Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Upsides to the Down Economy/ Dare to Dream

Lay down for a while and let me probe your inner thoughts. No, I am not a therapist but you have an: instant shrink, entertainer and problem-solver right at your fingertips every day (or should I say night?) of your life. Like Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz, the power lies within you and that is the power of your dreams. It costs nothing to employ this remarkable ability to provide insight into the inner workings of your subconscious mind, but you do need to make some effort to remember your dreams.

For at least a couple years now, I have kept a little notebook by my bedside, so when I wake up I can record my dreams. Remembering your dreams starts even before you go to sleep. Follow these steps to help you get the most out of your sleeping hours.

1) Make a conscious decision to remember your dreams.

2) Put a pad and pencil within easy reach of your bed.

3) Try waking up gently (without an alarm), since sudden noises can jolt you out of your reverie.

When you awake, avoid changing positions when trying to remember your dreams. Talking to someone, turning on the TV, even standing up can cause the delicate memory of your dream to evaporate. Dreams can uncover subconscious worries, or point us in a direction in making a decision. While we've all had dreams where one person looks like someone else, or things didn't make any LOGICAL sense, the important factor is your own reaction to the person, place or thing. This is your show, you invented it and the best person to interpret it is you. When I am completely baffled by a dream, I sometimes turn to a friend (with an outside perspective) to give me some insight. There's also, The Dream Dr. on the internet to interpret symbols and meaning to your dreams. So what are you waiting for?
Dream...dream, dream, dream......

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Upsides to the Down Economy/ Second Hand Rose

Another "secret" store I frequent (but don't advertise) is the children's consignment store in my neighborhood. It's inevitable that children grow up and outgrow clothes, shoes, toys etc... and it's a pity that things you spent your hard earned money on, end up in the rubbish bin. Every couple months, I have the girls go through their drawers and closets and get rid of clothes they no longer want or have outgrown. Sometimes, it is an outfit a relative insisted on buying for them that they didn't really want and never wore. Ideally, this should take place four times a year (with the seasons), but before Christmas, before Easter and before school starts, works as well. Since there are three girls in our family, the youngest two get first dibs on the oldest one's clothes. If they don't want an item, I then evaluate it to see if it is consignment-store worthy. These items must be stain-free, hole-free, in perfect condition and seasonally correct. The store lets you know when they accept what kind of items- for example, right now they are taking Halloween and fall fashions. It's easy to sign up and consignors get half of the sale item's price. If the merchandise hasn't moved in a couple months, they donate it to charity. To me, this is a win-win proposition. Of course, there are also adult consignment shops if you are so inclined. Designer fashions in last year's seasons and classic items that never go out of style, are your best options. So, don't just let your old duds grow dust- clear them out and make some dough! But shhh.... it's our little secret!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Upsides to the Down Economy/ Feed the Ducks

Take a peek inside my bathroom cabinet or my freezer and you might think you're watching an episode of Hoarders. I hate throwing away perfectly good toilet paper rolls- I keep thinking one of the kids might need them for a craft project or we could make paper mache objects with them. As far as the freezer, that is old bread that is not fit for human consumption that I keep thinking I will feed the ducks that live in a park near our house, one day. Apparently one day is not good enough for my husband. After having a couple beers and dealing with an overstuffed freezer, he put all the bread out on the kitchen counter with a "FEED THE DUCKS" sign that I encountered the next morning. I have a hard time throwing things away and I hate wasting food, but I realize this may be a problem. First, there is the practical result that we have no room in our freezer and that when I open my cabinet door, empty toilet paper rolls fall on my head. Also, clutter is bad Feng Shui. The chi (energy) gets trapped in the clutter and is not able to function properly, thereby draining energy and overall quality of life. So, I need to finally FEED THE DUCKS and see if there are any art teachers or schools out there in need of a bunch of toilet paper rolls. I will feel better when I have cleared out my clutter. What about you?

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Upsides to the Down Economy/ 113 Days Left

Another thing that I drink everyday (didn't mean to imply I drink wine EVERY day) is coffee. Many of the coffee beans you buy are grown in countries where they don't regulate the use of chemicals and pesticides. It reminds me of when my kids were little and they were talking about applesauce and how it was filled with pesticides and little kids eat a lot of applesauce. If it's something you eat (or drink) every day, you probably want to look at it. Milk and meat were also on the dirty dozen list. Do you want to be ingesting organochlorine/organophosphorous or methyl carbanamate (pesticides found on coffee beans) every day- something you can't even pronounce? I started drinking Whole Foods organic coffee because it was delicious. I am still drinking it because it's a smart thing to do. Their store brand is called 365 and comes in different flavors; I prefer French Roast. Speaking of 365, there are only 113 days left in 2010. What are you gonna do with them?

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Upsides to the Down Economy/ The Dirty Dozen

I was at a football game the other day and we were sitting next to this guy who got drunk and became my husband's best friend. You know the type. Anyway, he's a lawyer in Miami but owns a vineyard in upstate New York and was telling us about his wines and how good they are, blah, blah, blah and how he's not quite organic, but almost and how other vineyards spray ALL kinds of pesticides on their grapes and he's convinced that's why everyone gets cancer these days. Well,... it got me to thinking about how that lovely glass of straw-colored liquid I love to sip might be more like a cup of poison these days, than the elixir of the gods in the past. I drink a fair share of wine (ahem), and that got me thinking about grapes, one step closer to the source. Imported grapes are at a much greater risk of contamination than domestic, since there's not as much regulation. Vineyards can be sprayed with different pesticides at different growth periods, and no amount of washing or peeling will eliminate the contamination. So, while I hate spending extra money on organics, some things (like your health) are more important than cold hard cash. Here is a list of the dirty dozen- the fruits and vegetables you should buy organic. They are chosen each year based on the number of pesticides used on them and how easily the chemicals penetrate the skin. I try to cut this list out and keep it in my purse as a reference when I shop for groceries.

2010 Dirty Dozen

1) Celery

2) Peaches

3) Strawberries

4) Apples

5) Blueberries

6) Nectarines

7) Bell Peppers

8) Spinach

9) Kale



12) Grapes

If you want one of these fruits or vegetables, but can't get organic because it's out of season, consider an alternative. As a bonus, fruits and vegetables are usually much tastier when bought in season. So, carry this list around with you and I will toast "Salute" to you and your health. With a glass of organic wine, of course!

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Upsides to the Down Economy/ Meet a Star

Have you ever gotten the feeling that you should just go someplace, or do something, even though you didn't know why? I had that feeling in 1992 when I went to Mass (even though it wasn't something I normally did) where I met a couple who'd just returned from spending 66 days stranded at sea on a sailboat. I interviewed them and that article turned into my first published article in Catholic Digest. Anyway, I had that feeling the other night; that I should go to this book signing for Carl Hiassen, a mystery writer and columnist for the Miami Herald. If you bought the book, the admission, which included wine and appetizers, was free. I went a little early and ended up talking to this couple in front of me. She's a cookbook author who has a column in the Miami Herald that I've been reading for years and he is the executive editor of the Miami Herald. After I googled him (to find out his official title), found out his brother is a movie director, and his nieces and nephews, Jake and Maggie Gyllenhall! Although that didn't come up in the conversation, we did know a lot people in common and had a nice chat about food, films and Miami. The food was from Whole Foods (shrimp, arepas, empanadas, cheese and fruit) and they also had Shiraz and Chardonnay to sip while waiting. Carl Hiassen ended up speaking an hour after schedule but, Dave Barry (another Herald columnist and funny guy) was
in the audience, taking photos with fans. It is always a treat to see him. I waited in line to get my book signed and went home feeling satisfied and wondering what fate has in store for me from this chance meeting. I know what this Labor Day weekend has in store for me: reading Star Island.