Thursday, April 30, 2009

Hunting for bargains

What a week. Articles and deadlines and research and rehearsals and more rehearsals.

And I've also done a little online shopping this week, and thought I might point out a few of my favorite bargain places and alerts. With stores closing, I think I, along with many others, may need to look online in order to get our size or styles.

One blog that is fun and interesting if you like shoes is Barking Dog Shoes. I recently ordered a pair -- the Keen Madrid Mary Jane -- that I first read about on this blog -- I'll let you know if I like them when I get them. But it's a good way to see and learn about new styles.

An invaluable resource to find online not only what you're looking for, but also to see some of the deals those sites may have is The Find. You just type in your search term and it pops a window with all sorts of options, including one to find it locally if possible. I like that you can narrow the price with a sliding bar, or that you can see results by store too. I've used this to find everything from prayer flags to Crocs.

If you really like bargains and want to know when good deals come up, check out Deal News. You can specify exact search terms and get e-mails when good deals are found for, say, cookware, or cameras, or sheets, or shoes (my current fav). This site alerted me to a wonderful percentage off last weekend at Shoe Mall and I finally ordered the Keen Madrid MJ from them for significantly less than I could find them elsewhere, including Amazon.

I also get a newsletter from the same folks with daily deals called stylenotes. You can sign up for different newsletters here.

That's where I got my REAL bargain of the week: Mary Jane Crocs for $12.48 each with a promotion directly from Crocs. It was a buy two, get 50% off for various styles, and I learned about it it through stylenotes.

And then....

I did a Google search on " discount coupon" -- or you can use similar terms -- and found a code for FREE SHIPPING. So I have two pairs of these comfy sandals coming for a grand total of $24.98. Pretty good, hm? (That deal is only available for a limited time.)

By the way, any time you're ordering something online you should search for discount coupons. Many times you can find free shipping codes, sometimes with a percentage off as well. I don't have a favorite site for these: there are many, and they don't always have the same codes.

Both Endless and 6pm have regular deals and those alerts come through in Deal News alerts. I always check them first when I'm looking for a shoe, though. 6 pm is the outlet for Zappos, probably the premier online shoe store, and Endless is Amazon's store for shoes and handbags, although I always check Amazon too.

And one more "deal" newsletter or site is Fat Wallet. I get alerts from this site on specific products, but there are more deals to be had from it just by browsing through the site.

And then there are books! A while back I joined Goodreads, a site where you can review books you've read and learn about new ones your friends or others have enjoyed. They have a section where you can sign up to get new books free -- review copies or other giveaways, and I was notified this week that one is on its way to me! How cool is THAT!

I always prefer to shop locally when I can, especially the locally-owned stores downtown and elsewhere. We've had some lovely new additions this last year, and I hope they stick around for a long time.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Be careful what you sow

Every once in a while a story circulates on e-mail that bears forwarding or repeating. This is one of them that struck a chord with me this morning, especially since an encounter a couple of days ago with a particularly unpleasant, angry, abrasive, hypcritical person who was determined to firmly establish his vastly superior intelligence and training both to me and to a colleague.

I did not and will not respond in kind, because I know that when you wrestle with pigs, you get dirty and smelly and the pigs love it. And it is a no-win situation.

But this e-mail reminded me of my core beliefs: what you put into life is what you get out of it. (Incidentally, this blog gets many referrals because of people searching on that phrase: it is a recurring theme in these many posts.)

May you find what you seek today!

The Seed

A successful businessman was growing old and knew it was time to choose a successor to take over the business. Instead of choosing one of his Directors or his children, he decided to do something different. He called all the young executives in his company together.

He said, "It is time for me to step down and choose the next CEO. I have decided to choose one of you. I am going to give each one of you a SEED today - one very special SEED. I want you to plant the seed, water it, and come back here one year from today with what you have grown from the seed I have given you. I will then judge the plants that you bring, and the one I choose will be the next CEO."

One man, named Jim, like the others received a seed. He went home and excitedly told his wife the story. She helped him get a pot, soil and compost and he planted the seed. Every day, he would water it and watch to see if it had grown. After about three weeks, some of the other executives began to talk about their seeds and the plants that were beginning to grow.

Jim kept checking his seed, but nothing ever grew. Three weeks, four weeks, five weeks went by, still nothing. By now, others were talking about their plants, but Jim didn't have a plant and he felt like a failure.

Six months went by -- still nothing in Jim's pot. He just knew he had killed his seed. Everyone else had trees and tall plants, but he had nothing. Jim didn't say anything to his colleagues, however. He just kept watering and fertilizing the soil - he so wanted the seed to grow.

A year finally went by and all the young executives of the company brought their plants to the CEO for inspection. Jim told his wife that he wasn't going to take an empty pot.

But she asked him to be honest about what happened. Jim felt sick to his stomach: it was going to be the most embarrassing moment of his life, but he knew his wife was right.

He took his empty pot to the board room. When Jim arrived, he was amazed at the variety of plants grown by the other executives. They were beautiful -- in all shapes and sizes. Jim put his empty pot on the floor and many of his colleagues laughed, a few felt sorry for him!

When the CEO arrived, he surveyed the room and greeted his young executives.

Jim just tried to hide in the back. "My, what great plants, trees, and flowers you have grown," said the CEO. "Today one of you will be appointed the next CEO!"

When the CEO spotted Jim at the back of the room with his empty pot, he ordered the Financial Director to bring him to the front. Jim was terrified. He thought, "The CEO knows I'm a failure! Maybe he will have me fired!"

When Jim got to the front, the CEO asked him what had happened to his seed, so Jim told him the story.

The CEO asked everyone to sit down except Jim. He looked at Jim, and then announced to the young executives, "Behold your next Chief Executive Officer! His name is Jim!"

Jim couldn't believe it -- he couldn't even grow his seed.

"How could he be the new CEO?" the others said.

Then the CEO said, "One year ago today, I gave everyone in this room a seed. I told you to take the seed, plant it, water it, and bring it back to me today. But I gave you all boiled seeds;
they were dead - it was not possible for them to grow.

All of you, except Jim, have brought me trees and plants and flowers. When you found that the seed would not grow, you substituted another seed for the one I gave you. Jim was the only one with the courage and honesty to bring me a pot with my seed in it. Therefore, he is the one who will be the new Chief Executive Officer!"

* If you plant honesty, you will reap trust

* If you plant goodness, you will reap friends

* If you plant humility, you will reap greatness

* If you plant perseverance, you will reap contentment

* If you plant consideration, you will reap perspective

* If you plant hard work, you will reap success

* If you plant forgiveness, you will reap reconciliation

* If you plant faith in God, you will reap a harvest

So, be careful what you plant now; it will determine what you will reap later. Whatever you give to life, life gives you back.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Never, ever give up

Here's a video of a 47-year-old British woman who absolutely wowed the audience on "Britain's Got Talent."

What this says to me is "never give up." As we're fond of saying about our girls, "God's not done with them yet." Same could be said of us.

In one of the blogs I read regularly, Getting Past Your Past, the author has often told her readers "Don't give up the day before the miracle happens."

Some days it is hard to get out of bed, isn't it, much less to continue to shovel sh*t against the tide (one of my ex's favorite sayings). It's hard, sometimes, to just get 'er done, to clean what needs cleaning, to do what needs doing, to keep washing the dishes and the clothes and dusting and picking up and cooking. The routine stuff that keeps things in order, running as they should.

I don't know about you, but I've had months like that, I think, where it's one day, one step at a time, without much break in that grind.

We take a lot for granted -- those of us who have our own homes, with clean water and abundant power and enough to eat, and a warm place to sleep out of the cold and rain, or the heat and bugs. So I try to give thanks for those things, every day, because it is astounding to realize that there are many, many people, even in our own town, who do not have these things on a regular basis.

I consciously try to find the joy in every day, to find gratitude in even the most humble tasks. To live right now, in this moment, instead of waiting for the day when the stars will align and the big break will come and I'll win the lottery and my book will become a best seller. (Nevermind that I haven't written it yet...)

That's the point. That's the lesson in Susan Boyle's performance, I think.

She did not give up before her miracle happened. She took a huge risk to get on this show, to realize her dream. Life will never be the same for her, regardless of where her performance takes her.

So I can start again now to do what needs doing, but also to make time for dreams and work on making them happen. It won't happen at all if I don't keep it always in my sight and do something to move it forward every day, even a little bit. God is not done with me yet.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Catching up

Did you know that more than 50,000 landline phone customers lost service on Thursday in parts of the SF Bay Area? AND cell phones. AND Internet. More here....

Sounds like we need Jack Bauer, Tony says. The news article says it was not terrorism and wasn't disgruntled union members, but it sure sounds like the perps knew what they were doing. A little disconcerting, I'd say.


We finally got two burn piles taken care of today -- one big one that's had brush and branches and old wood heaped on it for at least three years, and a smaller one with garden debris. Beautiful sunny day after some nice rain the last couple of days. The garden isn't planted yet, but I've tilled deep and dug up all sizes of rocks. I swear this soil grows 'em. I rake out and pick out hundreds both spring and fall every year, but the tiller just pulls up more.

I'll plant early this next week -- lettuce, spinach, chard, maybe even peas, although I'm a little late for that -- but I'm not putting in tomatoes yet. Everything I read tells me that 'maters like warm soil, and that ones put in May 15 will soon catch up to those put in two or more weeks earlier. I'm also going to refresh my pots -- I think one of rosemary has seen better days, the lavender is not looking good, and I need some new herbs too. It'll be trips to Walmart and Home Depot for me this week.

I'll have some extra time on my hands too, since one of my regular freelance gigs is coming to an end with tomorrow's paper. That was a story every week, at least, plus photos, sometimes more. I will miss doing all those interviews, though -- I met some interesting people and learned about so many new things.

But I'm thinking about doing some selling on eBay -- stuff we have, but also looking at doing some bargain hunting and reselling, or maybe some consignments. Maybe not quite as steady an income, at least at first, but I know people make money doing it. And I do like shopping for bargains!


I'm also driving to Redding five days a week for rehearsals! I'm going to play Clairee in "Steel Magnolias," at the Riverfront Playhouse. It opens May 23 and closes June 20, with performances Fridays, Saturdays and Sunday matinees.

This is the third time I've been in the play -- once as M'Lynn, the mother; once as Ouiser, the rather crotchety millionaire; and this time as Clairee, the 'grand dame' of the town and somewhat more elegant. I like her, although I'm still working on how to play her, and trying to recall all the Southern women I knew in Birmingham, especially some of the ones who were in my book club there -- they were "old money," many of them, and lived in the ritzy area of town, and we often met at country clubs. It was fun, they were very interesting women, and it certainly was a social sphere I wasn't in.

But the play celebrates women's friendships, and I love it. I like the movie too, but the play is better. I'm excited about being in it, and also excited that my daughter R is playing Truvy, the hairdresser! She's a little young for the part, but the director liked her, and I'm very pleased to be in another play with her. We did a few things together when I lived in Birmingham. She hasn't been in a play for maybe 10 years -- her job in Alabama was not conducive to other activities -- and while I did The Vagina Monologues just a few months ago, it's been a while since I was either.


It's Easter weekend, so I always think about lots of church services and Easter dinners -- good memories. One year my friend Julie hosted dinner, and I brought stuff too, but for dessert she had made a bunny cake using a mold, with the whole bunny, not just the face. It was frosted and sprinkled with coconut, on a bed of green coconut grass with other little candy eggs and maybe even some flowers, but at the rear end, she had placed little black jelly beans. We laughed until we cried, and even now, some 20 years later, we always talk about it.

Blessings of rebirth, renewal, and spring to all of you. It is always a miracle to witness.

Monday, April 06, 2009

Sheer joy

For a quick pick-me-up, see this video on Youtube. I've seen a couple of others staged in other public places, but this one made me puddle a little just for the sheer joy of it. Probably just my mood this morning.

More later.