Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Spending time

Dear Friends,

This past month my sisters were in from out of state. We were gathering to place our mothers remains in her final resting place. We created our own ceremony, ( thanks to my middle sister) hired a singer to sing hymns, bought some flowers, and placed our mother next to her husband in their plot here in NJ. It was an exceptional time. We rarely see each other because of the distance between our homes so this gave us reason to gather. I am pleased that it wasn't an expensive visit either. All in all we spent very little money celebrating birthday's, and celebrating life. What I noticed was that we enjoyed our time together more by cooking together at home, watching movies, playing games and talking. We ate one meal out and bought pizza another day. The rest of the time we went sight seeing, and chatted about old times. The food was spectacular and the time, precious. My sister and her family were able to stay at a family members summer condo, saving them $250 per night at a hotel and from squishing themselves into our tiny home. Her children went sight seeing with my children and really got to spend quality time together. Our eldest sister lives in PA so she was just here for the day, but we will see her at the family reunion. :))

Next we travel to see other family members whom we haven't seen in many years. We are staying at my aunt's house because it's so difficult to get a good hotel room that allows pets. Lucky for us to have generous family members. Everyone is contributing something to this reunion in order to share in the joy of giving and spending time with loved ones. My eldest cousin will pay his guitar along with my husband the bass player, I'm sending bouquets of flowers to decorate the tables with, my eldest sister and other members are bringing food. My other cousin is opening up her home for the reunion to take place at, and my aunt and uncle are providing sleeping quarters for as many people as possible. Together we can make it a great gathering without spending ridiculous amounts of money and still spend all our time together. The money we do spend will be spent with great joy in creating this time together.

All we need is each other. Reach out to family and pose the question "can we visit?" Put differences aside, respect opinions as just that, opinions. Create a good gathering, choose love and maintain closeness with family. Our lives are rich. We already have everything we need, but sometimes we just don't see it.



Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Garden Happenings

Dear Friends,

As the season has progressed, my garden has come along way. I added more fertilizer mid way through the season and can now see the results. I have been harvesting zuccini as have so many other gardeners, along with arugula. Sharing with my friends is one of the best parts to gardening. It brings me much joy to see their delight at my gift. Yesterday, I received in return for my gifts, a larg head of butter lettuce. I truly appreciate the thought, care and love that went in to his garden and the kind gesture on his part. Mutual appreciation all around.

I also have been reseeding some plants for fall harvest.  I have now started carrots, radishes, lettuce, spinach and peas. Hopefully they will grow and I'll reap the rewards of a successful veggie garden.  I bought a soil test kit to see what nutrients my soil lacks if any. I feel I should do this test after my season has ended because I'll not be able to amend the soil now.  Regardless, my garden thrives.  For the first time since living here I have a garden.  I guess it's the time, water and fertilizer that has paid off.  Prior to this year I had little time to contribute, and I did not fertilize enough to grow anything.

No mirical grow here. No roundup here either. I pull weeds or douse them with vinegar, and I feed my plants with manure and 10-10-10.  It has been a little difficult to do all this work since my car accident in March. I sustained back, neck and arm injuries that are healing slowly. However, I do only a little at a time and aquire help for the really heavy stuff.  Proof that a garden can be made with only a little time and effort.

More to follow as I progress. I will add some phots to my sight soon.

Peace, love and happiness


Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Cost of Living

Dear Friends:

Over this past few weeks I have been sprucing up my home by painting and cleaning. I have posted all along mentioning my adventures and my discoveries. I have a good life. I have good solid assets. My house for one, a reliable car, good furniture and dependable appliances. I follow the belief that if I "take good care of my assets, my assets will take care of me" so to speak.  Investing in quality has proven that to me over time.  If I buy that needed item and know I will need it for years to come, then cost may not totally be a factor.  There are few really great things that are cheap. Sometimes its better to hire a professional to do the work and other times I can do the work.  Like painting or cleaning.
The things I do are in a certain order and done from start to finish before starting another project.  This saves me from wasting money on items that I think I might need and will never use, save me time and effort because there is a specific start and end, and it keeps me from feeling stressed out by the unfinished mess in my home.  I have great discipline when it comes to projects and time management.  Skills I learned when I owned my own business.  I do not like unfinished things like business with a person, big projects, and so on.  I personally find it appealing to see the completed job so I can then make changes or sit back and reap the rewards.

All the things we do to protect our assets and still the cost of living keeps going up yet somehow we still continue on living life and making our dollars stretch. With rising costs in, well, everything taking care of my home and saving for my future have become more of a challenge than before. Its funny I heard my parents saying this same things in the 70's and 80's.  Still I am surprised at the low wages being paid and rising cost of so many of our everyday necessities.  It seems that everyday I hear of companies eliminating jobs and squeezing the existing workers to do multiple jobs under one job title.
Well, because of constant uncertainty in my earnings level, I have learned how to "play the rules".  Not break the law or get government handouts. Just play the rules. To clarify I will attempt to journal what I buy, what is deductible and what I can make myself.  I can deduct certain things from my taxes like medicines as we all know but did you know it is not limited to medicine?  Medical expenses are not just doctor visits and RX, Its the miles traveled to get such medical attention, (medical milage) and the out of pocket expenses you incur as a result of the diagnosis, like bandages, alcohol and, medication not covered by insurance and so forth.  In the following posts, I will show you just how much you can save if you know how. This is what I am talking about.  I don't presume to know everything, but I have a clue and am I always open to learning more.

Keeping it simple.


Thursday, June 19, 2014

Before you hire that painter read this

Good Morning:

I have been working on my home for several weeks now.  We are cleaning and purging what we don't want. This all started when I decided to make our lives more comfortable and relaxed. Along with cleaning I decided we need to paint our moldings in the house. Looking to hire a painter and exploring the cost vs. my time, I decided I could paint the interior trim one room at a time. I bought paint and planned to go over all the trim room by room. While cleaning the bathroom floor today I was thinking while cleaning like I always do (It's kind of like meditation for me) my mind wandered to a line in the film Bruce Almighty where Morgan Freeman (who plays God beautifully) says to Bruce (played by Jim Carey) "life can be messy, but you can always clean it up".  While on my hands and knees cleaning the floor I wiped over the moulding with my sponge revealing fresh white paint. I thought it was chipped paint but turns out dusting I do didn't remove all the dirt. I did all the trim in the bathroom with vinegar and water solution which I mixed with citrus cleaner, and the moulding looks new.  Whoever painted my bathroom used high gloss oil based paint and it really has held up. I'm scrubbing down all the trim now in the house noticing only some areas need painting. This is saving my self a lot of work, and money. I can return some of the paint which I never opened, and I feel content with the job being completed.  Well almost. I still have some trim to paint that is in fact chipped but it's only one or two areas!

Peace and Joy to all

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Watts the matter?

Hello All,

I wanted to tell you of my recent discovery regarding outdoor lighting. After Hurricane Sandy here in NJ, we were left without light for about 10 days. As a result I realized how dark the night is. We have a dark road compared to other areas in our county, but this time it was totally dark. No house lights, no street lights, no light pollution from the highway. Total darkness. I had battery operated lights but really wondered what I would do if I intact had run out of batteries and could not get them. Especially since people were buying them up left and right because we had mass power outages.  That experience taught me to think about a lot of things before the next disaster. Food cooking and light.  No I did not buy a generator. Nor did I  stock up on batteries. I had a crank radio that we cranked up to listen to the radio reports about what was going on. Since there was little to no communication available.  Then I realized the radio was also solar powered. ( that radio in a bit)   Remembering those tacky solar power, very dim, lights people place along their exterior path ways made me think about getting some. But what was the cost? After all they are dim and not bright at all. Well a little looking after the power came back on, and I found solar powered lights that were quite bright. 12 Lumens in fact!  Yes LED (Light emitting diode for those who do not know and call them led lights) stick in the ground path way or spot lights. They are completely solar powered and positionable. I bought a few to see how they worked. They stay on almost all night with total brightness after being fully charged.  I have been up early a few times and see that they have gotten dim by around 4 am. All in all they really are nice. 

I am always trying to reduce or eliminate my energy usage because of the cost, so I found new ways of using these lights to benefit me if I need in the future. First things first. I DID NOT place them along my pathway like some kind of landing strip to guide planes to. I am cheap but have some sort of taste, hopefully good.  I placed three in the front yard:

-One was placed by the mail box to light my walk way. Remember it is movable so I aimed it at the steps and the walk way and it looks great.  
-I positioned the second in the garden aimed down the other path to the rear door.  Fantastic!  
-The third light lights up the full front of the house so none will be able to trip and fall going from front to back. 
They look like professional lights on the house (how Jersey) and do a great job at illuminating my walk ways. I loved them so much I bought 4 more to light the back patio.  I also positioned them in the gardens to aim on the walking area and give the whole place a lit, bright, welcoming feel.  

These light do not necessarily have to be stuck in the ground as utilitarian lights like they are intended.  Get creative and you'll find other uses for them.
1. Buy the fancy ones and place 5 or 7 of them in a bucket or planter pot to make a bouquet table light. 
2. Add flowers or a potted plant and you have a lighted party planter to enjoy year round. 
3. Bring them inside to make a funny cute light bouquet in the house when the power goes out or to illuminate a dark stairwell.  
They need sun or daylight to charge fully so remember to bring it back out they next day to recharge. The cost savings will add up.  Last night we were outside and I felt happy with the way the house looked and was proud of my small investment that saves me big.  To check out my savings, I found a website that estimates our cost per kilowatt hour in cents and for NJ it was 15.93 cents per kWh.  Check it out on line at []  for the amount you will use or just look on the back of a light bulb package. In terms of LED light bulbs, 40 watts is 450 lumens, so buying LED bulbs will take a little education.  I figure I save about $40 per year just leaving off two bulbs one in front and one in back.  Not a lot of money but every little bit ads up and these look so cool.  I am investigating other solar powered things on line an have found so many cool toys. But like anything my frugal sense stops me from buy gadgets I really don't need. What I did buy, the other family members are using and loving. And they are of course EATING THEIR WORDS about how ridiculous I was buying "stupid" stuff.  They can also eat their words in the dark if so needed. lol.  

Love to all.

for information on where I purchase my items, write to :)

My Metal Recycling

Good Morning!

I have been busy growing my vegetable garden which is coming along nicely, and clearing out the old in my home to make room for the new. It feels good to dispose of items that, for some reason, we hang on to, but never use. I am not sure why we keep stuff, but, well, I cleaned house. Both mentally and physically.  I got together all the junk I did not want. Over a week of cleaning, and organizing then suddenly the fridge in the music studio dies.  "NO!" No running motor, not getting cold,  but the light is on. DANG! Well now what? Brainstorm.... I said to my Tom, "Let's see if some one will come take it." So we went to to find a person wanting some old appliances. As we did so Tom says "Call Blewett's." (**a local metal scrap yard)  I replied, "They don't take refrigerators, only clean metal."  So, Tom called a man who advertised that he takes old refrigerators and other appliances. Well just as he was talking on the phone to that person,  it occurred to me that Tom is most likely right and that we should call the scrap metal place to see if they do in fact take refrigerators. Guess what?  They Do! "Any metal" said the lady at the scrap recycling place.
$$ Kaching! $$.  So, here we go!  We are looking around the house and yard to make this trip worth every penny. We stuff the old fridge in the van and our neighbor comes to help. (We love Fred and all our neighbors. Salt of the earth they are.  God blessed us with these neighbors.)  So Fred says "What are you doing with this?" "It's broke" we said. "we are taking it to Blewett's." Fred replies, "So now you will have "beer" money." "I also have aluminum chairs you can take if they can fit."  We laughed at the reference to the amount of money we will likely make from our "scrap metal".  As it turns out, I have lots of scrap. No kidding!  I found old metal pipes, a broken ladder, a lamp, wine rack, disk break pads, chairs from Fred's, and so forth.

We head over to Blewett's metal recycling and pull in.  From the front all you see is a fence with a sign that says "Drive up".  Tom knew what to do so he told me to pull forward onto the scale. We did and were weighed. Then we were directed to the drop off area. It was a very busy place. People from all over the area were there doing the same thing. Driving all around back and forth dropping off metal. I have never had such an experience before. Men with pickup trucks dumping old chairs, car parts, TV's along with every other metal object they could scrounge up. It looked like mayhem but it was infact a well functioning yard. Then, I saw this big backhoe with a car body stuck to the front. The driver is driving all over the place with it. I was confused as to what to do because everyone seemed to be going in every direction.  Trucks are parked dropping off stuff, then driving around you as you pull in, then backing up really fast toward you only to turn around and drive out.  After a few minutes of unloading our "scrap" I realized that the backhoe driver with the car stuck to the front actually had a purpose.  He was using the car body as a broom!  Holy moly!  He backed up then pushed the scrap piles to one bigger pile across the lot. Over and over he did this to create one giant pile of metal for crushing. The other people, who seemingly are driving aimlessly in every direction, are used to this place and know exactly what to do because they have done it a billion times before. It was just my perception that this was mayhem.  But it wasn't.  We then got to the area where you drop off aluminum and brass. You get more if you sort your metal's.  We wait on line, then back in when it's our turn. We get a ticket for those metal's,  then get weighed again. Tom parks the van in the lot and goes in to the office to get paid. Within 4 minutes he comes out with a receipt detailing our metals and weight of the scrap, along with a few dollars. "Well, we got beer money." "$40."

All smiles we headed home with a new experience together and a great understanding of how people make money with scrap metal.  How useful John Blewett's place is in keeping our landfills free of useful waste.  Many others will benefit from this scrap metal yard too.  From the people who collect it, to the people who buy it from Blewett's.  What a great memory we will share and a fabulous experience in recycling.

Need Money? Two words. Scrap Metal.


**It is my understanding that the metal from Blewett's is sorted by type, crushed, cubed, and sold to companies who will melt it down and manufacture something useful.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Cleaning: What your Mother never told you

Good Morning Friends:

I have been working on some new ideas for cleaning and have found the information I'm about to write here to be very valuable.

My mother was an excellent housekeeper. In her older years she had some one come do the work for her but to her specifications. Her house always looked organized and clean. The only thing I noticed was amount of different cleaning products. She had ten or twelve different cleaning products to clean every different surface in her home.  It occurred to me that perhaps we could use only four basic ingredients to conquer the same tasks, so I went on a mission. Here's what I have found.

1.  Vinegar is more useful than we estimate

2. Hydrogen Peroxide is great for blood

3.  Soap and water clean most everything

4. Ammonia is the single best grease cutter and crud cutter on the planet

If you use these four basic ingredients you have an arsenal of cleaning power for only a few dollars and they do every job you can imagine.  Here's what I mean.

Vinegar can be used as a disinfectant, grease cutter, drain de-clogger, window cleaner, and laundry aide. I use vinegar for all these things but find it most useful as my fabric softener. I love the way it works. It measures the same as my downy but costs a fraction to use. No my clothes do not smell like vinegar. Next is peroxide. This lil' wonder removes so many stains I can't begin to name them all. I heard from my mom that is cleans out blood. So I got my feminine stained panties from the wash and went to work on the blood with straight peroxide. I let it sit in a wash tub with a little on the stain, then rubbed and viola! Wash as usual and gone! I also use it in place of the oxide cleaner for the laundry and found peroxide to work just as well. I buy it in large bottles at a buying club to save on money. It also will whiten yellowed whites if washed the dried in the sun. I no longer use bleach unless its really tough. It is also good to rinse your mouth with after brushing. Use a little peroxide mixed with water to kill all the germs in your mouth, but DO NOT SWALLOW!  Peroxides could be lethal.

Soap and water obviously clean what we already know, however, rinsing is the most important part. If you do not thoroughly rinse the soap you will see the dirt reappear. Make certain you have rinsed till no bubbles can be seen, and wring out if possible. Never use it on a carpet because the stain will show again where you scrubbed. Instead on carpets use vinegar.

Ammonia is awful smelling but, with a little tolerance you can cut tough grease in the kitchen in no time. Also use it on windows cut with water 10 - 1.  I also use it to clean my gold jewelry and gemstones. I mix half water and half ammonia in a small plastic cup and swish. No more dirt and they gleam too!

I have many more cleaning solutions. Share this information with your friends and email me if you need help getting a spot out. I may have a solution you never thought of.

Suzanne Richards

Thursday, May 22, 2014

My responsibility to ME

I have been over this and over this in my thoughts. Many times over the years I have had to make tough choices to maintain my balance in life. To create a happy and joyful life for myself ad my family. I have the ability to conduct my life the way I believe is right for me. No one else but me has this ability. I choose how and with whom I spend my time. The places I have chosen to work are all good or great companies. If the energy there changes and it I am no longer fulfilled I can move on.

On Sunday I went to work at my store in Howell. I am a cashier in Home Depot. As soon as the store opened I had customers. Some had large dollar bills with which to pay. I requested change from our bookkeeping and made change. As the morning progressed, I encountered several customer who made small purchases and paid with a $100 bill or a $50 bill. Not uncommon. One of those customers who made a small purchase and paid with a $100 bill I gave change to in the amount of $80 or so dollars, which was comprised of 1 $50 and 1 $20 and 1 $10, I thank him for shopping and he leaves. After many hours working and near the end of my shift my manager tells me that the customer called the store and stated that I gave him a "phony"(counterfeit) $50 bill. He further states that "he knew it was phony when I gave it to him. I tested it with my money tester and it is certainly phony."  The store policy is Customers First. My manager questioned me about it, checked my register drawer, and then walked away. My shift ended and went home. The store manager assured me that I was not in any trouble at all but that the store policy was to please the customer and side with him. Still feeling very upset and concerned that I had been targeted I went home and tried to get it off my mind. I returned to work on Tuesday of this week and was placed at a register near the one I was at on Sunday. at around 10:30 am a customer comes to my register, I greet him, he has about $28 in items to purchase, hands me a $50 bill and says, "You gave this to me the other day, so now I am giving it back to you."  My beliefs are confirmed. He is targeting me. There had been an arrest of a man in my county near this store who passed a counterfeit $50 to a taxi driver and was arrested for it.

This brings me back to my first statement. While I trust the managers word that I am not being accused of laundering counterfeit money, I am responsible for what happens at my register. I have security measures in place and take care to be accurate in my transactions. However, I no longer feel confident that this will not happen again with this customer. I have been un easy since his return on Tuesday and called out sick yesterday. So I am taking charge of my future. I have the ability to request a to be moved to another area in the store, or I can leave and find a new job, or I can just ignore all that has happened and continue on as usual. I no longer feel confident, I no longer feel secure. I have decided to resign. No one will be happy with my choice but I. Most will be upset that I am taking this stance. Experience within this retail industry has shown me what happens to cashiers who mishandle their money till. I could be fired if the store feels I am a risk. I do not want anyone to mar my outstanding customer service history nor will I allow it to unfold to see if this will happen. For me, I see that my spirit has been hurt not only by this customer but others.

I am the only one who is responsible for my happiness. You are the only one who is responsible for your happiness.