Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Coupon Update -- They are paying ME now!

I just added 91 cents to the fund!

Why am I excited about 91 cents?  Well, let me tell you....

I went into Publix last week and bought
--2 rolls of Reynolds Wrap aluminum foil
--5 bottles of Kraft squeezable mayo
-- a 10-pack of Capri Sun

and they PAID ME!                   

I thought I would owe them about $3 and some change but I figured wrong.  They handed me 91 cents. That was a first for me. I was shocked they'd give me money to take stuff out of their store.

I do have a more substantial deposit to make into the Italy fund soon, but I thought this was worth a mention.

NOTE:  Several of you have been asking me about couponing and how to do it.  I have added some links to my favorite coupon sites. They have a lot of "how to" information.  Just dig in and start reading. The key is to find coupon sites for your state and city.  The reason for this is that sales and coupon inserts in newspapers vary by states and regions.  I live in the Nashville area so the sites I listed are mostly for that region.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Low Energy Club

Many years ago a close friend and I started a little club called "The Low Energy Club"   It was great.  She was the president by default since we had no energy to debate or even take a vote.  That would have required us to lift our hands or something.  She thought of it so she had to be the president.  I was the vice president.  And that was pretty much it.  We had no official meetings and never accomplished diddly squat.  The extent of our leadership in the club consisted of deciding who was in and who was not. We only had to move our lips.  It went something like this...

Me: (with an ever-so-slight tilt of my head in her direction) Did you see her?
President:  Uh huh.
Me:  Too much energy.
President:  Yep.
Me: Can't be in our club.
President: Nope.

Meeting adjourned.

Between the two of us we had about 7 or 8 kids and that pretty much explains our lack of energy.  We were pooped.  We wondered how in the world other women did what they did.  There was one particular woman in our circle of friends who had 10 children.  She was perpetual motion.  We always marveled at how rich we would be if we could bottle that woman's energy and sell it.  She ran circles around us.  Even her lips moved faster than ours.  We never figured it out.

Low energy aside, I do enjoy seeing people accomplish great things. I admired the energetic woman with 10 kids. She was awesome.  I also like reading books about people who overcome hardships and use their passion to leave a mark on the world. One thing I've noticed though is that when you condense someone's life into about 200 pages anyone could look high energy and accomplished.

Maybe even me.

Leonardo Da Vinci did a lot of cool stuff.  We mostly think of Da Vinci as one of the greatest painters of all time.  Therefore it is quite surprising to learn that he was also an engineer, inventor, anatomist, geologist, sculptor, architect, cartographer, musician, scientist, mathematician, botanist, and writer.

Whew!  NOT low energy.

Of course, he never married and had no kids so what else could he do? Even then, one gets the distinct impression that even Leonardo was spread too thin.  I'm not so sure that painting was even his true passion, even though he was undoubtedly one of the best. He did do a lot of it.  It may surprise you to know, however, that much of his work was abandoned and never completed.  It is true that his brain seemed to race faster than his performance.  He also had some failures along the way. As a matter of fact, one might consider The Last Supper to have been a near failure. His outlandish experimentation with a never-tried-before mixture of oil paint and tempera on wet plaster caused the painting to peel away almost immediately.  Leonardo also had a habit of spending slow hours observing nature or people as well as viewing and contemplating what he had already done.  This frustrated many along the way.  They thought he was wasting precious time.

Wow!  Leonard Da Vinci is actually beginning to sound a lot like a possible candidate for my little club!

I hope you know that I do not take pleasure in Da Vinci's lack of perfection.  I use him as an example for a couple of reasons. First of all, everyone knows how amazing he was, so there is no danger that one will think less of him.  The other reason has to do with his interesting evaluation of the life he lived... 

"He felt he could have used his genius to better advantage; he should have worked harder when he was a young man; he should have accomplished more.  He wished he hadn't played so many pranks." (Artists of the Renaissance by Irene Earls)

Surprised, aren't you?

Maybe not.  I get the feeling that regardless of who we are and what we've done, we'd all say something very similar  Already, I look back on the family I loved and cared for and see things I wish I'd done better (I could have... I should have ... and on and on.).  Well, at least I was not much for pranks, so no regrets there (sigh of relief).

So, what are we to learn from all this?

--Maybe that we probably become the most accomplished and recognized for the things we do most often...where the seemingly mundane, everyday tasks turn out to be our most polished offerings since that is where we were most consistent.  We just have to make sure those daily tasks are of the greatest value.

--Not being afraid to try new things, even if they seem to fail. We may be surprised who appreciates it. 

--We can only do so much...yet there will always be so much more we could do. That keeps us striving.

-- Time spent in observation, contemplation, and review may be the among the best use of our time.  We can ignore those nagging voices that urge us to merely "stay busy."

-- Our minds will probably always stay at least one or two steps ahead of us and we'll probably never achieve our idealWe can keep trying though.


When I look at this list, I think even a low energy person could do all of the above. Perhaps living a hyperactive life is not the highway to success.  As a matter of fact, it has long been a belief of mine that what we DO is not the point of life.  Rather, it's what we BECOME as a result of what we do that is the measure of a successful life.  It was Leonardo himself who said, "You can have no dominion greater or less than that over yourself."           

The Low Energy Club has long been inactive (pardon the pun).  My friend moved away and our kids grew up.  I do have a little less on my plate these days...hence more energy.   However, in the spirit of my inner low energy self, I say to all of you kindred spirits to hang in there.  I think we may be onto something.

My greatest masterpiece is my family, even though I know it seemed like a huge experiment at times.  In the process I learned to love more than I ever dreamed possible and I'm still amazed at their impact upon my heart.  Thanks to them I learned some things... mostly about myself.  I am better because of them.

This meeting is now adjourned.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Follow the Script!

Despite getting older, I never tire of things romantic or a good love story. You'd think as women age and lose their "blossom" they would tire of all the lovey dovey stuff, but I'm telling you it just doesn't go away. There is something magnetic about witnessing young love unfolding or watching (and rewatching) a good romantic movie. Even this portrait entitiled "The Kiss" (painted by Italian painter Francesco Hayez) captures my attention and conjures up dreamy thoughts of heartfelt bliss. I keep wondering if I'll still be as captivated when I'm 80. I'll let you know.

I've never been one to read romance novels, but I do enjoy a movie where romance is depicted in a chaste and noble fashion. As I write this, there are scores of young ladies (and some not so young ladies) hitting the theaters to see the new Twilight movie. I, for one, am not one of them. Edward and Jacob are too pale and melancholy for my taste and their lines don't send my heart in a tailspin as they do some. I'm more of a Tom Hanks, Harrison Ford, Richard Geer, and Colin Firth kind of girl. Tom is every man, Harrison is just macho enough but still human, Geer is dignified and has that cute smile, and Firth is Mr. Darcy (nuff said). You know, it's really not a lust thing for us ladies. Tom is not really that handsome and neither is Colin. Harrison Ford is an old man. Richard Geer.....okay, maybe he's kind of cute.

The thing is we just love it when a man knows the perfect thing to say to a woman at just the right time, even if he is saying it to someone else instead of us. One thing to note though is that there is one huge difference between these actors and my husband. Those actors have the benefit of good script writers. They know what to say at just the right moment because someone else told them what would work. That is cheating and not true romance. Therefore, it is very unfair to compare such pretenders to my husband, a good man who doesn't have the benefit of a skilled script writer.

To my husband's credit, he has mostly figured out what NOT to say in most instances. However, from time to time I do wish he had a really good line from a script when I am hoping for a romantic tidbit rather than a totally male response to a situation.

An incident that happened the other day is a classic example of not exactly getting the response I'd hoped for.

Our current bishop from church dropped by Sunday afternoon and handed me an envelope our former bishop's wife found in her husband's office when she was cleaning out some of his things. That man was our bishop when we first married, but unfortunately he passed away a couple of years ago. In the envelope was the first tithing my husband and I had paid after getting married almost 28 years ago! Apparently our original bishop had mistakenly taken the envelope home in his coat pocket and it never made it back to the church to be recorded and deposited. Therefore, inside the envelope was $24.25 in cash with the tithing slip filled out in my husband's handwriting and dated Oct 31, 1982.

My husband was not home at the time and I could not wait for him to return. I just knew he would really enjoy this little surprise. I could not help but think about how simply our lives began as husband and wife. I was working full time but he had been laid off of his job for months. He was doing some work in a friend's business as well as participating in medical research studies at the teaching hospital in order to make a little extra money. This envelope of money represented our commitment to God and to each other as we began our marriage. How sentimental! Even the original bishop's last name was LOVE! How cool is that. This is the actual money we touched and placed in an envelope a little over a month after we married. I could not help but remember how young we were and how far we had come in our years together. This was something special indeed! I imagined that he would hold the envelope of money in his hand and get a little smile on his face as he looked into my eyes and told me about his memory of the young girl he married and maybe even say something about me still being beautiful or something cool like that. This was gonna be good!


When I handed him the envelope he grew a furrowed brow of confusion on his face as he reached for my glasses so he could read the piece of paper. "What!" he said with a tightly wrinkled and bespeckled nose, saying "Huh!" as he cocked his head mechanically to the side.

Not romantic.

I explained the whole thing to him and waited for his tenseness to ease as recognition and understanding finally crossed his loving and adoring face.

Instead he tossed the envelope forward out of his hands as if it were a HOT potato straight from the oven! He could not understand why I would have kept it and not shoved it back into the bishop's hands immediately! Lord's money! Not ours!

Even when I told him I planned to keep this "special" money but write a check for the $24.25 next Sunday, he still did not have the reaction that I had scripted in my head. I asked him if there was even a tiny piece or speck of him that thought this was just a little sweet, and he responded with a statement about the whole thing being disturbing.

You know, you just have to laugh at this stuff (and my daughter who witnessed the entire thing did just that). I totally get his reaction because I have lived with this man for 28 years and know how important commitment and duty are to him. That was all he saw in that envelope. Duty to God that had not been taken care of properly.

The label "Italian" comes with many expectations. From the days of Casanova, those Italians have had a reputation for charming women the world over. I've heard it said that an "Italian man flirts like other men breathe -- regularly and naturally." I wonder where they learn that stuff?!

Even though I sometimes imagine my husband caressing my cheek or playfully twisting my hair as we relax on the beach (he hates the beach), I mostly know that I am loved and cared for very well. We laugh a lot and get along quite nicely. He rubs my feet at night and runs to the store for an Icee anytime I mention I'd like one. There are plenty of ways love is expressed and I have been married to a man for 28 years that is 100% devoted to me. Some of the most romantic words that have spilled from his lips are these...

"Is there anything I can do for you today, dear?"

Now who can complain about that?

The Italy fund just got $24.25 richer. I think spending that money together in a romantic place like Italy would be just the perfect thing.

I'll bet those professional script writers could not come up with a better idea.