Tuesday, January 23, 2018

‘so good, so good, so good’

After hearing the news today that Neil Diamond is retiring because He's been diagnosed with Parkinson's, we're really glad we got to see him when he was here last spring.  He is canceling the rest of his 50th Anniversary tour, so there are quite a few people who won't get the chance.

We've been Neil Diamond fans for years, but it was the first time we'd seen him in concert. It was awesome. That man can certainly put on a good show! Sorry to hear that he has to stop because it was definitely something he (and all his fans) enjoyed.

In a statement on his website, Diamond, 76, says, "It is with great reluctance and disappointment that I announce my retirement from concert touring. I have been so honored to bring my shows to the public for the past 50 years."

Thankfully he plans to continue writing, recording, and being involved in other projects for a long time to come.

Monday, January 22, 2018

Are You Really Getting a Good Deal?

Anybody who knows me at all knows that I love a good deal. Paying full price for anything is practically against my religion! I believe in combining sales, coupons, rebates, and whatever else I can in order to get the best price possible on whatever I buy. Clearance is one of my favorite words! I especially love when things are marked 80-90% off regular price. Just 25-30% clearance isn't really good enough.


Just because something is 'on sale' does not necessarily mean that you are getting a good deal. It's important to have at least a general idea of the regular prices of items you normally buy. This is especially true of groceries. Many times I have seen a sale price advertised in the grocery ad for an item that I bought at a cheaper price the week before. But, if you don't know what the regular price is for that item, you might think you're getting a good deal - because it's on sale, right? Knowing the regular price will help you know when you do see a good deal, and that's when you buy. If it's something you use on a regular basis, buy several when you get it at a good price. The idea is to buy enough when something is on sale so that you won't run out and have to buy more before it goes on sale again.

Combine sale prices with coupons and rebates using cash back apps like Ibotta and Checkout 51, and the savings can really add up. Just remember - if you don't need it, all the coupons and cash back rebates in the world don't necessarily make it a good deal. Unless it's free. Free is always a good deal.  (at least in my opinion) If it's something you don't really need, consider donating it to someone who can use it.

A money-saving option that I haven't really explored is renting items that you may only need for a short time. Of course, this doesn't apply to groceries, but renting sports equipment for things you only do occasionally is often the best option - at least until you decide to take up that sport on a regular basis. And f you're planning to welcome a baby into your family, you may want to check out baby gear rental Florida for baby items that will only be used for a short period of time.  Renting tools from the local home improvement store for that one-time project instead of buying a tool you're never going to use again is also a good idea. Invest in items you can use for a significant period of time, and have room to store when you're not using them, and rent other items. Just be sure to do your research first. Find out how much it would cost to purchase the item then compare that to the cost of renting that item for the time you need it.

The bottom line is - arm yourself with knowledge. The more you know about how much something should cost or will cost over the time you will use it, the better equipped you will be to know if you are indeed getting a good deal. Remember your smartphone (most of us have those nowadays) and look up prices on Amazon or other retailers - yes, even when you're in the store - to see if you can get cheaper somewhere else. Some stores will even match those online prices, so don't be afraid to ask.

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Welcoming Baby Without Blowing Your Budget

Anyone who has had a baby, or is preparing to welcome one into their family, knows that it can get expensive. How does one little person need so much stuff? Cribs, strollers, car seats, clothes, diapers, toys, bottles, etc. The list goes on and on, and it can quickly take a toll on your household budget.  The expenses add up very quickly if you're buying brand new items at your local store. Even if you just happened to find everything you need on the clearance rack - which is highly unlikely - you're still going to spend a bundle (on your new little bundle).

But don't get discouraged just yet. There are ways to save money while still getting the things your baby needs, and that starts with realizing that your baby does not need all brand new items. Invest in secondhand furniture, see if any of your friends who have already had babies can lend or give you their hand-me-downs, and even check out online baby equipment rental, because sometimes it's cheaper to rent than to buy. I had no idea there was a whole site full of baby goods to rent.  You can find toys, furniture, and even small appliances like miniature fridges. The best part of that is that all merchandise is thoroughly inspected for safety, then sanitized and wrapped in plastic, so it stays clean and ready to use.

GarageSaleStuff 003One of my favorite options, back when I had babies, was going to garage sales. Babies grow out of everything so quickly - sometimes they only wear a particular outfit once - and you can usually find some barely worn baby clothes for a good price. Of course, this isn't the best time of year for garage sales, but many people offer their used baby clothes, furniture, bottles, diapers, and many other baby needs online through Facebook marketplace sites and/or eBay. (things have changed a bit since I had babies 27 years ago)

Of course, when you shop Goodwill, garage sales, or even eBay, you will want to inspect the items to be sure they are in good shape. Many baby things are very gently used because, as I mentioned earlier, babies grow so fast that they sometimes only wear an outfit once. They're also changing and developing so quickly, especially during the first year, that many items, especially toys, are quickly outgrown and discarded as baby moves on to something new.
You'll also want to be aware of current safety standards when buying cribs, strollers, and car seats. I just learned recently that car seats have an expiration date, so be sure to check on that - even if you're borrowing one from a friend.  If the car seat is expired, you'll need to find a new(er) one. Your baby's safety should be of primary importance.

Babies need a lot of stuff, but with all the options out there, you can get all that stuff without completely ruining your budget. And, it can be a lot of fun tracking down those deals and collecting all the things your baby is going to need while you wait to welcome her into your family.

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Book List 2017

I've been reading all my life (well, as long as I can remember, anyway), but it wasn't until 2008 that I started putting together a list of all the books I read each year. I use Goodreads to keep track throughout the year and then list them all here once the year is over. It's always fun to go through them, and see how many pages and how many hours of reading I have.

Also, once again I'll link to any reviews I did. As always, I have good intentions to review more of the books I read, but I don't always follow through. Let's see what 2017 looked like...

Again, all books are listed the month I finished them. Even if I started listening or reading the previous month - or even at the beginning of the year as with the Bible reading plan. I don't always include my Bible reading program, but this year I started in January and finished in December, and it just fit.

  1. Brotherhood in Death - J.D. Robb (audio) - 13 hrs 37 min
  2. Donny's Brain - Rona Munro (audio) - 1 hr 27 min
  3. The Red Badge of Courage - Stephen Crane (audio) - 4 hrs 33 min
  4. The Woman in Cabin 10 - Ruth Ware - 352 pages
352 pages | 19 hours and 37 minutes

  1. He's Still Working Miracles: Daring To Ask God for the Impossible - Dana Rongione - 180 pages
180 pages

  1. 11/22/63 - Stephen King (audio) - 30 hrs 44 min
  2. Tricky Twenty-Two (Stephanie Plum #22) - Janet Evanovich (audio) - 6 hrs 27 min
  3. Turbo Twenty-Three (Stephanie Plum #23) - Janet Evanovich (audio) - 6 hrs 16 min
43 hours 27 minutes

  1. Apprentice in Death (In Death #43) - J.D. Robb (audio) - 13 hrs 6 min
13 hours 6 minutes

  1. Books Can Be Deceiving (Library Lover's Mystery #1) - Jenn McKinlay (audio) - 7 hrs 23 min
  2. Echoes in Death (In Death #44) - J.D. Robb (audio) - 13 hrs 43 min
21 hours 6 minutes

  1. How Ideas Spread - Jonah Berger (audio) - 5 hrs 53 min
  2. The Chamberlain Key: Decoding Startling Messages from God, Hidden for Centuries in an Ancient Biblical Manuscript - Timothy P. Smith - 224 pages
  3. Tidewater Inn (Hope Beach #1) - Colleen Coble (audio) - 8 hrs 56 min
224 pages | 14 hours 49 minutes

  1. Room - Emma Donoghue (audio) - 10 hrs 52 min
10 hours 52 minutes

  1. Pennies for Hitler - Jackie French (audio) - 9 hrs 18 min
  2. The Waste Lands (The Dark Tower #3) - Stephen King - 422 pages
422 pages | 9 hours 18 minutes

  1. Vivian Apple at the End of the World (Vivian Apple #1) - Katie Coyle (audio) - 8 hrs 6 min
  2. The Glass Castle - Jeannette Walls - 304 pages
  3. Words in the Dust - Trent Reedy (audio) - 8 hrs 27 min
  4. The Sign - Shawn Boonstra - 127 pages
  5. Once (Once #1) - Morris Gleitzman (audio) -  3 hrs 8 min
431 pages | 19 hours 41 minutes

  1. Room for One: Learning to Love God, Cast Out Idols, and Bring Your Faith to Life - Kelen Caswell 125 pages
  2. When Did Everybody Else Get So Old?: Indignities, Compromises, and the Unexpected Grace of Midlife - Jennifer Grant - 192 pages
217 pages

  1. You Can't Do it Naked: From Exposed to Fully Clothed in the Armor of God - Kim M. Snyder 116 pages
  2. The Advocate - Randy Singer (audio) - 15 hrs 4 min
  3. Secrets in Death (In Death #45) - J.D. Robb (audio) - 13 hrs 2 min
  4. Between Me and You - Allison Winn Scotch - 358 pages
474 pages | 28 hours 6 minutes

  1. The Pursuit of God - A.W. Tozer (audio) - 3 hrs 17 min
  2. Tips for Living -Renee Shafransky - 328 pages
  3. Wizard and Glass (The Dark Tower #4) - Stephen King - 672 pages
  4. Touching His Robe: Reaching Past the Shame and Anger of Abuse - Leslie G. Nelson - 172 pages
  5. The Queen's Poisoner (Kingfountain #1) - Jeff Wheeler (audio) 10 hrs 25 min
  6. The Holy Bible: English Standard Version - 1326 pages
  7. Collapsible: A Novel of Friendship, Broken Bones, Coffee, Shenanigans, and the Occasional Murder (Collapsible, #1) - Ruth Buchanan - 231 pages
  8. Love Story (The Baxter Family #1) - Karen Kingsbury - 368 pages
3097 pages | 13 hours 42 minutes

  • Total books - 36 (compare to 38 in 2016)
  • Total pages - 5180 (compare to 6574 pages in 2016)
  • Total time - 178 hours 55 minutes  (compare to 182 hours 16 minutes in 2016)
Page counts courtesy of Goodreads; audio lengths courtesy of Audible.

My reading goal for the year was 40 books, so I didn't quite make that - unless I count each individual book of the Bible and all the books I read to my grandson, but that seems a bit like cheating. I haven't yet decided what my goal for 2018 should be. Maybe I should just keep reading and see how it's going before I commit.

I didn't do too well posting reviews, either - only 15 this year. I really ought to get better at that - even if just a few words... Once again, scrolling through the list, I see several books that I really meant to write a review for, but somehow I just didn't do it.

How many books did you read in 2017?  I'd love to hear some suggestions for my 2018 reading list.

*if you happen to click any of the book covers and buy from Amazon, they say they'll pay me a small percentage.  Every little bit helps, and I thank you for your support!

Monday, January 08, 2018

New Year New You

A new calendar year rolls around, and we begin to see it all over again. The health clubs are offering special sign up deals and affordable monthly rates, the stores are advertising exercise clothing and exercise equipment, and people are starting new diets and new exercise programs, hoping that this year will be the year. This is the year they will finally lose that weight, get in shape, and take back the life they know they should have.

Are you ready? Will this be your year? Utilize some or all of the techniques outlined below to begin pursuing optimal well-being now:

  • Join A Health-Based Community.
    One of the best ways to take your mental and physical health to a new level is by joining a health-based community. Joining a community ensures that you will have support and encouragement as you implement lifestyle changes that promote healthy eating, regular exercise, etc. Use Internet-based resources such as www.meetup.com to determine which local communities you might join to take your health to a new level. You'll find information about different communities that may be active and alive in your local area. Sign up. Get involved. Make some friends and have some fun!
  • Start Meditating.
    Meditation is one of the most important activities to engage in if you're serious about making wellness an integral component of your life. This technique can work in numerous ways, and the outcomes are not the same for everyone. For example, many people find that meditation engenders sustained introspection and self-awareness, thereby empowering them to cultivate a life that is more conducive to their personal values or professional purposes. Some of the other positive outcomes that can result from regular meditation include better sleep and boosted immunity.
  • Take Care Of The People Around You.  

    While many health experts acknowledge that self-care plays an integral role in promoting optimal wellness, it's also important to know that taking care of the people around you can engender a profound sense of well-being. This is the case for many reasons, including the fact that practicing empathy can create happiness by making life feel more meaningful. This process can transpire as an individual experiences the emotions of another person and then takes strides towards alleviating their suffering. Your acts of empathy do not have to be confined to the human world. Taking care of pets is also a wonderful way to demonstrate empathy. Note that finding a cat care clinic Washington residents can rely on to offer exemplary pet services is a wonderful way to keep your feline happy and healthy. 

Will those New Years resolutions and goals quickly fall by the wayside? Like every other year? Not if you start now by intentionally implementing new strategies in your pursuit of good health and optimum living. Take one step at a time; make one small change at a time, and then make another one. And remember, if and when you fail - pick yourself up and keep moving forward. Today. Tomorrow. Don't wait for another new calendar year. Every day is a new day, one day closer to your goals.