The Great Gym Equipment Shortage of 2020

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Image ID : 35796318
Copyright : ramain

 

If you’re into fitness, then you probably have encountered elements of the exercise equipment shortage which emerged from the coronavirus lockdown.  People began scrambling to pick up all sorts of exercise equipment as soon as lockdown went into effect, and suddenly, dumbbells, kettlebells, weight benches, resistance bands, etc. became as scarce as a 12-pack of Charmin.  It turns out that weight training, as an e-commerce category, is the eighth-fastest growing category, even more in demand than toilet paper, paper towels, and hand sanitizer.  Interest in fitness gear is up over 500% this year.

Part of the shortage is due to the fact that a large percentage of the iron used for exercise equipment is forged in China.  In fact, every single piece of exercise equipment I have ordered online since March has been made in China.  Many factories in China have been shut down as a result of the pandemic, causing production to plummet, and forcing distributors to find other ways to manufacture items like dumbbells, kettlebells, weight plates, multi gyms, and barbells.

Hence the shortage and the inflated prices we have been seeing all over the internet.  Bowflex Selecttech Dumbbells have been selling on eBay for grossly inflated prices, jumping from as little as $200 for a pair last fall to as much as $1,500 during the peak of the equipment buying panic a couple of months ago.  I have had a Bowflex Selecttech 552 set with the stand for eleven years, and I am so grateful to have it.  Never once did I think about jumping on the opportunity to make a ridiculous amount of money by selling the set, because I was using the set every single day, and my fitness and sanity mean far more to me than making a quick buck.  Plus, they’re pretty awesome, enabling me to select any weight from 5 to 52.5 pounds, in increments of 2.5 pounds.

There were other purchases I made which were a test of my patience.  I ordered a hyperextension bench which took two months to arrive, and I went through so many sites and online searches and apps before I found items like the Marcy Diamond Elite MD-9010G Smith Multi Gym through OfferUp.  I also had to pay more than the original sticker price because the demand for such items is so high.  However, I swooped in on this item before prices went through the roof.  The current lowest price on Amazon for this multi gym is now $2,700.99 and arrives September 25th – October 13th!

 

If you happen to see a piece of equipment which you want, you had better snap it up immediately, since the demand will not abate any time soon.  Gyms have been shuttered, and there’s no telling how long it will be before they will reopen, so we all need to get comfortable with assembling the best home gyms possible.

Marcy Diamond Elite MD-9010G

Hug A Plant…It’s The Cool Thing To Do

One of the hottest trends over the past few years, which definitely intensified this year as a result of the COVID-19 lockdown, has been the heightened interest in indoor houseplants and home gardens. There is something about being forced to stay indoors that makes the idea of nurturing different types of flora very appealing.

Before I dive into this topic, I will admit that I have fallen headfirst into the plant obsession trend, and though it has made my wallet leaner than I would have liked, I have gotten immense enjoyment out of nurturing the close to 50 indoor plants and 36 outdoor potted plants (this number doesn’t include the soil-filled lot in my side yard which probably holds about 30 succulents) which are now in my home.  Never mind that I had SIX indoor plants and about half the number of outdoor potted plants before lockdown began.

Curious about which plants are the hottest right now?  Here’s one article which has a pretty interesting list:

16 Trendy Indoor Plants for 2020

Out of the list of 16 trendy indoor plants featured on the above link, I only own 4 of them:

  • Money tree
  • Raven ZZ
  • Split leaf philodendron
  • Monstera deliciosa 

As for the other plant species listed in the article, there are numerous reasons why I don’t currently own them.  Some plants simply don’t appeal to me, such as snake plants (though I used to have several Sansevierias in my home years ago), cacti, zebrinas, ceropegias, and maranta.  I am hesitant to get any type of palm because my home environment is simply not humid enough for palms to flourish.  As striking as alocasias are, I try to avoid plants which are toxic to cats, and since this entire genus is known for being toxic to pets, I’m steering clear of them. Stephania erecta caudex is just plain WEIRD and I have zero desire for one.  Peperomias are a bit temperamental, so I will just stick with the Peperomia species I have (scandens, caperata “Rosso”, obtusifolia).

I actually have a Euphorbia, but it is not inside my house.  It sits on my balcony along with several jade plants, dracaena, aloe vera, and assorted other succulents.  As for the White knight philodendron and the Hoya imperialis, well, let’s just say that I am not willing to hunt all over the internet to find either plant, only to spend exorbitant sums of cash on plants which really aren’t that special.

Some plants are so ridiculously rare and expensive that I just had to share them here.  The first description is of rare Albo Monstera variegated CUTTINGS (not even a live plant!).  The Etsy listing is no longer available, because someone actually purchased it.

Rare Albo Monstera variegated gorgeous multi leaf cuttings US seller

$475.00

Only 1 available

Thaumatophyllum (previously Philodendron) stenobolum VERY RARE Hard to FIND

$850.00

Only 1 available

At first I thought the listing  for the Thaumatophyllum stenobolum might have been for the gigantic plant the guy is holding in the featured image, but alas, no.  It looks like the plant the lucky buyer would get comes in a 6 inch nursery pot.  All for $850, with free shipping, thank goodness.

Finally, here is the most expensive plant I found:

Variegated Adansonii Plant Monstera Adansonii Albo Half Moon – Rare + Free Shipping

$5,500.00

I have a Monstera adansonii in an 8 inch pot which is not variegated, which I purchased for $15 at a local nursery.  Who in the world would want to pay such a ridiculous amount of money on a plant?

If you are interested in reasonably priced and popular houseplants which are easy to maintain, here are some of my personal recommendations.

Pachira: I have one which I purchased in April, and it has more than doubled in size since then.  Feng Shui practitioners state that these plants, also known as money plants, bring good luck and good fortune to their owners.

Pothos: Some varieties now fall under the Epipremnum genus, while others fall under Scindapsus, but if you look for the characteristic thick green, heart-shaped leaves, chances are you will easily find Epipremnum aureum, which is found in just about every nursery and big box store.  They are very easy to care for and will survive different light and watering conditions.

ZZ plant:  If you want a truly indestructible plant which actually PREFERS to be dry, then get a ZZ plant.  Zamioculcas zamiifolia features beautiful, glossy, dark green leaves and thick stems which sprout from a very unique root system.  The roots are rhizomes, bulbs which are designed to hold water.  I purchased several back in late April, two regular ZZ’s, and two ravens, which have glossy black leaves and are considered relatively rare.  The large ZZ plant which I purchased is in an 8-inch nursery pot, and the plant itself stood 11 inches in height when I brought it home.  The plant is now 24 inches tall, with tons of new growth!  The best thing is, I’ve watered it only ONCE since I bought it.  ZZ plants can tolerate low light conditions, and actually seem to prefer slightly lower light versus bright indirect light.

Hoyas:  Hoyas are my favorite plant genus now, partially because there are several hundred varieties, partially because they are relatively easy to care for, and partially because some of the species have attractive foliage.  Most Hoyas also produce very interesting, fragrant clusters of flowers.

 

Home Sweat Home

Image ID : 45950016
Copyright : Katarzyna Białasiewicz

 

When I first decided to write a blog post on this topic, it was a couple of years ago, and I sat on it, procrastinating. What finally prompted me to complete this post was the inevitable, terrifying lockdown which washed across the globe in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.  Times have certainly changed in a heartbeat, and many of us find ourselves in unfamiliar territory, being forced to remain within the confines of our homes, socially isolated, concerned about a very uncertain financial and economic future.   Gym rats like me everywhere have been banned from alighting daily upon gyms and fitness facilities which have provided much needed iron therapy, daily “me” time, and a chance to clear up all the mental clutter which our frenetic society has thrust upon us.

Whether you are stuck indoors without much more than a list of streaming shows to check off, or you have had the good fortune to remain gainfully employed during this difficult time, you might be interested in some exercises which can keep you lean and mean.

Image ID : 22284944
Copyright : Marcin Balcerzak

 

Throw in a few quad stretches during your day to keep soft tissues limber!

 

It may seem to be a daunting task to devise a workout routine outside of a gym or health club, but it is absolutely possible to get decent workouts in on a daily basis whether you are at home, or away from home with limited equipment. Whether you take a few minutes to exercise at your desk while at work (just remember the safe distance rule), throw together a calisthenics routine in an open outdoor area, use your living room floor to eke out a workout, or use furnishings in a home office area to crank out a sweat-inducing regimen, you honestly have ZERO excuses to avoid a workout. Contrary to popular belief, you don’t need fancy gym equipment to move and challenge your body.

If you truly are new to exercising on the fly, here are some suggested workouts which can get you going.

Image ID : 45461087
Copyright : Andriy Popov

 

Got a stability ball chair?  It’s great for balancing on while you get a good rib stretch!

 

SUGGESTED EXERCISES:

CALISTHENICS/PLYOS for full-body:

Star Jacks:  These are similar to a jumping jack, but you flair your arms and legs out, while jump explosively from the ground. To make it more challenging, touch the ground at the beginning of the move.

Try 3 to 5 sets of 10 to 12 reps.

 

Jump Squats:  Start in a crouched squat position with feet shoulder width apart.  Then jump up quickly Upon landing, return to squat position again.

3 to 5 sets of 10 to 12 reps.

 

UPPER BODY BLAST:

Tricep Dining Room Chair Dips:

You can perform these triceps burners on the edge of a chair or a firm bed, or a bathtub.

  1. Place your hands at the edge of the bed with palms facing down so you are supporting your upper body.
  2. Bend your knees at 90 degrees so that your thighs are parallel to the floor.
  3. Dip down slowly, keeping elbows in line with your shoulders.
  4. Push down against the support to raise yourself back up to the starting position.

 

3 sets of 8 to 10 reps

 

Incline Push Ups (use the floor or chair):

  1. Place your hands on the bed or a chair with your feet on the floor behind you in a push-up position.
  2. Slowly lower yourself down to the bed while keeping your abdominal region tight and squeezing your glutes.  Don’t round out your back!
  3. Push back up to the starting position and repeat.

 

3 sets of 10 to 12 reps

 

Decline Push Ups:

When you are ready to get more of a challenge from your push ups, move to this exercise.

 

  1. Start with your feet on the bed and your hands on the ground. Keep your body in a straight line and your abdominals tucked in.
  2. Slowly lower your chest down to the ground while keeping your elbows in close to your body.
  3. Push back up to the starting position and repeat.

 

One Arm Milk Jug Rows:

Use a milk jug or similar weighted item for this exercise.

  1. Start bent forward at the waist, placing opposite hand on low table, chair, or sofa.
  2. With other arm, bend at elbow and bring weight up near ribcage, squeezing muscles in mid back to bring weight up.  Return to start.

3 sets of 10 to 12 reps

 

LEG BLAST:

Wall Squats:

  1. With your back to the wall, lower down so that your legs create a 90-degree angle.
  2. Hold this position for as long as you can.

3 sets of 30 to 60 seconds

 

Bodyweight Squats:

  1. Start in squat position.
  2. Squeeze glutes and backs of legs to raise up halfaway.
  3. Return to start.

4 sets of 12 to 15 reps

 

Front Lunges:

  1. Start standing with feet shoulder width apart.
  2. Step forward with right foot into lunge position, knee bent at 90 degrees, with right thigh parallel to ground.  Make sure knee does NOT extend past your toes!
  3. Return to start position by pushing off right foot and squeezing left glute.
  4. Repeat on other leg.

4 sets of 10 reps each leg

 

Walking Lunges:

  1. Start standing with feet shoulder width apart.
  2. Step forward with right foot into lunge position, knee bent at 90 degrees, with right thigh parallel to ground.  Make sure knee does NOT extend past your toes!
  3. Now advance by stepping forward with left foot into lunge position, knee bent at 90 degrees, with left thigh parallel to ground.  Make sure knee does NOT extend past your toes!
  4. Keep moving forward, alternating legs.

3 sets of 10 reps each leg

 

Diagonal Lunges:

  1. Start standing with feet shoulder width apart.
  2. Step forward with right foot out at a 45 degree angle from the center line into lunge position, knee bent at 90 degrees, with right thigh parallel to ground.  Make sure knee does NOT extend past your toes!
  3. Now advance by stepping forward with left foot out at a 45 degree angle from the center line into lunge position, knee bent at 90 degrees, with left thigh parallel to ground.  Make sure knee does NOT extend past your toes!
  4. Keep moving forward, alternating legs.

3 sets of 10 reps each leg

 

Single Leg Deadlifts:

  1. Stand with feet shoulder width apart.
  2. Lean forward at the hips and shift your weight onto right leg while extending left leg straight behind you.
  3. Lift your extended left leg while leaning your upper body forward until your body is almost parallel with ground, arms hanging down or with hands at hips.  Slowly return your extended leg to starting position.
  4. Repeat with other leg.

3 sets of 10 reps each leg

 

Assisted Pistol Squats:

  1. Start by balancing on right leg, toes pointed forward.
  2. Straighten out left leg in front of you while you crouch down.  Lightly lean on chair back with your right hand as you crouch down to assist with movement, until your extended leg is parallel with ground.
  3. Press back up by engaging muscles in your right leg, pressing away from the floor to return to start.
  4. Repeat for designated number of repetitions, then switch legs.

3 sets of 6 to 8 reps per leg

 

Leg Kickbacks:

  1. Get down on all fours on the floor with an exercise mat or towel under you for cushion.  Align your wrists under your shoulders and your knees under your hips.
  2. Without changing the angle of your knee, extend your right leg back and up until your thigh is parallel with the ground with the sole of your right foot facing the ceiling.
  3. Contract your glute at the top of the movement and hold for a count of 1-2.
  4. Return to your starting position without touching your knee to the ground and repeat.
  5. Do 12 to 20 repetitions, then switch sides.

4 to 5 sets of 12 to 20 reps per leg

 

Hip Bridge:

  1. Lie flat on your back, with knees bent and arms by your hips, palms down, and feet hip distance apart with heels a few inches from your glutes.
  2. Push through your HEELS and squeeze your glutes to lift your hips up so that they are in line with your torso.
  3. Pause at top for a count of 2 to 3, then lower back down.

3 to 4 sets of 10 to 12 reps

 

ABDOMINAL STABILIZERS:

Basic Plank:

  1. Place forearms on the floor with elbows aligned below shoulders and arms parallel to your body at about shoulder width.
  2. Feet are about 6-8 inches apart, with toes ground into floor.
  3. Squeeze glutes and make sure your entire body makes one long line.
  4. Neutralize your neck and spine by looking at a spot on the floor about a foot beyond your hands. Make sure your head is in line with your back.
  5. Hold the position for at least 30 seconds.

One Hundreds:

  1. Lie on back with knees bent at 90 degrees and hips at 90 degrees from floor.
  2. Reach arms down along torso parallel to floor, then lift head and engage your abdominal muscles with shoulder blades off the mat.
  3. Move your hands in a repetitive percussive motion about an inch or so off the floor then down while you inhale for a count of 5.
  4. Exhale for a count of 5 while continuing the same percussive hand motion.
  5. Repeat for 9 more full breaths with same cadence.

V-Ups:

  1. Lie on your back and extend your arms above your head. Keep your feet together with toes pointed.
  2. With legs straight, lift them up as you simultaneously raise your upper body off the floor. Keep your core tight as you reach for your toes with your hands. Slowly lower yourself back down to the starting position.

How To Do V-Ups

Healthy Living Tips for Seniors on a Fixed Income

Please check out this fantastic article, written by Karen Weeks, which is full of tips on how to live healthy and strong as a senior on a fixed income!

by Karen Weeks – Elderwellness.net
karen@elderwellness.net


Image by Xevi Casanovas via Unsplash

As you get older, it’s more important than ever to make your health a priority. Unfortunately for seniors living on fixed incomes, a healthy lifestyle can seem financially impossible. Nutritious ingredients, fitness classes, and other healthy living resources don’t come cheap. When money is limited, it’s hard to find room in your budget.

Forgoing healthy habits may save money in the short-term, but it costs seniors in the long-run. A healthy lifestyle is one of the best ways to prevent chronic illness, and if you don’t take care of yourself, you’re more likely to develop health problems that are costly to manage.

That’s why it’s so important to adopt healthy habits now, no matter your budget. If you’re a senior living on a fixed income, these tips will help you stay healthy without spending a lot.

Eating Well

Learn how to grocery shop on a budget
If you look at the price of packaged organic goods, healthy foods can seem out of reach. Instead of worrying about organics, focus on eating a diet high in vegetables of any (and every!) type. If fresh vegetables are too expensive, frozen vegetables are just as nutritious without the sodium content of canned goods. Dried beans, whole grains, frozen fruit, canned fish, and eggs are more cheap and healthy foods. Avoid frozen meals. While they seem like a good value, most frozen dinners are high in sodium and saturated fat.

Make use of food assistance programs
If you find yourself skipping meals or eating poorly to save money, look into food assistance programs like the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, the Senior Farmers Market Nutrition Program, and Meals on Wheels. Meals on Wheels is an especially helpful resource if you live alone and have trouble leaving your home.

Staying Active

Get cleared for exercise
It’s safe for most older adults to exercise, but it’s still wise to talk to your doctor. Your annual wellness visit is a good time to ask if you should take precautions before starting an exercise program. Keep in mind, however, that Medicare’s annual wellness visit doesn’t include a full physical. You may owe a copay if your doctor recommends bloodwork or other tests to clear you for exercise.

Exercise at home
There’s a lot of exercise seniors can do in the comfort of their homes. Basic strength and balance exercises, important for senior fall prevention, require minimal space and no special equipment. Use these 14 exercises from Philips Lifeline to get started.

Join a senior center
Do you prefer the camaraderie of group exercise? Senior centers offer tons of activities for older adults, including exercise classes like tai chi, yoga, and Zumba. Not only that, but all of a senior center’s services are available free or low-cost. No matter where you live, there’s likely a senior center in your neighborhood.

Getting Help at Home

Apply for the Assisted Living Waiver Program
If you need caregiving but don’t want to move into a nursing facility, consider assisted living. Under the Assisted Living Waiver Program, California seniors receiving Medi-Cal benefits can receive a reduced rate for assisted living. With facilities in California having a median cost of $54,000 annually, that’s a valuable benefit. However, not all facilities participate, so it’s important that seniors understand how to research assisted living facilities. Online search tools are a good place to start looking for a facility that meets your needs, but once you find one you like, you’ll need to check if it participates in the waiver program.

Get a roommate
Unfortunately, not every senior who needs help affording care qualifies for a waiver. If you could use help at home but don’t need nursing home-level care, consider a roommate. A roommate can be a housemate who splits the bills or someone who provides housekeeping and companionship in exchange for reduced rent.

Living on a fixed income forces you to get creative with your money, but it shouldn’t stop you from living well. If you’re having trouble affording the things you need to stay healthy, reach out to your Department of Aging and Adult Services to learn what resources are available to you.

Black Friday Fitness Apparel Deals

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Copyright : tohey

Every year, it seems that I am in need of new athletic shoes as well as new sports bras. My favorite time to shop for such items is on Black Friday, when some of the best deals are up for grabs. One thing I have noticed about Adidas sports bras is that they are well constructed, and don’t lose shape over time. So I am always on the lookout for their sports bras during the big Black Friday sales. I also love their athletic shoes, which are comfortable, offer great support, and also feature really attractive styling.

I remember hitting a Black Friday sale at a department store and scoring a pair of Adidas running shoes which sported an original price tag of $139, but I paid only $59 after the Black Friday blowout deal was stacked on top of the regular sale price. That was enough to motivate me to shop for athletic gear on Black Friday whenever possible. However, because my schedule has become increasingly more hectic in recent years, it can be challenging to figure out where the best Adidas deals (and deals for other major sportswear brands too) could be found.

Dr. Stacey Naito

Well, it’s like Slickdeals read my mind, because I can visit their site and find a whole slew of locations which sell Adidas apparel at steep discounts during Black Friday. How cool is that? Slickdeals has a full staff of editors who do all the work for you, sifting through all the deals which are available on post-Turkey day. The site will also provide coupon codes and links for coupons which yield even greater discounts on Black Friday. Some Adidas stores will often offer a storewide 50% discount, so if you prefer to hit those stores, you can find them on the Slickdeals site. Other stores will accept coupons which offer up to 50% off merchandise, making a shopping trek well worth the effort. Another deal which you might find is one in which you get deeper discounts with larger purchases. For example, you can save $20 if you spend $100 (20% discount), but you save $100 when you spend $300 (33% discount).

I bet you’re wondering what I’m talking about, so check out this link to see why I am so excited about Black Friday this year:

https://slickdeals.net/coupons/adidas/black-friday-deals/

If you don’t want to visit a brick and mortar store, you can find plenty of great online deals for Adidas and other major sportswear brands while cruising through the Slickdeals website. Another wonderful feature on the Slickdeals site is that you can read reviews by Slickdeals community members to really help you navigate through the information and select the best deals. So if you’re serious about getting the best deals on apparel from major sportswear brands like Adidas, I honestly think the best strategy is to peruse the Slickdeals site before Thanksgiving. This way, you can gather information on the Adidas deals which interest you the most, then map out the stores or websites which you plan to visit on that day.

Looks like I might be mapping out a strategy with the help of Slickdeals to get the best deals on Adidas athletic shoes and sports bras for this year’s Black Friday frenzy!

A Great TED Talk On Clutter

“Clutter is postponed decisions.” – Barbara Hemphill

I absolutely love this brilliant quote by Barbara Hemphill which Kerry Thomas mentions in this TED Talk video, because it is completely true. No matter what type of clutter plagues you, it may be impeding you in a profound way from living a free and peaceful life.

I hate physical clutter and fight it all the time by conducting purges throughout the year. But physical clutter is only one type of clutter, and Ms. Thomas breaks down the different types into the following:

Physical
Mental
Emotional
Digital
Spiritual

Although I feel that I have a good handle on physical clutter in my environment, the other categories are more challenging. I control digital clutter by going through my email inboxes on a daily basis, consolidating images and deleting old text messages on my phone. I also think I have a decent handle on spiritual clutter because I meditate daily, take meditation and yoga courses, and also practice breathwork. I try to forgive those who upset me, and I also make sure to avoid toxic people.

The areas where I get hung up (and I suspect many others do) is with mental and emotional clutter. Ms. Thomas states that mental clutter consists of fears one might have, and it also could stem from the judgmental words of others, while emotional clutter consists of negative thoughts and behaviors. The thing is, I have fears which keep my mind racing, and I also fall into the trap of negative thinking from time to time, especially when I am in the middle of a crisis. So by no means am I completely free of clutter. However, I constantly strive to clear up anything which is depressing me or slowing me down.

It’s incredibly liberating to get rid of items which are damaged, unused, or worn, and it’s also wonderful to let go of all the mental blockades to happiness and freedom. One thing I always try to remind myself is that worrying about things will never bring about a solution. The only thing worry ends up doing is eroding one’s demeanor and sparking anxiety.

I suggest that you think about the different areas in which clutter might be adversely affecting your life, and adopt behaviors which counteract such clutter.

Who’s Ready For Black Friday?

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Image ID : 111224719
Copyright : lightfieldstudios

I know, it’s only October, but the biggest shopping day of the year, also known as Black Friday, will be here before you know it. You might be one of those people who get bitten by the shopping bug even before you fully digest that Thanksgiving meal, or you may be someone who absolutely detests shopping. But the fact remains that Black Friday is full of great deals and killer discounts you won’t find any other time of the year.

I remember when my mother would drag me to the mall on the day following Thanksgiving so that she could get a jump on Black Friday sales. Yet once I was an adult, I was more prone to sitting at home and relaxing than I was to hitting the stores in search of great bargains.

One year, I stood in line from 11 pm on Thanksgiving until 7 am on Black Friday to get the best deals on merchandise at Office Depot. Somehow, one of my roommates was able to convince my other roommate and me to hit the store at 11 pm on Thanksgiving, after our bellies were filled with the Thanksgiving feast I had prepared earlier that day. I had been cooking Thanksgiving dishes on Thanksgiving, when Andrew approached me, Office Depot flyer in hand, and said, “We’ve gotta go to Office Depot for Black Friday! Doors open at 7 am! There’s a laptop listed here that is an amazing deal, and I must get it!”

I remember that it was cold and windy that night, and we had no food, beverages, blankets or chairs with us. We simply stood outside for 8 hours, which was enough for me to vow never to stand in line on Black Friday for hours on end, without any creature comforts! As it turned out, my roommate never got that laptop, because all units were sold by the time we were allowed to enter the store. I was the one who ended up purchasing a new laptop, and I got a fantastic deal on it.

For anyone who is willing to brave the long lines to enter a brick and mortar store on Black Friday, make sure to have warm coats, blankets, beverages, snacks, and chairs to sit on. Bring a large umbrella in case it rains. And above everything else, keep your sense of humor while waiting.

In recent years, online shopping has become increasingly popular, and online Black Friday deals enable you to shop without ever leaving your home. For people like me who don’t enjoy shopping, online stores are much more convenient. All you have to do is fill your online shopping cart, pay for the items, and wait for them to be delivered to you.

If you are serious about your Black Friday shopping, and you want to build the best strategy for getting the best deals around, check out Slickdeals. This site gives you detailed information on where to find the best Black Friday deals, whether in-store or online. They even provide hours of operation for a number of popular stores which tend to offer the best discounts. Slickdeals has a staff of editors who will comb through all deals and provide information via a forum so that you can determine which stores have the best deals, versus other stores which have less impressive pricing. Slickdeals even has a phone app which will keep your finger on the pulse of the latest Black Friday deals.

You can check the site out here: https://slickdeals.net/blackfriday/

A Beach Inspired Haven

I’ve had a fixation with beach-themed bathrooms for over a decade now, and love using shells and beach-themed décor as fun accents to remind me of the ocean and the beach. When I moved to a new residence this past January, I decided to really have fun with the beach theme, and I took it to the extreme.

One of the features I have displayed in my bathroom is a collection of clear containers which hold sand and shells from different beaches I have visited.  Included in this collection are sand and shell samples from Hawaii, Costa Rica, Bali, Thailand and the Maldives.  Whenever I look at my collection, I am transported back to those magical destinations which captured my heart and spirit.

Whenever I feel like escaping to an island getaway, but I am stuck in Los Angeles, I’ll take a bubble bath while surrounded by my sand and shell collection, lit candles, and starfish lights.  It’s a wonderful way for me to recharge and to surround myself with reminders of my favorite terrain.  I also love the fact that I finally have a full bathtub in my bathroom after 20 years of having shower stalls.  Whenever my schedule allows, I try to take a relaxing bath, which beats taking a quick shower any day.

Moving Sucks

Last Christmas was rough to say the least, mainly because I had received a 60-day notice on December 14th that we had to move from the residence I had been at for over five years. The owner was selling the townhouse, and that was that. Since I never sit around and let fate take over, I found a new residence within 6 days, and we began packing right after Christmas, until right before the move on January 13th.

It wasn’t easy figuring out what would stay and what would go, especially since I was losing my office space and downsizing from a master bedroom which was 2-1/2 times the size of the master bedroom in the new place. We had to sign up with a different water and power company, as well as a different cable service, despite the fact that we were moving two miles down the road within the same city and zip code.

It took us two weeks to settle into the new residence. The new place is beautiful, but the layout is completely different, and the neighborhood is also quite different. The move forced me to break out of every daily pattern I had become accustomed to over the years, from where I received my mail, to the orientation of the dining room table in the room, etc. Even the spot where the toilet paper holder is in my bathroom is different from the place I had left.

When I leave the house, I have to navigate different streets, and because we are in the middle of the city, I feel like I am in a concrete jungle, with traffic everywhere I go. It takes an extra five to ten minutes to get to the street where I used to begin my trek to the gym or to the nearest freeway, and it’s testing my patience.

Another thing I just cannot get used to is the NOISE. We live near a preschool, and the sounds of children squealing during the day are like nails on chalkboard for me. Added to that are the sirens from the fire engines which depart the fire station down the street, trains which travel on the nearby train tracks, and the occasional aircraft departing from the nearby airport, and my nerves are in a state of constant unrest. It’s a startling change from the quiet foothills which we were once a part of.

Moving in general is so disruptive, as well as unbelievably expensive! It will take months before I am set straight again financially. And now we pay significantly more rent on a smaller place, thanks to the inflated rents which now exist. We got reamed as a result of the move.

It’s been almost a month since we moved, and the new residence still feels foreign to me, like I am staying at someone else’s home. It’s a beautiful space, but I have yet to get to a point where I truly own the space, feel like it is part of me. I hope it happens soon!