Month: January 2012

Are you talking to me?

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    As I made my way through the grocers on Friday, it appeared that I had broken out in the words, “Talk to me.” At first it seemed kind of random, and then it became kind of creepy. I am uncertain why people I don’t know like to begin conversations with me. Some of the conversations are to my face and some have been to the back of my head, and while I was leaning over to check the beef selections, there was even one to my butt. Each time, to make sure I was not being rude, disrespectful to my elders, I responded with the same question, “Are you talking to me?”
    Evidently, the older gentlemen picking sweet potatoes, was conversing with me. It seemed to be a burden on his mind that “people need to get right, because the end is coming near.” I looked to my left, then right, and even over my shoulder. “I’m sorry, are you talking to me?” He was, and the price of sweet potatoes triggered some mental flash in him that the end of the world is coming because both sweet and white potatoes prices were on the rise. After he left, I went over to make sure that one of the sweet potatoes didn’t have an image of the Virgin Mary in it. No, it was just random.
    Milling my way through the fresh produce and down the canned goods aisles, Grandma Mazur decided to stop me so I could help her find a can of red salmon. However, the conversation first started with how all the stores carried the pink and not the red. Not meaning to frown, I asked, “are you talking to me?” She was angry and frustrated and just wanted some red salmon. I pointed to the red can and even went as far to hand it to her. They were the only red cans of salmon, ergo, red salmon, so calm down lady.
    It just got stranger from there. I was asked did I know how to make weenie stew. I have never heard of such but figured it required beef franks instead of the normal hot dogs. Another lady wanted tomato paste in the tube; do they even make that? I was polite and told her to try Publix or fresh market since that was a specialty item. If she shopped in this store often, she could ask the manager to order it for her. “That’s what they did in the Tobacco Road store, they ordered me some polenta,” she smiled and continued, with unbridled excitement, “it came in real quick like too!” Yes, it was uncomfortable to me too. Even more uncomfortable was me bending over the beef bin and hearing, “yeah, that looks real tasty.”
    I turned to find a diminutive version of my grandfather eyeing the rump roast. Or was he eyeing my rump? I refused to ask if he was talking to me because the mental implication was just too creepy and gross to fathom. I am not certain what it is about me that prompts spontaneous conversation, but it happens to me all the time. I must have a friendly face or a Doppelganger that needs to learn to shut the bleep up. It is even funnier to me that although I am polite and answer, most people would leave me be, if the only knew what I was just thinking.



Coupons, BOGO, and 10 for $10

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     It is not uncommon in the grocery isle to find someone with a notebook full of coupons. Men, women and grannies are all trying to save a few dollars. The rampant craze of extreme couponing has taken to new heights and everyone wants to get in the game. Beware bargain shoppers, the supermarkets are four steps ahead of you. The blinkies in the aisles, the double coupons, the buy one get one deals and course the infamous ten for ten dollars are all designed to suck you in. The grocery retailers are counting on you and your impulses. They are also counting on your inability to see through the muck. You also fail to realize you have been had until you get to the register and realized you have spent too much. Allow me to help you circumnavigate the grocery store maze.

    When you head to the store, make sure you bring along a pocket calculator and a shopping list. Your smart phone has the ability to be your best friend, but you must make it work for you. Instead of buying the biggest package on the shelf that is on sale, look at the medium size, divide the cost per unit and here is where you apply the coupon. It is just like shopping at a wholesale club, bigger does not equal better, especially if it will go to waste before it is all used in a household of two.

    Hot food bars and salad bars are very tempting especially if you are buying for a household of two. However, the snafu comes in these items are sold per pound. You can buy boxed mac & cheese then and add cottage & cheddar cheeses to make it taste gourmet. An item on a hot bar that requires eight or more ingredients to make like chicken parmesan is a good buy whereas buying ham from a hot bar is not. Equally a bad idea is buying packaged deli meat. It is far more cost efficient to buy a small turkey breast, cook it and slice the meat off for your sandwiches and salad for the week. The same can be done with ham and chicken. One meat, several meals is really the way to save money.

    Another item that people are usually wasting money on is bottled water. Invest in a water filter. You are paying your local government to pipe relatively clean water into your living space, it is drinkable as is, and you just need to get an inexpensive filter from Wal-Mart and you can refill your own water container. If you put it on your sink, it will also filter through to the fridge for your icemaker. You can almost calculate your savings.

    Finally, my favorite is the three for five and ten for ten sales. These sale items can be tricky. Ten apples for $10 sounds great until you realize you are paying a dollar for each apple. Just buy a bag for $3 and be done with it. Add the apples to salads, desserts and other meals to ensure they do not turn or go bad. You can find a really good deal is the bags of frozen vegetables at $1 each. Spending ten or twenty dollars for frozen veggies can stock you up for a month.

    I have found that the best ways to really save is to have a coupon on the items that you are buying one and getting one free. This is doubly valuable it you have double coupons. It also works well to have a game plan and review the weekly circulars to match your coupons with the best deals. Look for coupons that save you $1.50 when you buy two and if it a buy one get one, you have just racked up. Shop smart and make these sales work for you.


Organize Me

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    One of the biggest requests that come through my office is for personal organization. Often, the customer feels as if life is overwhelming and getting day to day tasks completed is taking over their life. Normally after hearing the stories of finding the car keys in the refrigerator or the inability to stay asleep all night, I usually start the customer off with a better to do list. However, before we can build a to-do list, we must first turn off the distractors, which are the things that prevent you from being organized.

    According to All You Magazine, there is a top ten lists of items needed to help you master getting organized.

  1. Maintain a calendar so you can keep track. http://Cozi.com has a great online family calendar.
  2. Make a list of priorities. Take 15 minute every evening to map out what has to happen the next day. This way, you to do list can turn into a done list.
  3. Practice makes perfect and you must practice a new routine to be for it to become part of your daily habit. Yes, this included bad eating, failure to exercise, putting off and feeling like a slug.
  4. When are you at your best? If you find that in the wee hours of the morning before every one arises is the sweetest time of the day, make this time your magic hours. If you need to stretch, read, pray, meditate or whatever you require to make your day start out right and stay on track.
  5. Reach out and touch someone….instead of calling, no answer, calling again, just leave a message already. Tell your intended conversationalist what you want, when you plan to call them back or when you will available. I even saw an app called http://lucyphone.com will dial you when the party you reach is available.
  6. Make a decision and stick with it. Research has shown that your first reaction is the one you should go with. Get rid of the self-doubt and uncertainty and trust yourself.
  7. Log off and stop multi-tasking. Multi-tasking is fake word created by fake people who believe they are accomplishing a great deal, when in fact, they are accomplishing very little. Check your email in the morning, the afternoon and evening. Turn off some of the feeds on your phone and keep on point.
  8. You can stay on point if you learn to say no. The world is not going to end if you can’t be there. Go ahead, practice with me, say no. That felt good didn’t it? Try it again; say it with me, “no.”
  9. Ask for help. You are not going to be fully appreciated for all the little things you do. Hell, you probably won’t be appreciated for the big things you do either, so share the load. Delegate and pass some of that stuff on to somebody else.
  10. Sit down. The world is not going to end if you take a bath, read a book with a cup of tea or take a nap on that couch that you are always vacuuming.

Here are some fabulous sites to help you get started on your newly organized life.

Manage your entire task with this website. http://www.rememberthemilk.com/

Capture anything and everything with http://www.evernote.com/about/home.php

Organize your grocery shopping and menus all in one place http://get.ziplist.com/

Count the calories and stay on track with you diet at http://loseit.com/

Or create new work habits with http://todoist.com/ or another similar site https://wedoist.com/

Are You Overstimulated?

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    In these modern times, you are accessible. You can be reached 24 hours a day,  7 days a week and there are very few minutes to breath. By the time you update your Facebook status, send out a few tweets, check your blog, your phone is ringing. If the phone is not ringing, then there is a text message. If not a text message, there is email notifications on your phone and some of us have gotten smart, and we have Tweetdeck. To be perfectly honest, I think we are all over stimulated.

    If you are wondering if you are over stimulated, here are some prime examples. I could not find my keys, and the last place I remember going was the fridge. True enough, my keys were in the fridge sitting on top of the plates that I had planned to put in the cupboard. Stop laughing, what was the last thing you remember actually finishing?

    Paul Hammerness and Megan Moore, a couple of Harvard Professors, wrote a  lovely book titled Organize Your Mind, Organize Your Life. These two brainiacs say that the occasional misplacing of your keys is the start of a distraction epidemic. Disorganization leads to distraction which leads to clutter, information overload, poor works habits and strained relationships. They apply the tip to just S.T.O.P. The acronym stands for step back, think, organize your thoughts, and proceed with what needs to be done.

    I would like to STOP, but I am too stimulated with stuff to take the step back. I want to think but I am too busy thinking about what I need to do. I am trying to organize my thoughts but my iPod keeps going off because Aida is trying to steal my Mayorship on Foursquare. GIJane has just commented on Facebook about the comment I made on her wall and Devron has just posted a comment on Funny Ass Picture of the Day and I have to keep up. Shut up, it is important. It is important to me. I need to know these things people!

    However, I plan to proceed to a place of happiness and of calm. I realize I am overstimulated because half of the time I cannot turn my brain off to sleep. Those smart asses at Harvard say that I would have less stress and more order in my life if I log off of Twitter, put down my iPod and pick up their book. I tell them to STOP. I don’t plan to over stimulate their wallets. So there Harvard doctors!

Read the Label!

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    As we head into the second week of the New Year, many are finding that the weight loss battle is really just beginning. The gyms are now over crowded with people who have no idea of what they are doing and coworkers are walking about with gallon jugs of water. All of the cleansing and sweat beds in the world will not wash away the poundage of bad food choices.

    Poor dietary habits are not only detrimental to the health of those who carry a few extra pounds; it can also be harmful for those who do not weigh enough. The BBC hosts a reality series of Supersize vs. Superskinny . This show contrasts the extreme relationships that people have with food. One of these shows showcased an 85 pound young lady who spent 3 hours in the grocery store, and no, she was not an extreme couponer. She was reading the labels on the food containers. Three hours in a grocery store just reading labels and she left the store with six items. Well, hell, I’d weigh 85 pounds too if I could be that discriminating. I then put it to the test, which things did I buy on a regular that I just did not bother to read the label.

    Starting at the top of my day, I looked at my cereal. My whole grain partner that boasts 51 grams of colon happy fiber filling was labeled at 160 calories without milk. Adding skim milk takes my whole grain goodness to 200 calories. Not bad to start, but I also have coffee in the morning and orange juice. I will do 2% milk because skim milk looks like white water and is gross. The 2% milk weighs in at 160 calories alone and I am suddenly feeling fat.

There are so many calories and so little time, and even though we each try to watch what we eat, it is the portions that can really throw you. I never measure out a cup of the cereal; I pour a good measure into the bowl. I stop when it looks like the bowl is overflowing and I feel like I am being greedy.

    The same concept applies to bag of chips. Even eating baked Ruffles, it is nice to know that the label says it is only 120 calories. Yes, only 120 calories for 10 chips. Who’s going to eat 10 when the company motto is “you can’t eat just one?” Or is that Lay’s? It doesn’t matter because I have never counted out and ate just 10 chips. But there is the rub; you have to read the label. Those labels will drive you nucking futty! I can now see why 85 Pound Lady she spent 3 hours in the store! I read the label on a boxed version of macaroni and cheese and nearly had an aneurism. I am not going to even discuss what I read because I don’t want you to panic. However, I was just thinking, if the caloric count is that high on the box, what is it when we make it at home from scratch and use four different cheeses? Again, I am feeling fat.

    I am going to play this smart and work my way into my weight loss plan. First, I will make sure I understand what fuel I am putting into my Über sexy vehicle. I am going to register on my calorie counter. Next, I am going to get a gallon jug like my coworkers and start pumping in some pure water. Last but not least, as discussed earlier, I am going to get out into my yard and work on making my backyard a haven.

This only leaves one label left to read. If I may be so trite with the perfect label and quote Fred, “Right”.

The 3 am Phone Call

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There are moments in a lifetime which leaves us truly speechless. There are minutes in a lifetime, than can take our breath away. Then there are the seconds in life which seem to stop time. Sometimes we can experience all of these moments simultaneously with the arrival of the 3 am phone call.

Our personal history dictates that the 3 am phone call could be the result of a drunken booty call, in which we can only hope the caller will not remember this embarrassing moment. As middle aged children, we hope and pray that it is not a relative or neighbor calling us about our parents. As parents we are prayerful that it is not the police calling about our child.

Over the weekend, the intensive labor of the birthing of the 2012 New Year, many parents saw their children heading out with friends to celebrate and be young. Some of us older partiers headed into the nighttime to join in the New Year festivities with friends. In the wee hours of the morning we saw the best in human nature and the worst, either in the bathroom worshipping the Porcelain Goddess or mangled in a scrap heap on the side of road. At 3 am on Friday night, my client received a 3 am phone call. On Monday, she was still reliving the fear from the seconds in which she felt her heart stop.

Her 3 am phone call was in fact the Richmond County Sheriff’s Department. At the sound of the officer’s identification, she immediately stopped breathing. When she heard her son’s name, she started to cry. When the officer told her that her son had been taken to jail, she started to scream. The remaining details were a blur.

As parents, this is one of our worst nightmares. Her son had been arrested for drunk driving. By all that is Holy, there was no accident, there were no causalities, and fate had been kind on this night. However, an ounce of prevention is always worth a pound of cure.

I began to think about my own son and his whereabouts on the dawning of the New Year. My husband and I have been very cautious with his flow into manhood. Although he is about to turn 21, he still has a 1 am curfew. I know it may sound silly in this day and age, but my personal history has dictated that the only exciting things that happen after 1 am are crime statistics. If you are safe and sound in your home and bed, you have just reduced your probability of becoming a statistical entry in the log book.

My heart goes out to any parent, child or former love that has ever received the 3 am call. It is in our nature to fear the worst. It is in our mental vaults that the call is bad news. We cannot seal a protective casing around our children just as parents did not seal one around us. What we can do is teach. Teach our children to be safe, use good judgment and to consider their futures. There are many who wish us well, but there are equally as many who wish us harm and sometimes, it is just for the benefit of their amusement or the joy in watching you fall. But more importantly, there is no worse feeling than a 3 am phone call, and seconds that it can age you with worry, fear and dread.