Anyone who knows me knows that I am frugal. Some even call it cheap.  OK, I’ll admit to that. I mean, seriously, who doesn’t want to save a buck when possible? So I’ve put together a handy-dandy list of ways to save money on your next camping (or other) trip. (more…)

I am feeling a tad overwhelmed!  As of last Monday, HK and I are making some MAJOR changes in our life!

Lately, HK has been increasingly frustrated with his life path, searching for more meaning and deciding what to do later on down the road. So we decided to watch the budget and begin making plans for an eventual career-break, somewhere between 2-5 years. Using the power of positive thinking, I had no doubt that this would, indeed, happen.

For the past several years, I have been keeping a dreamboard reflecting the things that I want out of life, long and short-term.  Most of it involves travel, relocation, growth and, of course, meeting Ellen DeGeneres (my idol). HK’s dreamboard is still in his head, but I am encouraging him to make it tangible.

SCREEEEEEEECHHH (that’s the sound of a stereo needle dragging across the record album).  After a week of deliberation and heart-to-hearts, what-if’s and why-not’s, HK formally resigned from his job at a Fortune 500 company where he has worked for many years.  This certainly wasn’t the immediate plan, but, well, life doesn’t always pan out the exact way we figure, does it?  So we’re fast-tracking our plans and furiously figuring out our next steps.  We have no schedule, no itinerary, no concrete obligations, and nothing really holding us back, so it just makes sense to move forward now.

Our goal in this journey of discovery is to figure out to how we want to live the rest of our life. We both agree that Atlanta is not our forever home. We want to live near a coast, but no further south than we already are. Mountains are important, as well. We’re not flat-landers. Actually, we’re not convinced that we need to stay in the US, although, with a family that includes 3 dogs, we will be limiting our upcoming adventures to places that are drivable. (This isn’t too far-fetched, as we drove our 2 dogs with us to live in Vancouver for a summer 2 years ago.)  Besides, they need to have a say in where “home” is gonna be!

When Zachary Scott  said “As you grow older, you’ll find the only things you regret are the things you didn’t do,”  he was speaking to me. As I’ve said before, hitting the 50 year mark was a turning point in my life.   I decided to let go of things that held me back and look forward to forging new paths in life.  Surely I’ll hesitate when I come to a difficult crossing,  but instead of turning back to the safety of the old and familiar, I’m going to hike up my britches give it my all.

What are your thoughts on living life to its fullest?  What’s holding you back from following your dreams? How can you make small steps to overcome those barriers and blaze your own trail? Please share. We all have a lot to learn form one another.

I have a friend who lately has been extremely frustrated at work.  He is in a high tech job and makes fair money, but his discontentment has pretty much consumed him for the last, say, year or so.

Every time we get together, he “reminds” me of how much he hates his job. “I hate my job”, has become his mantra. It is obvious not only to me and his wife, but to others around him, as well. The negative energy surrounds him like pigpen’s dust bunnies.

“So quit”, I tell him. Life’s too short to hate what you do, and I firmly believe that if you hate what you do, you have to, at least on some level, hate who you are.

“I’ve spent the last 30 years in this field, I don’t know what else I can do,” he counters.

So, every time I see him, nothing has changed.

Right after high school, I made up my mind that I would go into Clinical Social Work and heal the world. I loved it for the first several years, but quickly became disillusioned. It was time to make a change.  So I asked myself, self, what do you enjoy doing more than anything?  The answer to that was easy- travel!

So off I went, back to college in my mis 30’s, to get a degree in travel and tourism, which was my job for another good 10 years.

But I digress. My friend is still in the job he hates and the field he has lost interest in.  I’ve discussed this with a few of my enlightened friends, and we all agree that by holding and giving power to all that negative energy, you create a negative existence.  People have lots and lots of names for this – intention, manifestation, The Secret and The laws of attraction.

I’m not going to go all psycho-babble on you here, you can find out anything about all of these theories on the links above of online. I know that I am a believer in the power of positive thinking, and will push toward my goal with my dreamboard, meditation and just plain talking about it. It is proven that you bring into your life what you think about, positive or negative.

So have you ever come to a dead-end in an aspect of your life? If so, how did you handle it? Please share, I’d love to hear from you.

I normally don’t consider myself another “Heloise”, but I feel compelled to share something that my Mom emailed me today.  Mom and I love to turn each other on to advice, cooking tips, recipes, etc.  Sometimes they are not in the least bit useful for one or the other of us, but this is one I will definitely use.  It is actually a variety of ways to use aluminum foil, ideas that would have never crossed my otherwise genius mind  (wink wink).

Here it is! Enjoy and pass it on.  (unfortunately you’ll have to suffer through a 15 second commercial, but it’s worth it!)

5 tips for using aluminum foil

Happy Homemaking,


I am cheap. I will readily admit that to anyone.  I used to call myself frugal, but my friends laughed at me, so I fessed up.

In a past post, I introduced many of you to Groupon and the likes, and I was so excited to have the chance to share ways to save money. Fast forward a year and a half.  Still excited? Not so much.  Sure, there are some deals to be found (a month of bootcamp for $30, zipline tour for$60,  a painting class for $15), but man, I gotta tell ya, I have been burned on a couple of these “deals”.

For example, I got a Groupon for 50% off at an “upscale” hair salon in Buckhead (read-expensive) and got the absolute worst haircut/highlights of my life! Dude gave me a fucking MULLET!!! And the subtle highlights I asked for?  They turned out GREY!!!! And I don’t even have grey hair (yet). To add salt to the open wound, it still ended up costing me about $150-with the Groupon!!

Another nightmare was a deal 2 of my out-of-town girlfriends and I got for massages and facials at Soothe Massage Studio. (Read my Yelp review here) Endless broken appointments on their part-once no one showed up for my facial…and my girlfriends were denied their second service.   AARGH!

Twice we’ve been to local restaurants that either denied the Groupon of were out of business.

However, this week, my bud Jen and I went to Circus Arts Institute for an hour and a half “play date” on the trapese, tightwire, ropes, etc. It wasn’t nearly what I expected (flying through the air with the greatest of ease…), but nonetheless, it was a fun evening. We laughed at ourselves (and others behind their backs) and had a fun time taking pics of each other. It was a taste of their ongoing classes, and if I wasn’t already involved in hoopdance, bootcamp, volunteering at the library and 2 writers groups, I would consider joining.

All of this said, here is my suggestion for purchasing those deals that appear in your inbox every day. First, look the company up on yelp. com.  See what others have said. Then decide if the “deal” is something that won’t have lasting effects (such as a bad chiropractor, haircut, lazer surgery, botox–those could really screw you up!) Then weigh the $$ you are saving against whether it is something you would want to do in the first place.

I like Scoutmob‘s buy one get one deals, because most of them are free! And downloadable to your iphone. I get a lot of them, end up only using about 1/4 of them, but still, I end up being out no money.

How have you fared in the online coupon-ing deals? I’d love for you to share your stories, both good, bad and ugly!

Last night, 2 friends and I cashed in our Groupons for a fun night of painting at  Cocktails and Canvas . The deal was for $10.00 you get to paint the evening’s theme, providing your own adult beverage and snacks, they provide the canvas, paint and equipment.  The theme of last night’s class was “Sailboat at Sea”, and since Stef and I have joined a local sailing club with the dreams of one day sailing off into the wild blue yonder, we decided this was a great way to begin manifesting our future.

The instructor “guides” the class and basically students imitate what she is doing. We were given 4 quite bland colors-brown, black, white and blue.  What???? No yellow?? No Red???

Well, of course I would have none of that, so I solicited the help of the “brush washer” to find me some COLOR, dammit! Ahhhh!! much better!

Have a look at the 3 very different interpretations of one theme.

By the way– Do YOU Groupon??

Last night a couple of friends and I went to the first annual “Meet, Plan, Go” event at REI in Atlanta. These sessions were being held simultaneously in 13 cities around North America.  The intended purpose for MPG is to encourage people (especially Americans, who get notoriously little time off of work), to come together in a way that we can share ideas, experiences and questions on how to plan our own sabbatical. The hope and idea is that this will become a movement for change in the way we view and handle our work lives.

Travel was the focal point of the evening, and while not attempting to “sell” any specific travel destinations to the participants, a panel of several everyday-type folks shared their experiences of their own sabbaticals.  Sabbatical was  loosley defined as either a paid or unpaid strategic time away from the job.  Ranging from several weeks to a year or more, sabbaticals are a way to benefit the employer as much as the employee.  Employees, of course, benefit from time away to clarify goals and broaden their skills while the employer offering the sabbatical benefits from employee loyalty, increased innovation and renewed motivation.

Personally, I can attest that sabbaticals accomplish what they set out to do. When HK and I first moved to Atlanta, he went to work for a company that, after five years of continuous employment, gave him four weeks of paid sabbatical time in addition to his four week paid vacation.  In planning for this time off, we studied travel brochures (this was before the internet was used so widely in travel planning) and set aside money from each paycheck. When the time came, we combined the four weeks with two of his vacation weeks for a six week trip through New Zealand. The trip was a story in itself, but it whet our appetite to continue this lifestyle of renewal and rejuvenation from the daily grind.  (At the time, I was working part-time as a travel consultant, and was able to take that time away from my job).

Each city had different hosts, including  Atlanta’s, to Seattle’s Married with Luggage hosts, San Francisco’s Three Month Visa and Toronto’s Solo Traveler. Even though the host had various focuses, the overall message was the same-taking time off to experience new places will reap huge rewards in your life. As yourSabbatical quotes: Life holds a lot of possibilities. Make sure you’re available for them.

Have you ever taken an extended break from work? If so, what did you do? If not, what would you do? Does your company offer sabbaticals?

Meet Plan Go will be hosting a boot camp in January of 2011. They also plan to make MPG a yearly event to get momentum and enthusiasm for making your own career break. Check out their website for updates.

To quote Mark Twain:  “Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed in the things that you didn’t do than in thee ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. EXPLORE. DREAM. DISCOVER.”

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