It Could Almost Always be Worse

If the economy is not doing well, don’t blame our house.

We’ve been pouring out enough cash to keep a crew of drunken sailors spending through re-enlistment.

It’s not necessarily because we want to; it’s just — well, you know — sometimes life kicks in. And when you own a house, it needs repairs. Unfortunately, they’re all at one time. We weighed the alternatives: save money versus living in a cave, but what can I say? We like the finer things — like walls.

Within the last week, we had to hire someone to cover up several patches on the house’s exterior where paint was peeling. Normally, my wife and I would do that, but the spots were near the roof and we didn’t have a ladder that long. (Besides, either of us on a high ladder? Not a good idea, even on the best days…)

While getting those walls retouched, we discovered windows with leaky frames. Ka-ching! That’ll set up back some coin. As it also turns out, the bathroom is leaking like a sieve in to the garage. It turns out we are putting a plumber to work now too, and — because of said leak — might also hire a carpenter. We sure hope so! We just love stimulating the local economy!

As they say in those TV ads, “But, wait! There’s more!”

Every year, we avoid turning on our home’s heater until November first. Since October can be chilly, we practically sleep in parkas, while donning sweaters and jackets all day long. I’m not complaining (much), because we save a few dollars — as well as feel we’re being good stewards of the environment. I don’t know if you’ve looked at a calendar, but — Hooray! It’s November! “Sweet heater, bring unto us your warmth!”

Guess what. I flipped the switch, and, nothing. Nada. Silence. No wondrous balminess doth emanate from its magical vents. I’m just guessin’ here, but I’ll wager that repair won’t be a freebie.

As the adage goes, “When life gives you lemons, they’re usually really bitter, nasty, ones.”

Okay, maybe that’s not the expression, but it feels like it, because on top of the home repairs, a few family members have hit rough patches. We’re not codependent, but there’s also a set of priorities by which we live. So, when family needs you, you do what you can, which in this case involved our checking account.

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Keep Falling In Love…On a Budget

It doesn’t matter who you are or where you come from.

Whether you’re a kid, teenager, or adult…..you love someone. I don’t care if it’s your mother, brother, best friend, boyfriend, girlfriend, whoever, there is someone out there that you love to have fun with. Now I also don’t care if you’re making six figures or living paycheck to paycheck. I know you’re probably on some type of budget, and that my friends, is why I’m here to help. I promise you can find many ways to have fun during this gorgeous Fall season with the person you love even when your pockets are sort of empty.

Everyone’s been in this boat at least once or twice, and if you haven’t, well someday all your riches will be gone and you’ll have to figure out how to have fun by going for a walk or jumping in a pile of leaves. Ok, I’m kidding. Your riches probably won’t be gone, but you should still try to enjoy the little things in life.

Keep reading to discover some different fun activities to help keep you falling in love. I’ll help you get started.

1. Go to the grocery store together.

Don’t go crazy in the aisles. Have an idea already planned out for a nice warm meal to cook. Buy the ingredients, a small bottle of wine, and stop at Redbox on your way home. A lot of grocery stores have Redbox stations right inside or outside of the store. Who can say no to a movie that costs $1.00? (Actually I think it’s something like $1.28 now because of taxes, but that’s still less expensive than an On Demand movie!) Making dinner together can be so much fun. You’ll tighten your bond while learning different cooking techniques from each other, and it’ll be exciting to make a dinner from start to finish! (Try to stick to lots of veggies and organic clean foods. You knew I was going to say this. Sometimes it gets expensive to buy and cook organic food, but I’m pretty sure it’s a lot cheaper than going to a restaurant and not knowing exactly what you’re eating!) When you’re done eating dinner, pop in the movie, pour yourself a nice glass of wine, and cuddle up on the couch with your cute little cat on your lap…..If you don’t have a cat that’s fine, it just made the mental image a little more perfect.

2. Plan to head to a nearby apple orchard or pumpkin patch.

Lots of farms are busy this season with people picking apples and pumpkins to take home. Get dressed in a cute outfit with a stylish little jacket (This applies if you’re a girl. If you’re a guy, just put on a Patriots sweatshirt and some jeans and think about how pretty your girlfriend looks in her cute jacket and tall boots), and head out the door. Fill up a bag of apples, pick out the perfect pumpkin, have lots of laughs, take lots of pictures, and enjoy breathing in the beautiful autumn air. Smile at all the little kids picking out their pumpkins, and think about what type of delicious desserts you can make with your bag of apples! When you get back home, open up a cook book or look online, and start to bake! While your apple creation is baking, go online and print out a jack-o-lantern stencil, and carve something cool into your pumpkin! (try http://www.hgtv.com/decorating-basics/beginner-halloween-pumpkin-carving-templates/pictures/index.html or http://www.myhomeideas.com/holidays/9-jack-o-lantern-templates-10000001850864/) This whole day didn’t cost you much, and now you have a tasty treat and an adorable pumpkin for your front steps. Invite friends over that night for dessert, and offer them your freshly baked apple-whatever. Sorry, I’m allergic to apples so I won’t be able to eat it, but I’ll still come to hang out.

3. It’s Sunday morning, and all your friends are heading to the Patriots game.

Tickets are expensive, you have to pay the rent, and your cell phone bill is already late. I get it. Don’t worry. Don’t let it get you down. Get out of bed, put your sneakers on, grab your favorite person by the hand, and go for a brisk walk. Find different trails, walk through new neighborhoods, and don’t stop holding hands. Work up an appetite. Talk about the scrumptious healthy snacks you are going to eat while you watch the game from the luxury of your own living room where you don’t have to pay $8.00 for one beer that you will probably spill half of by the time you get back to your seat. If you’re a girl and you don’t really care for football, suck it up. Your boyfriend/husband is probably bummed that he can’t get to a game this season, so just pretend you’re thrilled to sit there on the couch with him while he screams at every play. Don’t get annoyed that he’s using your laptop for his fantasy football even though you want to go on Facebook. Make a sacrifice. At the end of the game, he will think he’s so lucky that he has a girl who will sit there and drink beers and watch the game with him. They’re called brownie points, and you just earned them!

4. Act like a child and an adult at the same time.

Go outside and do some yard work. Stop rolling your eyes at this one. It can be fun, plus it’s good exercise! Rake some leaves, break a sweat, then jump around in the big pile you just made! When the leaves get scattered everywhere, rake them back into a pile, and repeat until you’re tired. Take some good photos of you and your friends, family, girlfriend or dog all buried in the leaves. This is fun and absolutely free. Plus, think of the laughs you’ll have when you push your boyfriend into the pile of leaves he just spent a half hour raking. He might get annoyed, but remind him how lucky he is that he’s healthy enough to keep raking and how fortunate he is to have his own yard to rake. He will come to his senses and then probably push you into the pile too.

5. Go to a corn maze or Halloween attraction.

These usually aren’t extremely pricey, but if you really need to save, skip going out to eat first. Eat at home, and then go. Get lost in the corn maze. Get the sh*t scared out of you in a haunted house. Get chased by the creepy guy with the chainsaw and embarrass yourself when you scream at the top of your lungs. Then go home and talk about how much fun you had. It’s all about making memories.

So, if you find yourself with little in your pockets this weekend, come back to this list, and I guarantee you will be glad you did. Remember, sometimes it’s the little things in life that are worth so much.

About the author: Holly is a 25 year old writer from New England who is on a journey to a happier and healthier life. She’s a firm believer in loving yourself, being kind to others, learning from mistakes, and letting go of what holds you back from being the best version of yourself. Aside from writing, she enjoys eating healthy, staying fit, traveling to fascinating places, fashion, helping animals, spending time with family and friends, and meeting people that inspire and encourage her. She loves to express her stories, ventures, and feelings through words and photographs. Writing about her life is a beautiful release, and she hopes to enthuse her readers along the way. Learn more about her at www.thecatzmeow.net, or Hollyamber28@gmail.com

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Keep it in Perspective

Keep things in perspective.

We’ve had a rough couple of days at our house. It seems like the fates are conspiring to cost us money.

  • We’ve had to hire someone to do some painting on the exterior of our house where the wood was starting to show through.
  • We have some windows where the framing is leaking and causing some rot. That’ll set up back some coin.
  • Our bathroom is leaking. We heed a new shower head, some plumbing repairs, and  – because of the leak – we’ll probably need some floor repairs
  •  As November approaches, we’re finally ready to put on the heater. Guess what? It’s not working! I’m sure that will cost us something.
  • On top of all that, a few family members have hit some rough patches. When you’re family (in whatever definition you choose that to be), you step in. So we have.

I was getting a little nervous about all the out-pouring of money.

And then, I realized that at least i don’t have a hurricane barreling down on my neighborhood and I remembered after Hurricane Katrina, we lost contact with a friend who was in its path. We were scared that something had happened to her. Several days later, she contacted us. She was okay. However, the roof of her house was gone. She said she was really blessed.

“Blessed,” I asked? “You just lost your house.”

“But I’m still here to tell you. And everyone is fine. I’m really lucky.”

It was a great lesson.

Sometimes, we’re better off than we realize – especially when we have others who watch over us.

(To our friends in the path of Hurricane Sandy – we’re thinking about you, sending our best wishes, and praying for you. Be well. Take care of yourselves.)
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The First Step in Travelling Healthy

 Since the nature of a career of speaking to others about habit changes requires more than a fair amount of time “on the road,” it behooves me to master the skill of eating healthy while traveling. Else wise, surviving on the “100% muffin, cookie, and pretzel diet” offered in planes and airports would cause me to gain back my weight — resulting in the loss of my livelihood and taking with it any credibility I might have in writing this column.

As I put pen to paper (more accurately “keyboard to word processor”), I find myself determined finally to be successful in my travel and dieting endeavors.

“Failure to plan,” is “planning to fail.”

Therefore, utilizing all the marvels of the world wide web, I first researched which restaurants near my destination excel in “fit fare cuisine,” and printed out maps with walking directions from my hotel to said establishments. By forsaking taxicabs, I am ensuring that I will get the requisite activity level to prevent weight gain.

Furthermore, should my body be a temple, than notice is hereby given that only the pure shall henceforth be allowed passage.

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When You’re Afraid to Eat

I don’t know when it happened.

Somewhere between me being 6 and becoming an adult, the world changed. Somehow, some way, children everywhere started to have allergies. Everyone you talk to tells you how they can’t pack their kids an old fashioned PB & J sandwich for lunch because so many other kids are allergic to peanuts. Parents everywhere have begun worrying about feeding their children nuts or peanut butter. Children are ostracized because they have to sit at the “peanut butter/nut table” at school.

How and when did this all happen? More so, why did this happen?

When I was a little girl, my mother gave me a freshly picked peach. It was beautiful and plump and I was was so excited for this tasty treat…..until about 5 seconds after my first bite. In under a minute, my throat was closing, I was having trouble breathing, and I had hives everywhere. I was so itchy. I knew I didn’t feel right, but I didn’t even know I was supposed to be scared. I couldn’t comprehend what was happening until I was sitting in the doctor’s office being pumped up with Benadryl while seeing the fear in my mother’s eyes. Apparently, my allergy to peaches decided to show its lovely face that day, and it has stuck by my side ever since. After lots of tests, it was learned that I’m severely allergic to nuts. Not peanuts, but tree nuts. (Peanuts grow underground, so they are in the legume family like a bean or a pea.) Because nuts are related to the pit and seeds in many fruits like that killer peach I ate that day, I’ve had to watch every single thing I put in my mouth at every meal thereafter.

If you have food allergies, you know how annoying this can be.

Of course you learn to embrace it because you have no other choice, but it sure can be a nuisance when you’re at a party or a restaurant or when you first start dating someone and they make you fresh chocolate covered strawberries and you start to break out. Or how about when you order Oreo frozen yogurt and you pull an almond out of your mouth and the lady at the counter tells you, “oh, sorry, we use the same scoop on all of the flavors, even the ones with nuts” Believe me, it’s not fun, but you have to learn to adapt to it. It’s a part of who you are after all, and you should love every single part of what makes you different. It’s still irritating though when you eat healthy all week and really want that one cookie, until someone tells you there might be traces of walnuts in it. What a buzz kill.

The worst feeling is being afraid to eat.

It’s terrifying to take a bite of something and worry that you might feel that feeling all over again. Even though you carry your Epi-Pen every where you go, it’s still the scariest sensation in the world. Yes you learn to live with it, but I don’t think the fear is something that will ever 100% go away. Personally, I know if I ate an almond and didn’t have my Epi-Pen, I would go into anaphylactic shock. But what I have taught myself over the past 19 years is that I need to live with it. I need to learn exactly what I can and can’t eat, and hey, if I can’t have that cookie, it’s one less fattening thing I’ll be eating! You have to go to the allergist and figure out exactly what to stay away from and learn how to enjoy the foods you can eat. Take care of yourself, and see if the allergist can check to see if anything has changed. I need to do this soon. It’s one of the ten little things I want to do before I turn 26. Once you’re educated, you’ll feel a little better, but you will always be extra cautious. Keep yourself updated by regularly visiting the FAAN website. Learn all about cross pollination.

If you’re one of the lucky ones who don’t have food allergies, good for you.

You have no idea how fortunate you are. If your kids are allergy free too, count your blessings. I can only imagine how nerve-racking it was for my parents to let me have dinner over friends’ houses. I go back to my previous question though, why are kids all of a sudden being born with these severe allergies? When I was little, I was one of the only ones. It was strange. I always knew I was different from the other kids. I hated having to explain why I couldn’t have the same desserts or candy as everyone else. So, I leave you with one piece of advice. Don’t ever make fun of the people who do have food allergies.

You never know how they feel, and there’s nothing worse than being afraid to eat.

About the author: Holly is a 25 year old writer from New England who is on a journey to a happier and healthier life. She’s a firm believer in loving yourself, being kind to others, learning from mistakes, and letting go of what holds you back from being the best version of yourself. Aside from writing, she enjoys eating healthy, staying fit, traveling to fascinating places, fashion, helping animals, spending time with family and friends, and meeting people that inspire and encourage her. She loves to express her stories, ventures, and feelings through words and photographs. Writing about her life is a beautiful release, and she hopes to enthuse her readers along the way. Learn more about her at www.thecatzmeow.net, or Hollyamber28@gmail.com

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