Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Frugal Dining

Did you know you can go out to eat and still save money?  For a lot of people, dining out is a luxury...I'm one of them.  But I've found a couple of ways to save enough money that I can enjoy a meal out and not stress about what it's doing to my budget.

1.  Find your favorite restaurants' websites.  Many of them offer email clubs you can join.  With that membership, you'll frequently receive coupons for buy one, get one free entrees.  You'll also receive coupons for free appetizers or desserts and usually a free offer for your birthday.

2.  "Like" your favorites on Facebook.  In addition to the free coupons listed in number 1, the fan pages will often run giveaways or instant win games for gift cards, free food, etc.  In addition, you'll be the first to know about new menu items and special promotions.

3.  "Follow" your favorites on Twitter.  As listed in numbers 1 and 2, the same deals are sent out in tweets to followers.  At times, Twitter will be the only place to score the deal as they run Twitter only promotions. Subway does that exact thing on a regular basis.

Most of these offers won't get you a 100 percent free meal.  But when you only have to pay for one entree rather than two, it does move a dinner out from the "not going to happen" category to the "we can afford this" category.  Everybody deserves a treat or a night off duty in the kitchen.  These are ways you can have that without the guilt!!

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Why I Do It

I get asked frequently why I enter things on blogs, Facebook, Twitter, etc.  Let me explain.

I haven't paid for shampoo or conditioner in over a year.  Add to that list deodorant, razors, and books.  We're not talking sample size here...we're talking full size products.  I've scored an Apple TV, a gemstone bracelet, free food, free dog snacks, and free clothes.  I've attended more concerts than I can count, eaten free entrees at numerous restaurants, and gone to see free movies.  A lot of events I've been able to share with friends and that is priceless.

In this economy, every saved penny counts.  So for the price of a couple hours a day of my time, I can make an impact on the family budget.  I usually spend less than two hours a day "hunting" online but every free product I get is less money that has to come out of our pockets.  The concerts, dinners, and movies?  Those are treats we wouldn't even consider if they weren't free.

I've seen the people on TV who make thousands of dollars a year winning sweepstakes, etc.  I'm not that extreme.  I will occasionally take more time and do a "push" and enter a large number at once.  I did just that this past Saturday in hopes of scoring some Christmas gifts.  In general, I am more than happy with what I do get.  Like I said, every free thing that comes through the door is money saved.

Now you know why I do it.  I'm blessed to be one of those "lucky" people who win things.  My secret?  I enter!!!  There's no reason why anyone can't do the same!!

Good luck and happy hunting!!!


Monday, November 28, 2011

I'm Starved!!

I'm starved!!  Time starved that is.  As Christmas rapidly approaches, I feel the yearly panic set in of too much to do and too little time.

Did they change the date of Christmas?  No...same time every year.  And every year I seem to lose time and it's here before I know it.  It's my own fault and at my age I should and do know better.  There are numerous projects I could have started months ago and didn't.  Now, they'll be crammed in to an already busy day or shelved for the year altogether.

Here is my Christmas wish for this year.  That next year I'll do better.  That I will plan rather than procrastinate.  That I will spread it out over the year and not wake up Thanksgiving morning in terror!

Ok...at least those are my intentions!!  Check back with me at the end of November 2012 and see how I did!!


And those are my random thoughts this morning...

Saturday, November 26, 2011

A Frugal Meal

Tamale Pie

Ingredients:

1 1/2 lbs ground beef
1 jar salsa
1 can green chilies
2 cups pepper jack or Mexican blend cheese, shredded, divided
2 boxes cornbread mix
1 can refried beans
1 can whole kernel corn, drained

Directions:

In a bowl, prepare cornbread according to the package directions and add 1/2 can of corn.  Set aside.  In a skillet, brown the ground beef and drain.  In a large bowl, combine browned ground beef, salsa, chilies, remaining corn, and 1 cup of the cheese.  In a 13x9 pan (well greased), spread the refried beans.  Top with meat mixture and sprinkle with remaining cheese.  Top with prepared cornbread mixture.  Bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes and cornbread topping is lightly browned.

Enjoy!!

Friday, November 25, 2011

A Black Friday Reminder

Today is Black Friday, the busiest shopping day of the year.  But before you head out the door, a gentle reminder.

The season isn't all about the gifts.  The excess of today is not worth the stress of figuring out how to pay the piper later.  What is under the tree does not measure how much you love someone or the gift recipient's love for you.

That being said, I know the deals are hard to resist!  On both today and Cyber Monday, the temptation is certainly real and tangible.  Will I fall?  Probably!!  But in this economy I will be a much harder sell.  Retailers will have to work and work hard to get my money this year.

So go forth and shop!!  Just remember what January will feel like when the bills start to arrive!

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Thanksgiving Day

This morning, I am participating in Thundercloud Subs Turkey Trot in Austin.  It's the 21st year for the Turkey Trot and my third year running.

The Turkey Trot benefits Caritas of Austin.  Caritas is an agency that provides rent, food, and utility assistance for low income people in Austin.

This race is my way of honoring Thanksgiving.  Helping those less fortunate, even in a small way, is the best way I can think of to give thanks.

As you gather today with loved ones, give thanks for your blessings and send up an extra prayer for those in need this holiday season.

Happy Thanksgiving, everybody!!

Love,
Jerri

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Thank You

As we look forward to Thanksgiving Day tomorrow, I wish to offer all of you my thanks.

I appreciate each and every one of my readers on this blog.  All of you who like my Facebook Fan Page.  All of you who follow me on Twitter.  All of you who follow my blog.  I am grateful that you spend just a bit of your day with me and that you've joined me on this journey.

I wish you all a stress-free, loving, laughter filled, and blessed Thanksgiving Day!

Love,
Jerri


Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Product Review: Snuggle

Recently I received a sample of Snuggle Exhilarations White Lilac and Spring Flowers.

Wow!!  Not only does it do a wonderful job of softening...this is a great scent!  And I'm talking a scent so good that even Hubby commented on how good the sheets smelled.  And that's saying something!!

Snuggle is currently running a sweepstakes on Facebook where the grand prize is a new washer and dryer!  Like Snuggle and enter here:  https://www.facebook.com/Snuggle?sk=app_281976548503599

And the next time you're at the grocery store, pick up some Snuggle Exhilarations...you'll love the scent and how soft your laundry is!!


Disclaimer:  I received a free sample of Snuggle Exhilarations White Lilac and Spring Flowers as a member of smiley360.  All opinions stated above are strictly my own.

Monday, November 21, 2011

My Friend List

I was looking at my friend list on Facebook the other day and realized I am incredibly blessed.  I have a large number of friends that I have known for over 30 years.  I'm not referring to those friends such as my mom...because obviously she's known me the longest!

I am referring to the friends with whom I went to grade school.  Yes, grade school.  We're still alive and kicking!!  I attended a Lutheran grade school with an 8th grade graduating class of all of 17 kids!  I actually play Words with Friends on a daily basis with one of my classmates.

I am referring to the friends with whom I went to high school.  A small town high school, I was fortunate last year to attend my 30 year reunion and reconnect with friends.  As I now live in Texas, it was a treat to return to Wisconsin!

I am referring to the friends with whom I served in the Air Force.  I entered the Air Force at age 17 and the experience played a huge role in shaping who I have become.  I count these friends as some of the best friends I have ever had or will have in my life.

And by no means am I discounting more recent friends.  Former co-workers who bring laughter to my life on a daily basis.  Bloggers I've admired who've moved beyond co-bloggers to personal friends.  People I've met through mutual friends who have become near and dear to my heart.

If you're feeling a little down...look around.  Look at your profile on Facebook, Google Plus, BlogHer, The BlogFrog, LinkedIn, MySpace.  Every friend is a blessing.

And those are my random thoughts this morning...


Saturday, November 19, 2011

A Family Favorite

Porcupines

Ingredients:

1 lb ground beef
1/2 cup uncooked rice
1/4 cup finely chopped onion
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1 egg
2 cans tomato sauce (8 oz)
1 cup water

Directions:

Combine ground beef, rice, onion, salt, pepper, and egg.  Shape into meatballs, approximately 10 to 15.  In a skillet, bring the tomato sauce and water to a boil.  Add meatballs and cover.  Reduce heat and simmer for about an hour.

Enjoy!!

Friday, November 18, 2011

A Necessary Splurge

I do a lot of posts on being frugal.  I enjoy finding the best deal I can on almost everything.  But there are some things that are necessary splurges.  Allow me to explain...

I frequently purchase fresh flowers.  I enjoy having them in my home.  Seeing them nurtures my soul and brings me a sense of calm and peace.


This bouquet is currently on my dining room table.  (The pink rose is my survivor rose I received after crossing the finish line at the Race for the Cure.)  The bouquet was not expensive.  In fact, it's two $4 bouquets combined in one vase.  A total of $8 that is now lasting into it's second week.  Not a huge splurge except in terms of the enjoyment it has brought me.

Being frugal does not equal deprivation.  Whether it is fresh flowers, a new book, or a movie ticket...the things that feed our hearts and soul are just as necessary as the food on our table.  For $10 dollars or less, is there really a better value?

And those are my random thoughts this morning...

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Product Review: Coy Clothes

I'm in love!!  Ok, it's with an article of clothing...but it's still love!!!  And you'll fall in love too with Coy Clothes!!

This has to be the softest, most comfortable shirt I have ever owned in my entire life!!  Seriously...I could live in it.




The fit is incredible and it is so so so soft!!  Did I mention it's soft?  The quality of the workmanship is outstanding.  It has held it's shape through multiple wearings and washings.  The shirt is constructed from rayon made from bamboo (who knew rayon could come from bamboo?) and organic cotton.  So in addition to how good it feels to wear it, you feel good about what you're wearing!!

Now a confession.  Just so you know what a complete and total blonde I am...I owned and wore this shirt for MONTHS before I ever noticed this tag near the neckline on the back!  I love it!!

In addition to the quality of the shirt, I love the sense of humor that goes in to each design.  Speaking of which...here is the shirt I'm planning on adding to my closet:

Check out Coy Clothes at the website and give them a like on the Facebook Fan Page!  I know you'll be happy you did!!

Disclaimer:  I received my shirt after winning it on another blog's giveaway.  All opinions expressed are solely my own including the resulting addiction!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

An Ipad An Hour!!

Have you hear of ZAGG?  ZAGG is an online retailer for gadget accessories.  Back in 2010, they began an addictive giveaway of an iPad a week.  I literally became obsessed with entering every day by every means! Then...this past February, they started a giveaway of an iPad a day!  And I went for it!!  Now they have outdone themselves!!

Starting at midnight (MST) on November 25th, ZAGG will be giving away an iPad an hour!!  Yes, I said an hour!!  It will last for 24 hours so that's 24 iPads available to be won!!

All you have to do to enter is enter your email address here.  For additional entries, you can also share the giveaway on Facebook and Twitter.  Trust me, I'll be doing all three!!!

While you're at ZAGG, be sure to check out their great accessories!!  And just to be sure you have it, here's the link again to enter:  http://www.zagg.com/community/contest.php

Good luck, everybody!!


Disclaimer:  This blog post was written and submitted to ZAGG for an extra entry every hour.  All opinions stated are strictly my own.

The Kindle Library

When I first heard Kindle was adding a lending library, I was thrilled!!  After using the library, I'm still happy...but a long way from thrilled.

First, you must be a member of Amazon Prime to access the library.  Personally, not an issue as I've been a member of Prime for a long time.  Other Kindle users, however, may not be willing to pay the yearly fee of $79.  For me, a huge portion of my online shopping is through Amazon so I recoup the fee in free shipping.  If the only reason you use Amazon is for your Kindle, it may not be worth the cost.

Second, you are only allowed to borrow one book from the library per month.  One book!!!  I am an avaricious reader and can finish a best seller in 24 hours.  So I have to wait another 29 days before I can borrow another book.  On this point, I would have to call this a major fail.

A suggestion from this humble Kindle addict?  Instead of the standard "remove from device" option which sends books to your archive, replace it with a "Return Borrowed Book".  Once the book has been returned, your access to it would be removed and you would be free to borrow another book.

But the bottom line?  Free is free.  And you won't get too many complaints from me when it comes to free!  I'll continue to borrow my one book a month until I make my way through the entire library.

Have you borrowed from the Kindle library yet?

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Homemade Christmas

Along with millions of other, Christmas will be a tad tight around our nest this year.  I've been digging through my craft supplies and recipes for ideas for gifts.

I've given homemade gifts in the past and have always felt guilty about doing so.  I hate that I can't always afford the latest and greatest for my friends and family.  And I've also received my share of verbal smackdowns for feeling that way!!

What I've learned?  When you give a homemade gift, you are also giving yourself.  You are telling the recipient "Here is my time.  Here is my talent.  Here is my love."  That is the true gift you are giving, regardless of the value.

I've resolved this year that there will be no guilt and no apologies.  Whatever the gift I give, it is presented with all my love and the meaning of the holiday.  Now I better get my butt to work!!!

And those are my random thoughts this morning...

Monday, November 14, 2011

I've Arrived.

As a blogger, I feel as if I've officially arrived.  What do I mean?  Well, I've had blog posts and what I've written twisted, used by other people for their own agenda, and used as an emotional weapon against both myself and others.

I've made it clear from the beginning of this blog that what I write is about my life, my experiences, and my adventures as an empty-nester.  But there remain people who are convinced that my words are aimed at, directed at, inspired by, and written about them.  Can I convince them otherwise?  Probably not.  The factors that convince them of their belief are the same ones that will negate any effort on my part.  The insecurities, the fear, and even the hate that they assign to my words comes from within them and not my words.

I've learned not to take it personally.  Like my children leaving my now empty nest, once my words are out there...they are no longer solely my own.  As with children, when they leave the nest you have hopes for what they will become.  And as with children again, they take routes not only unseen but sometimes dangerous.  This was a difficult lesson to learn.  It means giving up control over something that means a tremendous deal and realizing that all I can do now is sit back, watch, and pray.

With that lesson learned, there are also rewards.  I know I've made my readers laugh and I've made some cry. I've touched hearts and funny bones.  Is there evil along with the good?  Yes, it has appeared.  But that still means I reached something inside of someone.  How they choose to handle that touch is on them, not me.  And I'm ok with that.  It wasn't an easy journey to get to that point and sometimes it still stings.  I'm learning to handle it.

So with the same love I sent with my children as they left the nest...I send these words out into cyberspace.

Love,
Jerri

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Austin's Race for the Cure

Today is the Race for the Cure in Austin.  As I drag these old bones out of bed, my heart is full for the beautiful, strong women I am walking for.

So on this Sunday morning, turn to the precious woman in your life.  Give her a big hug from me and send up a quick prayer that this old broad finishes the race!


Saturday, November 12, 2011

For Two

Praline Ham

Ingredients:

2 (1/2 inch thick) ham slices, cooked.
1/2 cup maple syrup
3 Tbsp brown sugar
1 Tbsp butter
1/3 cup chopped pecans

Directions:

Heat ham slices in a shallow pan for 10 minutes at 325 degrees.  Bring syrup, sugar, and butter to a boil in a small saucepan.  Stir often.  Stir pecans into syrup mixture.  Spoon mixture over ham.  Warm in oven for an additional 20 minutes.

Enjoy!!

Friday, November 11, 2011

Veterans' Day 2011

A veteran is someone who, at one point in his life, wrote a check made payable to "The
 United States of America" for an amount of "up to and including my life".




To my fellow veterans, a heartfelt thank you for your service.









And to my friends and family still on active duty:  


From one who wore the uniform then, a salute to those who wear it now.




Thursday, November 10, 2011

For Wonderful Women

On this upcoming Sunday, I will be participating in the Austin Race for the Cure.  I'm participating not only as a survivor but for those I've lost and those who've fought and won.

To my best friend Judy:  I miss you each and every day.  I hate that this disease took you away from me.  I still pick up things while I'm shopping, thinking how much you would love it...only to realize I have no one to buy it for and put it back on the shelf.  I wear the dress you made me and feel your love all around me.  I know you're watching over me and I only hope I make you proud.

To Jessie, Janet, and Tracey:  You are all incredible women.  Your strength is an inspiration to all.  I, and all who know you, are blessed to have you in our lives.  Whether as wives, mothers, sisters, friends...you are the best of that precious thing...a survivor.  You are beautiful and I am honored and proud to wear your names on my tag as I walk on Sunday.

With love in my heart, I walk for all the wonderful women.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Refreshingly Polite

This morning I had an appointment downtown.  For my own sanity, I took the bus rather than brave the horrible traffic.  And I was lucky enough to witness a heartwarming event.

As I climbed the bus steps, I bade the driver "Good Morning!".  I was appreciative of the fact I didn't need to drive!  But as I took my seat and enjoyed the ride, I noticed something.  Every single person getting on the bus this morning told the driver good morning.  And every single one said "Thank you" as they exited at their stop.

Now, it seems like just a little thing, but it's one of those little things that really count.  We get so busy and so caught up in our fast-paced lives that the simplest of courtesies fall by the wayside.  To hear so many people observe that courtesy on just a regular Wednesday morning did my heart and soul a world of good.

So many today lament the fate of humanity.  But doesn't what happened this morning say that there is still so much good in the world.  Just a few simple words can remind you that people still care enough to say "Thank you".

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Is It Still Monday??

Seriously...is it still Monday?  I've been running around all day and feel like I'm not gaining an inch of ground!  I can't use the kids as an excuse...my nest is empty!  Even the dogs are asleep, so I can't blame them either.

I guess part of my problem today is that I left some things I needed to do until the last minute.  I'm really good at that!  Part is that new things have appeared that I wasn't expecting.  Like the hubby telling me he needs my old laptop set up for him because he needs to take it to training next week.  Training?  What training?  Oh, I know...that training he THINKS he told me about!

At least I got all my running around done this morning before the rain hit.  Yes, it's actually raining in Austin!!  Not a lot, but every drop that falls is a gift!  The rain does make for a perfect time to get some things done in my "office".

So enjoy your day, everybody!  It's back to the salt mines for this girl!!

Love,
Jerri

Monday, November 7, 2011

Product Review: Pam Cooking Spray

I recently received a promo kit to test Pam cooking spray.  As I have to cook dinner anyways, it wasn't that hard to enjoy this product review!

As part of the review, I received the items in the picture above free of charge.  They included the Pyrex baking dish, spatula, coupon for a free can of Pam, and a coupon for a free can of Hunt's tomatoes.  The package also contained a recipe pamphlet and I chose King Ranch Chicken to make for dinner last night.



Before assembling, I sprayed the baking dish with Pam olive oil spray.  I'm "trying" to be healther so that's why I chose the olive oil option.  Above you'll see the Pam I chose and the assembled King Ranch Chicken ready to go in the oven!  And now after baking...


And look!!  Nothing stuck!!!

The pan cleaned up beautifully!!  Now I've tried the store brand sprays and did not get anywhere near the great results I got with Pam!  You can click here for a coupon off your next can: Pam .

And here is the recipe I used for the King Ranch Chicken.  I did make some substitutions and those are in parentheses behind the ingredients.

King Ranch Chicken:

Ingredients:

Pam Original No-Stick Cooking Spray (I used Olive Oil)
1/4 cup Fleischmann's Original-stick (I used butter)
1/2 cup chopped green bell pepper (I skipped...Hubby hates them!)
1/2 cup chopped yellow onion
1 can (10 3/4 oz) condensed cream of chicken soup
1 can (10 3/4 oz) condensed cream of mushroom soup
1 can (10 oz) RoTel Original Diced Tomatoes & Green Chilies, undrained (I used Hunt's)
2 cups chopped cooked chicken breast (I used 3 cups, more meaty!)
12 corn tortillas (6 inch), torn into bite-size pieces
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese (I used Mexican blend)

Directions:

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.  Spray 13x9 baking dish with cooking spray and set aside.

Melt Fleischmann's in large saucepan over medium heat.  Add bell pepper and onion; cook and stir about 5 minutes or until tender.  Stir in both soups, undrained tomatoes, and chicken.

Layer one-third each of tortillas, chicken mixture, and cheese evenly in dish.  Repeat layers twice more.  Bake uncovered for 40 minutes or until hot and bubbly.

Enjoy!!!

Disclaimer:  I received these free products to review as a member of Smiley360.  The opinions above are strictly my own.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Fall Back!!

Did you remember to turn back your clocks?  And did you remember to change the batteries in your smoke detectors?  An additional hint:  I also change the battery backups in the alarm clocks too!!

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Perfect for a Fall Snack!

Molasses Cookies

Ingredients:

1 cup baking mix
1/3 cup molasses
1/4 cup packed dark brown sugar
1 egg
1 Tbsp confectioners' sugar

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.  Spray 2 cookie sheets with cooking spray and set aside.  Combine the first four ingredients in a medium bowl and mix well.  Drop by rounded teaspoonfuls on to the cookie sheets.  Bake for 4 minutes or until the bottoms are lightly golden brown.  Sprinkle sugar over the cookies.

Yield:  2 dozen

Friday, November 4, 2011

It's Almost Time

As I type, I'm watching my black lab Max.  He's getting up in years and I know his time is running short.  At almost 14, he's had a good life after starting out as a rescue.  He's fat and happy and spoiled rotten.

But last night, he had a rough night.  Lots of whimpering in his sleep and a few trips outside.  No longer can he wait all night like he once did.  I'm not sure if the whimpering was from pain or dreams but I'm really hoping beyond hope that it was all dreams.  His eyesight has begun to fade and you can see it takes him a few seconds longer to focus.  His hearing?  Well, he's a male after all.  That's always been selective.

But there are still flashes of the old Max.  I have a loveseat in my office and he has no problem jumping up on it to sleep.  Yes, that's one rule that has fallen by the wayside as he's aged.  The furniture is no longer off limits to him.  His comfort now comes before keeping the furniture immaculate.  A lot of the hair he sheds now is white along with the black.  He can shed all over for all I care...he's earned it with a long life of devotion.

The thought of losing him breaks my heart but I know the time is approaching when I will have to make that horrible decision.  Until then, Max can do whatever he wants, wherever he wants.  I'll make sure his remaining time is as happy as I can make it.


Thursday, November 3, 2011

This New Economy

Quite a few of my friends refer to me as the Queen of Cheap.  By necessity and now habit, I hate to pay retail for anything and prefer free!!  In our current economy, the tips and tricks I've learned over the years are most definitely coming in handy.  So over the next few weeks, I'll share some of the lessons I've learned.  Please feel free to add tips of your own...I'm always willing and eager to learn more!!

1.  Get a crockpot!!  Even the cheapest cut of meat will be delicious after 8-10 hours in a crockpot with your favorite gravy/seasonings.  Bonus tip:  Most crockpots have removable inserts.  Assemble your meal the night before and keep in the fridge.  Plug it in in the morning and dinner will be ready when you get home from work!

2.  Use coupons!!  Now I'm not one of those extreme couponers like on TV.  I normally save about 10 to 20 percent a week.  But coupons are basically manufacturers saying "Here's free money!".  Wouldn't you prefer to keep that $20 in your pocket?  Bonus tip:  There are numerous bloggers who post store match-ups each week matching your particular grocery store's weekly ad with available coupons.  That will save you even more!

3.  Check for reduced meat!!  Most meat sections in major grocery stores have reduced meat that is approaching the sell by date.  In most instances, it can be reduced 50% or more.  There is nothing wrong with this meat as long as you use it day of purchase or IMMEDIATELY freeze it.  Bonus tip:  Before freezing, separate large packages in to the serving size you'll need upon thawing.  You want it to remain frozen until you need it!

4.  Use store brands!!  For canned goods in particular, these are a great bargain, sometimes 30-40% less than name brand.  Those savings then make up for those items you absolutely refuse to do without the name brand.  Bonus tip:  Store brands are perfect for those items that are used in cooking something else...soups, vegetables, etc.

5.  Watch for in-store sales!!  These are unadvertised items that the store has on sale or has coupons displayed on the shelf.  These frequently include buy one item, get another free.  Free is good!!  Bonus tip:  If these are not products you would normally buy...don't get drawn in by free or discounted!!  Spending money on something you can't use isn't saving!!

Have a great day, everybody!!

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

TBR

Before the advent of e-readers, most people's TBR (To Be Read) consisted of a precariously stacked mix of hardback and paperback books on the nightstand.  At the high end, we're talking maybe 10 to 20 books.  I know my own TBR frequently crashed to the floor when it got out of control.

With my Nook and my Kindle?  My TBR is currently over 3000!!  Not all are full length novels, some are short stories, essays, and novellas.  I'm a fan of almost every genre...reading everything from Anna Karenina to the latest zombie book.  If I had to pick a favorite...definitely psychological thrillers.  But I don't turn down a book!  And with all the different ways to get free e-books, I download around a hundred items a week!

Let me be honest, though.  Some of them I can't read all the way through.  The publishing world has changed.  Anyone can now self-publish to Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or Smashwords.  No longer does a novel have to survive the gauntlet of obtaining an agent, finding a publisher, withstanding editing, and actually making it to the sales floor of a bookstore.  And some of the books I've downloaded would never have made it.  As much as I love to read, there are those books out there that I just can't make it through.  Whether due to grammar so awful I cringe or plot lines so convoluted as to be incomprehensible...there are books I delete after just a chapter or two.  I hate to do it but the saving grace is that I remember they were free.  It's only about one in twenty that actually bite the dust.  Thank God I didn't have to pay for them!

As winter approaches, I'm looking forward to curling up in a blanket in front of a fire and reading to my heart's content.  Revisiting old favorites like Jane Eyre and Treasure Island.  Discovering new authors like Darian Wilk and C. L. Bevill.  Losing myself in other worlds, other times, other lives.

What's on your TBR?


Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Letting Go

Do you find yourself stuck in the past?  Whether reliving the glory days or trapped by long distant trauma, the past can have a powerful grip.

For many, the past is seen through a rose colored filter.  The adventures of youth, the joys of childhood, or the memories of when our children were young can be engrossing.  Conversations frequently reference past events, coloring them rosy with the distance of time.  But that rosy filter is also a high, imposing wall.  That wall prevents people from enjoying the joys of this moment in time.  The adventures of youth were adventures, no doubt, but they were also frequently based in reckless, dangerous behavior.  Isn't part of growing up growing wiser?  Relishing past accomplishments can deter ambition for future goals.  And longing for the days when your children were younger?  What that same child hears is "They're not proud of whom I've become."

Past trauma can be even more insidious.  We may think it dead and buried but it affects our behavior, our ability to trust, our daily existence.  Someone betrayed by a friend may never let anyone get that close to their heart ever again.  A woman cheated on may treat all men in her present and future as if they are automatically guilty.  A woman abused in childhood frequently finds herself with men who repeat the pattern over and over again.  That is truly being stuck in the past.  Until those issues are confronted and worked through, that past trauma is destined to be repeated.

There are always lessons to be learned from the past.  But they are just that...lessons.  When you were in school, you didn't learn the same lesson ad infinitum.  You learned the lesson and you moved on to something new.  Rarely were the "good old days" really that good, they've been colored by time.  The grass wasn't any greener then.  If that is the mindset, you miss how brilliantly green it is now.  The present is all you have...right here and now.  The future is not guaranteed.  Do you really want to waste this precious time you are in by wishing for what is already gone?

Look around.  What you have right now might not be the best you've ever been, ever had, or ever will be.  But it's what is real at this very moment.  Don't miss one single minute of joy by looking backwards.  Let the past go.

Love,
Jerri

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