October 10, 2017

Just an Opinion!

Last week, Tuesday, October 2nd, to be exact, I was hit with a heavy metal door exiting work.  I went home, iced my arm/shoulder, and went to work the next day.  Swelling and pain skyrocketed, forcing me to visit a walk-in clinic.  Luckily, there was no break, a cross body sling, muscle relaxers, and rest were the doctor’s directives.  So, I’ve taken it easy, arm in sling, propped up in bed with a multitude of pillows, navigating the world-wide web!  I’ve read incessantly and now believe I have earned the title of “largest reciprocal of useless information.”

During my online perusal of different topics I gravitated to sites that I hoped would improve my life and standard of living.  What I uncovered was a multitude of articles that seemed silly and foolish, so I had to investigate.  There is much hype surrounding “living your best life” and  “being your authentic self.”  Some of these articles were written by psychiatrists and the likes of Dr. Phil, Oprah, and Huffpost, the list went on and on! These  must be hot topics, and I wasn’t in the loop, yet!  So I read as many articles that I needed in order to form this educated opinion.

All of the articles were slightly different in the number of steps involved in “living your best life” as well as tips, quotes to help you accomplish this feat.  In a nutshell,  one would give best effort into everything you attempt, be present in the moment, and derive satisfaction in the life you live.  Living a minimalistic life can also contribute to “living your best life.”  I felt by reading articles about “being your authentic self” that it was clearer in defining what you need to do to be “your authentic self.”  One should  never define themselves by occupation, marital status, social status, or where you live.  What makes you authentic is you and your uniqueness and ability to be your “authentic self,” not what you think others require of you.  You don’t require sympathy, affection, or approval of others.  

I found much of what I read suspect.  It would be extremely difficult for me to live “my best life” or to “being my authentic self.”  Like many others I am first and foremost committed to myself and my happiness, but need to navigate the realities of the world I live in, which requires me quite often to respond and act differently than I would like.  

Much of what I read must be taken with a grain of salt.  If I really bought into the checklist and reasoning behind “living your best life” or “being your authentic self”, I would be neither.  I would be the generic individual who is following others to achieve a lifestyle that is set by their criteria and not my needs!  I’ll continue being my genuine self by using common sense when sharing honestly with what I feel, as well as appreciating the opinions of others!  I hope my arm heals quickly because I don’t have many more days of recuperation left in my authentic self!  Be well!

October 3, 2017

Do you really need a “Holiday Financial Game Plan”?

What a title for a blog post referring to the “most wonderful time of the year”! Some people look forward all year-long to the weeks between Thanksgiving and Christmas, most commonly known as the “Holiday Season”.  Whether they look forward to the parties, seasonal foods, or gift giving, it is the “most wonderful time of the year” that can financially exhaust you.  Being of mature age, I’ve used different plans throughout the years ranging from Christmas Saving Clubs, shopping all year, and forensic planning, realizing marginal success.  Here are some tips that over the years have kept me out of the red, and able to sail into the New Year without a stack of bills.

$$$$ Set a budget for what you intend to spend, but don’t make the mistake I’ve made for years. I always came up with a list of people, on this list was their name, intended gift to purchase, and a box to check when purchased.  In retrospect, sorry for the recipients, whose presents were purchased last, not really, I just overcharged and was happy to be done.  I found a better way to handle holiday finances, set a realistic holiday budget that focuses on the amount of money you want to spend, not what you want to buy. This is a bigger challenge that it may seem. It has taken many failed attempts to get it right and not stack up debt, and then I realized most of the debt I incurred was a result of the additional food, liquor, forgotten presents, Christmas tree, entertainment, and the list could go on and on!  Since the expenses and the budget changes from year to year, you need to re-establish a budget early and accurately include all expenses in your budget as not to be short on money and dependent on credit cards.

$$$$ Budget in hand, how to make it happen. Pay cash! Sounds good, but I have difficulty doing so.  I like charging my purchases, stores keep track of what was paid for an item and if you lose your receipt and need a return, you get the price you pay, not the sale price.  Since my budget is based on what I comfortably can spend and pay off immediately, I’m able to do this with pretty good success. My motivation comes from memories of paying off high-interest charge cards into April or May on presents I can’t remember.  So, starting off preparing for the holiday season early (October), you are able to take your time getting presents and diminishing impulse buying. 

$$$$ In the past some of the things that have gotten me into trouble was overspending to get rewards. Last year on cyber Monday at a department store purchasing a lipstick, I was invited (sarcasm) to spend $28 more and receive a free gift worth $125. I fell for it, and received a bunch of samples in a naugahyde bag, how foolish and frivolous!  Normally, I would blog about the products in the free gift, but, I was so rip-roaring mad that I fell for this, I didn’t! 

$$$$ In addition to budgeting, there are some other strategies I use before and during the holiday season. Early fall, I’ll make a leisurely trip and visit the alcohol store. I pick up a mixed case of wine (20% off whole cases), using some as gifts and entertaining.  I try to limit my time physically in stores so that I will not be tempted to overspend.  I shop online, only in the stores that offer free shipping and postage paid returns.  If I really need something from a store that doesn’t have free shipping, I will order online and pick up in store, if possible.  There are tons of suggestions, to limit overspending during the holiday season, but the one I like that helps rein in my spending is, remember the reason for the season.  No matter what you celebrate, keep the holiday’s spiritual message in mind!  

Have a great week!  

September 26, 2017

Early Autumn Compilation!


The Definitive Sign!  Summer is over!

Thursday and Friday of last week I was off from work.  I definitely was not expecting good weather, but was pleasantly surprised on Thursday by the mild, but overcast sky!  We did have to contend with the hurricanes that have graced us with their presence, but certainly not as devastating as many other states.  It is difficult to be grateful for dodging a bullet, when so many others are in crisis!   Yet, even with the unpredictable weather at hand, the beauty of Narragansett Bay is breathtaking.  I wanted pictures of the waves and came back with pics of theses guys!

Awakening on Friday morning, I felt and heard the heat running, the first day of autumn had arrived!  It was certainly a sweatshirt and fleece pant kind of day.  Earlier in the week I had picked up new sweats and paraded around with them all day!  So as I sit and critique the August and September Birchbox products worth mentioning, I must admit these two boxes were heads above what I’ve been sent previously, in the last six 6 boxes.  

August Faves!

amika  Bombshell Blowout Spray

The blowout spray is a heat-protective mist that boosts the hair’s volume and body.  Loved it, left my hair silky and shiny without drying my hair out.

GLAMGLOW® THIRSTYMUD™ Hydrating Treatment

Hydrated my skin, what I liked best about this product was ease of use.  You apply to your clean face, leave on for 10-20 minutes, whip off, and either wash off or massage residual product into your skin.  Ingredient list is impressive, hyaluronic acid, raw honey, and ginger root.

September Faves!

Davines  MINU Shampoo, MINU Conditioner, & MINU Hair Serum

There is nothing negative to be said about these products.  It does the job, and it does it beautifully.  I’ll probably will not purchase these products, only because the price is steep, even though it may be worth it!  

Finally, I think I’ve enjoyed today’s writing experience even more than I usually do, probably because of my comfy clothes that kept me warm today!  I have shut the heat off and am ready to embrace the new season. Have a great week!  

Jeff’s Apple Pan Dowdy

What food plan is this on?

September 19, 2017

Reflection On Life With RA!

I flatly refuse to let RA define or dictate my life and daily activities. It’s one thing to have no control over the medical treatment I receive, but it’s up to me to deal with the physical and psychological effects that RA challenges me with daily. What I struggle greatly with is being my manager of my physical needs that change way to often. Even possessing an unrelenting strength to succeed, doesn’t always yield positive results. I’ve come to realize that medication alone does not guarantee any quality of life, but I am solely responsible for my quality of life. So once again I reevaluate my commitment to only treat this disease, not live this disease. These are the things I have come up with!

My success is rooted in my attitude and mastery of time management. I must focus on efficiency and prioritize my needs by setting realistic goals. My goals should focus on my environment and passion of acquiring tools that will sustain a gratifying life with RA. I must stay on top of things in spite of challenges. Being goal oriented would include eating healthy, incorporating to-do-lists in my daily life, and making multitasking a thing of the past. It is instrumental for me to periodically reassess what works and what doesn’t, and finally, work harder on things that need change. I’ll never lose as long as I keep trying! Have a great week! Mary Ann

September 12, 2017

Art Naturals

On April 19th, 2016, Essential Oils, was the title of my second blog post when I started writing  RA Style & Flare.   The post was a short review of three essential oils I had tried to reduce dry skin.  At the time I knew nothing about essential oils other than they were an alternative product that could be used to heal skin conditions.  I did find success with one of the three products, yet never really adopted any affection for essential oils.  Well, I am now a total fan of the oils since I was sent samples of the Art Naturals Artisan Oil, Essential 8 Set.   

It wasn’t as if I knew exactly what to do with the oils, so a recipe book explaining the myriad of uses for the 8 different bottles of oils, prompted my experimentation.   I was so excited that I tried many recipes and would like to share my favorites with you.

 In the kitchen, I substituted a few drops of lemongrass oil to the dishwasher rinse dispenser instead of my Finish Rinse Aid.  My dishes came out just as clean and shiny with the addition of the pleasing scent of lemon and sans chemicals.

I now spray my counter tops with lemongrass and tea tree oil mixed with warm water, I enjoy the scent, and my counters are as clean as when I  use my chemically infused products.

 A burst of lavender engulfed my bedrooms when I vacuumed with drops of the lavender in my vacuum bag.

 I added a few drops of sweet orange to my foot bath and didn’t notice any difference in comparison to the bath oils I usually soak my feet in, but now I prefer the scent of sweet orange essential oils in my foot bath.

The list is extensive on how you can use the essential oils. The recipes range from beauty, seasonal scents developed with a combination of oils, as well as aromatherapy play dough and scented finger paints and more!

I discovered the advantages of using these oils are to be cost-effective, as well as having the ability to premix my all-purpose cleaners, carpet deodorizer, and insect repellent as needed.  The icing on the cake is the purging of so many products that contain synthetic compounds rather than the natural oils.  I probably would have never changed my ways if Art Naturals did not include the recipe book that is easy to follow and listed so many ways to use the oils.  It is to my advantage to maintain a healthful lifestyle and I intend to continue to use these essential oils.  Have a great week!



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