sap.

Maybe it’s mental, but Vera encourages me to nurture and heal naturally, like an earthy, hippy-momma. She takes me back to the land and keeps me in tune with nature.

Well, the nature on my windowsill, anyway.