Living within your means…

I read this blog post on: and I really feel it is worth sharing.   I have copied and pasted the post so you don’t have to click on the link above.

The Topic: Living Simply (but Well) with VegNews Associate Publisher Colleen Holland
The Dish: I’ve often said that the recent economic recession has a silver lining. Of course, I feel for those who can’t find work, who have lost their health insurance, or are struggling in any way. It’s a sad situation. But, America, we live way beyond our means, and maybe we need a kick in the pants to stop buying stuff that we don’t need and we can’t pay for. In many other countries, the idea of credit cards is completely foreign. Why would you buy something if you don’t have the money right now to pay for it? Here in the US, we’re a credit culture. We want to feel like we can buy anything we want, and since we can borrow money at a moment’s notice, why not drop $15 on lunch, down a soy latte every morning, or sport a wardrobe that we really can’t afford.
Years ago, right after college, I backpacked through Asia. I started my journey with a 25-pound backpack and thought I needed absolutely everything in that pack. But week after week, I realized how little I really needed. I shed articles of clothing (I could wash what I had every few days and be fine), my CD player (I gifted it to a guy in China who would enjoy it far more than me), and my collection of books (I could swap reads with other travelers and just carry one book at a time). After liberating myself from all of my stuff, I was able to travel the world with a four-pound backpack. It was amazing, and although living this simply certainly doesn’t translate to real life, that feeling of freedom has stayed with me for the last 18 years.
So here’s five ways I try to simplify my life so that I live within my means, joyfully.
Love Your Bottle
It makes me crazy to see people still buying plastic water bottles. This is 2011! Not only is plastic detrimental to the environment, in many places, tap water is just fine (thank you, Hetch Hetchy). If it’s not, invest in a water filter/distiller/purifier so you can make your own pristine water. And buy an adorable (BPA-free) bottle that never leaves your side!
Love Your Leftovers
There was a time in my life that I shunned restaurant leftovers. Ugh, the hassle, and I felt it made me look desperate or something. But as an adult, I have embraced leftovers and never miss an opportunity to take home a doggy bag. Leftovers make a delicious brown-bag lunch the next day, and it cuts your meal cost in half (paid $10 for a Mexican platter? Get two meals out of it, and you’ve just cut your cost to $5).
Lose the Lattes
I have never been a coffee drinker, so maybe this is something I can’t understand. But I don’t understand! Have you done the math on these babies? It’s crazy how much a latte habit adds up to. And the more we drink coffee/caffeine, the more we need it. Starbucks has made us a country of addicts, and they’re making a killing. Full disclosure: I love a good soy chai latte, but I look at it as a treat and only indulge once a month or so. 
Brown Bag It
This is a great way to save moola so you can splurge on something meaningful (but still within your means). A few months back, I penned an entire post on brown-bag lunch ideas, including my favorites: kale salad with baked tofu, baked potatoes with toppings, bagel sandwiches, homemade soup, and, yes, leftovers. With a little planning, you can enjoy healthful, delicious meals at the fraction of a cost of take-out. And is that really how you want to spend your money?
Know When to Splurge
So all of this being said, I am the first to admit that I love a good splurge (that I can afford, of course). A leisurely Friday night dinner with friends over good food, wine, and dessert at a great restaurant? I relish that. A weekend away at my favorite inn? When do we leave? That vintage 1920s table I have been eyeing at a local antique store (and I’ll have forever)? Sold. But when you cut out all the extras that really don’t enhance life that much, yet keep you perpetually in poverty, we miss the opportunities to do something meaningful that matters.
The Final Word: I know people who make $150k a year and cry poverty and those who make $25k and live like rockstars. Hopefully, the current economic crisis is providing a valuable lesson on cutting out some of the fat and learning to live rich with any income. It can be done.
Posted by VegNews Magazine at 10:50 AM



My beautiful friend Yvonne sent this to me so I decided to share:

Friendship is a mirror that reflects the grace of God. Throughout my life, I have countless opportunities to be a friend and to make new friends. Each friendship is an occasion to experience God in action–to behold kindness, peace, happiness and love in each person I meet. Each friendship is also an opportunity for me to reveal my highest and best qualities. My friends and I balance one another’s strengths and weaknesses and enjoy a comfortable camaraderie as we walk our life’s paths. My friends know me and love me, lift my spirits by their presence, and help me find my way in the world. I gladly reciprocate. Each friend is a blessing in my life. Each one has helped me become the person I am today. I thank God for my friends. A true friend sticks closer than one’s nearest kin.–Proverbs 18:24


Before 2011 comes to a close, I would like to dedicate this blog to some very important people in my life.

First and foremost, I am grateful for Azz (deliberately not using his real name or his association to me).  He and I were born in the same generation (the 60s) and are only 2 years apart in age.  We share so much in common that at times we often felt as though we had grown up together.  We have been together since 2000 and not a day goes by that we don’t laugh over something we both agree is funny or stupid. I think it is safe to say, we share the same warped sense of humor and love for animals, especially cats.  In fact, we can barely get through a day without speaking in movie quotes – one of our favorite movies (among many) is: Shawshank Redemption. We love to quote Brooks Hadlen, “It’s all talked out.”  Whenever Azz and I have a difference of of opinion on something, one of us will use that line and then start to laugh which immediately lightens the mood.  We never argue, as arguing has never been our thing. Thankfully, our similar sense of humor has carried us through the good and difficult times.  Words cannot express how much I appreciate Azz for being there for me throughout the years, but more importantly, during the mid to latter part of 2010 – all of those ER visits, waiting around for a diagnosis –waiting while I underwent a 5 hour surgery and then waiting again as I underwent yet another procedure. All those nights he would lie awake with me trying to ease my discomfort.  Not once did he complain. Some men would have run for the door or hid behind their work but he didn’t. He was there for me.  And I cannot forget how he was there to hold me up as we stood at my brother’s funeral on a rainy, cold, miserable November day.  I also want to thank him for teaching me the power of taking the high road when someone does something to try and hurt me or us.  He taught me that it is better to walk away rather than to react because as he says, “It’s what they want. They want you to react.” By not reacting, you stifle them.  The other night Steve told me that he would marry me all over again. That I was “a good woman”.  I was so touched by this that I realized I really do have a lot to be grateful for. And for that I say, thank you for being a part of my life.

Next I would like to show my gratitude for my long time friend Yvonne.  Yvonne and I met many many years ago (it was the early 90s).  Despite the fact that in 2000, she moved to the other side of the country, we have always remained in contact and we always manage to pick up right where we left off.  As I have told her on many occasions she has always been my voice of reason.  If I want an honest answer, Yvonne will give it to me w/out pouring sugar on it.  Like Azz, she taught me to take the high road. Yvonne is fiercely loyal and always has my back. When I am caught up in a conflict, Yvonne enables me to see through it, take it for what it is and move the Hell on. There were times when the distance between us felt like less than a mile, even though it was more like 3,000. I’ll never forget the summer she stayed with us and we went to Friendly’s where she proceeded to drink, not one, but TWO, Black & White Frappes with nary a care for what anyone would think or say. That’s another quality I love about Yvonne. She doesn’t give a rat’s fuzzy butt-hole what ANYONE thinks. If you confide in her, know that what you have told her will stay in confidence and if by chance you have a falling out or don’t see eye-to-eye, don’t think for one second she will reveal your confidences as a means to lash out at you cuz that aint her style.  I won’t reveal her age, but if you met her, you would think she was in her early 40s and she is not! If anyone on this planet is aging gracefully it would have to be Yvonne. I was recently talking about her with a former co-worker (Tom) who also worked with Yvonne. In fact, at one time, the 3 of us worked together sitting on the same floor.  Anyway, Tom and I were chatting about Yvonne and the topic of her house came up (this was the home she owned in Portland). Tom commented on how beautiful it was. I told him I remembered her apartment in Quincy and how even though she did not own it, it was decorated like something out of House & Gardens.  Tom agreed. I even went so far as to say that Yvonne could make a cardboard box look good. And if you don’t think I have Yvonne in the back of my mind when I’m decorating my own home, you are wrong because I do!  I have my own mind, style, & taste on what I like, but I can hear Yvonne’s voice in my head.  Yvonne is impeccable. If you need advice on what to wear for a special occassion, how to decorate your home, or how to respond to a situation consult with Yvonne. She is the modern day Dear Abby.  Yvonne is of Serbian descent, but there were times when I felt as though she was my Italian sister.  She is the sister I never had but always wanted and I don’t often feel that way about women.   The world needs more people like Yvonne and I for one am grateful to have her in my life — without her there would surely be a great void.

This blog wouldn’t be genuine if I didn’t mention Kenny, who I affectionately refer to as “Wheeza”.  Wheeza and I met when we were in our late 20s through a mutual friend that I had gone to high school with. He and I often laugh about how we are no longer friends with the person who brought us together.  Like Azz, Wheeza and I share the same warped sense of humor (he calls me Woozan) and not a day goes by that we don’t email one another movie quotes.  In fact, just like Azz, most of the time, all Wheeza and I do is banter in movie quotes. It goes without saying that Azz and Wheeza are kindred spirits. Wheeza says it is because they are both Aquarians.  What I love about Wheeza is that he enables me to see the ridiculousness in things.  Like Yvonne and Azz, Wheeza helps me to see that that taking the high road is better than stooping to someone’s level.  Furthermore, like Yvonne, when Wheeza and I get together, it is like we are picking up right where we left off without the feeling of time apart. And like those mentioned above, my life would be empty w/out Wheeza.  I should also mention that Wheeza has a biting sarcastic wit that is unmatched by anyone else I know. And like me, Wheeza has a blog called   if you care to check it out.

And then there is AnneMarie, who I call AMF.  AMF is an oak.  I met AMF back in 1997. We were both working at Schwab Capital Markets.  I left Schwab in 2000 and she and I have kept in touch ever since.  What I admire about AMF is she always manages to see the good in almost everything – she is not one to dwell on the negative.  When I am having a moment where I feel as though I am on the ledge, AMF always manages to talk me down saying “It isn’t worth it” and 100% of the time she is absolutely right, it isn’t.   Another quality in AMF that I admire is her ability to make friends like the drop of a hat.  She attracts people.  And it goes without saying that no matter how busy AMF is, she always manages to remember the little or big details in my life.  While I was out on medical leave, she constantly kept in touch with me understanding that I did not want visitors, without taking it personally.   AMF is an old soul – she is wise upon her years; people who meet her instantly like her and wind up becoming her friend.  I introduced her to Wheeza and now they are friends and they way they interact, you would think they have known each other for years.  In closing, AMF is the person who brings people together.  Just like Azz, Yvonne and Wheeza, not having her in my life would cause a great void.

Andrea!!!!  Wow! I have watched this girl grow and morph before my eyes.  I met Andrea back in 2005 when I was a culinary student doing my internship.  She was a server, working part-time while going to college full time.  The first time we met, we immediately hit it off.  Andrea keeps me young.  She reminds me of what it was like to be young, trying to find one’s way through the world.  We had lost touch for a very brief period of time but reconnected in 2007 and have remained in one another’s lives since.  Sometimes Andrea is like the daughter I never had. Other times she’s like the younger sister I wish I had.  I look forward to watching her grow as she moves through her life.  I have a feeling we may see her on TV or read about her in a local Newspaper.

Last year, before I became sick, I reconnected with an old high school friend named Kristen. Like most of the friends in my life, Kristen and I picked up right where we left off 20+ years ago.  Kristen is one of the few people I know who truly knows how to live life to the fullest. Nothing ever gets her down as she is forever upbeat and positive.  Kristen also has this incredible ability to see through people.  Whenever I share an experience with her, she can sum up the situation like a courtroom attorney and spew the facts in such a way that you often wonder how you couldn’t have seen it coming.  Kristen is someone I admire a great deal who I hope will be able to teach me how to live life as fully as she does.

I for one believe in signs.  In the early part of 2011 my friend Terri, who I grew up with, contacted me via email to say she had started her own business.  Terri has given me so much wisdom.  This woman is beyond this world. It is as if she lives within several realms. She is so spiritual & insightful; she can read me like no one else. Terri wants everyone to succeed and will go above and beyond to see to it that you do.  Thanks to her I have broken through barriers and road blocks, basically, fears and doubts that were keeping me from pursuing my wants.

And lastly there is my mom and Nonna, who I accidentally omitted when I drafted this post last night.  I could write an epic novel about both of these women but suffice it to say my skill and ability to cook stems from them. Our lineage goes back to the old country: Italy and although I am 2 generations removed from the old country, I learned so much from the tough-love women in my life.

From a work standpoint, I would be remiss if I did not mention the awesome Admins I work with. During December 2010 my position was elminated but thanks to LD, I was fortunate enough to land.  Through her I met and an awesome group of Admins – all of whom took me under their wing, showing me the ropes.  It is important for Admins to work together, to have each other’s back – in fact, it is critical in order to succeed.  Without this group of wonderful ladies, I often wonder if navigating my way through a new position would have gone as smoothly as it had.  And now that I am coming up on my one year anniversary in joining the Co. I feel it is also important to mention two insanely funny ladies who manage to make me laugh all the while keeping it real, and those two ladies are Rebecca and Erica.  When my tongue is tied, Rebecca manages to understand what I am trying to say no matter how inarticulately I express myself.  As for Erica, although young in age, Erica is light years ahead of herself.  Erica has more maturity and intelligence than women twice, three times her age.  Everyone who meets Erica instantly likes her. Then again, how can you not, she’s just so darn adorable! And I do not mean that in a Lesbian way, not that there is anything wrong with Lesbians.  Lesbians are smart, they are not bamboozled by men the way we straight women are. Ha-Ha!

And then there is my gratitude to JR and Bill for their infinite patience in teaching me all there is to learn about Judaism, not just the religion but as a culture, and a nation of people…

And of course I cannot forget about Maureen. Maureen taught me to look at situations with a more positive lens. She taught me to not immediately go to the “bad place” but to take a step back, reset myself, and then approach the matter at hand.  No matter where I am in my life, I will always remember this advice.


This blog could go on and on as I have so many people and things to be grateful for…

In closing, I read once that the average person will own 3 homes in their lifetime. Well I am living proof of that statistic because on 01/12/2012 I will be closing on my 4th home and I for one am very excited (and grateful).   I am grateful to God for hearing and answering my prayers.  I am grateful for having wonderful friends. I am grateful for their wisdom in teaching me to rise above negative situations, learn from them and move forward, and to not waste energy dwelling in the past. I am grateful for my wonderful job working with an awesome group of people. I am grateful that I have my health. After losing a brother and undergoing two surgeries my view on life has completely changed and to that I am grateful.  I am grateful that I can see, hear, eat, talk, laugh, walk, run, and dance.  I am grateful that I have food on my table, clothes on my back, a roof over my head and 6 snuggly loving cats.  Lastly, I am grateful for not having any regrets. Well that’s not true, I do have 2 regrets but to me these are minor.  Regret #1: I wished I had gone into the military like my dad. He was a Navy guy, and served in Korea.  Regret #2: I wished I had gone to college full time, versus going part-time at night while working full time.  I regret missing out on the college dorm experience. These are not earth shattering regrets, certainly not anything to lie awake at night over, but if you were to ask me what my regrets are, those would be it.

It is hard to believe 2011 is nearly over and 2012 is fast approaching. Where did the time go?…  As I look around grateful for all that I have, I look forward to the New Year that will be filled with new experiences and lessons, lessons that will carry with me into the future.

© 2011 GiRRL_Earth