What This Blog is About

Greetings! You know how when you're reading a great article or see something fabulous in a magazine and just don't know what to do with it so you end up with a thousand torn-out pages? Well, that's what this blog is for. It's a place for me to share the best things I find in magazines! I am hoping to use this as sort of a log to keep all those wonderful articles, items I just have to have, and tips I've learned in one place. My goal is to share with the world, the awesome things I've learned and seen in my many magazines. I subscribe to many varieties and read them daily. I hope to post at least three times a week, eventually, daily. Please support my blog by becoming a follower and checking out the things you like! My dream is to write for a magazine so I figured this might be a good place to start. ;) Thank you all for joining me! Please leave your comments because I'd love to hear your thoughts!

XO ~ Amy Jo (aka AmyJRockstar)

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Last Year's Costumes

Hi Everyone, 

It's getting closer and closer to my favorite holiday and as you can tell by my posts, I am getting very excited!  Well, I haven't had a free second to check out my hundreds of 'zines I have lying around the house the past few days so I thought I'd do a little followup from my last post.  I have a picture I want to share with you of my hubs and me, last Halloween.  We were Alice and the Mad Hatter, Tim Burton style and had a blast.  I'm so bummed the picture doesn't show my awesome white boots, but I think I can find them and post them from an online source.  I'll be back soon with a "real" post, but in the meantime, I hope you enjoy the pics!  Thanks for stopping by today and thanks so much to all of my new followers.  Keep the comments comin'.  I LOVE them!!!

Okay, so by this time of night I had white on my nose from smoochin' the hubs and his eye make-up, which was originally very awesome, nearly wore off.  *sigh*  Good times... good times. ;)

Lace Victorian Tall Boots Adult Ivory
And these are the exact boots I bought from Buy Costumes for $44.99.   Believe it or not... they were worth it!  They were comfortable and adorable.  Yes, I would wear them out with other outfits.  I swear, I would!  

Ok, so since we haven't bought our costumes yet, I need to get off of my blog and order them before it's too late.  Wish me luck!

XO ~ Amy Jo

Friday, October 21, 2011

Last Minute Costume Ideas

Hi Everyone!  Thanks for visiting today.  I see I have a few new followers.  Thank you very much. :0)  I hope you enjoy my blog and the Best Things I've Found in 'Zines!

For the topic of the day, let's talk Halloween costumes.  It's seriously right around the corner and for the first time in several years, I do not have a costume and neither does my hubby!  Eeek!  We are normally ahead of the game a little bit when it comes to Halloween because his boss and my best friend (married to the boss) throw a killer party every year.  They do it all up and start working on turning their large two-story house and yard into a haunted house months in advance in every year.  They literally live with black plastic covering all their walls for at least 3 months out of the year!  So, this is a party not to miss.

I'm super bummed that we are so far behind in picking costumes out.  We know what we want to be, but sadly, my little dog had to have surgery and it cost almost $4,000!!!  That leaves us with two new loans and pretty much $0, so instead of buying our bee and beekeeper costumes, we may have to go with some of the ideas I found posted in the October, 2011 edition of Real Simple magazine.  The direct link to the article is HERE, but I'm gonna see if I can copy the pics over here and elaborate.  All the pictures are the original property of Real Simple Magazine and in no way am I claiming them as my own.  Just sayin'. ;)  Would LOVE to get everyone else's opinions and ideas as well!  I'm sure a bunch of my crafty friends would have some awesome ideas.  The best I can come up with (since I have a crystal ball) is a gypsy. LOL  Yep, that's about as good as it gets around here.

Actually last year the hubs and I rocked it... we were the Tim Burton version of Alice and The Mad Hatter and had there been a contest, everyone says we would've won.  In fact, I've even had a few special requests by people, to do their makeup because they love how I did my hubs' last year!  Of course, there was no contest last year, but my friends did decide to put one on this year!  I'm so P.O.'d (not at my friends) b/c this is the year where we don't have it figured out!  The year before last, we went as a lioness and a lion tamer... Also, fantastic costumes!  It totally figures that this would be the first year of a costume contest.  I'm way into that and really would love to win so I'm quite annoyed that we have come up with naught as of yet really.

I'm not going to post pics of all 13 from the article, but I will list them and if you are intrigued you can hit the link and check it out on the actual site.  Let's get started, shall we?

1.  Ceiling fan - Let me forewarn you... a lot of these are cheesy and would need a lot of explaining.  I think people would definitely look at this and go, "Hmmm... So what is it you're supposed to be?"  So I guess, if you like a lot of interaction and want to explain yourself all night, this would be one way to go. *Note - pay close attention to the names of the costumes in bold.

Ceiling fan
To create this look - "Use adhesive letters (or masking tape) to spell GO CEILING! on a shirt." [You can always use an old shirt and paint on letters too] "Carry pop-poms or mopheads.  Short pleated skirt optional."
Well, yay or nay?  I think it's pretty funny, but is one of those that will require an explanation 'cause I just don't think most people are smart enough to get it.  Maybe smart isn't the right word... how 'bout kooky.  I don't think most people are "kooky" enough to get it.  Yeah, that's more like it.  Final decision for me is... YAY

2.  Iron Chef - Does everyone know what an iron chef is, or shall I say whom?  'Cause I'm not sure I'd quite get this one...
Iron chef
Achieving the look - "Wear a chef's hat ($7, cheftools.com) or an apron and hold an iron" ['cause that'd be a blast to carry around all night, right?].
Final Decision - NAY.  No way, no how.  Plus, the hubs would end up carrying that heavy a** iron all night and I don't think he'd be too thrilled. 

3.  Fork In The Road - Intrigued???  Read on...
Fork in the road
Attaining the look - "Wear black.  Using white duct tape [or vinyl if you have any], make a line of dashes (your lane lines) that begins at one ankle and ends at your collar.  Fasten a fork [plastic, I assume would work best] along the route.
Final Decision - YAY.  I think this is one of those cheesy, but quite clever and cute ideas.  Truly... have you ever known anyone to use this as a costume before?  I'd say it gets an A+ for originality. 

4.  Split P - Hmmm... Has you thinking, doesn't it?
Split p
Achieving the look - "Cut out a large P from construction paper [again, if you have it, use vinyl - it would stick a lot easier], then cut it in half.  Tape it to your hoodie [doubt you want to permanently glue paper onto your favorite hoodie, but hey, it would stay on better] so that the zipper appears to slice through it." - Like the word they chose... "slice". LOL

See how they did that?  It's like magic! ;P  LMAO 

5.  Bottleneck - This one's just silly.  Check it out by clicking the link to Real Simple (above or below).
6.  Pumpkin Pi - Here's one for the nerds... or are they geeks?  I don't know the PC terminology anymore...
Pumpkin pi
Achieving this look - "Dress in orange.  Cut out a pi symbol from black paper or print one out; type Option +P [I didn't know that would give you the pi symbol!  I knew I would learn something from this article!] and tape it to your shirt [again, vinyl would be very helpful here or maybe contact paper?].
Final Decision - YAY.  For one reason mainly... I could totally see my hubby and his friends wearing something like this.  Do any of you watch Big Bang Theory?  If you do, you'll like this "costume" too.  Totally reminds me of something they would do on the show.  In fact, I'm surprised they haven't already!  C'mon guys, this is pretty clever!

7.  Buccaneer - "Tape a $1 bill to each of your ears [as long as you have two, this will work].  Now you've got a buck-an-ear."  Hey, I didn't make this up people,  I just add my thoughts... The ones in brackets and for the most part, without quotes.  Hee Hee
8.  Self-Portrait - Now this is just ridiculous and completely impractical... "Carry a large, empty picture frame (minus the glass) [duh - although the person trying this might need that info] and hold it in front of your face."
9.  Tickled Pink - Wanna know how to get the look?  Look it up here.
10.  Under the C - This is so ridiculous, I don't even want to say it, but for the sake of good reporting, I will... "Tape the letter C to a baseball cap.  Put it on and -- presto!- you're under it!"  Again, I did not make that one up.  That was thought up by some other brilliant writer. LMAO  Oh, come on, you know you're having fun reading these. ;0)
11.  Cat Out of the Bag
12.  P in Your Pants - not too sure I want to know how to achieve this look, but I know of one definite way and one way that might work without grossing too many people out...  How creative can you be with this one? ;)
13.  Band on the Run - Now this I'd love to see.  Wouldn't want to do it, but would love to see someone else do it...  "Get the whole family to wear sneakers and gym clothes. [Good luck with that.  My family won't even call on my birthday, let alone dress up in a costume I pick for them. Ha!]  Have every person carry an instrument."  And there you have it ladies and gentlemen...  13 Last Minute How-To-Look-Like-A- Halloween[ie] Costume Ideas.  I hope you enjoyed this as much as me!  We could all use a good laugh sometimes right?  LOL  Now, back to looking for real costume ideas...

XO ~ Amy Jo

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

How to Haggle for Everything (and then some)

Welcome New Followers, New Friends, and Old Friends especially, ;)

Thanks so much for stopping by my blog for my first post yesterday and for interacting on the comment section.  I really appreciate that.  I think people have so much to offer to each other and since I don't get out of the house much at all, due to my illness, this is really my way of connecting, learning, and hopefully enlightening.

Today's topic is inspired by an article I read in the January 2011 edition of Glamour magazine. (Yes, they do talk about other topics besides men and fashion) ;0)  I would like to expand upon the article How to Haggle for Everything by Carmen Wong.  She took a more financial gain type of view for this article so let's start with that.  Then we will continue with my view of why people should  haggle/barter for environmental reasons.  Anything in quotes is directly copied as it is written in the magazine.  Just to clear things up, if you do not see quotations, then that is me, expanding on this topic. I want to give credit where credit is due, but I also want to put in my two cents as well. LOL ;)  I will paraphrase by using brackets.

Tips from Ms. Wong:

  • Cut your cable and phone bills - "Check out billshrink.com and lowermybills.com, to see what other companies are charging.  Then call your provider and ask for the "customer retention" department." {I had no idea there was even such a thing until I read this article!}  "Ask them to lower your rate."  [You can actually ask them if they have any promotions going on and see if you can get in on those too.]  One big tip, don't turn into Bridezilla (for lack of a better term). Remember these... kill them with kindness, or honey catches more flies than vinegar???  I truly do believe those old cliches work well, as I, personally follow those wonderful words of wisdom, especially when there's something I really want. ;)  I am the type of person that tends to get her way. Just ask my DH!  My friends will say the same thing too.
  • Negotiate the interest rate on your credit card - This is one I have also done, personally.  I actually called my credit card company and told them about now, being on disability and no longer having the type of income I had before.  By the time I figured out I could actually ask for a lower rate, they had already cut my credit completely off (probably a good thing, but I was mad a the time) and I was just paying the bill, slightly above the minimum.  I spoke to an awesome customer service agent and he told me he could put me on a "hardship program".   I hate to say it, but most American's are in need of a "hardship program" at this point, with the way the economy was going.  So, what happened is, he ended up lowering my interest (a lot) and gave me a fixed amount to pay each month with no worries of a late charge (unless I was defunct for like six months or something).  Fine by me!  It's definitely helped out with some of my financial stress and if I forget to make my payment on time, it's ok.  I don't get charged that hideous fee anymore.  And again, since they were actually helpful, I don't take advantage.  I try to make my payments on time and if I do forget, it's usually no more than a day or two late. -- According to Ms. Wong, [one way to negotiate a lower balance is by looking up what some other companies are charging and then "suggest" you may be transferring your balance to a company with a lower rate.  This will usually get them to work towards a better rate with you.]  I have done this myself, in the past, and it has always worked well for me and hey, if it doesn't work, you can transfer your balance to a different bank!  [Do not take an "interest rebate" option.  Basically they are just trying to get you to spend more.]
  • Furniture and appliances - "The best place to start haggling is at the store.  Floor models get bumped around, sat on, and fiddled with, and are often marked down as much as 20%!  Top that discount with the models that are on sale already and you could get a costly item for about 1/2 of its original price.  The best months to shop are July, early August, and January, when retailers need to make room for new merchandise.  Just make sure your big [score] comes with a warranty!" -- I don't know why I never think to ask about the floor models, but I have scored some really good deals that way on accident.  It's just something I never think of, but now I certainly will keep my eyes open for an expensive item I want, but can't afford at full price.  In fact, I might just give this a try sooner than later.  I have had my eye on a Keurig coffee machine for a couple of years now and haven't bought one cause I'd rather spend that kind of money on my scrapbooking supplies or clothes. LOL -  I think I might just pop on in to my local Kohls store or somewhere like that, and see if I can get myself a bargain on a Keurig!  Fantastic idea, isn't it? (I'll keep you posted.)  My advice for getting great deals on furniture and appliances are:
  1. Thrift Stores - Ah, the sad, forgotten thrift stores.  You know we're in a financial rut when the thrift stores are closing down because of lack of business!  Don't forget about the Thrift/Consignment shoppes.  These are great resources for finding what you are looking for.  I go there often for crafting supplies.  If you are into refurbishing, it's a great place to get inexpensive furniture.  You just need to have an open mind when going there and realize that things can be changed.  Furniture can be sanded, painted, reupholstered, etc.  And you're likely helping out a good cause and keeping the landfills free of even more perfectly usable items.
  2. Garage Sales. - Same concept as above.
  3. Friends - I cannot believe the things my friends/family throw away because they no longer want it.  We've gotten a huge TV from my BIL, amazing home decor from friends, and all sorts of perfectly usable (some brand new or like new) stuff!  In fact, I ask all my friends, if you have stuff you no longer want, give it to me and if I don't use it (if they don't mind) I'll sell it or donate it.  My gosh people!  There are so many less fortunate people out there in need of these items.  Please just take a moment to think about the carbon footprint you are leaving behind.  Donate.  Don't throw it away if it's usable.  Or recycle!  It's not that much extra work.  Really.  Another thing I've really taking a liking to lately is re-purposing.  Once you start seeing items in a different way, realizing they could be turned into something else, it almost becomes like a game or even an addiction - trying to figure out what random, seemingly useless, objects can be turned into, to be of use.  Give it a try.  Take a look around your home.  You know those little plastic containers you get with say take out (the ones that hold sauces or dips or peppers), I wash them out, keep the little lids and use them for all of my tiny findings for my crafts.  They are perfect for that.  They can be painted, covered with paper, labeled, whatever you want to do to make it work for you.  In fact, this will be a topic coming up.. perhaps tomorrow.  Please come back for further re-purposing tips. :0)
  • An airline upgrade - Again, I have tried and tested this method and found it to be true!  I once got a round trip flight from Colorado to Maine completely free.  Not to mention, a hotel room for free and a rental car upgrade.  Listen up... "If a flight is oversold, as they often are during the holidays, you can offer to take a later one in exchange for a plush seat and extra leg room.  Smile at the gate attendant - the most underused bargaining trick!" My input on this topic:  Actually, I got a voucher for a free flight when I did this, forget the nicer seat!  Ask for a free round-trip ticket!  It's happened before to me, my DH, and my brother (several times).  If you can wait for a later flight, it is well worth it.  Believe me!  I was so excited to have a free flight to anywhere in the US (to be used within a year or so).  Flights are so expensive these days.  Once, they filled the plane and had to bump me, so not only did I get a free flight, but also an overnight stay in a nice hotel, with free taxi service and two free meal vouchers!  The tip about the gate attendant is true too.  A plane I was on was accidentally overbooked and they had  bumped me (by random drawing), but I was super nice to the gate attendant and he nodded at me, and winked, took my ticket and pushed me through anyways.  He ended up bumping someone else. ;)  Kill 'em with kindness... worked again! *great big smile*
  • Your doctor's bill - If you mention your financial situation to your doctor (don't be embarrassed, it's really worth doing) lots of times he will base the fee on a pay scale, based on your income.  You can also get discounts by paying in cash.  I think my doc offers like a 20% price break.  Same thing goes for therapists.  I have done this as well and got a therapist with a normal rate of $60 an hour to drop it to $20 an hour for me.  

The biggest thing you have to overcome is your own pride.  It shouldn't be embarrassing to ask for a little help or try to get a better deal.  You never know, it might just work!  I have wonderful luck and I attribute it to a positive attitude, being nice to someone who is not nice to you (you never know what kind of day they're having), and not being afraid to speak up.  We spend a lot of money on doctors.  They make a lot of money so why can't we ask them for a little help when we need it?  Same with the credit card companies and airlines.  They make a fortune!  Even giving a little break to some people here and there will not touch the amount of money they actually clear.  We're the little people, and we need to realize we deserve to not go broke over something that is out of our control.  Ask, ask, ask!  The worst they can do is say no.

Thanks for joining in today.  I hope you liked the topic and I really hope you got something out of it.  Please leave me a comment and let me know what you think.

Work smarter, not harder.

~ Amy Jo

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Important Information for Women in Their 30s - Memory Loss

OMG, okay... so we all know when you hit the big 3-0 lots of things in life start changing... Most of your friends are already married, with kids, your body starts changing and doing weird things, your skin isn't as dewy as it once was, cellulite starts showing up (even if you're thin), but - hey, this is supposed to be the best time in your life, right?  You are more confident.  You are learning how to shine.  You know (well most of us anyways) what we expect from ourselves and what is acceptable and unacceptable in our relationships.  We have a sense of self,we didn't have in our 20s.  Our 20s were spent learning.  Our 30s is the time to start using what we've learned to build a better life for ourselves... to stat catering to our own needs and learning it's okay to say no when you need to and yes when you want to.  We are in our most beautiful phase (or so I've been told), but then a big bombshell hits like this one...

When I was taking a little "me time", reading my Women's Day Magazine (Aug. 2011) I learned something so distressing that I decided to start this blog!  I felt the info was so important that everyone should be aware of this!  So what I learned is that for you 30 something gals (like myself), your hippocampus starts to shrink!  Hippo- what?  It, along with the frontal lobes, are two parts of your brain that handle most of your memory processing (and they are shrinking)... Yikes!  So what's that mean, you ask?  Well, for starters, it means we need to cut down on the stress.  Impossible?  Maybe not entirely.  My tip is this:  add a little "you" time to your day.  Seriously.  It's important.  Read on and you'll learn one more of the zillion reasons why...

"Women who are chronically stressed at mid-life {apparently, 30s are now mid-life} are more likely to develop dementia as they get older." - Richard Laliberte

Have you noticed yourself forgetting where you parked your car? Repeatedly asking the same questions?  Always looking for your keys or notes you have just written?  Yes, I realize this happens to everybody, but truly, I don't remember being this scatter-brained in my 20s and now I'm beginning to understand the scientific reason why this is happening so much more and that worries me!  Basically it means, I have have way too much stress.  Sound familiar?  I'm sure it does!

Now, apparently we are unable to change this entirely, but the process can be slowed down.  The methods recommended in the 'zine are:

  • Stress less - Really?  Hmm.  Who'da thunk?  If anyone has any pointers on this one, puh-lease let me know!
  • Move more - Again.  Pretty well tried and tested for every aspect of life. If you want to be healthy. you gotta get up and shake that jelly!
  • Make sleep a priority - Oh trust me; I do!  However, sleep and I don't get along very well.  I have a crazy sleep schedule, due to Fibromyalgia, and unfortunately, sleep for me is never quite restful.  Sometimes I sleep all day and all night, other times I'm up all night and all day, and then there are times when I sleep quasi-normally.  Tonight is one of those nights when sleep is elusive.  It's 1:00 AM and I've taken two prescription sleeping pills, two heavy duty narcotics (prescribed of course), and a muscle relaxer and anti-anxiety med.  Am I sleeping yet?  Hmm..  I don't think so.  Sure would be nice to solve this problem!  If anyone has any real tips on how to get the right amount of sleep at a normal time, you might just save my husband's sanity! ;0)
  • Eat your vitamins - What they mean by this is, try to get most of your vitamins directly from the food you put in your body, rather than through a pill.  Granted, multivitamins are a must for everyone since our food sources are so depleted of their nutrients; however, shopping organically and eating fruits and veggies (leave those skins on!) will help you to "eat your vitamins".
  • Stay at a healthy weight -  Okay, we all know what this one means.  I must say, for me personally, a person who has been uber thin her whole life, putting on weight inexplicably has been very distressing for me and I have no idea where to begin with "dieting".  I have never had this issue in my life, until Fibromyalgia hit full force.  I went from 85 lbs. at my lowest point (and no, I did not have an eating disorder) to almost 140 lbs. in a matter of months w/o any real explanation or drastic changes in diet!  Talk about stressful!  I can no longer fit into my clothes, my belly looks like I'm ready to give birth any day now and I have no clue what to do since, with Fibro, I cannot do full impact cardio and strength training.  Any pointers?  Feel free to leave your input!

Thanks so much for following my very first post.  I hope you enjoyed it and learned something new!  For the full Women's Day article please click here.

XO ~ Amy Jo

*Disclaimer - Most of the information on this blog is my own interpretation of articles I have read.  I give credit where credit is due and in no way should anyone take this and use it as medical advice.  I cannot claim any responsibility for what you do with this information.  This blog is solely for pure enjoyment and education based on my own opinion from the articles I read.  Please visit the actual website of the magazine (listed in my post when available) for the full article and to learn more about these topics.  I am a freelance writer, not a medical doctor and please keep that in mind when reading my posts.  Use the information how you wish, but my intentions are not to treat, diagnose or cure any ailments you may be experiencing.