Recession Mama











{October 4, 2009}   No Horsing Around #2

From Heather

Back in May we told you about a Texas woman who found a unique way to keep busy while searching for a new job. Cheryl and her horse, Remington, were going for the Guinness World Record for tallest living horse. Besides have a BIG personality, this Clydesdale also stands 80 inches without shoes from hoof to the top of his shoulder.

 

Remington

Remington

Big drum roll here….. Remington GOT the TITLE!

Since the title was captured, life has been a bowl full of carrots for “Remi”  and a whirlwind for his owner, Cheryl. Here’s an update from her.

By Cheryl

Since receiving the notification from Guinness that Remington captured the Guinness World Record for tallest living horse, his trainer and I have experienced excitement and a great sense of accomplishment for the big boy.  To put it simply, it has been surreal.The day I received the news, he enjoyed a lot of extra carrots for a job well done.  He doesn’t really know why he got the extra carrots and he really doesn’t care.  Remember, with Remington it’s all about the food!

Right now, there is a woman in Canada claiming that her Clydesdale Poe is 20.2 hands and she is waiting for Guinness to verify his height.  So, if he is proven to be taller than Remington, then his title will be relinquished and Remington might just have to go for a new world record category, of the shortest time a record was held.  We sincerely hope not.  And, I wonder if there is such a category.  I may just have to look into that.

What ever the outcome, Remington is the current world record holder and although we expected someone to challenge this title, we didn’t expect it to be this soon!

Overall, it’s been an amazing journey.  The outpouring of support from around the world, the rapid growth of his blog followers, and the experience of going for the record itself, will always be a wonderful memory.  And I will continue to share his adventures with everyone who has been enjoying his stories.

At a time, when there has been so much unhappiness going around, between the sagging economy, the enormous loss of jobs, including mine, a continuing war and so much more, there was a time for hope and a time to share that hope with others.  Remington’s stories helped to show the world, that despite troubled times, there is always a way for something good to shine through.

Most of all, Remington is such an amazing horse, that I wanted to share him with everyone and brings some smiles to their faces.  Well, he certainly has done that and will continue to do that for many years to come, for as long as people want to hear about him.

We don’t know what will happen next, but no matter what, my love for the big guy and the pride I have for him will continue to grow stronger.  He’s always been a winner in my heart and he always will be.

Warm Regards,
Cheryl & Remington

Thanks for the update Cheryl. We all hope that Remi gets to hang on to the title and dazzle people at  State Fairs and parties for years to come.  Remington not only holds a special place in your heart… but he has captured the affection of so many others. World record or not he’ll always hold the title of “World’s Most Loved Horse.”

Keep up to date on Remington’s antics by reading Cheryl’s blog. http://ofcourseimahorse.blogspot.com/2009/09/remi-wins-title.html

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{September 27, 2009}   GUEST POST: Five weeks in Africa

By Stephanie Bowen (Stephanie wrote Thoughts from Uganda for Recession Mama awhile back.  By popular demand, she is back with an update and photos!)

congokidssteph&kenyakidsuganda

I have been back from Africa for over a month now and parts of my trip feel like a distant memory, where others I know will stay with me for a very long time. It was a trip for work but I grew so much personally that I would’ve gone as a volunteer (don’t tell my boss)!

A little background: I work for the humanitarian aid organization International Medical Corps. We focus on health care and training with the ultimate goal of helping communities become self-reliant. Our work literally saves lives and builds healthy futures. I’m not just saying this as their PR person – I’ve seen it first-hand. First in Indonesia about two years after the tsunami, now in Uganda, Kenya, and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

This was my first trip to Africa and as you may remember from my blog reflecting on my wanderings through Kampala, I was immediately struck by the warmth of the people. That warmth continued on into Kenya and the Congo. Bright colors and big smiles were everywhere. Children were always running up to our vehicle, chasing us while laughing and waving. At one point I was in the middle of a refugee settlement in southwest Uganda surrounded by children who couldn’t stop laughing and screaming, so excited that I was taking their photograph and even more intrigued when I showed them the digital images. It was so much fun for me that I didn’t want to leave. To see that much joy in a situation that quite frankly can be very joyless was quite intoxicating.

kampalakidsMugangaIcampslums

The reality of life in the refugee settlements I visited in Uganda and the internally displaced persons camps I visited in the Congo were tough. Women who had been raped and left alone and pregnant (http://www.imcworldwide.org/Page.aspx?pid=665), and children who were so malnourished it was a miracle they were still alive (http://www.imcworldwide.org/Page.aspx?pid=687). But there were also many stories that left me feeling very good.

I haven’t formally written about it yet, but we have an amazing program in Kenya that has made great strides in fighting HIV and helping those who are infected. It’s our Home-Based Counseling and Testing program. We started it in Suba, which is along the shores of Lake Victoria and the HIV/AIDS rate is very high – some say up to 30% — because many women there frequently trade sex for fish so they can feed their families. We reached 100% coverage in Suba and now have expanded to a neighboring community, Migori.

marcy&jessica

Marcy and Jessica are just two of the women who are participating in this program. Having met with a volunteer community mobilizer, Marcy, and her sister-in-law, Jessica, decided to get tested for HIV – they wanted to know their status. Marcy has a five-month-old baby with her husband, Jessica’s brother, and being able to get tested in their shared home made it convenient and confidential. After preparing the women for all the possibilities and educating them about HIV and AIDS – the difference between them, transmission methods, risk reduction, etc. – they took their tests, which only needed about 10 minutes to process. They chose to get their results separately and were both happy to learn that they were negative. If they had been positive, International Medical Corps would’ve been there to make sure they knew how to access treatment and counsel them through the process. International Medical Corps has 44 counselors who go door to door, administering HIV tests in this one area alone. We test 3,000 people a month!

This is one of our community educators in the Kyaka II refugee settlement. The t-shirt she is wearing is one means of conveying information.

This is one of our community educators in the Kyaka II refugee settlement. The t-shirt she is wearing is one means of conveying information.

I don’t want to get too bogged down in the details of the program, but what I observed with the several families I witnessed getting tested is that this program is not only helping people who are infected it is changing people’s views on the disease. Stereotypes are being broken down, treatment is being sought and prevention measures are becoming more and more acceptable. Change is taking place around AIDS in Africa, one person and one family at a time.

hilaryclintonhilaryclinton2

I think the biggest highlight for me was when Secretary of State Hillary Clinton made a stop by one of our programs in the Congo (http://www.imcworldwide.org/Page.aspx?pid=686). We of course knew she was going through Congo on her Africa tour but were thrilled to learn that she was going to visit our nutrition program at the Mugunga I camp for those displaced inside their own country due to the ongoing war. I was supposed to come home right after Kenya, but got diverted to Congo to help document her visit. Even though I had spent six years in Washington, DC working for CNN, it was so thrilling for me to see our field staff – 96% of whom are local – being recognized in this very big way. People asked me if I met her or got my photo taken with her and to be honest, it never occurred to me because it was all about them. They are the people who are doing the hard work day in and day out and I was so glad she took the time to SHAKE EVERYONE’S HAND!

giraffezebrassteph&monkey

Okay – enough about International Medical Corps! Some of the other highlights of my trip were visiting the Nairobi National Park where I saw giraffes, ostriches, zebras, a hippo and countless other animals roaming around in their natural habitat (with the Nairobi skyline in the background!), and floating along the Nile River at the point where it starts its 3-4 month journey to the Mediterranean. I also loved that everywhere I went the Coca-Cola was served in bottles that had been used hundreds if not thousands of times before and the power outlets had switches so you could turn them on when you were using them so you weren’t wasting energy when you weren’t.

I have written way too much already, so I will stop here. But I will just say this: if you get the opportunity to go to Africa just do it. I’ve traveled to many countries and cultures – modern and developing – but there is nothing comparable. I can’t wait to go back!



{September 20, 2009}   Show Off That Smile!

Love to have a bright, white smile? Who doesn’t! But it doesn’t have to cost an arm and a leg.

Here is today’s guest writer, Judy, in her own words:

Hi there, I’m Judy, Heather’s older neighbor growing up. My dad was her buddy. He was retired, so spent a lot of time puttering in the garage and Heather was always there. She’d also come to the back door during dinner and ask if Mr. “Hanglebur” (my family name is Hamburger) could play. My mom would say “Mr. Hanglebur has to finish his dinner first.”

I’ve been a dental hygienist for over 26 years so will tell you about tooth whitening on a budget. First of all, everybody’s enamel has a shade, just like your eyes and hair, not all are created equal. You need to have your teeth professionally cleaned by a hygienist; this gets off the extrinsic stain from coffee, tea, smoking. Toothpastes that say they whiten may keep your teeth CLEANER, but they don’t change the color of your teeth. If you get stain from any of the above mentioned, the trick is to brush (and floss/pick) your teeth more OFTEN to keep it off (4 times/daily for smokers).  To actually change the color, you must have a tray (preferably a professionally made one for YOUR mouth) to hold a whitening get (peroxide gels of different strengths) against your teeth for 30-60 minutes daily for 2-4 weeks. That’s my recommendation right there! Whitening products can cause sensitivity, so then you use them every other day, etc. (High acid food/drinks such as pop are the real culprit in sensitivity) The ultra-violet light activated systems that you see on makeover shows do work, but they can be painful and must be done with proper protection of the gum tissue. You then must also wear the trays for several weeks (that’s what they don’t tell you) to KEEP the lighter shade. I do NOT recommend those systems. They are much more expensive and risky. The trays have the same result but take 2-4 weeks. Also, don’t waste money on whitening paint-ons, they don’t work. The white strips are fine, but they are at a much lower percentage of peroxide and also don’t fit exactly, so get on your tissue and can cause irritation and sensitivity. So there you have it. And for what it’s worth, I like the Arm and Hammer brand of toothpaste. It has the most baking soda and keeps my coffee/tea stain off the best. Plain old baking soda is also great toothpaste, but doesn’t have the fresh flavor or fluoride! Red wine is the worst for staining; I won’t drink it in public at all!

Smile!!!!!!



We spend a gazillion dollars (a rough estimate) each year in this country taking care of our pets. Our beloved little fur balls, our hounds…the ones who lick us relentlessly or rub their faces on our ankles…the ones who have huge chunks of our hearts. And anyone who has ever had a sick pet knows…money can become an issue. But for many pet owners, yours truly included, there is nothing we wouldn’t do for our furry children, even in this economy. Case in point: this week’s guest writer, one hell of a funny woman…Barbara, who takes us on an adventure that we all hope has a very happy ending. Here she is, in her own words:

cat 

There was a joke I loved as a kid.  It involved a very wealthy man who had little use for his family and the punchline was “He gave all his money to the Asthmatic Cat Foundation.”  I repeated the joke as often as I could.   I thought the Asthmatic Cat Foundation, or rather the idea of an asthmatic cat was the funniest thing in the world….I mean..ASTHMATIC CATS!!!  Who would have thunk it.   That is until I heard a joke about a parrot that had constipation forced upon him via a cork and asked an overweight visitor if someone was trying to make her fat too. 
 
This does tie in to what I’m about to tell you.  Nearly five years ago I adopted two tiny sister kittens, which, in time became cats.  Paris and Emily are Siamese mix but there’s little resemblance beyond that…

babs

They have different color patterns and decidedly different dads as Emily is nearly twice the size of her sister…or sister-cousin, or whatever. Cats in heat are complete whores.
 
A few months ago Emily began doing ..something… repeatedly.  At first I thought it was one hairball she couldn’t get out..or perhaps she was choking on a piece of candy, a diet coke bottle cap…a kibble…a mouse…whatever it was…a lot.   HaaRRamphFF…BlaSCHmenPH…SHManoRIFF!!!  She sounded possessed and ended each episode with a long, pronounced swallow.  Cats can be gross.
 
To the vet we go! The vet suspected Emily had asthma.  Asthma! Funny!  She had a blood test and an X-ray at $150 a pop.   Once the tests came back showing this was LIKELY the case, I picked up steroid samples.  The word “samples” made me think they would be free, but these cost $17 and change.  And what the hell?  Steroids?  They bulk you up. Emily is a big, big girl, 18 pounds.  Turn her human and you’ve got a pissed off 280 pound Olympic weightlifter with acne.   
 
If they worked, we had proof she was indeed asthmatic, but the pills were no cure. The closest thing to that would be allergy testing with a starting price of $300.  Allergy shots are extra. Stop gaps, aside from steroids, were people antihistamines and asthma inhalants.
 
LOVE HURTS
 
Stop gap number one – the ‘roids did their thing.  Her attacks stopped, and by the way, I bleed too.  Cats do not enjoy swallowing pills.  Emily got me twice with her sharp little teeth.  The second time was so nasty that I went to a clinic inside a drugstore only to be told they don’t treat animal bites.  I paid 15 bucks for a tube of Neosporin, band aids and a bottle of rubbing alcohol and went home to operate on my finger.  I define surgery as poking in the cut with rubbing alcohol sterilized tweezers.  It hurt, but within a few days I forgot about it.
 
After the pills ran out I moved on to phase two of Treating Emily, a steroid shot.  Cheap!  Only about 30 dollars! This was supposed to be good for two months, but didn’t work, and neither did Zyrtec, which involved more cat bites.
 
I called the vet and told her I wanted to go ahead, plunk down the serious cash and get my prize cat tested for allergies.  But the catch is she had to be steroid free for two months, which would mean weeks more of HAMPushSCHEE or SmushsclOTH!  It was time to get her an inhalant.
 
ENTER THE BARBADIANS
 
It’s easy to get a cat inhaler.  After a couple of days of phone tag, my kind vet told me to go here.
 
http://www.aerokat.com/Animal_Health/ah_aerokat_fac.asp
 
This nifty gadget cost me 70 dollars, but I needed the medicine that goes WITH it.  After more phone tag she told me to get Flovent.  I have insurance but Emily isn’t on it.  And this stuff isn’t cheap.  And you need a prescription.  She suggested two magic words  – Canadian Pharmacy. 
 
Here’s a fun fact – The Canadian Drugstore…   http://www.tcds.com/default.asp ….isn’t in Canada at all.  Their customer service center, which I called, is in Barbados.  Oh man, this was one ass-whipping of a phone conversation. 
 
“I would like some Flovent HFA 125/120”
“How much do you weigh?”
(F#$@K Off!)
“One hundred and…(I give the indecipherable but polite Barbadian my weight…in kilograms.)
“Are you taking any other medications?”
(Like I would tell you?)
 “This isn’t for me, it’s for my cat.”
“How old are you?”
“I’m four.”
“We need a prescription.  Who is your doctor?”
(Gyno, internist, dentist?  Which one?)
“My cat’s veterinarian.”
“Today we are offering a four percent discount if you give me your checking account routing number.”
(Not in this lifetime)
 “No, thank you.”
“The medicine will be shipped from New Zealand.  Is that OK?”
 
It took four weeks and cost fifty dollars and Emily does not like it.  In fact she runs when I come near her with the thing. But she’s better and soon we go in for testing…and I’ll let you know how it goes.



Today’s guest post is from Jim Hart.  He is the founder of Austin Conservatory of Professional Arts, The International Theatre Academy Norway, and The Hart Technique.  You can get more info about him and other inspiring articles on how to get to where you wish to go creatively at http://www.harttechnique.com.

shapeimage_1

A lot of people define their sense of self, based on what they do for a living. Artists are notorious for this. They think of themselves as, “I am an actor” “I am a dancer” “I am a writer”, etc. Tricky thing about such a line of thinking is–that if you are not working, what are you then? Of course, each of us is more than the titles we wear. But many artists are so passionate about their art and medium that they wear their medium title (actor, painter, dancer, musician, etc) as a cloak, which gives them their sense of self. Defining one’s identity in what one does can lead to identity crises, as they change with time and mature. For such individuals, I encourage them to not identify themselves only via the type of medium they practice, but, rather, as Artists–Creative Artists, at that. One may be a creative artist who acts or paints or does photography or…all of the above, simultaneously. I believe that artists are artists are artists. Every artist creates from the same place–we simply have different tools to express ourselves. Some of us use our bodies, some film equipment, some computers, etc. Mastering technique in one form or discipline will enable one to pick up other mediums of artistry. When we hop mediums, we need only learn the new tools or “rules” of the medium. Another tricky thing about identifying oneself as, say, “an actor”, is that it can cause the artist to mentally rule out other possibilities and potential–like writing or directing, teaching or producing. Certainly, most of us ask what it is we want to do, numerous times in our lives. I have heard that the average American has 6 careers in their lifetime. This further illustrates that we are all in a constant state of change. Nearly everyone in the field of theatre, began in an acting class. Acting classes are the window into the medium. Many leave acting to pursue directing, design, producing, writing, technical theatre, stage management, etc. Once again, change is represented. One who begins in an acting class and discovers a passion for directing or design is not a “failed actor”. They are creative artists who direct or design. Most artists today cannot afford to think in such a limited fashion. There are not enough professional opportunities to do so. The markets are over saturated. We need to be teaching our artists to have “a wider directional perspective”. Rather than thinking about what opportunities exist in a narrow sort of thinking, (ex. Do these few things, via these few paths to find work in your medium), we need to teach them to broaden their perspectives and ask the question, “What can I do with my skill sets”? What opportunities exist? Where are there needs to be filled? What gives me joy? What are ALL of my interests? How do I synthesize my many interests, into a single endeavor? Such a line of thinking and practice will lead to more artists with unique voices. New aesthetics will emerge. Greater innovation will occur and these students and graduates will dramatically increase their potential to make a living via their creativity.



{August 30, 2009}   Don’t Wig Out In This Economy

Today’s guest post is from Jasmin Barnes of www.mywigstudio.com.  She is a woman who is determined to not let this economy get her down.  In fact, she started her own business with the idea that every woman deserves to look great…no matter what her circumstances are, whether they’re financial or physical.

Jasmin in a pink wig

Jasmin in a pink wig

By Jasmin Barnes

In this economy, you can’t afford to be unattractive, unproductive, unmotivated and unknown.  It is definitely not the time to sit in one corner, be a fly on the wall and be negative.  With all the bad news we hear from the papers, television and radio, it is not a surprise if you find yourself a little wigged out.

Jasmin & her sis in different wigs

Jasmin & her sis in different wigs

My story started one bad hair day.  I was feeling kind of bummed and just wanted to curl up in bed.  My husband asked me to go to a county fair with him. Hesitantly, I stood up, got dressed and went.  At the fair, I stumbled upon, of all things, this wig vendor.  So I stepped inside the booth and started to try on some pieces. The next thing you know, I bought my very first hairpiece!  I can still recall the feeling when I first put on that piece.  Not only I was amazed at the transformation, I was blown away by how convenient and cost effective it is to stay stylish and fashionable during a recession.  More importantly, it did put a smile on my face!  I wanted to share that fun and fresh feeling with others and introduce this new wave in accessorizing especially during these trying times.

Jasmin transforms her look

Jasmin transforms her look

A wig can transform your look in an instant!  As always, it is important not just to look good but to feel good about your self from within.   And in times like these, you can definitely still be beautiful, positive and be on top of your game.   As a woman, I know that how she feels inside reflects in everything else that she does.  Women these days are juggling different responsibilities from work and at home.  This can be very challenging and can make us easily forget ourselves.  I have 3 kids, a husband, a house, a career to take care of, and a business to run.    I don’t have time to spend fixing up my hair on a daily basis.  With a wig or a hairpiece, you can skip that daily ordeal of blow drying / styling your hair.  You no longer need to curl/ flat iron that often.  You won’t need to frequent the salon which saves you time and time is money.   Today, every second counts – every penny counts!  If you really think about it,  who has got time and money to go to the salon these days? A simple haircut, blow drying and styling (and don’t forget the tip) can leave your wallet dry.   You can use and re-use your hairpiece over and over again for parties, meetings, weddings, concerts!  Some of my clients even take theirs to a cruise!  I find these hair pieces as quick and cost-effective solutions to today’s very active demanding society and problematic economy.

One of Jasmin's wig parties

One of Jasmin's wig parties

My Wig Studio hosts wig parties every other month.    I would invite ladies to come to my studio and try on different styles, textures and colors.  Since I started the biz, I have had 3 successful events!  My customers are usually referrals from friends and family.  Since my products are very personal, I also provide private fittings and consultation at My Wig Studio or at the comforts of my client’s home.    During a recession, all businesses get affected one way or another, but what keeps me going are the emails and messages I get from my customers.  One email said “Thank you very much! You have no idea how you helped spiced up my relationship.” Another one said “I found my self esteem I lost a long time ago and I just love the way I look now.”  These positive reactions from ladies are very inspiring, something you can’t put a price tag on.

Wigs Galore!

Wigs Galore!

We cater to all sorts of people.  I would get calls from cancer patients under going chemo therapy, to entertainers, artists, photographers, and just plain fashionistas and everyday people like you and I who simply like to enhance and update their look.   A wig is no longer just for people with hair loss condition but it has now become part of our daily wardrobe.  However, we are proud to say that a portion of our sales goes to City of Hope’s Cancer Cure research program.  It is just like choosing that pair of shoes and that purse to match that outfit (or that mood for that matter) for the day!  What makes me excited everyday is the anticipation of meeting a new person and knowing her story.   Every lady has her own personality just like every wig has its own character.   When the two meet, I can see fireworks.  It is amazing to see how someone’s personality shines through whenever they put on a hairpiece!

We are all in this together.  Continue to shine, stand out, inspire and make a difference.  All we need is a little daily dose of creativity – so, don’t Wig out in this economy!



{August 16, 2009}   GUEST POST: Your Personal Brand

Katy sez:  Today’s guest post comes from Stefanie.  She writes a great blog called “Awesome and Unemployed.” There’s a lot of great career advice on there on how to stand out among the hundreds of other job candidates these days.  She relates to what we may all be going through, as she says, “I graduated without a job, applied to 50+ different companies and temp agencies, only to get rejected every single time.”  Presently, Stefanie’s worked in career development and HR for a major company. (hint:  google her)  Today, she reminds us how to remain professional in our online social networks.

6zjNO

I got this awesome lead from my friend, Matt.  Thank you, Matt, for your pearls of wisdom.

Let’s talk about this for a minute.  Please raise your hand if you are a Facebook junkie.  Myspace junky?  Manage a blog?  Interact in ANY WAY on a social media platform?  Then see example A above.

As you reach out to different people across a social networking platform, you build a perception of who you are as a human being and as a potential employee.  Who are you as a potential employee?  By hiring YOU, the company is making a statement about their brand and employee values.  So really, who are you in this interconnected world wide web?

Let’s talk about who you’re NOT.

You’re not the person that whines about their lame job on Facebook.  When you’re young, your job is going to be a shit job.  It’s a right of passage.  Patience and hard work, though, earns you open doors to more challenging projects and responsibilities.  Meaningful work must be earned.  It’s rarely handed out at the get go.

You’re not the person that brags about what a joke the interview was on your personal blog.  I knew a person in college that had a consulting offer rescinded because he bragged on his personal blog that the interview was a joke.  Not so funny without the job offer!

You’re not the person with the obscene “haha funny” photos up on his MySpace.  Really, that photo of you rubbing your nipple?  Hilarious at the party, but not so hot when your potential employer comes across it in a “tagged” photo search.

You’re probably thinking “What the hell, dude.”  Why are employers searching through my personal stuff?  Here’s the honest truth.

There’s a really fine line between private and public on the Internet.  Unless you explicitly make your profile private, anyone can view your business.  Including a potential employer.

And what the heck?  Why do employers even care?  They are all people and do crazy things, too!  They care because you represent them.  It’s very hard to command the respect of a client, your manager, or even your peers, when they know all your business behind between 5pm – 8am.  Just because you are a good person does not erase the fact that you passed out on the sidewalk that one Saturday night.  Just make sure that you protect yourself, your photos, and your personal brand.

So let’s talk about who you are/could be online.

You are the person that is professional, but human.  You do have friends.  You do have family.  You do have interests and a life outside of work.  But, from what anyone can see, it’s appropriate.  You are someone that is a whole person and you can bring this whole person in as an asset for connecting with clients, peers, superiors.

You are well-rounded.  In addition to being serious about work, you’re also serious about… oh, sailing.  Or Comic-con.  Or Travel books and wine.  You have passions that enhance your intellectual value and add character to you.  For example, my geeky passion is Harry Potter.  And if anyone asks me, I can recall alternate endings, interviews and speeches by JK Rowling, and I can even tell you about the time I ended up on Jimmy Kimmel during the launch of the 6th book.  People will always remember that quirk about me.

You are someone that they would enjoy working with.  You might be strong willed, witty, or completely easy going, but either way, you’re someone that they could discuss ideas with and work well with.  You’re positive, you’re motivated, you’re smart.

Now, the formula for the right person is always going to differ by company.  But the good news is that there is a company for you.  There’s one that will have other employees that enjoy your blogs about sea otters or waterfall jumping.  How about your tweets about your awesome Barista at Starbucks?  Status updates about your amazing lunch?  Clearly, you can still be you, just publicly appropriate.

So what do you want to tell the world about who you are?  It’s time to get updating!  Start defining your personal brand on the Internet.



–by Carla Marion

It’s been a few days now, but word continues to spread about Brad Barton’s shocking layoff from Dallas/Fort Worth News/Talk CBS radio station KRLD (1080AM).

brad

The longtime meteorologist/news anchor/morning news host is among the most trusted names in Dallas/Fort Worth media and his unceremonious termination is still sending shock waves across North Texas, as you can read in the comment section of the previous post. Brad and I have been in touch quite a bit these past few days. I worry about him and Brenda more than he knows and having just been through the “your position has been eliminated” axing myself, I can bet I know exactly what he’s going through right now. But he is a man of extraordinarily strong faith with a family equally as strong and those two things matter more to him than any job could have ever mattered.

Here, once again, Brad gives us an update on what life has been like the past few days, seeing all of the comments on not only this blog, but the various others in the area:

“Wow.  I feel like Jimmy Stewart at the end of ‘It’s a Wonderful Life,’ “the richest man in town.” 
I can’t thank Carla enough for setting a match to this little firestorm as only she can.  I never realized I had so many friends and not just listeners, of course, with friends like Carla and Don, you don’t need many others. ;}
 
The public comments here and in the media blogs have been kind beyond measure and almost all positive.  One negative was a former radio announcer who liked “my predecessor” better.  My most recent predecessor (several years ago) was Mark Watkins who co-anchored mornings with none other than Carla Marion.  As a former radio announcer myself, I can say Mark’s combination of voice, script delivery and recall puts him among the elite talents in broadcasting.  If I were in charge of finding network talent for a new national network, Mark Watkins would be the first one I called.  Compare him to any of the current radio network anchors and he’s already in the top ten percent.  I’ve been Mark’s supervisor, trainer and co-worker but I’m happiest just to be his friend.  I hope we can get together next week.   If the former radio announcer was referring to “my predecessor” in the KRLD Weather Center, there was none.  I started it from scratch on a borrowed desk with an HP 386 in the “wire room” of KRLD.  Maybe I’ll write a book. 
 
And to hear from David Conner and remember his great family was an extraordinary treat.  I hope we can meet again soon.  I finally broke down and put up a Facebook page to keep from sponging off Carla, but I warn you, I’m just a neophyte.”

Keep those comments coming, I know it means the world to Brad and Brenda.



From Heather:

I’m on vacation, but I really do miss ya.

Please enjoy this post from own big sista!

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By: Jennifer

When Heather asked me if I’d write a guest post, my first thought was……. me?  I am not a pro like these other mamas but decided what the heck – here it goes.

I’ve been a little tight with my money since I was a kid, my dad would give me 2 quarters to put in the offering plate at church and I’d tithe 50% and pocket the rest.  I may even still have that first quarter tucked away some place : ) Unfortunately, some of the obstacles I’ve recently encountered regarding our ever changing economy won’t be fixed by saving my quarters. 

My husband and I have both served in the Army Reserves, almost 50 years combined service…….  Him MUCH longer than I.  A few months ago I had to retired, for medical reasons, the military and I had served each other well over those many years.  It provided much need direction in my life and money so I could finish college without going into debt.  Over the course of our lives the military has given both my husband and I incredible opportunities and we are thankful for that.  Recently we had to make a tough decision regarding my husband’s military career. 

Marty (Charlie Brown Xmas Tree)

 In 2005 my husband was deployed to Iraq, all total he was gone from home 15 months.  This was, without a doubt, the most difficult time of our lives.  Somehow, with God’s grace, we made it through.  But, it was a very trying time for all of us.  We have 3 teenage daughters (which is a whole financial crisis in itself – that’s a whole blog by itself) and we decided, as a family, that dad would retire before we would ever go through that again.  A few months ago the time came for us to make good on that promise.  Faced with ANOTHER deployment to Iraq, my husband requested retirement and to our great relief, his request was granted.  This is a very exciting event for us, we are tired of him spending so much time away from home.

 

Even before the excitement abated, the financial realities began to set in.  As the economy limps slowly along, we will now have a significant loss in extra income.  As a Colonel, he makes really good money.  He gets paid each month and several times a year when he’s gone for several weeks at a time on duty.  We crunched the numbers and will survive, fewer dinners out and home projects (my husband has a bit of an obsession with STARTING projects around the house, but that is a whole other story!) 

 

The big money issue will come in the way of health insurance cost.  I know you maybe asking yourself what health insurance has to do with all of this.  We get our health insurance through the military.  Contrary to what you might think, it’s pretty good health insurance at a VERY reasonable rate, about $185/month for our family of five.  We’ll now be forced to get health insurance through my husband’s employer which costs almost 3 times as much a month. (The deductibles and coverage are essentially the same) Wow, lower income and higher health care cost!  I wouldn’t have thought my husband and I would be smack in the middle of the health care reform debate. I’m sure we’ll figure it out, maybe instead of a fewer dinners out maybe we’ll skip dinner once in awhile! 

 

All of this really got me thinking about how the nation really is in a health care crisis and what our government is trying to do to fix it.  I Googled “health care reform” so I could  try to understand what’s going on.  After a night of research, I may be more confused than I was before. 

What I do understand, in my simple way, is that health care costs are way out of control.  I won’t go political so don’t worry (As my husband proof read this he made me insert this comment – to Jenn’s blogisphere coven – you DON’T want Jenn to go political).  But what I don’t understand is how we could have good health insurance through the military/government and pay 1/3 of the price that we will now have to pay through the private sector?  Same type of coverage, able to see any doctors we want and pay 20% if they are out of network.  My husband, who had a brilliant flash of the obvious – pointed out … the military insurance isn’t for profit like private sector insurance companies… all the military insurance has to do is break even. That really got me thinking, do we really need health care reform or just greed reform.  Seems like greed has gotten our country into much of the situation we face today.  I don’t have the answers, but it seems there needs to be a balance between making a buck and taking advantage of the system and the people it’s there to serve. Just because something’s legal doesn’t necessarily make it right.

 

Enough of my rambling,  I’m very proud of my husband’s service to our country and yes I am a little (well maybe a LOT) freaked out about the money and the health insurance. 

Bottom lin– we are not willing to pimp my hubby out to Uncle Sam to have extra cash and reasonable health insurance.  I guess we should just count ourselves lucky that we both have jobs and health insurance.  After all, aren’t we all learning that money doesn’t replace the time spent with loved ones?  Maybe this recession really is a reality check for all of us.



Today’s guest post is from Althea, who you might recall was a guest writer not long ago, talking about saving money on a road trip and still having an amazing vacation. This time, a repair company could have easily taken her to the cleaners…had she not been on the ball. Here she is, in her own words:

My washing machine broke the other day in the middle of a load, the spin/drain cycle to be exact.  It was making a low, soft, buzz or hum and I could smell a faint burn.   We are not exactly DIYers around here.  In fact, there’s not much beyond changing a light bulb that we have tried doing in the past.  Since becoming homeowners 9 years ago, our motto was always if there’s a professional out there to handle it, call them.   As we’ve grown older, wiser and…more concerned about finances…, we’ve been trying a few more things on our own.   

washer

So, my first step was not to call the professional immediately but look to the manual for troubleshooting.  Thankfully, I have a very logical and organized husband or I’d have no clue where the manual was.  It was right above the washing machine in a cabinet, where it should be.  Unfortunately, the manual was no help, other than to provide me with a number for the manufacturer’s 800 number to their service & repair center.  I called to make an appointment and they had one available in only 2 days, which sounded reasonable to me since I called on  a Sunday.   

The first payment option they gave was $129 and that included service call to diagnose and fix the problem if no parts were necessary.  Parts would be extra.  The 2nd option was $214 and that had to be paid up front (seriously, do these people think they’re fooling us by not just rounding up to the number they really want to charge.  Does $129 really sound better than $130?).  That included service, labor and parts up to $500 and a work guarantee for an amount of days I don’t remember.  But, I asked, what if the parts don’t add up to $214?  Good news, they would reimburse for the balance remaining after the $129 service call fee and if any parts were needed.  But I’m thinking to myself, yeah right, they’ll make sure they get more money some way.  So I hung up opting for the $129 route and deciding to talk it over with my husband.  He did the math and said $129 was the way to go, although we both agreed that was still high and maybe a local, small repair shop could do better for us. 

I got online and searched around, made a few phone calls and found one I was happy with.  They were friendly, prompt, could come out the next day and their service fee was only $53.50.  Done and done.  I called to cancel the appointment with the manufacturer. 

The story just gets better from here, promise.

Repair guy shows up, listens to it run for 5 seconds and diagnoses immediately with “your pump is burned out.”  He’d been there for 2 minutes and was already closing his case and proceeding to tell me how he’d have to order a new pump to the tune of $265.  What???!!!!  I said, “you didn’t even look in it” and he says “oh m’am I can hear it, I know this problem”.  “Please amuse me and open it up anyway”, I ask.  He does, slightly begrudgingly, though he is very nice in general.  After he opens it and shows me the pump, he also shows me the filter to its left and says how some technicians will have the filter cleaned first and see if that helps, but he doesn’t recommend that and is sure a new pump will be needed.  I’m confused, so you take my filter with you and have it cleaned?  Oh  no m’am, I do it right here for only $165.  REALLY, and how does that work exactly.  He says, first, I scoop out the water that’s sitting in your wash tub with a cup and dump it in the sink, then I open the filter and let the remaining water drain out all over your floor, then I look at the filter to see if there is any debris, gunk, etc., then I run a bottle of cleaner through the cycle.  If this doesn’t work, I don’t charge you and you buy the pump, if it does, you pay $165.  I ask, “Can’t I do this myself? It sounds simple and I’ve seen washing machine cleaner at the store”. While hesitant to answer, he does tell me that I can. Really, that sounded like such hard work for $165; you don’t say I CAN do it….duh! 

I am very proud to announce that after doing the steps above, pulling a wad of  paper (probably a baby wipe that made its way into a pocket)  out of the passage way between the filter and pump, I now have a functioning washing machine.  All for the bargain price of $53.50 (Really?  Does that sound better than $54?). 

There is no way I could have diagnosed the problem myself, so the money spent was well worth it.  However, without asking a lot of persistent questions, I’d be out at least $265.  If anyone has a front-loading washer and experiences this problem, I’d be thrilled to walk you through the process again. 

Cost to fix washer: $53.50 + bottle of cleaner ($5?).  Cost of confidence in fixing minor machine’s problems:  Priceless! 



et cetera