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Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Getting out without going under!


We've always enjoyed going to museums, exploring the state we live in, catching a play or movie...but with the economy in rather dire condition, we are not going out nearly as often. Fortunately, The Arizona Republic had a feature in the Aug. 29th issue entitled "September Savers: 20 Ways to Have Good Fun at a Good Price"...Many included deals I've mentioned before - free museum nights (first weekend of every month courtesy of Bank of America) and the Culture Passes you can check out of the Phoenix Public Library branches - 2 free passes to everything from the Science Center to the zoo to the Botanical Gardens!

But they also listed half-price tickets to see plays at the Herberger Theatre during lunch-time shows, restaurant buy-one/get one free deals, free ballet performances and area farmers' markets. I realize most of my readers are not in Phoenix, but keep an eye on local "to do" articles online or in your newspapers so you don't miss these great (and inexpensive or even free) opportunities!

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

The Dollar Store and...Skype both in one post?


Sorry for the rather long hiatus, but I'm back! My son has moved to Japan to teach English...preparations were hectic, but before he left, we found we were very grateful for Dollar Stores - got some cheap, easy-to-pack items for his new apartment so he wouldn't feel like he needed to buy everything when he got there! And, once he got there, the best thing? Skype!!!! It's like sitting and talking face-to-face and it's free. If you haven't tried it, set it up at www.skype.com. You can chat with video (or without) anywhere in the world that you can get on the Internet!

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Create good karma!


I just saw a great feature in "Self" magazine (Aug.'11). It advises that people who volunteer actually live longer, are more focused and less apt to get the "blues"! Create some good karma by volunteering...here are some of their suggestions to get you going:

If you are talented with crafts you can knit hats for chemo patients (check HatsOffForCancer.org) or create greeting cards to send to troops overseas (find instructions at AMillionThanks.org).

Do you like to work with kids? Help low-income high school students (check MindsMatter.org to become a mentor or writing adviser).

Good at tech-related stuff? Teach seniors to email and surf the web (check your local senior or community center)!

Do you like the outdoors? Help build and maintain hiking trails (visit AmericanHiking.org) or aid beach-sweep efforts to salvage shores (check out Surfrider.org).

They offer even more ideas...check out the magazine issue or go to Self.com and "Kreate Karma" :)

Monday, August 15, 2011

Drive in for cheap flicks!


Leave it to AARP to think of drive-ins for cheap entertainment (after all isn't it our age group that remembers them in the first place?)!

Cheap movies, fresh air (ok, maybe a bit of exhaust), no one blocking your view and you can bring in your own food if you want! There are 371 drive-in theatres still open in the U.S. (One is near me in Scottsdale, AZ!).

Check out www.Drive-ins.com to find your closest one!

Friday, August 12, 2011

Helping you help your pet!


I don't know about you, but I never actually broke down and got pet medical insurance. Seems like with 5 dogs, it costs more monthly for insurance than I'll ever get to use. And with the economy being what it is...that's an added expense I've had to opt out of! But, I saw an interesting item recently; it seems that if you are having difficulties affording your veterinary care, you can visit www.humanesociety.org and get a list of assistance programs. That's good to know!

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Flights not so fancy (vs Flights of Fancy)!


Learnvest.com recently posted what they called the "Eight Crappiest Things Airlines Are Doing To You"...Now I know that gas costs have sky-rocketed, I'm ok with bringing my own food on (generally better than what they sell on-board anyway) and I've learned to deal (and play the odds for a free ticket) with getting bumped from the occasional flight. Frequent fliers are an adaptable bunch by nature.

But there were a few things the site listed that I just don't agree with! First, this "pay for a pillow or blanket" scheme seems a bit over the top. Maybe they should go with free ones for flights over 3 hours (sort of like the food deal - peanuts only on short flights, snack boxes for sale on medium flights and meal on overseas or coast-to-coast flights)...I could live with that!

Then they noted that some airlines are charging for infants even if they ride on a parent's lap. Perhaps this is to encourage the safety of a child seat in its own space...not sure, but really glad my kids are over 18 now!

Finally, and this one I'm still pondering, the site suggested that United Airlines has arranged the buttons on its check-in kiosk screens so that you are more likely to hit "purchase" than "next" based on where they've placed the buttons. One quick click and "oops!" you have upgraded to business class. I am a fan of United and a long-time member of its Mileage Plus program. While I admit this could be confusing, I would like to ask why anyone wouldn't take an extra few seconds and read the buttons before clicking on them!

Any pet peeves you'd like to tell us about from your summer travel experiences? Please share!

Monday, August 8, 2011

Take it from the Coach!


Still a fan of Oprah (though honestly, I've always preferred the magazine to the show)! In the May 2011 issue, there was a small ad for Seattle's Best Coffee noting that they've tied in with Susan Hyatt, a certified life coach, who will share her 5 levels of living life to the fullest to promote their new level system for coffee blends.

You can download Susan's life-coaching exercises at Oprah.com/coffee.


Saturday, August 6, 2011

Off the Hook!


Over 1.4 billion fishing hooks and other gear catch hundreds of thousands of sea turtles every year. Go to Oceana.org and sign up to get sea turtles "off the hook!"

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Eau de Provence - Relaxing with Lavender


My regular readers probably know that I love all things French - wine, Paris, cheese, you name it!
So you shouldn't be surprised that I also love lavender! This simple scent can relax you and calm the savage beast within you!

Check out www.auracacia.com to purchase lavender essential oil and to find lots of great recipes, uses for the oil and get coupons. A few ideas:

* Mix 6 drops of the lavender oil per 1 oz. of water and use as a soothing skin mist.

* Inhale the scent to calm yourself during a frustrating commute (might take a full bottle if you are in NYC or LA!).

* Add 12 drops per 1 oz of skin care oil for a relaxing massage oil.

* Combine with baking soda and a spritz of lemon to create a natural scouring powder.

* Put a few drops on your pillow at night to have a soothing sleep.

The list goes on and on...What an easy way to relax and get a break from your hectic day!




Tuesday, August 2, 2011

To drive or not to drive...the dilemma of high gas prices!


I'm one of the lucky ones...I work for a consulting firm and my office is upstairs (HQ is in Florida). Yes, it's a tough commute...I drag myself and my coffee (extra strong, no cream) up a flight of stairs into my own office. While dress codes are lacking, so are the gas costs associated with hitting the highway!

"All You" magazine (7/22/11 issue) suggested ways to prevent the cost of gas from dragging you down:

* Keep your car in tune (tire pressure, oil changes, clean air filters) to get better gas mileage.

* Using cruise control helps you stay under the speed limit on the highway and improves gas mileage!

* Plan gas fill-ups ahead of time whether in-town or on vacation - checking sites like gasprices.mapquest.com to compare costs and fit the fuel stop into your schedule while getting the best price.

*Don't turn up the air-conditioning as soon as you sit down! Roll the windows down for awhile first and save the air for the highways...sounds strange, but at lower speeds it works fine and then at high speeds open windows actually cause wind drag and more fuel use than the air-conditioning does. (I know...that's a new one for me too!)

*Clean your car's fuel intake system with a product like STP gas treatment - it's cheap and will help your mileage.

It seems like a lot to remember, but it can save you money in the long run! Any tips from readers?