Wednesday, October 22, 2014

5 Tricks That Take The Stress Out of Online Shopping

Okay, I’m not saying online shopping is stressful – except that I kind of am.

Know this: I am not a shopper. I do not enjoy trudging around a department stores looking for a certain item nor am I a girly girl who goes to the mall just to go to the mall. Honestly, I can think of about 3,000 other things I’d rather do with my time.

That’s why I’m a HUGE fan of online shopping. Sitting on my couch searching the web beats a trip to any department store. Online shopping can shave hours of wasted time off my day and offers a bigger selection than any mall could possibly provide.

That said, online shopping can be stressful. With thousands of options, sometimes it’s hard to know where to begin. And once you start, how to you know if you’re dealing with a reputable retailer? Or getting the best price? Or the best quality?

Fret not, favorite readers! Here are five tips to help make online shopping less stressful and more fun.

Identify your favorite sites. Knowing where to look for a certain item is half the battle. Chances are you have your go-to stores at the mall, but what about your favorite stores on the web? Making a list of your preferred sites can help streamline the process.

Take advantage of online search engines. Shopzilla.com, Shopstyle.com and PriceGrabber.com are awesome search engines designed specifically for online shopping. Use them to find exactly what you’re looking for as you browse by color, brand, size and price.

Search for promo and coupon codes. Coupon codes are a set of letters and numbers that you can enter before paying for an online shopping order. Coupon codes work the same as paper coupons and give you a percentage off your purchase, free shipping or another type of discount. Sites like http://www.frugaa.com/ make it easy to find the code you need regardless of whether you’re shopping for electronics, clothing, home d├ęcor or even food and beverages.

Read reviews. Don’t even consider buying a product online without taking a look at its customer feedback. Not only can reviewers give you more insight about the quality of an item, they can also help you determine which size to order.

Use social networking, email and “savings” sites. “Like” your favorite retailer on Facebook. Many merchants post special coupons or announce sales first on their Facebook pages. Join email lists of your favorite retailers so you can have coupons and other special offers delivered straight to your inbox.

There you have it, five easy ways to take the stress out of your online shopping! Do you have any suggestions you’d like to share?







Sunday, October 19, 2014

Four Days Home Alone and Husband-Free: Fantasy vs. Reality

A few months ago I was counting down the days until...heaven. AKA four nights on my own while Bill was out of town.

Oh the joy! Thinking of everything I could get done without all the constant distractions of a husband would be blissful. Let’s not forget the much-needed time alone and the ability to go wherever I wanted and do whatever I wanted!

So why was it that less than an hour after he left, I found myself talking back to the television? Not because I lost my mind but because it was the only thing in the damn house making NOISE?

I can tell you there were definitely some enjoyable moments during my time alone. The laundry wasn’t overflowing out of the hamper minutes after put the last load away. I didn’t have to empty the dishwasher and I didn’t even have to run it because I didn’t have to cook for anyone. Initially I marveled at how I settled into bed without bickering over who was going to shut out the light and then trying to tune out his cacophony of nose noises. (Okay, that one came back to haunt me later. You’ll see.)

After Bill came home our life resumed its normal chaotic, somewhat annoying pace. Overall, those four days didn’t turn out like I thought they would. Here’s my vision of spending time home alone compared to how things really went down:

My plan: To catch up on my reading.



The truth:  I read absolutely nothing except for the local paper on my phone one morning when I was lying in bed. Instead, I turned into someone so desperate for human contact that I lingered in the grocery store, striking up a conversation with anyone who strolled through the produce section.

My plan: To thoroughly enjoy the peace and quiet. The ability to focus doesn’t come easy in our home. There’s slamming doors, stomping up and down steps and ridiculously loud TV volume. Usually I have that Grinch monologue running in my head: And then...all the noise! All the noise, noise, noise, noise. If there's one thing I hate...all the noise, noise, noise, noise!



The truth: It felt like I was living in a tomb. The house was oppressively silent and empty. It felt like the quietness was smothering me. Seriously. I kept every television on 20 hours a day just so voices would fill the gaping absence of noise.

My plan: To enjoy not being constantly interrupted. One of my biggest gripes about being married is the interruptions and the way I can never ever EVER start a task and finish it without stopping a frillion times to help somebody microwave macaroni and cheese or find scissors.



The truth: I was lonely and scattered. So lonely and scattered I mostly ended up staring at my computer, when I wasn’t distracting myself with laundry, or running errands or attempting to become BFFs with the mailman or people who just wanted to buy lettuce.


My plan: To not do any of the boring, middle-age wife stuff I normally do.



The truth: I did all the boring, middle-age wife stuff I normally do. I went to the grocery store, to the post office, stopped off at the gym, put gas in my car and cleaned the house. It was a snooze-fest.


My plan: A relaxing bedtime. Going to bed is always a production. If Bill and and I aren't arguing about who shuts out the light, there's the way he sprawls across the bed to watch television and doesn't budge even though he knows I'm trying to get in the bed to sleep. Before he sprawls the bed, there's the way he does The Robot on his way to the bed. You know, this:



If you want to know why he does that, you’re going to have to ask him. I cannot explain it one bit.

The truth: Bedtime was boring… and scary. There was no laughing and no playful bickering. I even missed the way Bill gets comfortable each night by flopping around in the bed like a fish that’s just been pulled out of water.

Being home alone at night sucked. One night I stayed awake until 2 am, rigid with tension over every creak of the house settling. At one point, I almost squeaked out, “Who’s there??” after having convinced myself there was a GHOST in the hallway.


My plan: I’d miss Bill. Like in a healthy absence-makes-the-heart-grow-fonder way.



The truth: I wandered around the house like I was in mourning. I’d stop now and then to wash his work clothes or vacuum, thinking about how sad it all seemed. Going into the garage, where all his tools are, only magnified the disproportionate sense of loss. At one point, when I was in our closet, I sniffed his clothes.


My plan: To appreciate Bill more. Being apart from him would give me a wonderful sense of perspective. When he returned, I’d be more patient, more loving and stop bitching about little things, like the way he leaves his dirty coffee mug on the counter three inches from the dishwasher.



The truth: Ha. Ha ha ha. HA HA HA HA HA. HAAAAAAAA.


Monday, October 13, 2014

8 Ways to Spice Up Your Marriage

Suppose you love cheese, so every day you eat cheese. One day you eat mozzarella cheese. One day you eat cheddar cheese and one day you eat blue cheese. Sometimes you eat Colby cheese. Sometimes you eat American cheese and sometimes you eat Munster cheese.
After 25 years you still love cheese but even though you’ve tried different cheeses, you’re starting to get a little tired of cheese. Every week, it’s always more cheese. You’re even starting to think of ways to “spice up” your cheese because lately, eating cheese is getting kind of Meh. You know what I mean?
Without venturing too far into TMI territory, I can fully endorse the fact that by middle age, a certain amount of “spark” goes out of your marriage and sex with your spouse becomes routine and even a little dull.
If it sounds like I’m describing my life, it’s because I am. Now I have to qualify this by saying that Bill and I both still…uh…enjoy eating cheese, but it’s not like we’re eating cheese every day. Every few weeks or once a month is more like it as we’re both crazy exhausted from work and taking care of our money pit home. When you’re spending your evenings overhauling the landscaping and replacing the furnace, the hot water heater, the roof and whatever the hell breaks next, you’re so exhausted by 7 pm that you’re not in the mood for cheese.  Instead, all you want to do is watch Netflix on your laptop with one eye open and then go to sleep.
But that doesn’t mean we’ve thrown in the towel. Sometimes it takes a little more effort to get in the cheese-eating mood, but it’s well worth it.

Here's some tips:

Cherish the small things. Bill works long hours. Many days, he leaves at 6 am and isn’t home until after 8 pm. When he is home, one of my favorite things is laying the couch together and watching TV before bed. It’s the small things that keep you connected.






Be romantic. True story: About ten years into our marriage, I bitched about Bill not being romantic. He tried to prove he was by writing me a poem about my beautiful blue eyes. It was touching, except that my eyes are green and you kind of expect your husband of a decade to know that. I do, however, give him an A+ for his effort.




Never stop courting. There’s no reason to stop trying to impress your partner no matter how long you’ve been together. While there’s something to be said for being comfortable in your relationship, flirting like you did when before you were married can put that little spark back into your marriage.




Compliment his appearance. This might make you gag a little, but I appreciate the fact that Bill always tells me I’m cute every single day. He tells me enough and I start to believe him. I make a point to return the favor. Cheesy, but true.




Make a date to shower together. Not only does it provide a great connection where no electronics are allowed, it’s also the perfect way to cultivate intimacy.




Adjust your perspective. Sometimes I totally focus on everything Bill does wrong. What’s important is that you’re also able to remind your heart of your partner's good and focus on the things he does right.




Try new things. This summer, we built our back porch together. I learned how to use a power saw and Bill learned how to cut fabric and helped sew pillows for the new porch furniture. I know doesn’t sound romantic but there’s something sexy about working hard together and building something beautiful you both love (besides children.)




Get dressed. When we were dating, I gave my appearance all I had. Flash forward 25 years and three day old sweats are the norm. Lately though, I’ve been taking a little time to peel off the yoga pants, style my hair and put a little more effort into my appearance. The payoffs: I feel sexier and more confident. 



Related Posts

Black Leggings, the Frumpy Club and an Uphill Battle on a Downhill Slope

Seven Tips That Kept Our Marriage From Becoming a Total Crap Show

8 Reasons Why Pizza is Better Than My Husband









Monday, October 6, 2014

Dumb Jokes and Retirement

Last night Bill and I had a serious conversation about what we want to do when he retires and where we want to live. By serious, I mean as serious as Bill can be.
Here’s how it went: One sentence. Dumb joke. Another sentence. Dumb joke.

If you know Bill, you know what I'm talking about. For those of you who don't know him, getting him to stay on topic is impossible because any attempt at conversation means you will be pummeled with dumb jokes. I’m not saying I mind that…except that sometimes I do. I’ll say, “Can you stop talking like a 10 year old and answer the question?!” and then he…you know…makes another dumb joke.

Speaking of dumb jokes, did you ever notice that there are people who can get away with telling raunchy, stupid, sexual jokes and manage to not offend anyone. I cannot do that and sometimes it sucks. Like when someone makes jokes that are no different than the ones I make and I get reprimanded told that kind of behavior is expected from them and therefore okay, but is not expected from me.

It’s not right. I mean, if a joke is wrong, it’s wrong regardless of who it comes from, right?

I try to be nice and I try to treat people the way I want to be treated and sometimes I fail. Sometimes I say dumb things that hurt people’s feelings. I usually feel very bad about it for a long time and waste too many days mentally beating myself up instead of defending myself when an issue arises. Isn’t that stupid? My internal pep talk should sound like this: “Hey, you’re human! You make mistakes. Quit being such an overly sensitive baby. Get over it AND STICK UP FOR YOURSELF when someone attacks you with petty irrational bullshit!!”

You're probably wondering what that's all about but just never mind. Let's get back to retirement. We’ve narrowed our options down to North Carolina, South Carolina and Florida. As of now, we have no opinion on which of those states we would prefer live in or which would be our number one choice. Nor do we know where we’d like to live in any of those states. Destin, FL? Winter Park, FL? Outside of Raleigh, NC? Geez, how do you decide this stuff? All we know now is that one day we’re moving someplace warm and out of Pennsylvania, which is a hellhole of extreme weather. (If Bill has his way, we will be near Disney World so he can work as the Magic Kingdom train engineer.)

And by the way, when did WE get to the age where we’re planning our retirement? Us?! Bill and Danielle?! In our group of friends, we were the second to last to get married and one of the last to have a baby. Justin is about 7 or 8 years younger than our friend’s kids. Our friends who have grandchildren.

In my head, I still think of myself as 35. I still wear my hair like I did when I was 35, still dress like I did when I was 35 and still act like I did when I was 35 (although I am now slightly more knowledgeable about some things but still suck at sticking up for myself). Sometimes I think I should cut my hair or wear more age appropriate clothes but then I think, Oh why bother! I like my clothes and I don’t mind my long hair even though it probably looks ridiculous and even though my hairdresser has been begging to cut off 5 inches. I’m not changing anything yet because I don’t want to. At least I don’t think I want to. Maybe I’ll cut my hair soon. I don’t know.

Another thing I don’t know is the point of this blog. Typically I try to stay focused on a topic that relates to being middle aged. Today, I was all over the place and that was probably boring for you to read. I’m going to blame it on being out of blogging practice. That’s my excuse and I’m sticking to it.

More and better stuff coming soon. Like Bill and Danielle's annual ghost hunting trip to a (supposedly) REAL haunted house on October 25th!!!  We have a good one lined up this year. I bet you can't wait! 





Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Hello Everyone! Long Time No Blog

Hello there! It’s been a while since I’ve been around. Lots and lots has been happening here – nothing especially blogworthy, although that's never really kept me from writing it all out before.

Basically, I’ve been beyond busy with a BIG writing project that's making me think I bit off more than I can chew. What it’s come down to is focusing all my energy towards Keeping On Keeping On at a frenzied pace. Blogging about it hasn’t felt like something that would help so I haven’t. Besides, I haven’t had the time. For the past two months, it’s felt like there aren't enough hours in the day. By 9 pm I collapse into bed and fall asleep in seconds. As you know, that is not like me, for I am the Queen of Insomnia.

I’ve also been having some anxiety issues that I don’t feel like blogging about and I’m sure you probably don’t feel reading about. I mean, how much more can I say about my anxiety/hypochondria/fear of doctors/ongoing bladder and kidney issues. It all just sucks and it still sucks and it’s never going to stop sucking. Each day I put a lot of energy into not thinking that way because if I do, it quickly spirals into all-is-lost territory and that’s just the worst. Putting one foot in front of the other and Keeping On Keeping On is all about steering clear of that mindset.

I’m trying to do all the right things. I’m eating (somewhat) healthier. I still exercise at least five days a week but lately the anxiety has been off the charts. Much of it is writing stress and a DEADLINE hanging above my head. Some of it is self-doubt (Am I good enough and experienced enough to finish this project?) Also, when you have a kidney stone and previous bladder problems there are doctors and sonograms and discussions about how it will most likely happen again. Did I mention how sick I am of peeing in a cup so someone can analyze my pee for GOD KNOWS WHAT!? What a gigantic pain in the ass that all is. You know, I have stuff to do! People to take care of! I can’t go around breathing into paper bags every ten seconds because I have this stupid fear of medical personnel and test results.

Think good thoughts for Bill, who is also swamped with work (but handles it much better than I do.) He doesn't need a Crazy Hypochondriac Overly Anxious Wife on top of all that. Think good thoughts for Justin, who is swamped with college work (although some of that is self-imposed because our over-achieving son believes he HAS to be a member of EVERY SINGLE club and organization on campus.) Think good thoughts for me so that I make it through the next two weeks. After that, the workload diminishes, doctor appointments SHOULD be winding down and it should be smooth sailing.

Talk to you soon!