It's Saturday morning and the American economy is in dire straits. Money is scarce and if you are like me, your shopping addiction STILL needs to be fed. I've turned my attention to garage and yard sales.

If you've never gone this route, now is the time. There are several simple things to remember--
  • Pricing is not final and in fact, the later it gets, the more flexible the seller may become. But be mindful as well, don't drive up in a new Benz and expect to negotiate down to pennies.
  • Have small bills, change may not be available.
  • Bring your own cardboard boxes or bags.
  • Be careful if you are sensitive to cigarette smoke. If the seller is smoking like a chimney, there's a good chance that your items will smell smoky.
  • Leave your pets at home!!
  • Examine items carefully. There are no refunds.
  • Keep an open mind. Look at things for potential uses--like an old child's chair that can be converted into a porch planter.

I find that the best sales are the multi-family or neighborhood sales. Have fun!!

Your comments--priceless!

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This weekend, we celebrate my daughter's birthday. She's 17 this weekend, but has only had 4 actual birthdays. She's a leap year baby, also known as a "leapling." She's decided that, instead of choosing either February 28th OR March 1st to celebrate this year, BOTH days are her birthday. Yeah right!

She's always been a special child--always older than her years. She's accomplished a lot in her first 17 years. As a Brownie Girl Scout, back in 1998, she addressed the nation, on behalf of it's children, opening the annual Pageant of Peace and with then-President Bill Clinton, lit the National Christmas Tree. I'll never forget that on the way home that night, after meeting the Clintons, Sammy Sosa, Tony Bennett, and the cast of Cats, she became very upset. She couldn't remember meeting the President. When I reminded her that he was the man who helped her light the Christmas tree, she looked at me incredulously. She insisted that he was NOT the President and to prove it, she asked me his name. I really should have questioned her further before giving the name. Had I done that, I would have realized that she had been looking forward to meeting Abraham Lincoln!!! HA HA! She had a great picture in the Washington Post, they honored her at school, tons of folks watched her on tv, and she is STILL upset about being duped, insisting that somehow she was tricked.

Through the years, there have been many ups(like the Pageant of Peace) and downs (like her surgery, back in 2000). She does well in school, a Criminal Justice magnet student, who wants to go to Law School. She's also well traveled--she did a tour of Italy and Greece over Spring Break last year. We are now looking at colleges. She has tons of friends, as evidenced by her monthly cell/text bill. All in all, she's a great girl, my middle child--the Grounded One. Maybe I WILL let her celebrate both days, she's worth it..

Your comments--priceless!

So, I've had the Kindle now for a full day and a half. And I must say, I love it! I finished my first book last night and this morning will decide what book to tackle next. I wasn't sure if it would be comfortable to read on, but it definitely is--it actually seems to disappear and I don't focus on anything but the words.

The main selling point for me was the ability to carry 1500 books with me in a gadget that weighs half a pound. I generally am reading several books at a time, and it's good to have them all with me. I also read the Washington Post daily and to have it downloaded to the Kindle before I get up is very convenient. I also like the read to me function, that's good for driving. The adjustable text size is also cool, it allows me to make every book an "easy reader." The digital dictionary is helpful, allowing me to look up at words right on the screen. And the selection of books available from Amazon is awesome--nearly 250,000 with more being added daily.

I thought the cost of the books would be worrisome, but so far I have 14 books on the new Kindle, at an average cost of 86 cents per book. This is a little misleading because 12 of the books were free and I paid $6.04 for 2 books. There are a ton of free books available and I can also download books from my local library. I was also concerned with battery life, but the battery lasts about 2 weeks. Hmmm..why can't my Blackberry battery last 2 weeks???? I have to admit that I haven't even tried out the web access or email features, as the last thing that I need is ANOTHER email to keep up with.

All in all, this may be the best Valentine's Day gift that I've ever gotten--thanks Hubby!!!

Your comments--priceless!

We are in the final days of winter--spring is just around the corner. For me, this means that it's time to start making summer vacation plans. When I mentioned it to a neighbor recently, she was concerned with the recent rash of plane crashes. She said that she wouldn't be flying anywhere this year, she was only considering ground transportation. I thought she was kidding. She wasn't.

I believe that my destiny, including dates of birth and death, was predetermined and that there is nothing that I can do to change it. When the date of my death comes, it won't matter whether I'm in a plane, on a bicycle, or comfortably relaxing at home. I have absolutely no qualms about plane crashes, auto accidents, or train wrecks. This certainly doesn't mean that I'm not a careful traveler, but I would not alter my plans because of recent events.

What about you? Are you so concerned with plane crashes that you won't fly this year? Do you feel safer in a car, bus on train? Why? I'm very interested..

Your comments--priceless!!

It's happened again. For the second time in just a few months. A house on my block is in foreclosure. And it's not that someone lost a job or that someone became ill. In both cases, it's because one partner in the marriage got caught cheating and the dissolve of the marriage resulted in the loss of the family home. What is this about? Is it a trend?

I don't think that I know a person that I would put everything on the line for--my home, my family, my way of life, etc. But then, perhaps the guilty parties didn't think that their deeds would ever come to light, so they would never be held accountable. I just dont know....

My husband is not perfect, and I'm even farther away from perfection--but we do have genuine love and respect for each other. And even more, we LIKE each other. Years from now, after the children are long gone, we will still have each other and I look forward to it. We still joke, giggle, and just enjoy each other's company.

This is definitely one that I'm going to need help with. What are your thoughts on it? Would you risk everything? Why?

Your comments--priceless!!

Ok, let me first say that I don't drink coffee. I don't like the taste of it. But I do love the way it smells. There's nothing like the aroma of coffee in the morning, flowing through the house. Every once in a while, I will ask for a sip from my husband's mug, hoping that the taste has changed. It never has. I know that the masses enjoy it--hence the popularity of Starbucks and the like. So, when I heard about the $45 cup of coffee being sold at a South Beach hotel, I had to know more about it.

Well, it turns out that the coffee is made from cat poop! Yuck! The coffee is harvested in Indonesia. Native cats eat the coffee beans, they pass through it's digestive track(where they are mixed with digestive juices), and come out the other end--still intact. It's sold by the cup at a handful of restaurants in the United States, but also by the pound in specialty gourmet stores.

Again, I don't drink coffee. But for those of you that do--does this appeal to you? Would you try it? Hmmmm...I'm getting ideas about my next giveaway...

Your comments--priceless!

Tonight, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences will award the prestigious Oscars for excellence in the film industry. Those that work in the film industry will cast votes of recognition for their peers. I think that is a wonderful concept--to be honored by your colleagues.

Too often, especially in the work environment, there's not acknowledgement of jobs well done. This economic climate has created an environment of cheating, backbiting, and underhandedness. Layoffs in some companies are imminent and everyone wants to shine, securing their own position for the future. In that sort of atmosphere, few compliments and kudos are bestowed upon others.

I used to work for a small company that gave away cash to the Employee of the Month. At the end of the monthly staff meeting, employees were nominated by their coworkers, along with a short anecdote about why. It was great to hear the stories and you could see the nominee beam. Then the owners passed the nominee an envelope with about $200 cash. Later everyone stopped at their desk to congratulate them and give them a pat on the back.

Those owners got it right. For about $2500 a year, they found a great morale booster. But really, it doesn't even have to be money--simple, public acknowledgement goes a long way. Heck, it could be a $5 Starbucks card. The thing is--recognize good things! It really goes a long way.

Do you recognize your peers for good jobs, even if your employer doesn't? And if your employer does, what do they do?

Your comments--priceless!!

I have always loved to read. As a child, Laura Ingalls Wilder and Louise Fitzhugh were my favorite authors. I became quite attached to the librarian at my elementary school. I went to visit her house on weekends. By the way, I've looked for her for about 10 years--I think she died. I wanted to tell her how much she shaped my life and express gratitude. But back to the story...

Almost 20 years ago, my oldest daughter started school in Montgomery County, Maryland. It was one of the best schools ever. Her principal, David Rotter, enacted something called DEAR time. It stood for DROP EVERYTHING AND READ. Once a week, he would go to the PA System and announce, "It's DEAR time." That meant that for the next 45 minutes, everyone in the school, from the janitors and cafeteria workers to the students and secretaries--even teachers, had to pick up something and read. It could be a magazine, newspaper, novel, or anything other reading material. But you had to read until he announced that DEAR time was over.

It was kind of weird the first couple times that I experienced it, seeing everyone flipping pages and engrossed in reading. But then, I got the hang of it and started bringing a book with me during my volunteer shifts, just in case Mr. Rotter called for DEAR time. After a few years, he retired and someone else took over. I'm not sure how or why, but DEAR time went away. I thought it was a great idea and I missed it. What could be better for our children than instilling a love of reading and learning?

Your comments--priceless!!

I live in Broward County, Florida. We are in the dry season of the year. For the next few months, rain is scarce and we are under severe water restrictions. Only twice a week, during set hours can you water your lawn. Because of this, my lawn looks terrible. There are awful dry patches. But I take the law seriously, and don't water during times that I shouldn't (Even though we had an underground well that our sprinkler system is attached to).

Imagine how I felt last weekend, when I took a good look at the neighborhood last weekend. Ours is the ONLY lawn on the block, and one of very few in the neighborhood that has brown grass. Most of the homes have lush, green lawns and colorful flowers in the gardens. How could that be? We are under water restrictions. Certainly they are not watering daily, as their lawns suggest, are they? Are we the only family abiding by the law? Should I just start watering as well? I really would like nice grass too, but I'd much rather have drinking water and water for cooking, bathing and laundry.

Well, since then, I've really started paying attention. Yesterday the house next door had their sprinkers on for at least 2 hours after I got home and today, the nice lady across the street was outside watering hers by hand, using a hose. Now suppose our drinking water supply is diminished before the start of the rainy season in June. Will it have been worth it to have a nice lawn?

Your comments--priceless!!

My Dad always said it would happen. He told me more than 30 years ago. We were standing in the hallway of Paul Junior High. He says to me, "One day, you will wish you had worn your glasses."

I found out in 7th grade that I needed glasses for reading. When we went to pick them out, he could tell that I wasn't enthused at all. I was too worried that the other kids at school would make fun of me. So I didn't wear them at school, then, after a few months, I stopped wearing them at home too.

My Dad said it would happen. It's happened. I wish I had worn my glasses. My eyesight has diminished now to the point where it's no longer a choice. I NEED my glasses. Not just for reading either, I probably need to wear them in my sleep, so I won't have to feel my way through my dreams.

This weekend, I am going to buy glasses. I have no worries at all about whether my co workers will make fun of me. I don't care. I just want to see clearly, after 3 decades. Sorry, Dad, you were right.

Your comments--priceless!!

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This past weekend, I saw the new 3D film, Coraline. The film surrounds a parallel world where children are lured, using the parts of the their life that they aren't happy with. For Coraline, her parents never paid attention to her, so "Other Parents" were created to entice her. What a concept, huh?

On my way home, I started thinking about my own life. While I know that there isn't a parallel world waiting behind my closet door, there are numerous temptations in real life. That's how perfectly reasonable adults get caught up in things they shouldn't, and before they know it--they're in an extramarital affair, or a life of crime, or some other horrible thing.

A big part of it is envy, and I think we all have it, to some extent. I know that I've looked from afar at someone's life and said, "Wow, why am I not a stay at home mom?" or "How come SHE can buy whatever she wants, and seemingly never run low on funds?" If you allow these kinds of thoughts to seep into your mind, you end up feeding and nurturing them, and they grow like weeds. Next thing you know, you've sold your soul to the Devil and you STILL aren't happy.

I'm learning to embrace my life, the way that it is. I may not have everything I want, but I want everything i have. I may not be where I want to be, but I'm grateful that I'm not where I once was. I may not lead a life of great riches, but I am loved and blessed with a great family and wonderful friends.

What about you? Do you have parts of your life that you would willingly trade off? Would you REALLY or is it just talk?

Your comments--priceless!

1. Avoid accelerating or decelerating quickly.

2. Obey speed limits.

3. Find the lowest gas prices around.

4. Don't leave the car running, even just for a few minutes.

5. Lighten your car's load.

6. Buy gas early in the morning or late in the evening.

7. Maintain your car with regular service checkups and keep your tires inflated to the correct pressure levels.

8. Combine trips whenever possible.

9. Drive in the correct gear.

--as adapted from

Have you started prep for cleaning yet? Well, I'm looking forward to Spring Cleaning. I have lots that I've collected that needs to be purged. I have items that no longer fit that need to be given away. I have surfaces that need to be cleared and things that need to be put away. Now, you may think I'm talking about cleaning my home-WRONG! I'm talking about getting rid of rubbish in my life!

Every so often, you have to take stock of the clutter in your life and figure out what you truly need and what you are simply hanging on to, knowing that you will never use it. This clutter could be relationships that you've simply outgrown. It could be the rubbish of stagnant processes that you had hoped would lead to a better life. I have all of that(and then some) in my life right now. Unfortunately, there isn't room for it. It's taking up much needed space.

So, I'm getting rid of it. I'm starting to gather it up now, with plans to leave it on the curb soon for the garbageman to scoop up and take away. Then I'll have room for new ventures. Not that some of those new ventures won't end up being swept away next year, but that what's life's about right--learning and growing?

Your thoughts--priceless!!
Congratulations go out to AMBER, who won the $25 Amazon Gift Certificate in the February Giveaway (chosen by a random number generator). Thanks to everyone who entered. And hello to all the new subscribers and followers!!!

By the way, I had major problems yesterday, getting the blog to email--it never did. I hope it's cleared up today.
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Today marks the end of the first 6 weeks of the new year. How have you been doing on your resolutions and affirmations? I'm right on target--I've been making a lot of moves behind the scenes. The next 6 weeks, however, should bring many of the changes into public view.

TheTinyJEWELBox will be going through a transition as well. I started 6 weeks ago, with the expectation that I would write and a few folks would read. This has blossomed into so much more. I'm thrilled about the direction it has taken and I know you will be as well. One of the most exciting changes for the blog will take place in the next few weeks. There will be an entirely new look with many new features. I hope you like it!

Secondly, TheTinyJEWELBox will be taking a few road trips this year--the first scheduled to Chicago in June, with Las Vegas on the schedule for later this year. Stay tuned for more details on that...

Finally, this is a season of change for me and my family. While the United States is going through a tough time, I must say that I'm more than optimistic about personal growth this --year. I hope the same for you--which brings me back to the original question--how are you doing on your 2009 Proclamations and Resolutions? Are you on schedule? How can I help?

Your comments--priceless!

It's a day to celebrate the loves in your life, whoever they may be. If, for whatever reason, you don't have romantic love in your life, then celebrate the love of family, the love of good friends, the love of God, and most of all, the love of self.

I've celebrated many a Valentine's Day, with no significant other in my life. Whether or not there was a special someone had absolutely no bearing on whether I observed the holiday. I've always had my family to honor, if no one else. Stuffed animals and trinkets for my children, flowers for my mom, cards and gifts for Dad.

Lately though, I hear folks saying that if you aren't attached, it's a miserable day. I don't really understand why. Perhaps it's a reminder that you are single. Single ain't so bad--single could mean drama free. Single could mean that you are in a "loving myself" mode--where you may be going to school, starting a business, or simply discovering who you are and where you are going. I think it's all in what you make of it. But then again, for the last few Valentine's Days, I've been happily married.

I'm interested to know what you will do for the holiday--please also say if you're single or attached. And if do happen to be one of those who feel's miserable because you are without a mate--let me be the first to say, "HAPPY VALENTINE'S DAY!!!"

Your comments--priceless!

When you walk into an ice cream parlor, do you browse and look at every single flavor or do you immediately just go for "plain vanilla?" I look through all the cases, but almost always end up with Butter Pecan, Rocky Road, or Mocha Almond Fudge. I would never have plain vanilla. When I find a great deal on a pair of shoes at Sawgrass Mills Mall, and the shoe comes in 3 colors--black, brown and fuschia--you can bet I go for fuschia. I leave plain vanilla for the plain janes.

I like variety. I like the unexpected. I like the unforeseen. I don't like predictability. I don't like the customary. I don't like regular. The more diverse the better--be it neighborhoods, restaurants, books, or music. Had I never stepped out of my comfort zone, I would have never discovered that my favorite food is thai, my favorite tea is caramel rooibos, or that my favorite song of the moment is David Archuleta's "Crush."

What about you--are you plain vanilla or are you adventurous? Is the familiar comforting to you or do you crave new things? I'm curious...

Your thoughts--priceless!!

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I'll admit it. I'm a news junkie. My favorite channel is CNN. I am literally waiting for the local news to come on at 5am each morning. I usually watch 2 hours of local news and 1 hour of national news before I leave for work. I read (or at least skim through) at least 3 newspapers every day. I have Google Alerts set up for certain topics that I want to follow. I like to know what's going on. But I run across folks all the time, that haven't a clue. I know I shouldn't be irritated, but I am.

I don't expect that everyone reads, watches, and listens to as much news as I do. But good grief! Once a week isn't asking a lot, is it? Or for that matter, nearly everyone has internet access. You don't even have to go to the library to research things. It's at your fingertips, right?

Then why aren't folks familiar with what's going on in their little corner of the world. I often hear, "I don't watch the news, it's depressing." And it is. But that's a cop out, especially when those same folks watch Lost,CSI, True Blood, etc. Aren't those depressing as well?

Come on, Folks!! Let's know a little bit about our own hoods. I'm not asking you to become an expert in US Foreign Policy, but at least know that 5 folks were murdered 2 houses down from you, day before yesterday. Is that too much to ask?

Your comments--priceless!

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Today is the birthday of one of my favorite vocalists, Roberta Flack. She is 72 today. She's a remarkable woman and a phenomenal singer.
She has a strong voice, but a mellow style. She won Grammys for both "The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face," as well as "Killing Me Softly."

"Killing Me Softly" has dark, haunting lyrics, that I was drawn to--even before I knew what the song was about. As an adult, they've drawn me in even further. It's listed on Rolling Stone's Greatest Songs of All Time list. I love this song...

Strumming my pain with his fingers
Singing my life with his words
Killing me softly with his song
Killing me softly with his song
Telling my whole life with his words
Killing me softly with his song

I heard he sang a good song
I heard he had a style
And so I came to see him
To listen for a while
And there he was this young boy
A stranger to my eyes

Strumming my pain with his fingers
Singing my life with his words
Killing me softly with his song
Killing me softly with his song
Telling my whole life with his words
Killing me softly with his song

I felt all flushed with fever
Embarassed by the crowd
I felt he found my letters
And read each one out loud
I prayed that he would finish
But he just kept right on

Strumming my pain with his fingers
Singing my life with his words
Killing me softly with his song
Killing me softly with his song
Telling my whole life with his words
Killing me softly with his song

He sang as if he knew me
In all my dark despair
And then he looked right through me
As if I wasn't there
And he just kept on singing
Singing clear and strong...

Your thoughts--priceless!!

A few weeks ago, I blogged about friends and choosing them wisely. Today is different. Let's talk about those who think they are closer to you than they are. Folks who think they are friends and you consider them "just someone you know." This is never a good scenario, as it generally ends with you telling that person, "Umm Muffin, you seem to have it twisted. We are not now, nor were we ever 'friends'" and their feelings being hurt.

Had anyone asked, I would have said, up until this past weekend, that I had done an outstanding job in letting people know where they stood, as far as their FOJ status. Obviously, I haven't. I had an incident where someone greatly overestimated their importance in my life. They were hurt that I refused to share certain details of my personal life with them. They felt that I was obligated to do so. I thought differently. They lashed out in what I think was an inebriated fit. I responded. It was ugly.

I told everyone, at the beginning of the year, this is my year of change. And everyone won't appreciate the changes. Unfortunately, I have to do what's best for me, and not what's best for someone else. I was warned that some wouldn't like it, and I shrugged it off. But, perhaps I should have listened more closely. There are those who will be supportive and those who won't. Just the day before this unpleasant incident, I got an unexpected card in the mail from a FOJ. The card was about friends and appreciating them.

Looking back on it, I guess it was inevitable. But now I'm a bit concerned about who else might be confused about the nature of how we relate. I've never had this situation before. How does one handle these kinds of issues? And, is use of a "feel good" substance an excuse for such behavior? What do you all think?

Your comments--priceless!!
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Since I'm so excited about getting an Amazon Kindle, I've decided that this month's giveaway will be a $25 Amazon Gift Certificate. You know the routine, leave a comment on any blogpost between today(Sunday) and next Saturday for 1 entry. Subscribe by email for another entry (If you are already subscribed, you will automatically get an entry). Blog, Tweet, or Facebook about this giveaway, including a link, and you will get a third entry(shoot me an email saying that you've done it). Forward any post to 3 friends and get a 4th entry(copy me on the forward).

Four ways to win!!! Let the competition begin!!! Contest ends at midnight EST on Valentine's night(Feb 14th)and will be announced on the following day's post.

I've been watching the Real Housewives of Orange County. I have never seen a group of folks so out of touch with reality in my life. Are they kidding???

I've never seen any of them cleaning the house, or checking homework, or even putting gas in their Range Rover. In fact, one had a cleaning woman come but she refused to let the woman vacuum, for fear of waking her adult, non working, non going to school daughter. Let's examine that... ADULT, no job, no school--But let's not wake her??? What is that about??? Another went to visit her son, who plays minor league baseball. She even flew the son's girlfriend in. And he wouldn't even acknowledge her. It was as if she were invisible. Would not even part his lips to say hello to his mom. Still another was not certain if she had air conditioning in her home. She said she hears something "click on" sometimes, but she's not sure if it's air conditioning. Huh??

They went on spa trips in limos, vacations abroad, and elaborate dinner parties while their kids drank illegally, flunked out of school, and abused drugs. The kids were disrespectful--even cursing their moms. The husbands were equally disrespectful and disrepected. One wasn't allowed to go on the vacations, and whined about it. These women compare breast augmentations, bed linens(the $8,000 set of sheets won), and who is richest. I can't imagine myself in that life.

Is this how the rich live?? If so, I might just be happy the way I am...

Your thoughts--priceless!!
What's with the free breakfasts? Denny's gave away Grand Slams last Tuesday as part of it's Super Bowl promotion and in another couple weeks, IHOP will host it's annual Free Pancake Day. Roaring Lion Energy Drink is giving away both a can of their product, as well as a can of their competitor's--Red Bull, for comparison. These is just the latest in marketing tactics geared towards consumers. These companies hope that if they lure you in with the free offering, that you may become a loyal customer.

I admit, free works for me. I like getting free products. In fact, about a year ago, I signed on as a agent with a company that sends me free products to try, in return for telling other people about those products. Some of the products that I have tried include snack foods, gasoline, soft drinks, laundry detergents, household cleaning products, and "healthy menu" items at chain restaurants. But, after using the sample, I seldom use the product again. It's not always that I wasn't impressed with the product, just not enough to stray away from being a "price shopper." For instance, I like Snuggles' new Almond Fabric Softener, but not enough to pay extra for it. If Downy is on sale this week, then that's what i get.

Would you go out of your way for a free product? Do you love to go to Costco on the weekends, just for the free samples? And then, once you've tried it, does it become your regular brand? Share your experience.

Your comments--priceless!!
What steps are you taking to prepare for a time when you are no longer able to care for yourself? Do you have it all planned out? Or have you never even given it a thought?

My family is living this issue right now-trying to care for a relative that isn't in the best of health(both mentally and physically) while that relative is fighting every decision tooth and nail(again both mentally and physically). It's tough trying to make decisions without legal rights. It's even tougher when you can't get help from doctors, attorneys, and even other family members.

I pray that I never become a burden to my family. I hope that when the time comes, that I'm able, at least financially, to provide for myself. It's hard to see the most senior of our clan, become an obligation to those who are already cash strapped. While I know, without doubt, that my husband and children would make sure I was properly cared for, why would I want to put that kind of stress on them? Why would I not prepare by giving someone power of attorney, activating a living will, if I so desire, and letting my wishes for disposing of my earthly body be known?

Is this morbid--to think about death? Or is this good common sense? You decide...

Your comments--priceless!!

I'm afraid of heights, VERY afraid of heights. And just the thought of driving over a bridge, gives me the shakes. I can do it, I have done it, but I need complete silence in the car and I'm usually terrified, and holding my breath until I get to the other side. One would probably wonder why, since I'm so frightened, I wouldn't just avoid bridges and find an alternate route?

Well, a long time ago, I realized that bridges serve a purpose. They are generally built to be an less difficult course than the ground route. It may rise above a body of water, train tracks, or more traffic. Usually, it's a gradual ascent and a gentle slope back down to ground level.

Not only are there traffic bridges, there are bridges in life, easy ways to get you from one place to another. As in traffic, you aren't always forced to take a bridge--there are alternative routes that will get you to the same destination. But the bridge trail is usually the easiest way.

Bridges and other obstacles sometimes appear in our paths on purpose, not coincidence or accidental. Many times we are being tested, to see what course we will take. Some of us(pointing at myself), simply refuse to take the effortless path--rather than a gradual ascent, I seem to like steep risings. Here's my question--why don't I need complete silence during those high altitude, parachute-less drops that follow?

Your comments--priceless!!

Choose the color of roses based on what you want to convey to that person. Also consider your relationship with him/her. Here are the traditional meanings of colored roses--but of course, work with your florist to be creative and start your own personal tradition.

Red: Love, Romance

Yellow: Joy, Friendship

Pink: Appreciation, Affection

Lavender: Enchantment, Love at First Sight

Blue: The Impossible, The Unattainable

Peach: Appreciation, Gratitude

Black: Death, Farewell

Orange: Worth, Enthusiasm

White: Marriage, Adoration

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I got my taxes done last weekend. Now, I'm waiting on my refund to be deposited directly into my savings account. My friends who live in California may have filed their taxes as well, but they don't know when to expect their refund. California has halted all state tax refunds indefinitely. What?

In this age of economic crisis, with foreclosures and repossessions everywhere you turn, they are suspending payments to their citizens? Seriously? Suppose those people have debts and were counting on that money to give them some breathing room? Suppose that check is the only thing standing between them and eviction/foreclosure? Suppose they've promised debtors that they would catch up on payments with that money? And they can give no indication of when to expect it?

Why is it that everyone gets a bailout except the folks whose money we are using? Can we get a moratorium on foreclosures, evictions, utility shut offs, and credit reporting of a negative nature? No? Then be prepared for the inevitable.

It's not right to back people into corners with no place to go. A person who feels that they have no way out can be dangerous. It breeds undue pressure, stress, and unfortunately, suicides and homicides. I believe the Federal Government should step in on this one. After all, whose fault is it that California is in this position--certainly not the residents'.

Your comments--priceless!!

Tomorrow is Groundhog Day. Folklore maintains that, every year on February 2nd, Punxatawney Phil, beloved mascot of a small, rural town in central Pennsylvania, makes his prediction on when there will be a break in the cold weather. Supposedly, if he emerges from his burrow and the weather is cloudy (he sees his shadow), then winter will soon end. If the weather is sunny, and he doesn't see his shadow, there will be 6 more weeks until Spring.

I think it would be great to have my very own Phil pet that I could carry around with me, giving me predictions on the future. For instance, when speaking to a prospect for the first time at work, I could ask Phil, "Will this turn into a contract, or am I wasting my time?" And Phil could say, "She has NO intention of doing business with you" and I could scratch her off my list and move on.

Or before I started watching a movie, I could ask Phil if I were going to fall asleep in the middle or not. Or before eating a meal, I could find out if it were going to give me heartburn or gas. Or before going on an interview, I could ascertain if that particular job was in my future.

The uses would be endless. I could save a ton of money on my daughter's college application fees, because I would know which would accept her. My morning commute would be a breeze because I would know which route would be fastest. I'd NEVER have to watch an awards show again, I'd already know the winners. Do you see where I'm going with this?

What would you use your personal Phil pet for? How could it help you save time and money?

Your comments--priceless!
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