Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Making Christmas Memories ...

with Little or No Money.
I remember the wonder of sleeping under the Christmas tree as a child. It was our night before Christmas eve tradition. There were no DVD movies or pizza delivery. It was very simple...pillows and blankets and p.j.s and three very quiet children each peering up into the branches laden with shiny ornaments and the streaming silver icicles that would catch the colors of the lights with their gentle movement. It was a magical sight, ripe for our imaginations, and mesmerizing to sleepy eyes.
I remember my father making fudge and getting to lick the spoon and I remember wrapping the perfect squares in wax paper to fill tins for gifts. This year my little granddaughter dips pretzels for a easy task for a little one who wants to feel grown up.
I remember the years when we cut our own tree and I remember the years when we ran through the chill evening air of a tree lot inspecting size and shape. Though our suggestions seldom influenced the final decision, our participation somehow seemed vital and added to the thrill of the tree.
I remember the Christmas that my father built my little sister a miniature kitchen stove and sink and it impressed me so much that a lifetime later, I designed and built one for my first granddaughter.
I designed it so that the all the pieces could be cut from a single sheet of plywood. I will try my best to locate my plans and post them in plenty of time for next year.
It is with such joy and warmth that I remember my mother making decorative candles and the yule log she made and the delightful aromas that drifted from our kitchen day after day and stockings filled only with oranges and apples and nuts and a candy cane. I also remember later years with the living room filled to over-flowing with presents and the stress of budgeting for 5 bicycles, a brass bed and a diamond ring in the same year. Of the differing memories, it's the simple ones that seem the sweetest and this year, it is those memories that I hope to help create.Dream beautiful dreams, little ones!

Friday, December 17, 2010

My Christmas Colors - and other things

In the midst of the glitz and glitter, the clamor and crush of the shopping scene and the high stress, low budget of this Christmas season, I feel the need to insert some sanity, seek out meaning and secure some level of peace for myself and my family. The following list is where I'm starting my thoughtful journey in coming up with reasons for the trappings of the season.

RED - the blood of Christ
GREEN - the color of money, reminding us that the love of it can be the "root of all evil" and the only time Jesus did anything out of anger was to overturn the tables of the money changers in the temple
WHITE - the color of snow and symbol of Christ's purity...and we say "pure as the driven snow"
BLUE - the color of the sky for Christ came down from heaven and rose up again
SILVER - for the 30 pieces of silver paid to Judas for his betrayal of Jesus
GOLD - for the streets of heaven and the gift of one of the wise men to the infant, Jesus

TREE - an evergreen to represent everlasting life
LIGHTS ON THE TREE - represent the stars in the night sky
ANGELS - for the angels who brought glad tidings to the shepherds
ROUND ORNAMENTS - for all the planets God created and hung in the sky to circle the stars

TEARDROP ORNAMENTS - for the drops of water at baptism

BELLS - for the bell that rings out to guide lost sheep back to the fold
DOVES - for the Holy Spirit

FRUIT - for the fruits of the spirit
GRAPES - for the blood of Christ in the Holy Sacrament

WHEAT - for the bread which is the body of Christ in the Holy Sacrament

shaped like a shepherds staff ( in a "J" for Jesus) and colored for his blood and purity
CANDLES - for light as Jesus is the "light of the world"
RIBBONS & BOWS - remind us that we are bou
nd together in Christian love, like the old hymn..."Blest be the tie that binds our hearts in Christian love..."
GIFTS - because the wise men brought gifts to the infant Jesus...because Jesus taught that giving is a way of showing fact, the Hebrew letters that spell the word "love" in Hebrew translate independently as "I" "GIVE"...and because God gave His son as a sacrifice for us and continues to give us His gift of Grace.

SWEET TREATS AND FEAST - as a manner of celebration

A silly note: I like the convenience of an artificial tree but wish in my heart it was real, so I created a bit of an illusion by standing a piece of firewood at the base to cover up the totally obnoxious POLE that looks nothing like a tree trunk. Worked great, don't you think?

I wish you and yours the very merriest Christmas, filled with family and love and continued blessings.

Monday, November 29, 2010

THANKSGIVING - Without Food Photos

I've seen about all the pictures of perfect turkeys and displays of food that I need for a while, so I thought I'd get past the tummy filling treats and party planning and cut to the really important aspects of our 2010 Thanksgiving celebration.
It started with cooling weather and falling leaves.
There was silliness and excitement as family came in from out of town
and the energy of children playing in the autumn air
and little ones gathering leaves into piles for play.
It included Aunts and Uncles and Mothers and Fathers and Grandparents taking pictures of memories in the making and ended with sweet goodbyes and a little help getting ready for the greatest celebration of the year - Christmas.
I learned something this Thanksgiving, proving that you're never too old to learn. I learned to let go. I learned that stress is actually a choice we make, and this year, I chose not to invite it. I actually took my cues from the children who were eager to simply enjoy.

By keeping decorations simple and asking some of the family to bring side dishes, I was able to concentrate on the birds and major items and the timing. Not one but two turkeys came out perfectly - tender and moist and as pretty as any picture you've ever seen. (I used the old standby, Reynolds Wrap "tenting" method which has never failed me.) By setting up a self-serve buffet, we managed to properly seat and feed 23 people comfortably and efficiently in my small space.

Ahhhh, by the way, I had a seating idea that might be worth passing along. With smaller children seated at by and girl tables and adults to be seated at a collection of card tables, I wanted to mix it up a bit to avoid teens isolating themselves and timid adults clinging quietly to their partners. So, the tables were numbered and place cards were handed out to each guest. Then the guests were asked to withdraw a numbered bean from a bowl. The beans were prepared with glue dots on the back so they could be attached to the place cards which the guests put on the appropriate tables. The combinations worked out wonderfully well. Some husbands and wives were separated. Teens found themselves seated with their elders and some of the less vocal guests found themselves at tables filled with lively conversation. It was a process that I will definitely use again.

The success of this Thanksgiving gathering has started me rethinking some things that have gone without thought for far too long. Christmas is one of them. I've dealt with somewhat austere holidays in the past. Perhaps that's the reason that I've gone overboard in one area or another for many years. One of my most stressful categories has been that of decorating. I've accumulated enough decorations to overdo every room in the house. Generally, I take my time and enjoy putting them up but always dread taking them down and packing them away. I spent some time reflecting on the Christmases of my childhood. There was simplicity coupled with absolute wonder and I wonder where all that magic has gone. It seems to me that as the piles of goodies under the tree grew larger and larger, the appreciation, joy and peace of the season grew smaller and smaller. This year, I'm going to try to reverse the situation and will share my success or failure with you throughout the month.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Reduce Christmas Costs by Planning Early

I heard on the news that it looks like practical purchases will top shoppers lists this Christmas season. No reason not to take that one step further to make sure we get the biggest bang for the smallest buck.
$35 - Slouch Jacket
One way to do that is to think "vintage". There is quite a difference in vintage or antique items and "used"ones, particularly if the used ones weren't great when they were new. I've known for years that you can buy antique furniture for less than new and, more often than not, the older things will be made better, with better materials and better craftsmanship.
$55 Leather Bomber Jacket
But it just dawned on me that you can do the same things with personal items and buying "vintage" is very different from shopping at a thrift store.

$10 Vintage Doll Stroller
Since I opened my online store on
m, I've been getting acquainted with the site. It's fascinating. Oh, sure, you can spend big and really, really big but you can also pick up incredible bargains. I searched in the "Vintage" section for just a few minutes and found these items as an example. $12.50 '60's GE Mixer
I'm not suggesting that you run to the site and start buying. I'm just giving you an idea of the variety and cost. There are tons and tons of items on etsy and, I'm sure there are other sites out there as well.

$20 Size 5 Coat
So, the task, while we wait for Thanksgiving, is to start thinking about Christmas and about the needs of our families. Make a list and start checking things out online and don't forget to look for "vintage" items.$5.50 - 2 Hardy Boys Books

Sunday, October 24, 2010

You Can Turn "Making Do" into "Best of All"

Sometimes we feel overwhelmed when reality comes crashing into our images of the perfect event we'd like to plan. Sometimes we don't even plan them assuming that our space or money or time constraints make such gatherings impossible. If you fit into any of these categories, please listen. I watch the same cooking and decorating and party planning television shows that you do. I've even pulled off one or two of those elegant events in my time. But I now have the advantage of age and hindsight and the events that I remember most fondly were the ones where heart was the most abundant commodity...the ones where friends and family gathered without the tensions of propriety and perfection.
Almost 20 years ago and recently released from the hospital into a wheelchair after a terrible accident, I was to host Thanksgiving, my favorite of all holidays. Unfortunately, since I couldn't navigate the stairs, our big bed had become the centerpiece of the living room/dining room. I suppose could have canceled but that has never been my way and I'm so glad I didn't.
If we could fit 17 people comfortably into such a small space, you can too. And, because the guests decided to help with dinner by each bringing a dish, the cost was inconsequential for each of us. Instead of mindless, small talk over pre-dinner cocktails, the men busied themselves with moving furniture about and fabricating my make-shift table while the gals organized things in the kitchen, tasting each others dishes and laughing about I don't know what.
My dining table was even too small to set up for buffet service. But, we solved that problem with a series of boxes and paint cans under the table cloth. The serving dishes were then staggered, like houses up a mountain, with their edges overlapping and the children got a kick out of decorating the "empty" spaces with mountains of kale and fresh harvest vegetables.
A sheet of plywood was placed across the foot of the bed in the living room and covered with a table cloth. To seat 12 adults, 2 long benches were brought in from outdoors, seating 6 adults along the 8' side and 3 chairs were placed at each end. (I had my lovely chair on wheels) The coffee table was moved to the dining area of the room and provided seating for the 4 children.
I can smell the turkey, the sweet potatoes and pumpkin pies and feel the warmth of that evening as I write this. There was a fire crackling in the wood stove, new snow on the ground, a moose wandering through the yard, giggling children, hot cider and more time spent around that table than any other before or since. It was my favorite of all Thanksgivings and it could have been among the very worst.
A couple of ideas that I came across recently include, removing a door to open up space and placing it on an ironing board to use as buffet space AND use two table runners along the edges of a table instead of placements or a table cloth.
Here are three links to additional small space entertaining ideas. Particularly, read the comments at link "one". ONE, TWO, THREE

So much of life's goodness is wrapped up in the attitude we bring to it. Of course, I wish you prosperity, but health and love and simple sharing are the keys to happiness and I wish you those things most of all. May you and yours be blessed as we move into this holiday season.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Cute, Versatile, Inexpensive, Fall Decoration

I saw one of these someplace but don't remember where. At any rate, I don't want to take credit for coming up with it, only for passing the idea along.
How simple!
If you have firewood or access to someone who cuts it, all you need is a slice off of a log. Mine is about 2 1/2" thick and about 6 1/2" to 7 1/2" across. The handle is made of 25" lengths of grape vine but I suppose any vine would do. Wire the two ends of the vine together, bend it and attach it to both sides of the log slice with screws. What a pretty little centerpiece for a fall table.
And, my daughter had the idea of setting up a small nativity scene on it for a rustic themed Christmas. It would also be great with a fabricated bird's nest filled with colorful boiled eggs for Easter. If you have any other use ideas, please leave a comment.

I also put a couple in my ETSY Store.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

I Miss Autumn in Alaska

OK, so I complained about the heat and finally got some cool weather. Even bought some mums and made an effort to bring a little Autumn color to my front porch. But then...a little foot surgery has kept me sitting for a week or more when I would like so much to do something Fall-ish... like, maybe rake leaves...all 50 of them. Ha!
Actually, I can't do much of anything right now except wax nostalgic so I took the plunge and started going through old photographs. Came across this picture of my "old" back yard in Alaska and wanted to share it. I can smell the wood smoke and feel the chill in the air just looking at it. What a great time we had in that old log house. I'm thinking about including our projects there as a part of this blog. We did so much for so little. For example, in the photo, the deck around our fire pit was free, as a neighbor offered it when they changed from a boardwalk to a gravel path at their cabin. My little potting shed cost less than $150 following my plans for using every square inch of a few sheets of plywood. Once it was built, we faced it with beautifully aged, discarded fencing.
As much as I like going forward, I also get a kick out of looking back and think I WILL share some of my Alaska projects right here. Stay tuned.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Fall - Money & Time Saving Reminder

What a treat it was to wake up this morning with a little chill in the air. It looks like Fall finally fell. That got me thinking about all the wonderful comfort foods that accompany the season and I needed to spend some time in the kitchen today anyway.
I have a couple of time and money saving tricks that I've used for years. The one that serves me best is cooking in bulk. Since I'm having a small surgery tomorrow and might not feel like cooking for a few days, today was the perfect time to pull out all the stops. I only spent 45 minutes in the kitchen but here's what I've done:
  • The crock pot is doing its own thing with a massive quantity of stew
  • The stove top cooked a pot of rice while I got chili cooking in another pot
  • The oven whipped out a pan of brownies, 18 muffins and a pone of cornbread
  • The refrigerator now holds a good supply of chicken salad for sandwiches or stuffed tomatoes or stuffed avocado halves
And, I'm out of the kitchen until later on when I'll package meal-sized portions for the freezer. I love cooking like this because mealtime becomes just a matter of heat and eat and the cost savings is huge. Here are the links for my chili recipe and the crock pot stew. The chicken salad is outstanding and really quick to put together. Here is that recipe:

Chicken Curry Salad
  • Chicken - 1 can - 9.75 oz - drained
  • Granny Smith Apple - 1 - washed, not peeled - diced small
  • Celery - 2 stalks - chopped fine
  • Mustard - 1 tsp
  • Curry Powder - 1/2 tsp
  • Mayonnaise - enough to moisten
That's it. Mix it all together. Makes great sandwiches or serve as salad on tomato flower, avocado half, pineapple rings or lettuce leaf.

Saturday, October 2, 2010


OK, so I've neglected the blog for a little while but it's only because I've been so busy doing so many things that I will be telling you about. First and foremost, I'm in the process of setting up a shop on For someone who knows so little about computers, that's a daunting task. In fact, when I started this blog, I barely knew more than how to turn the computer on, send and receive emails and type documents. So, the blog has been a learning experience, so much so that I think I'm ready for another one. We'll see.

If all goes well and my brain doesn't short-circuit and the computer doesn't explode, I should have the shop online and open within the next day or two and you will be the first to know.

So, what is it that I will be doing there? Pretty much what I do here. Well, not cooking but all the other stuff. I have a habit of making things and a house that will not hold them all and children who are probably tired of trying to find places to put the things I pass along. My choices were to stop making things - oh no - or to find another place for them. An online shop seemed a natural and was certainly in keeping with my theme of "still finding cash".

That having been said, I'd better get back to work. Just wanted to let you know that I haven't forgotten you. Psst...did you notice the picture of my little angel? Isn't she an a-door-able door decor?

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Delightful Synchronicity

Well, the staggering, oppressive heat, breathlessly stagnant air and endless weeks without rain no sooner got the best of me than I found myself rejoicing. This was an incredible day. It started miserably enough with having to rinse the road dust from the car before I could even get in and go shopping. As I cranked the air conditioner, adjusted my sun glasses and flipped down the visor to shield myself from the blazing sun, I found myself wondering how I could at least pretend that Fall was approaching. There has been absolutely no inclination to pull out Autumn decorations and it's even been too hot to tend to end-of-season gardening matters.
The thought of 'pretending' passed from my mind almost as soon as it entered and I found myself sinking into that occasional "I miss Alaska" funk. The dirt roads that usually give me so much pleasure as they wind from farm to farm, past open fields and through the shaded tunnels created by the overhanging oaks looked somehow devoid of life. The late-season offering of weeds and wild plants that always overtake the roadside ditches were especially unlovely and dull. I noticed the Goldenrod beginning to bloom, it's bright yellow flower tassels barely discernible beneath the layers of dust.

Then I noticed something extremely unusual. My thoughts lingered on the Goldenrod. Normally, I would have cursed it knowing that it would wreak a havoc with my sinuses in a day or two that would last for weeks. But this morning I actually saw it as a sign that Fall really might be on its way. My spirits were lifted a little and I began to think of the lovely Fall colors and my intention to purchase big mounds of mums for the front porch. "But, it's too early", I told myself. And, I hadn't completely convinced myself to spend the money. At $20 a plant, that would add up to $60 and if the price had gone up this year, it could be, maybe, $75. humm.
I just didn't know. I put the thought aside so that I wouldn't be disappointed.

I usually shop at only one store but it doesn't carry my old-fashioned, percolator type, coffee filters, so I needed to run into a little local shop somewhat out of the way. When I pulled into the parking lot, I could hardly believe my eyes...potted cushion mums almost as far as the eye could see. Still unconvinced that I wanted to spend the money, I tried to stay on task, "Coffee filters. Coffee filters", I told myself. But then, just as I stepped from the car, a woman with a hose came out to water them. Before I could stop myself, I heard myself ask the price. "FIVE DOLLARS?!?!" I couldn't believe it and before I knew what had happened, I was joyfully loading three of the monster plants into the back of my car. I almost forgot the coffee filters completely.

I was so excited with my find that I got to the big store and finished my shopping almost before I knew I had arrived. Hurrying my cart to the checkout lane, I happened to pass a display of all-natural, pressed apple cider. Now, that is a staple at my house during cold weather but certainly not appropriate quite yet. Still, as though on auto-pilot, I grabbed a gallon and hurried on.

Anxious to get home and place my flowers, I hardly noticed the clouds roll in and was almost finished putting groceries away when I thought I heard the faintest sound of distant thunder. I looked up from my work and, sure enough, the sun was gone and the sky had grown dark.

Within minutes, the breeze kicked up and leaves began to flutter to the ground. I was suddenly a woman on a mission. The cinnamon candles I had just purchased on sale and tucked away for the holidays came right back out. I lit them and placed them everywhere. Suddenly it felt like Fall had arrived. I opened the front door just as the rain began to fall bringing with it all the sweet smells of clean air. I just stood there, looking, listening, absorbing the glory of it all. Then I remembered the cider.

For fully two hours, I sat on the porch watching the rain fall, listening to the thunder roll across the sky from horizon to horizon, sipped my hot cider and smiled. Flowers that I had not intended to buy - cider that willed its way into my cart - candles that were for another purpose, could it get any better than this on the day that Autumn finally arrived?

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Have You Ever Seen Dry Water?

Will Autumn Ever Get Here?

Some days I can run myself ragged without moving from my desk. This is one of those days. It seems I have more projects than I can even list. Since typing and painting and mental organizing are not exactly activities in my exercise program, I did think to shift positions a couple of times during the day.
Actually, I took some of my work with me and transferred to the front porch. What a dismal disappointment that was. The birdbath I filled yesterday was dry again. The plants I watered yesterday were wilted and shriveling again. The freshly mowed lawn was littered with unlovely brown leaves, dropping more from the heat than the time of year.

The temperature flirted with 100 degrees for a couple of hours, not that I stuck around to verify an actual crossing of the line. We haven't had a drop of rain for weeks and some of the lilttle puddle-ponds around here are bone dry, their muddy bottoms cracking in the unrelenting sun.

The level of our pond is dropping daily. Without a breath of moving air, it seemed to me that the water in this photo, although it is dutifully reflective, somehow appears to be dry. Dry water; that's what it looks like to me.

We are dry, dry, dry and hot, hot, hot and much in need of rain and I'm wondering if Autumn will ever get here.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Tailgate Grill Buddy

Sometimes I think my husband is the most clever person I know. It seems we've had a tailgate grill forever - you know, the "fold-up, carry-anywhere" type that is not only portable but is the perfect height when situated on a tailgate. Sure, we have a huge family and a huge grill but I'm surprised how often I use the small charcoal tailgate grill for just the two of us at home or toss it into the car for a picnic.
I recently wanted to give one to an apartment dweller whose only private outdoor space is an upstairs deck, enclosed on three sides. Sitting the grill directly on the deck is extremely unhandy, if you're over 12, and basically has you cooking on the floor. Equally unhandy would have been adding a table to the deck's limited square footage. My husband solved the problem in an hour with this adorable little gadget. I hope the photographs are self explanatory so that each of you with a tailgate grill or an apartment deck will hurry out to the garage and make your own.
The platform fits snugly over the rail. The edging keeps the grill legs securely in place. AND, when not in use, store the grill under a chair, toss a pillow on the platform and voila, a footrest. Can anything be cleverer than this?

Sunday, September 5, 2010


None of us want to trade our comfortable lifestyles for that of a half century ago but we are able…and knowing our abilities can be a source of comfort when finances threaten to get the best of us.

1. Reduce the number of lights per room

2. Switch to lower wattage for all light bulbs

3. Tape the bathroom light switch in the ‘off’ position

4. Put a night light in the bathroom

5. Put a night light in the kitchen

6. Put solar lights in sunny windows

7. Use solar for outdoor lighting

8. Use motion-detector lighting outdoors

9. Switch to the new ‘curly’ light bulbs

10. Unplug all chargers when not in use

11. Unplug TV when not in use

12. Unplug computer when not in use

13. Wash all laundry in cold water

14. Line-dry or rack-dry all heavy fabric items

15. Determine refrigerator needs before opening

16. Close refrigerator promptly

17. Turn off hot water valve under bathroom sink

18. Install timer on hot water heater

19. Turn off hot water heater at breaker for 18 hrs. daily

20. Watch less TV

21. Use rechargeable carpet sweeper for touch-ups

22. Vacuum thoroughly only once a week

23. Do all ironing at one time – once weekly

24. Change clothes less often

25. Have weekly family night with board games – not TV

26. Bake often in winter

27. In winter, leave oven door open after baking

28. Limit oven use in summer

29. Grill outdoors in good weather

30. Include veggies & heating bread on the grill

31. Roll newspapers into fire-starter logs

32. Add heavy drapes to windows for winter nights

33. Let the sun shine in windows on winter days

34. Cover sunny windows in summer

35. Add extra blankets/quilts to beds in winter

36. Wear warm slippers

37. Learn to love sweaters & sweats indoors in winter

38. Turn thermostat to 5⁰ or 10⁰ less comfortable

39. If you have a fireplace or wood stove – use it

40. Use flannel sheets in winter

41. Use fans in summer

42. Close off unused or seldom used rooms

43. Wash dishes by hand

44. Do not use ‘dry’ cycle on dishwasher

45. Place plastic jug of water in toilet tank to reduce water usage

46. Get a rain barrel for watering lawn & garden

47. Change children’s cell phones to ‘pre-paid’

48. Eat at home

49. Pack lunches

50. Get to 5th gear ASAP when driving a stick-shift

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Taking Time to Breathe...

Without Breaking the Bank
One of the worst things about being in distress, financial or otherwise, is that we reach a point where we feel like we can't even breathe. Face it, even in good times, we need a break. When things are bad, we need it even more but don't think we can afford either the money or the time. We become exhausted and even depressed making it more difficult to to think clearly and make the good, rational decisions required to overcome our situation.
Today, my husband and I took just such a break. We spent the morning leisurely winding our way to the beach by way of every unfamiliar, seldom traveled road we could find. We wandered our way around neighborhoods, past farms and through absolutely beautiful, old-growth forests where the grandfather oaks stretched their giant, fern covered branches across the roadway with Spanish moss dripping overhead. Gradually, the growth began to change as deep within the shadows, palmettos made their appearance and the occasional pines were replaced with occasional palms and the shadows began to give way to open areas. Then there was the bridge to cross and the energizing smell of salt in the air and open sky with sea gulls gliding on the currents.
We arrived at the shore late in the morning, got refills of our coffee and sat in the car watching the waves for a while. Then we walked barefoot on the sand, along the water's edge, slow and easy, sometimes talking...mostly silent until an hour or so had passed and we agreed that we were both hungry. Our favorite place to eat has an open deck cafe where we were able to order at our leisure, linger over our meal and stay around to chat.
It tickles me to note that neither of us tried to "eat on the cheap". I never said to myself, "Oh, I can't have that. It costs too much." I wasn't actually thinking about price at all and hadn't intended to write this post. My intention for the day was simply to take time to breathe. Because of that, we started slow with a shared appetizer that was actually huge. We didn't order 'real food' until later and by that time, we were fairly well filled so we settled for hot, specialty sandwiches. Not counting gas, our total expense for the day, including drinks and tip was under $30.
As the clouds began to roll in for their usual afternoon thunderstorm, we headed for home, refreshed, relaxed and ready to face whatever tasks tomorrow or next week or the coming month places before us.

An available beach is not the key to giving yourself time to relax, refresh and breathe but, for me, spending some time close to nature is. I've found it while walking in the woods or along the bank of a creek or even spreading a blanket on the ground for a quiet picnic in a deserted park. Give it a try...and remember to take your shoes off.

You might also enjoy information on these links
No & low-cost ways to give yourself a boost
Tips on how to relax
5 ways to plan a low-cost retreat