Dec 30, 2014

How to Shop Without Spending any Money




Shopping without spending any money is hard for me...especially if I am in a bricks and mortar business. But I love to keep up with trends and see what is beautiful for every season. I think that is why I love Polyvore.com. It allows me to shop for items, put them together in a display and then post them on my blog. I spent yesterday even putting this group together. If I were going to spend winter in Oregon, I would definitely want ALL of these things. Just because. I found a similar knit coat on Amazon so most of these items can be replicated for a lot less than what my dream collection might go for.


Winter Staples


Dec 29, 2014

Quick Guide: Would Tiny House Living be a Good Fit for You?


Have you watched the Tiny House Hunters on HGTV. The show is a new version of their House Hunters series with a twist...it is all about people that want to live tiny houses. I have watched every episode very carefully because this is the way we live in the winter. We traded an RV for a small space home. Our tiny home still has the wheel fittings underneath so it can be moved but is in fact fixed in many many ways.

Extreme Tiny Home from HGTV This probably has around 100 sq. ft.

Our Small Park Model...12x34...less that 400 sq. ft.



Our living area.
Our porch area.
Arizona Room cleaned for company. Still unfinished.
Most of the homes that HGTV are showing are a lot smaller than what we have. We live in less than 400 sq. ft. and we do have a covered enclosed area that we call an Arizona Room. Our Arizona Room is not finished in anyway so I use it as a utility area and we have a twin bed that grandchildren can sleep in when they visit. We also have a porch my husband built that serves as an extra room. We use a patio heater in the area when we want to sit out on cool/cold evenings.

As I began looking at the picture gallery HGTV has for viewing, several things struck me as very important for anyone considering this life style. Small space living is not for everyone so a person needs to be very realistic about the possibilities. Most of us consume a lot more space than is necessary. You need to ask yourself how small you can go and still be comfortable.

We have owned several RVs over the years and the one thing we discovered is that while marble counters and wood floors are nice, comfortable should come first. Living for an extended period of time in a small space will teach you that a good chair, a comfortable bed, a functioning kitchen and a big enough bathroom are essential. Everything else is just frosting on the cake.

But if you are a "frosting" person, you need to be able to see a way to make the space yours. When it is yours you should walk in the door and breath a sigh of contentment. I know that because that would be me. I don't like a mess, want the kitchen to be not only functional but also beautiful...even if it is very small. I realize though that not everyone is like me. Many people prefer to nest rather that decorate. It is up to you.

I also think that you should be aware that if you share a space with a husband or partner, you want to be able to dance around each other or you will be at each other's throat. It would be better if the dancing part was a part of your relationship before you start your very small space living.

Even the hallway and the passage through the kitchen has to be negotiated...in fact there probably needs to be some rules. Running into each other all the time can become annoying! In fact, it can be a deal breaker.

For example, we have a rule that the bathing routine is sacred. Once one person begins their routine, the other needs to make themselves scarce until given the ok to even set a toe in that area. Even a small bit of privacy can become so important to a happy arrangement.

Cost is also a factor. Many of the small houses shown on HGTV are portable. They cost very little if compared to a house with a foundation but then they need to be parked somewhere. A campground space can come at a hefty price. Some kind of services are important...telephone, water, sewer and electricity are essential and then if you are a computer geek or love your TV/video games, you are going to need a cable or internet hookup. The bottom line is that the house is only the beginning. Hookup, means of moving the small house from one spot to the next and your ability to manage all that can make the concept impossible!

And placing a new tiny house on a city lot can be a trick. Cities and neighborhoods are very picky these days.

But, if you find a very small house on a lot in the location that is perfect, consider it. We love our little house and plan on staying here. If we do change our winter home, we will probably look for something equally as small. We like our simple life and the freedom it gives us.

Be well!

b+

Check the Pages at the top of the page: Small Space Living

Dec 27, 2014

Travel: Where to Find A Trendy Neighborhood in Tucson AZ

Visiting Tucson (The Old Pueblo) in Southern Arizona is a very unique experience. Located in an area surrounded by mountains in the middle of the Sonoran Desert, the city looks very small but boast a population nearing 1 million. Even though there are areas that a extremely rich, most of the population is lower middle class or even classifies as below the poverty line. It has hung on very tightly to it's wild west roots. Now things are beginning to change slowly but surely. It is as though it is just beginning to join the 21st century.

I did not believe that the city would ever be anything but a relic crumbling in the desert. I was wrong. We have been living half of the year in Tucson for around 7-8 years. When we came here, the city's core was dying even though there were several minor league baseball teams that played for large crowds of tourist for a period during the winter. The city also boasts a very large gem show in February every year that attracts thousands. And better yet the University of Arizona sits within walking distance of the cities core. In spite of all that, urban sprawl had left the Old Pueblo core abandoned, boarded up and in fact a little scary.

We were downtown today and it is now beginning to emerge as a very trendy place to be. I was reminded of Boise, Idaho back in the day. Boise just stood still and waited to decided if it really wanted to join the rest of the world or if it was going to remain locked in a time warp undefined and stagnant. But when everyone had given up on that city, it sprang to life and actually may be having the last laugh. Tucson is very like that.

The city fathers here in Tucson took it upon themselves to launch a plan for redevelopment of the downtown. It faltered and locals scoffed at the possibility that it would ever come to anything. I was a bystander and hoped that the city could find a way to dig itself out of the hole it was in.

Then the Pima County officials made a very bad move that allowed all of the minor league teams to leave the area and move to Phoenix. It could have been the death knell for the tourist commerce in the area. And, as I understand it, the gem fair was looking for a new venue.

Front of the HOTEL CONGRESS from across the street.
But now Tucson city center is beginning to come to life. Evidently the urban planners are making some very good decisions. Many trendy restaurants and brewpubs line the two main streets and people are using the new trolley line to commute from the University of Arizona so they can take advantage of what the city has to offer. Condos are built and look as though they may be full. Even on a Saturday when parking is free because the offices are closed, the streets were very busy and restaurants were crowded.

We ate at a place on the corner across the street from our favorite breakfast spot called the Hotel Congress. The restaurants named Proper served a simple menu of healthy food and was decorated beautifully. My hamburger was perfect and the Proper Red Wine was a very good choice.

It is not perfect...yet. But don't wait. If you are a tourist visiting Tucson for a few day to catch a little warm weather, I would urge you to go to the city center. It think it would be worth your time.

Proper's cool interior. The word is that this is a very hot spot for college students
on Friday and Saturday
Related Blog Post: Watching the Old Pueblo (Tucson AZ) Grow UP

Dec 25, 2014

Having Dinner With the Old Folks

New Year's Eve 2014....what a wonderful year it has been!
Merry Christmas to all of you out there in blog land. We are having dinner with the old folks today. That would be here in our 55+ community. In fact, I love this annual dinner every year. When we first came here over 6 years ago I was one of the youngers. Now I am beginning to feel like an elder matriarch in a large family...needed and loved.

I hope your day is beautiful and all your dreams come true.

b+

Dec 24, 2014

What No One Told Me About Aging

Aging is not a choice. But we do get to choose how we want to feel about it. Do we make our world smaller or do we continue to grow and learn? You get to decide. I don't think anyone told me how many choices I would have as I grew older.

No one told me that our lives can shrink down to nothing if we are not careful. I was talking with a friend today about some of the choices he has made as he ages. I listened patiently as he explained how he was backing away from technology, had decided to get rid of his cable TV and didn't have a cell phone. He laughed when I told him he had better be careful...watching The Cisco Kid on what he has left of TV might leave him a little out of touch with the rest of the world. Yeah, he admitted, that could happen.

Then he took a left turn and told me he had just bought a ChromeCast for his TV.He was very excited because it was something new to play with and had some wonderful features that he loved. If anyone had told me the role that all our gadgets would play in our life as we aged, I would not have believed it. My friend reminded me how we have become so accustomed to technology that we use it even when we decide to avoid it.

No one told me how important learning would continue to be for me. If I don't find new things to learn about I go into a terrible funk. If I were an addict I suppose I would be tempted to take something to lift my spirits. I discovered how to add a watermark to my photos this morning. That made me very happy.


No one told me that aging would take it's toll on MY body...other people but not me. I suppose I knew but just didn't want to think about it. I find that I am a little afraid to ride my new bicycle for that reason. I am going to give it a try anyway.  It might be a lot of fun and I do have people lined up to take care of me if I tip over...I'm just saying! Oh, we do have very good insurance.

Talking about death has come as a surprise to me. I don't think about it and my husband and I don't ever talk about it. My husband tips over (faints) occasionally and that really scares me but it passes very quickly. However, my friends are willing to discuss that subject for a very long time. Who knew that aging people began to talk about dying as though they are just planning to go to the grocery store!

I am surprised at how young some people look and act as they age. But the thing that does not surprise me is that all of those people take care of their appearance and health. It does not happen by magic. I suppose that is one of those choices we make. 

I know there are unexpected things around every corner and that will remain a fact no matter my age. How I handle those things is up to me. Wish me luck.

b+




Dec 20, 2014

4 SMALL HOSTESS Gifts that Made My Christmas Rock

We had a little party last night...at a Chinese Restaurant...with a dance in the RV resort. I wasn't chic or even exciting but it was perfect for us. We are very lucky to have 6 friends that we can count on for table partners and shared experiences. AND we know each other so well, we are always able to find the perfect gifts for each other. Here are a few we have exchanged this Christmas Season:

I originally found these at World Market. They are just gorgeous and the perfect gift for a friend that loves to cook.



Last night I received this knife from a friend. IT is shaped very much like my large butcher knife but is simply smaller. I fits so perfectly in my hand. I am a little arthritic so that is important. I absolutely love it.





I do not collect chickens but what kitchen is complete without a nod to such a wonderful image. A friend gave me one that I love.

Dec 19, 2014

6 Best Ways to Say Thank You

It occurred to me as I was getting ready to finish up some Christmas gifting that this is the perfect time of year to say "Thank You" to some of those people you might overlook. I know it has been a tradition to give the postman and your hair stylist a gift but what about all those people that actually did something for you without being paid. Wow, what a concept.

Here are a few ways that I think you should go about doing this. First take a minute to reflect on the year that has gone by. Were you sick or needed some help from a friend or family member? Did someone take the time to stop by and visit on a rainy day? What about the small acts of being nice that happen every day? Can you remember someone that really made you feel special?

I know, you say thank you at the time but what about just going the extra mile to make someone feel like you felt on a Tuesday when a small gift came? How about we make this Christmas mean something more than it does.
  1. Have you received gift cards that you have not used? Pass them on!
  2. Gather up a few cards...birthday, get well, etc. and make a packet so the recipient will have them on hand later.
  3. Upcycle something you have. I spray painted an old flour sifter, placed a small plant in it and put napkins in the handle. Small gift, very little cost. But because I made it myself, it is very personal.
  4. Take the time to pass on a kindness and then write the person that gifted saying thank you and letting them know that they made a difference.
  5. I like the idea of passing the start from a plant I have to someone that will like it. It serves as a reminder that you were grateful.
  6. And last but not least, write a real note, put it in an envelope and mail it. I like that one best of all.
Thank you everyone for supporting my Amazon Associate account.  If you order using the search on the side bar or any of the other links on this page, drop me a note at btorris@gmail.com. I will put your name in a drawing that I will hold in January sometime.

Merry Christmas everyone.

b+

Dec 17, 2014

Why use Facebook to Contact a Business

Okay, here is the deal. It is not only frustrating, it is not good business to let money be lost because you cannot get in contact with a business either by email or telephone. Snail mail is just too slow. Therefore, public media websites like Facebook may be the quickest way to get the a reply from an unresponsive business owners.

Our Story:
This is what led to my discovery of the real value of using Facebook.

Fedex called us telling us that they had attempted to deliver a case of wine to our Oregon address and we are in Arizona for the winter. My husband and I could not figure out why our wine seller would send us a case of wine now. They knew we were gone.

How? In an email to them we said, "We will be gone from December to March. Do not send any shipments to us during that period of time." They responded that they would follow our instructions. Pretty clear don't you think. What part of that email didn't they understand?

We did not know what to tell Fedex to do with the box of 12 bottles of wine. We didn't want to return it if the money would not be refunded. But Fedex told us they were not going to hold the shipment and they needed some direction. If we had to pay for it no matter what, we would have given it to someone in Hillsboro near our home. The wine seller did not need more wine!

We called the wine warehouse company 4 times in one day. We left a message each time asking them to respond as soon as possible. We sent emails on that day too. By 4 in the afternoon we still had not heard a word. We were stumped about what to do. The clock was ticking.

That was when I found the wine seller on Facebook and went to their fan page. I placed a query in the timeline section (so that everyone could see it) and asked for a response. Like magic my husband had an email within minutes!

You are going to love this...they said they wanted us to have a "special case of holiday wine" and that they had contacted us so we could tell them no if we didn't want it. In other words, if we DIDN'T respond they would ship the wine and charge us money because we were so special. Doesn't that seem a little backward? Again...what part of that earlier email didn't they understand? It is a good thing that they agreed to accept the wine back and return our money.

We called Fedex and had the shipment returned. The money was refunded that same day. Amazing! Public media CAN make businesses sit up and take notice, especially when they think the world may be watching.

Oh by the way, we will NOT be dealing with that business again.

I am just saying!

b+


Dec 16, 2014

How to Fix a Slow Keyboard (Apple) in 4 Easy Steps

Apple Wireless Keyboard - second generation, a...
Apple Wireless Keyboard - second generation, aluminum slim profile - side view (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
I have been out of touch for a few days. My computer had slowed down to the speed of a turtle and then my wireless keyboard decided to quit working altogether. It was very frustrating for me. My solution was to turn the computer off and go golfing. That should fix everything...right? But now I know what to do if the keyboard slows down to nothing and that is something. The computer is another thing altogether. I will see how it goes in the next few day.

If your wireless keyboard does not respond unless you hold the key down for an extended period of time you will find the fix in the Accessibility page of your system preferences.  Right there on that page is the Keyboard on the left. When you click on it this is what shows up. See where it says Slow Keys adjust the amount of time between when a key is press and when it is activated? Turn that off. Trust me you do not want that on....ever.

  1. Open Preferences
  2. Click on Accessibility
  3. Click on Keyboard
  4. Turn off Enable Slow Keys



It took me two days to figure this out and I could not find any help...! So there you go. Let me know if this helps you.

b+

Dec 11, 2014

How To Rock Christmas for All Ages

We actually celebrated our Christmas before we left for our winter home and it absolutely rocked! I think the things that appealed to my husband and I might be the things that would light up the eyes for any age group. As I began to deconstruct the whole experience several things became evident that I had not thought about. So how can you make you Christmas rock? Here goes.
Ice Ball Maker Mold
  1. Everyone got t a gift, even the grandparents. It does not have to be big but the thought is very important.
  2. We shared our talents...I love to cook so I gave the ingredients for a favorite dish with a piece of cooking equipment to make it with plus the recipe. I even considered giving a coupon for my favorite hairdresser. We received a gift certificate for a photo setting from our professional photographers daughter-in-law and son. (@ABlissPortraits on Twitter)
  3. We didn't struggle with gifts for the little children. They may love toys but they also love toy accessories...a storage bag for legos, a addition dress for a doll or a diaper bag for the baby doll.
  4. I know that teens love lots of things because even though they are grown up on the outside, they are very young inside. I let them help me look-up what they want online and then ordered it and wrap it. Everyone is happy.
  5. We also surprised our teens. Those young people have interests that continue from them childhood. Lego Bionicle Advanced Level turned out to be a big success.  We bought a music stand for our granddaughter to use when she practices her cello. She liked it a lot.
  6. We gave some unusual gifts that broke the Christmas mold. A bottle of booze is a good gift but even better is all the things necessary to make a favorite drink (mixer, rim salt or sugar, Ice Ball Maker Mold These are very trendy now.)
  7. Simple is better...my husband got socks which he actually needed. Pay attention or better yet shop with your parents/children/grandchildren for a bit and watch to see what they drool over. That is what I did.
  8. We were told that re-gifting is perfectly okay...explain why you wanted to pass on what you already have. We shared some of our treasures and our children loved it.
  9. I was allowed to help decorate for Christmas...I liked being included. (Adopt a theme or color scheme for your Christmas and follow through with it throughout the season.)
  10. Hot Lime Burlap Ribbon 
    for a color coordinated Christmas


  11. We discovered that a party is better than a sit down dinner...keep it lite but make it fun. Fun was the best gift of all!
I know you have ideas because I am sure I have seen all of these somewhere else. Let me know if you can add to the list...I would like that.

Dec 10, 2014

What No One Tells You About Retirement

The truth about being retired, traveling and living in the sunshine in the winter is surprising. I know. You are dreaming of all that freedom and exotic living and tan line in places on your body that have never seen the sun. I understand. But SURPRISE...life happens, even in retirement!

He thought we were here laying in the sun but....
My morning started with a call from our stock broker. Now, if you had told me when we were young that I would actually have a stock broker let alone one what I actually liked and calls to just chat as well as take care of business, I would have said you were nuts. No way! But call he did.

He is in awe of the life we lead (maybe because he knows how much money we really have and cannot figure out how we manage it. ) We talked about the weather here in Tucson and I commiserated with him about the Oregon rain.






This what we were really doing.
Then he asked what we were doing today. I hated to burst his bubble but the answer was "The toilet is broken...yikes!" I almost hated to tell him. It was like taking a toy away from a child!

See, life happens even in our world of leisure and sunshine. In fact, we find that "life happening" is very time consuming and often wonder how we ever worked and still had time to sleep. We don't even have much time to play and sleep.

When we tell people that we are traveling they are so envious. Last week I told about writing blogs using the microphone technology on my iPhone because we were on the road. It all sounded very glamorous. But those that thought that did not see the "roads" we were traveling down. We were returning to Tucson after being away for 7 months. The drive from Oregon to Arizona is very long. We have come down every road between here and there. What we once loved is not so much fun anymore. We will fly back and forth soon. We love to travel but once we have gone down a road 15 time we are pretty much done.
Traveling through Nevada the "short way home"!

I did love this...the first time I saw it!
This is only the tip of the iceberg. There is much more no one ever told you about retirement. More later maybe.

Just some thoughts from b+ on a Wednesday (I think) afternoon.

Dec 7, 2014

How hot was it in Tucson Arizona this summer?

If you think it doesn't get hot in the desert I've got some information for you. Here is a picture of a poinsettia that survived the summer with our sprinkler system on. It looks like something that Charlie Brown would have or maybe the Adams family. I don't have any idea how. Above it you can see the picture of the thermometer that hung in the sun this summer. 

Blogging with my phone:

This is the most unhandy thing I have ever done. Blogging with my phone is not a good way to get things done. I am still waiting for Cox Communication to install our Internet. I'm not sure if it was their fault or if it was mine but whatever the case may be this Techie is not happy.

Tomorrow afternoon I'll be back doing what I love to do, maybe.

Hang in there with me please.

Dec 3, 2014

How-to live without the Internet!


Okay, we are in Arizona. We thought that we had made arrangements for the Internet to be hooked up but it seems that there was some glitch in the system and we don't have any Internet and probably won't have any until day after tomorrow. 

So how do you live without the Internet?First of all you've got to have a wonderful smart phone that will allow you to talk into it so you don't try to type with your big fingers on that teeny tiny little keyboard. Then your figure out how to post a blog just talking into your phone. I did not realize how hard it was to actually talk out loud even though no one is listening.

So I will be posting using the audio on my cell phone again and posting pictures from my iPhone. It actually works pretty good!

Hope you're having a wonderful day.

b+

Dec 1, 2014

Travel: Blogging on the road!

Traveling and blogging is hard I am afraid I will forget about you and you will forget about me. We're driving down I-5 in California. It's rainy and chilly but I'm having a hard time sitting still. But other than that I'm loving every minute. 


I am I sing my iPhone spoken text function. It makes it a lot easier than trying to type on my little keyboard with my big finger. 

I've always loved taking pictures as we travel down the road.There's always that blurred foreground. Today is no different. It's foggy but the sun is up there somewhere waiting for us.

Have a wonderful day.