No Spend Money February!

no-spend-month-296x300Anyone up for a real challenge this February!?!?  Don’t spend any money for the entire month of February!

Starting today, I’m initiating a “No Spend Month” (I got the idea Common Sense with Money, check out their blog here!) for my husband and I – spending money on the absolute necessities and adding to our savings.

We’re up for the challenge…are you???

What is a “No Spend Month?”

  • A No Spend Month to me means that my husband and I will not spend any money unless its a necessity — which includes paying the regular bills, weekly groceries, gas, medical expenses and co-pays, and work-related expenses.
  • Any emergency expenses would be exempt from the “no spend month.”
  • Also, I think its fair to give yourself a small allowance, of , say $20 a week for incidentals, like picking up fresh groceries, a beverage, parking, etc.

How am I preparing for my “No Spend Month?”

  • As I mentioned above, I will give myself an allowance for incidentals and stick to it each week.
  • I work long hours, I plan to prepare my meals and take them with me to work and not buy my meals out.  I can do this easily by prepping my salad ingredients at the beginning of the week and just tossing a salad together each morning.
  • Go Public!  I’ve learned accountability goes a long way!  By putting myself out there, I am much more likely to stick to plan!

Do you want to join me in the No Spend February?  What would be your goals?

 

Introducing: National Suicide Prevention Week

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September 8th marks the start of 2013′s National Suicide Week.  It’s a time for organizations, communities, and individuals to unite in the name of those we’ve lost and those who’ve been affected by the reality of suicide.  The vision is that this is a battle we won’t always have to fight.

However, recent numbers show that, within the developed world, suicide is the leading cause of death among people ages 15 – 49, greater even than cancer or heart disease. But, and there is a but,” because there is always hope – we know that suicide can be prevented. Depression can be treated, help is available, and people can rally around truth and each other to conquer the shame secrecy upon which mental health stigma feeds.

Never has it been more important to spread this message:  You cannot be replaced.”

September 10th is World Suicide Prevention Day.  

Thanks for reading.  Come back tomorrow to learn about challenging the stigma associated with suicide.

 

ABC’s About Me…

Here are the ABC’s about me!

 

A. Age?

33. Going on 25 =)

B. Book?

Favorite?  This Much I Know Is True by Wally Lamb

Currently Reading? This one is very exciting… Marketing Handbook for the Design & Construction Professional

C. Cake or Pie?

I have to decide? Deep Dish Apple Pie (warm with vanilla ice cream)

D. Drink of Choice?

Cold Water.  Otherwise, light apple juice.

E. Essential Item?

Tie between makeup bag (sad, I know) and my cell phone.

F. Favorite Color?

Purple! (no, not red)

G. Game to play or watch?

No sports please.  Rummy, Rummikub or Sorry.

H. Hometown?

Laurel, Maryland

I. Indulgence?

Sweets, the sugary kind.

J. Job?

Director of First Impressions at a small architectural firm.

K. Kids?

Two fur babies – both rescues.  Zeke is a seven year old German Shepherd mix and Zihna is three years old and a pure bred German Shepherd.

L. Life isn’t complete without?

My loving husband Jon, my daddy, my step-mom Annie, Zeke and Zihna, my family, friends, and my faith.

M. Music group or singer?

Rod Stewart.

N. Number of siblings?

None.  Only child.

O. Oranges or apples?

Apples.

 P. Phobias/Fears?

Heights, Speaking in Public, Escalators.

 Q. Favorite Quote?

“You know you’re in love when you can’t fall asleep because reality is finally better than your dreams.”           – Dr. Suess

 R. Reason to smile?

Waking up everyday to a blessed life.

S. Season?

Autumn for the fabulous weather, breezes, Thanksgiving and beautiful changing colors on all the foliage.  Winter for the cold weather, the snow, the holidays and time with loved ones.

 T. Tattoos?

Two.

 U. Unknown fact about me?

Hmmm… I am left handed and can write forwards, backwards, and with my right hand.

 V. Vegetables you love?

Broccoli and Brussell Sprouts. But I like most all of them.

 W. Worst habit?

Sarcasm.

 X. X-rays you’ve had?

Way too many to count.

 Y. Your favorite food?

Warm Brownie, with walnuts and vanilla ice cream. Tied with my dad’s homemade Beef stew.

 Z. Zodiac?

Pisces.

 

Whoa, Where’d You Go?

Whoa, Where’d Crimson Go???

The posts were consistent, May NaBloPoMo was in full action, and BOOM, Crimson up and disappeared.

First, sorry for the disappearing act, and second, let me explain.  Since March, I have been struggling with multiple medical issues, and of course, a few of them ‘came to a head’ at the same time.  It’s been a very intense experience.  To sum it up, I have had a series of three procedures over the past four weeks to try to help alleviate my severe back and leg pain, and last week I had a procedure to remove a kidney stone I could not pass.

I am feeling better than I was before, but I do still have medical issues to deal with.  So please bear with me while I get myself healthy and get Hershey Wishes and Kisses back in working order.

Thank you for your patience!

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Happy {belated} 1st Anniversary, Hershey Wishes and Kisses!

HAPPY {belated} 1st ANNIVERSARY TO MY DEAREST BLOG…

Hershey Wishes and Kisses…

YOU REALLY ARE

all my dreams come true!

One Year and Counting!  It’s hard to believe that on July 1, 2011, I made my very first blog post using wordpress after taking “the plunge” and switching from the (seemingly much simpler) blogger platform.  There were many reasons for switch, but mainly, I wanted a fresh start with my blog and the ability to really dig my heels in and make my own, and I wanted to drop the .blogspot.com from the domain name of Hershey Wishes and Kisses.

My aspirations for Hershey Wishes and Kisses have and always will be quadruple-fold: (1) to share my unique ability of finding freebies; using coupons creatively, spotting deals and sales, and combining deals and seals for the best savings; (2) provide honest reviews of products and services I or my readers would use; (3) host quality giveaways for my readers as a thank you for being loyal reader of Hershey Wishes and Kisses; and (4) share some of my life’s moments with my readers.  I always want to stay true to myself and my aspirations for this blog.

So…last year when I re-established Hershey Wishes and Kisses on wordpress, I made sure to devote time everyday to writing and posting.  But as time went on, I found that there is much more to authoring and owning a blog than merely writing and posting.  I can tell you that today, I take a different approach with my time management – I still devote time everyday to my blog, but it’s not always to writing – there are other tasks, such as researching, emails, product reviews, reading other blogs, and marketing that need to be completed.

Just like any new job, learning the in’s and out’s of blogging has a learning curve.  I’ve been a blogger for a few years, but I only became more ‘serious’ about my blogging this year, when I switched to wordpress.  I admit that I am still a beginner a blogging, and have lots to learn.  I look up at that learning curve and think “whoa;” there is so much you can learn, and no one place to obtain all the information.  It’s an online researching project, that just keeps going, and going.  As with everything you find online, some of the info is really helpful, and some it ends up wasting hours of your time and gets you nowhere.

I think it’s obvious, but I’ll still say it…blogging is one of my passions… I love to write and to share how save money, find freebies, conduct reviews and giveaways, and share the events in my life important to me.  But do bear in mind, even though I consider this a passion and an job all in the same breath, I do have a full-time career that I am fully engaged with as well. I am the Director of First Impressions (read Administrative Assistant, Marketing Coordinator, Receptionist…) for a small architectural firm in the Baltimore area, and I love my job. So, things can get a little busy sometimes.

I look forward to many more years of posting at Hershey Wishes and Kisses…All My Dreams Come True.

Keep reading, I lots of good things in store for the future!

And thank you SO MUCH for reading my blog!!!

Update on our sweet Blake

Remember my posts about adopting sweet baby malamute Blake?

If you don’t, you take take a peak at them – Picking a Puppy Already??, Bringing Home My New Puppy…, and Life with Blake…

Well, at the end of March, Jon and I made the difficult decision to give Blake back the to breeder we bought him from.  This was one of the most difficult decisions Jon and I have ever made.  But, we made the decision that was in the best interest of Blake.  We live in an townhome in an urban area, and Blake was growing much larger  than the “typical” alaskan malamute.  So, we made the decision that finding him a home where someone was home with home more often, and where he had a backyard with acres to run and play would be much better suited to his size and temperament.  It broke my heart to let him go, but I know he is happier in a place where he has a round-the-clock companion and lots of land to run run free.

To sum it up, here’s the first picture we took of Blake when we first picked him up from the breeder.  This August 13, 2011.  He was such a cute little puppy, we had no idea that he was going to grow to so much so soon.

Typical Alaskan Malamute males grow to be about 90 pounds, but it’s not unusual to see larger males top 100 pounds or more.  Blake was the biggest male of the litter, so we knew he was going to be a big boy, but we had no idea how big he was going to be.

As a puppy, Blake grew and was right on track in terms of size.  He had no problems finishing his breakfast and dinner everyday.  It was to watch, when we fed him, he acted like he had never eaten in his life.  And if Zeke, our German Shepherd didn’t finish his food for dinner, Blake was more than happy to lend a helping hand =)

Wherever we took Blake, we received tons on compliments on how handsome he was, and how friendly he was.  Blake definitively had a good temperament, beginning from puppyhood.  He liked to play with all dogs, big and small.  Going to the vet was always an adventure with Blake.  He wanted to play with the other dogs, “demanded” attention from the staff =), and was the center of attention (of course!)

Here’s a photo on our way to the vet one day:

And then he grew like a weed!  I don’t know what was in the food we were feeding him, but he shot up like a weed!

Here’s a photo from back in October 2011…he still looks like a puppy, but he’s getting bigger!

And a few more from Autumn 2011, talking a nature walk with my parents:

And then Blake at Christmas, check out how big he got (so quickly might I add!):

It was about this time we realized that Blake was going to be “bigger than the average bear.”  Since Blake was a little puppy, I would hold him on my chest like little dog.  The problem with that is, as he got older, he still believed he was a lap dog, and could still cuddle up with mommy and “plop” right down on top of me.  Don’t get me wrong, I love me some good puppy cuddle time, but Blake got just a little too big for laying on me.

And as a puppy, we had to overcome housetraining, which meant during the day while Jon and I were at work, he was in his crate.  Blake didn’t mind, he went into his crate voluntarily, because we taught him that his crate was his “home,” but we felt bad because Zeke, our German Shepherd, didn’t need to be crated during the day.  We felt like we were putting him in jail, even though realistically we knew that wasn’t the case.  Crating training, when done properly is a good thing for a dog.  It gives them a secure, quiet, place to hang out at home, a personal den where he can find comfort and solitude while you (the owner) know he’s safe and secure (and not tearing your house to pieces while you’re away from home).  Want to know how you’ve crate trained your dog correctly?  They will go into their crate during quiet times to rest while you are at homebecause that’s their own little bedroom.  For more information on properly crate training your dog check out the The Human Society’s website HERE.

So, by Spring 2012, Blake was HUGE!  He was only nine months old, but bigger than the average fully-grown Alaskan Malamute (and still thinking he was a lap dog, sweet doggy).

Zeke is about seven years old, and about sixty three pounds.  So, he at this point he was outweighed by our PUPPY by about 30 pounds, and Blake always wanted to play.  Zeke is getting old, acting like an old man, and didn’t want to be bothered all the time by his little brother.

So, here was Blake in March:

and my favorite picture:

 What a sweet face!  He is so precious, sweet, and so loyal.  And when he’s with you, he gives you 110% of his attention – he’s completely focused on you, loving you, listening to you, trying to please you…

That’s why this was such a difficult decision for us.

But when we put in perspective — we live in an urban area, in a townhome, with a small backyard.  Yes, we are lucky enough to have our home backup to a county park where we walk the dogs regularly, but Blake needs a place where he can just run free, not on a leash, especially being on the large size of a large breed.

Jon and I couldn’t bring ourselves to take Blake back to the breeder ourselves, so my Dad and Step Mom made the drive with Blake back to the breeder.  They had to admit it was difficult for them to give him up too.  They even contemplated keeping Blake, but the same issues arose — Blake need for expansive land to run and someone who could devote lots of attention to him.  But, alas, they did it.

The breeder was impressed with Blake’s <beautiful> appearance, temperament,  and good health.  She noted how well took care of him (of course, my doggies are my babies!).  She looked after him for a few days to get to know him, then put an ad out to find a good home for Blake.

I was very happy to hear she was being stringent in the interview process, so she could find the perfect home for Blake.  It took a about a month and several interviews, but she found a good home!

A lady who was visiting her family in Pennsylvania (lives in Massachusetts) for the weekend saw the ad she posted for Blake, and came to see him.  She fell in love with him instantly! (Of course, who wouldn’t!?!?).  So, Blake went to his new home in Massachusetts.  She is a single woman with a large fenced-in backyard and a nice home.

Once Blake’s new owner took him home, we heard back from her.  This is what she had to say:  Blake does really well in the car, and she takes him everywhere with her.  Blake sleeps in the bed with her, but (not surprisingly!) takes up the majority of the bed – she’s working on getting him to sleep at the bottom of the bed (good luck with that, remember what I said about him liking to cuddle!), she bought a harness for him so she could control him better on the leash, she has been treating him with raw meat and fish, and last but not least…she took him to the vet and he weighed in at… 117 POUNDS! AT ELEVEN MONTHS OLD!

WOW!

I am so glad Blake has a new, fantastic home, I am just sorry he couldn’t stay with us.

I took an “Easter” break from posting…Part I

I guess you could say I took a little bit of my own “spring break” from blogging…

And sometimes you need to, to recharge those brain cells, the body, and of course, at this time of year, the soul.  Don’t worry, I’m not going to go all sermon-ish on you, but I do have to tell you about my amazing weekend in Hershey (where the in-laws live).  They’re awesome too.  Like any marriage, it took a while to get to know them, and vice verse, but I think the “guards” are down now that it been a few years, and I thoroughly enjoy our visits.

I was sick last Wednesday and Thursday, so that’s what really began the lapse in posts.  I think allergies prompted a migraine, and if I don’t catch those suckers in time, they get to be bad.  So I was down for the count.  I learned my lesson, allergy medicine in the morning, every morning, until the pollen count goes down, way down.

Anyway, the office was closed Friday for the Easter holiday, so we planned to head to Hershey Thursday night if I was up to it.  I wasn’t.  And it’s a good thing.  One of the roads we take to Hershey was closed for two hours Thursday evening.  I can’t even and don’t want to imagine the backup of evening commute traffic combined with holiday traffic in the evening combined with a major interstate being shut down for two hours.  So I look at this way, I was supposed to be sick.  At any rate we headed off Friday morning, and traffic wasn’t bad at all.  We took our dog Zeke with us.

Friday was a day of relaxation, and celebration.  Friday was my grandparents-in-law Sixty-Third Wedding Anniversary!  Amazing!  My MIL, FIL, husband, and grandparent-in-law all celebrated together by having a feast of a lunch at home and then dessert.  We played rummikub (one of their favorite games), I squeezed in a quick nap, and my mo  ther-in-law and I even went over to the Hershey Outlets and shopped for a bit – I was impressed with my deals too!  I managed to get two very pretty dresses on clearance from White House Black Market (a store I love, but usually can’t afford to shop in) for seventy dollars.  I could only fin pictures of one of them on WHBL’s website…  this one screams Crimson (if you know me in person, I know you’d agree!).

Anyway, we picked up dinner at Jon’s favorite sub/pizza shop, and had an a delicious dinner, the three of us, as my father-in-law was working that evening (more on where he works in a bit).

I was still feeling a bit washed out, tired, and out of it, so we went to bed around 8:30.  Yup, that confirms it, I’m getting O-L-D.  I’m visiting family, and I go to bed at 8:30, I didn’t even make it to 9:00.  Oh well.

Next stop….Part II.

Read It Forward

If you are anything like me, I practically eat books.  Once I pick one up, and I like it, I can’t put it down.  Actually, that concepts pertains to any piece of reading material – all sorts of newspapers, magazines, fliers, online articles, online subscriptions, ebooks, and of course, my favorite, the good old hardcover or paperback book.

There’s just something special about sitting down (well, cuddling up on the couch with a blanket and my puppy) and enjoying a great book. And I love it when you are lucky enough to have such a great book that you just can’t put the book down.  It’s all about the suspense…what’s on the next page, and the next page, and the next.  I just can’t put the book down.

But think about sustainability when considering paper books — libraries are the best option when you prefer paper books.  They are FREE, and will be reused time and time again.  But if you prefer to purchase your books, consider used, and one you have read the book, pass it on — to a friend, a co worker, someone.  Or donate it to a library, a charity, or a church.

Well, I have come across this wonderful website – Read It Forward!

Read It Forward is a fabulous website for avid book readers who want to interact with other avid book readers, and for those interested in increasing the amount they currently read.  At Read It Forward, you have the chance to win FREE books in giveaways and read insightful sneak peeks on fabulous  books.  You can also post your own reviews on select books; get a “behind the scenes” insight view from the authors (how cool is that???); have a “meet” the editors section; and be able to participate in multiple book groups of your choice.

Read It Forward has frequent book giveaways on their website and the Read It Forward Facebook Page, as well as book reviews, sneak peeks, insights from the authors of the books, and much, much more.

I highly suggest you check them out, and subscribe to their emails!

How did Hurricane Irene Affect YOU?

How did Hurricane Irene affect you and your family?

Many of my family, friends, and loved ones had minor damage to their homes, suffered power outages (and still are), but really that’s about it.  Although Maryland got hit pretty hard with the power outages, I think we made out okay, everything considering.

My heart goes out to all those on the east coast who have flooded basements, lost their homes, and most of all lost loved ones due to this hurricane.

Our Story:

Jon and I planned months ago to go to Hershey last weekend, and Hurricane Irene wasn’t going to change that.  We prepared our house as best we could — waterproofed the basement doors, cleaned out the sump pump drain, and brought in the outdoor furniture.  There wasn’t much more that could be done.

We planned on taking the doggies with us to PA, but because of the incoming storm, my parents cancelled their plans and offered to watch the pups.  Which was s good thing because that meant we would take the Fusion instead of the Explorer and save lots on gas.  So, THANK YOU Dad and Annie!

So, after work on Friday, I headed home, and Jon had everything ready.  The dogs had already been picked up.  We packed the car and were on our way.  For being a Friday evening, traffic was not as bad as it usually is, so we made pretty good time into Hershey.

Our minds were on the path of the hurricane, but it was difficult to get “local” information from PA about MD.  The weather station was on television nonstop, as we worried about what was going on, but not getting many details.  Calling the parents didn’t help a whole lot because I got reports such as “yep, it’s been raining pretty hard for a while now,” and “the wind is starting to blow.”  The aren’t meteorologists, so you can’t expect perfect weather forecasts from them.

We tried to put that in the back of our minds, as there was nothing we could do from Hershey.  On Saturday we took a day trip to see a relative, and got up early Sunday morning to listen to a very good sermon on patience.  Then we had breakfast with Jon’s parents and grandparents, and headed back home.

It rained most of the way, but by the time we got close to home, the rain stopped.  Anxious to find out the potential damage and if we had power, we parked in front of the house, and started unloading the car.  The front of the house looked ok, and thank goodness, when we opened the door WE HAD POWER! The only damage incurred was a little roof damage and some branches in the backyard from the dry-rotted tree next door (which desperately needs to be cut down, as branches come down from the thing during every storm!).  I feel very blessed that we have power and have minimal damage to the house.

Please let me know what your experience during Hurricane Irene was like by leaving me a comment!

 Posted by CrimmyLynn

Life with Blake…

Oh how life changes when you bring an eight week old puppy into the house!  The past week has been one filled with adjustments, changes, and fun for everyone in the Miller household.

Right away when we brought Blake home, he was going potty on newspaper (what a blessing to have that house training started for us), so we are working on getting him to go on the potty pads ALL the time and getting used to a regular schedule of going outside to go potty as well. We make sure to treat him every time he goes potty outside as positive reinforcement.

For this first week, for a multitude of reasons, I have been sleeping on the couch in the basement with Blake.  We tried over the weekend to bring him upstairs, but he doesn’t have 100% aim on the potty pads, and when we put him on the bed, it’s hard to get him to settle down.  So two of the three nights we have tried taking him upstairs with us, I’ve ended up back on the couch.  It’s comfortable, so I don’t mind too much.  I also have to remind myself it’s temporary.  He’s a baby and as much as we are getting used to him, he is getting used to us.

Zeke has been cautious when interacting with Blake.  I can’t read his mind, but I can guess that the little one is getting on Zeke’s nerves a bit.  Well, you can’t really blame Zeke.  There’s been lots of change in the house over the last month, with our loss of Ty and adoption of Blake.  Not to mention, Blake thinks Zeke’s tail is a play toy — I suppose that would irritate me too, a little puppy nibbling and pulling on my tail, and chasing me around like “PLAY WITH ME, PLAY WITH ME!” They bark at each other a lot…Zeke barks (I imagine he’s saying leave me alone!) and Blake barks (in this adorable, pretty big bark for such a little guy, c’mon, big brother, play with me please!)

A few days after we brought Blake home, he started having, um, bowel issues.  I feel bad for the little tike because we haven’t been able corrected the problem completely yet.  We had him on the same food he was on at the breeder, but perhaps all the change in his life is causing a little doggie IBS.  So, I checked with the breeder, and she suggested feeding him boiled hamburger and rice, and giving him kaopectate.  Being me, I had to  check the the active ingredient in kaopectate, and its bismuth. And since I’m a bit thrift, and there is no generic I could find for kaopectate at the local pharmacy, we went with a generic bismuth (better known as bright pink Pepto-Bismul).  If you’ve ever had to give liquid medication to a dog, you’ll understand we are having so much fun doing that twice a day.  Speaking of feeding, the boy eats more than my full grown (65 pounds) Zeke!  He eats a cup of food in the morning and a two cups of food in the evening; and he attacks it like we starve him, scarfing it up as soon as we put the bowl down.  Yesterday, he got some rice on the top of his snout, and used that big ole paw to wipe it off and eat it!  So cute!

When we first brought Blake home, he would only go down the steps, err, slide down the steps.  In just a week he’s conquered going Up and Down the steps (and our steps are pretty steep) with ease.  He’s even got a little bounce to him when he comes down, like a bouncy ball you drop down the stairs.

It’s amazing to think that in only a week, we welcomed him into our home, and he has learned so much!

Little Blake has some spunk.  He’ll run around and around and around…and slip and slide on the basement floor like a crazed little puppy.  Because he is!  He loves to chew on his stuffed toys, and play tug of war with you.  When he’s being sneaky, he’ll hid under the chair, because he knows we can’t readily get to him there.  He paws and nibbles at you for attention.  How could you not pay attention to that face??

So, that’s week ONE.  We are looking forward to many, many weeks and years to enjoy with Blake.