Boom Boom Cards

The gift that keeps on giving!

My husband was peering over my wish list and generally making fun of it like he always does—while we aren’t doing Christmas for each other again this year, we still like to make lists “just in case” someone wins the lottery or something—and he suddenly scoffed, “What the heck is a Boom Boom Card?”

I could tell from his expression that he was hopeful that the item in question was of a sexual nature, and I could only roll my eyes. “It’s not like that!” I told him. “These are cool cards with ideas for random acts of kindness and other fun things to do on them. They’re whimsical and fun and loving and I want them.”

He could only shake his head, but when he looked them up with me he discovered that he, too, would like to try these cards out. Boom Boom Cards come in all kinds of styles—they have sets for families, teens, every day use, and even a “green” deck. You can check out the different decks and what they could add to your life here. From leaving notes for people to help make their day to mowing peoples’ yards and much more creative ideas, you’ll find them in a deck of Boom Boom cards.

Use Pinterest to plan a bridal shower

Plan perfection one pin at a time.

Pinterest is playing a bigger and bigger role in the lives of DIY-ers. Since it hit the scene, more and more women and businesses have taken notice and built up one heck of a library of amazing ideas, one little pin at a time.

I'm a huge fan of Pinterest for bridal shower planning because other pinners are doing all the hard work and the research, for me. The good news for those planning important parties like bridal showers is that every day, more and more brides-to-be, maids of honor, bridesmaids, mothers-of-the-bride and wedding planners are adding to the collection of awesome ideas. And, the best part is that there are so many different perspectives, I'm sure to find numerous ideas for everything from invitations and games to decorations and menu options all in one place...for free.

Sure, there are countless books for bridal shower planning available, but they can cost a pretty penny and often focus on a certain type of shower, be it elegant or traditional. The beauty of Pinterest is there are no limits and you can spend as much time as you want to looking through other pinners' boards and seeing what really speaks to the taste of the bride you're honoring.

And, if you haven't used Pinterest in a while, I think it's important to point out that they have a new secret board feature. Being able to put together a board that nobody can see but you makes it easier than ever to plan a bridal shower without the bride getting a glimpse of your plans.

So, before you head to the library or bookstore, hop onto Pinterest and grab some ideas for free. You can mix and match to your heart's content without any muss or fuss and the bride will be happily surprised with her party.

Shop the supermarket and prepare

Prepare for disaster painlessly.

Maximize every visit to the supermarket by not only shopping for what you need today but also for what you need in the days to come. The hurricanes that have battered the Eastern and Southern Coastlines over the years are adequate testimony to the fact that disaster can strike at any time.

Whether hurricanes, tornados, terrorist attacks or failure of the power grid—or any other number of potential disasters—your life can and will be affected for days, weeks, months or perhaps even forever. It makes sense to be prepared should disaster strike you and your family. There are many people today along the East Coast relying on the unreliable government to provide everything from water—to food—to toilet paper.

The government is a fragile entity and in the event of a disaster of national proportions would be overwhelmed to the point of not even attempting to mount a relief effort. The responsibility of taking care of your family would then rest squarely on your shoulders alone.

Follow these steps to guarantee your family nourishment, hygiene and as much comfort as possible during a disaster:

  1. Designate a storage area such as space in the basement, attic or a spare bedroom to store your disaster supplies. Make certain the supplies are stored higher than the maximum potential flood levels that may occur inside your home. Use shelving and adjust the bottom shelf to provide enough clearance.
  2. Go through your pantry and make a list by category of the products you are currently buying.
  3. Visit the grocery and discount stores that you normally shop. Go up and down each aisle and study the products on the shelf. Make a list by category of the products you are currently buying. This isn’t the time to experiment with other brands.
  4. Determine how much of each product you are currently using each month and list it next to the product. Decide how many months you want to store supplies. Remember, Mormons as well as many other groups are routinely storing up to two years of supplies in case of disaster.
  5. Stock up on the foods, paper and hygienic supplies as well as personal care items that you use on a regular basis. Every time you visit the grocery store buy some of the storage products in addition to what you need today. Continue this practice until you stock up on each individual item until you have enough on hand to last the period of time you decided on.
  6. Keep a ledger that shows every time you add or remove food to your storage area. When you use up one month’s supply of a given product then purchase enough to replace it. Mark the replacement area where this month’s product is store to be used at the end of the timeframe you decided on. If you chose a three month period then you would proceed to use the second and then the third month of supplies before using the replacement product. Use the FIFO—first-in, first-out—method of inventory storage to keep the products fresh.
  7. Buy products at the store after examining the code dates on each product to make certain they will last well beyond the projected time they are expected to be used.
  8. Don’t forget to stock items that you typically don’t buy—water is a good example. If you don’t buy water normally then figure out how much you should stock to get through the timeframe you have chosen. There are undoubtedly a number of these kinds of products.
  9. URGENT! Do not forget over-the-counter and prescription medicines.
  10. Store the products in a dry, darkened room with good air circulation at a temperature between 50 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit. Make certain nothing is stored directly on the floor. The room must remain completely free of insect and rodent infestation.

Don’t count on others—enjoy security of mind by preparing your family to weather a disaster on its own.

Stop eating out - now!

The road to ruin.

Make no mistake; this one practice alone is responsible for crushing credit card debt, bankruptcy and living in near poverty. It puts younger people who are just starting out in life in debt of $25,000, $50,000 or more. Older people who are no longer working and living on fixed incomes have similar problems.

There is no activity that is so taken as a matter of course than dining out at restaurants. Young and old alike simply do it without thinking. Home cooked meals or even meals that don’t require preparation—such as sandwiches—are no longer eaten at home by many.

There is always a burger, fried chicken or fish, tacos or pizza just around the corner or down the street. Casual dining restaurants of virtually every description are available as both a gastronomic treat and an evening’s entertainment. Younger people grew up with this view of the world and older people have embraced it as their way of life.

It is an act of utter simplicity to pay the bill along with a generous tip by sliding a credit card across a counter or table—it is done without conscious thought.

Those who have had their cards revoked due to non-payment use cash. They eat fast food which is cheaper than a sit-down restaurant, but more expensive by far than eating at home. When they think about it at all, people rationalize to themselves and others that when you add up the pluses and minuses it is cheaper to eat out.

Utter B.S.! What they really mean is that they don’t have to drive to the market, shop for food, put it away at home and prepare the meal—which they have never learned to do. They don’t have to wash the dishes and carry out the trash.

They like the food better at fast food outlets and restaurants better than what they can cook—these dining excursions also get them out of the house, allows them to engage in social interaction and treat themselves.

The money spent on fast food and restaurants takes away from the total amount of funds they have on hand at any given time. This means they don’t have money for a decent place to live or decent clothes. Also, they drive a beater that continually is costing them money for repairs and burning through more $4.00 a gallon gasoline than a newer vehicle. The beater is uninsurable and when damaged leaves the driver standing on the bus stop.

It is absolutely essential to have a dependable car in order to find a good job and get to it on time every day.

Before you make an argument for eating out instead of at home, do these things:

  1. See how much money you can scrape together at this moment then add up your bills to see how much money you need at this moment. This is a brutal exercise because you will see just how bad things are regarding your finances.
  2. Look at your credit card for the last year and add up the amount spent on eating out. Take 1/3 off the total amount you come up with to account for the amount you would spend if you ate at home. The two thirds that you are left with is the amount of money that you could have had to spend on accommodations, automobile or actually put into savings or investments.
  3. Don’t blow your brains out! Simply stop eating out!

This is the best advice you’ll ever get and I have zero faith that it will be given any consideration at all.


Silver wedding anniversary in absentia

Close enough to count.

My brother-in-law and his wife were married for 49 years. Within a week or so before Christmas and before he was deployed to Germany by the army, they tied the knot in a small town in Kansas. Their 50th wedding anniversary would have been this year—2012—but for the fact that the cancer he had been battling for the last year finally claimed him.

Losing a life partner after almost 50 years of living together, raising a family, experiencing the joys and hardships of the past while planning ahead for the future is devastating. My wife has been in touch with her sisters and they have devised a plan to give my sister-in-law her 50th wedding anniversary just as though her husband was there to share in the joy.

When this all began, I cautioned my wife that holding the anniversary party might be too painful for the sister-in-law, especially in the middle of the holidays and right before Christmas.

She said that the sister-in-law would be grief-stricken in any event and the party just might cheer her up. I have my doubts but there is no choice but to defer to the ladies on this one. I am very nervous about my sister-in-law's reaction during the party, but at least she will be in the company of friends and relatives.

My wife also reminded me that they notified my sister-in-law before sending out the invitations and she seemed to like the idea and was very appreciative. Regardless, I know there will be a great deal of emotional behavior and I don’t like to be around that. I have spoken to another brother-in-law and while he feels the same way he also said that the party wasn’t about us but instead about my sister-in-law.

Needless to say, after thinking about his statement for a few moments, I felt pretty selfish and self-centered. The party is coming up soon, we are making our plans to attend and selfish or not, I’m still uncomfortable about the grief we are sure to face.

Great graduation gift options

Three gift ideas for graduates

Having a family member or friend who is graduating can be exciting for a variety of reasons. However, you may not know what to get them as a graduation gift. Here are three great ideas on what you can get recent graduates to celebrate their success. 

The first gift you may want to consider would be a gift card. These cards allow the person to select their own gifts, but also can be used for multiple things they may need. You will not be narrowing yourself down to just one option or item for the graduate.
Another great gift option for people to consider is going to be the different items that a graduate may need. For example, some graduates may need a new vehicle. This will allow them to get back and forth to work or school, but it is an expensive gift that may want to be reserved for family members only.
Something else you may want to consider as a graduation gift is money for school. Money is always a welcome thing and different than gift cards, which allow people to shop anywhere. So they will not be limited to the specific store that people are buying the cards for. 
Often when you are invited to a graduation party, you are expected to bring a gift. Since you are expected to bring a gift, you may want to know more about what you can bring as this gift. Once you know about these three things, it is easy for you to know what the best graduation gift is. 

Take charge of your own happiness

You’re the only one who can truly make you happy.

On Sunday, I turned the big 3-0. Like most birthdays, it went by without much recognition. I’m the mom of a young child, so I don’t do what I used to do for my birthday—spend the day with my husband shopping, dining out, seeing movies, whatever. I used to buy an instrument from World Market every birthday. These days, we can’t afford a sitter AND a date, so we don’t usually do anything. He does make me my favorite soup and I do take the day off, which is nice.

That morning I decided to make my own happiness. I knew I wouldn’t be getting any surprises—I’m the one who throws them, not who gets them, I usually think bitterly—so I’d better create my own. I really did my best; I sang with my kiddo—my husband was working for the day—and we watched Bored Shorts, which is my new favorite show.

I tried to make an origami Batman, but gave up in the middle of the 17-minute video, and I treated myself to some caramel gelato and red wine—both things I’d bought just for the occasion weeks ago when we could. I wrote a lot in my journal, which was also nice. All in all, not a very exciting day, but it was fine.

This attitude, however, affected everything. There were moments when I felt pretty down—I also had a stomachache off and on over the weekend, which wasn’t fun!—but save for a rant with my best friend, overall I kept a pretty positive attitude. And guess what happened? Over the week, I had so many surprises!

An unexpected check from an old job came in and we paid off some bills—and even ate out once. I was serenaded at the post office, and a brand new book came in the mail from my sister. My best friend came over for a plain old play date (which is fun enough, since it’s our play date, too!) and instead made me a party, complete with dinner and a shirt she handmade just for me.

I felt pretty damn special all week long—but even more than that, I felt “got,” which is what every woman (and maybe men, too; I don’t know) wants for her birthday. We want to know people are thinking of us, and that they get us; they know us. Would all of these festivities happened had I maintained a gloomy mood? Probably, but maybe not. And because I chose to keep myself busy doing things I enjoyed rather than sulk about things I couldn’t control, I had a pretty stellar birthday.

Start making those toys!

Parents can be elves, too.

This year I am searching for some simple yet fun things to make for my daughter for Christmas. She’s seven, so she may not believe in Santa for much longer; her requests are also getting bigger and pricier. Last year we were able to do Christmas for just forty bucks; this year, one toy on her wish list costs that much!

Though we’ve already had the talk—again—about how Santa doesn’t bring everything on your list, and to make sure to ask for a couple of special things so he can choose something you’ll really love, I want to get back into the habit of making her wonderful, memorable presents for holidays. Her father and I made her a homemade tent, complete with gnome and forest creature embellishments out of felt, and she absolutely loved it.

Right now, the one thing I know I want to make her is this adorable set of owl puppets I found on Pinterest (I don’t have an account, but I still browse every now and then!). She has loved owls since she was little, even before the big “owl boom” of late, and I know this set of puppets will not only be easy to make, but something that she will love. Thanks, Pinterest!

The last generation to remember

The new "marriage" partnership

Next year, my wife and I will celebrate our 40th wedding anniversary. Already, when we’re asked and reply that we’ve been married for 39 years, we receive instant attention, congratulations and even a degree of respect.  I realize that 39 years of marriage is only a beginning by some standards.  After all, we’ve encountered numerous couples that have been married at least that long and many more that have been together up to 60 years.

Regardless, especially among younger people—25 to 40 years of age—we get more attention than we ever thought we would or even should.  In fact, some of the youngest are downright enthralled to find out that we been married for 39 years.  Initially, we put this down to the fact that they had many more years ahead of them in life and 39 years must seem like an eternity to them.

However, over a period of time, it’s become obvious that the entire group of 25 to 40 year olds is so impressed because their family either broke up early in their life or they were raised from birth by only one parent.

Many of them have been married and divorced at least once and almost all of them are living with their partner—in many cases with children—with no expectation of marriage. Marriage is also a financial consideration because almost always at least one of them has a disastrous credit rating. Therefore, the other has to sign for every debt incurred.

Obviously, as you might expect, women are most impressed and sometimes even wistful, but even so, they show only vague indications or none at all of ever getting married. My wife and I are slowly becoming one of the last generation who accept that long-term marriage is normal and expected. As every day passes, long-term marriage becomes a concept that burns dimmer and dimmer.


The beauty of handmade gifts

Discover why handmade gifts are great

Selecting the perfect gift for people can be more of a challenge than what you would think. This is when individuals should at least consider handmade craft items to give away as a gift. Once people know about why they should consider these, it is easy for them to have the best time around in getting the gifts that individuals know people will appreciate for years to come. 

The primary benefit of handmade gift items is that the quality will generally allow it to last longer. Since it will last quite a bit longer then what people think, they do not have to be concerned about the recipient of the gift being disappointed because of it falling apart faster then what individuals are used to seeing. 

Handmade gifts allow the giver to personalize the present for the recipient. Normally people would not have to be concerned about this, but they need to realize when they are looking at a gift for a specific person, they probably want the person to know it is for them. With handmade gifts, it is easy for them to be personalized specific to the person and their interests. 
Having the best gifts around for people can be a great thing. However, some people may need to know more information about why handmade gifts are one of the best items around for them to get. Once they know about these items and the quality that is present as well as the personalization, they will love the handmade gifts.