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Friday, February 16, 2018

Finding bargain priced plus size fashion

Women larger than size 14 care just as much about being stylish as women who are a size 2. It is no longer necessary to settle for dark or frumpy clothing is you are full figured. Finding great clothes at an affordable price may take a little extra effort but it is worth it.

Thrift/consignment shops

If your budget is quite small, one of the first places you should look for a bargain on plus sizes clothes is in a thrift or consignment shop. Hardly a town anywhere is without one. The same can be said for plus size women and those who follow fashion will be getting rid of last season’s fashionable frocks, this year. It is always buyer beware so look over any purchase carefully for damage or stains. Try zippers and be sure to try everything on. Check on the store return policy as well.

Discount retailers 

Discount retailers know that the average size of women is not a size 2. They also keep on top of fashion trends. They are savvy enough to stock plenty of bargain-priced clothes for the plus sized woman. If you are not thinking of Walmart, Target, and K-Mart you should be, they carry everything from underwear to outerwear in a full range of sizes. Most of the lines that they carry for juniors and ladies will also be offered in the women’s department.

Off-price stores

Plus size women who want to designer clothes at a bargain price will love shopping at Marshalls, TJ Maxx, and Stein Mart. Everything from shoes in a wide width to plus size sleepwear is offered. 

Mid-range retailer

Kohls, JC Pennys, Sears, and Macys are some of the best places to find plus size women’s clothing. High fashion and low prices are not too difficult to find but you need to understand how their discount system works. Take advantage of coupons, reward programs, and Kohls Cash. You should be able to save between 50 and 80 percent off of full price. It may not be as inexpensive as some of the other options but it is still a great bargain.

Online

Great deals can be found on eBay. If you are between sizes or not quite sure what size fits you best then forget about using eBay but if you know your size and your look, you can get lots of great pieces for a song and a winning bid. Amazon also has some great deals.

Gwynnie Bee

If you love high fashioned clothing but can't afford to buy all the different looks you would like, how about rental? Gwynnie Bee offers fuller figured women the option to rent clothing, buy them if you fall in love or return them if you don't. It is a great way to try out some looks with no commitment. 


Just because you are a plus size woman it doesn’t mean that you have to pay plus size prices. Be creative and go on the hunt and you will find some great clothes at a terrific price.

Friday, February 9, 2018

Take control of your finances

In personal finances, there are only two options, you can take control of your finances or your finances will take control of you. Money may be the root of all evil but it is also what makes the world go round. You need to guarantee that you can not only live today but that you have a secure future. The key to doing this is to learn to budget and to make your money work for you not against you.

It is hard to get control of your finances in today's economy. Many people are over-extended and have much more credit debt than a healthy budget can handle. Your situation is what it is and while you can't undo everything, you can make sure that there is a light at the end of the financial tunnel.

First, do an honest evaluation of your financial situation. What your income actually is, what you owe, what you own and where you want to be financially. Make a list of every outstanding bill that you have and the balance on the account.

While you are looking at the bills also take note of the rate you are paying for interest on these accounts. For some people, this will be an eye opener. If you haven't been paying attention, you may find that your interest rates have skyrocketed.

To create a budget, look at your income versus your expenses and see where you stand. You may find that you have no money left over or you may even make less than you need to pay in expenses. This is the most serious condition. You must find a way to get back into a positive situation quickly.

The first thing to do is lower your expenses. If you are a renter, this is one expense you may not be able to lower but you can opt for cheaper cable service or drop cable altogether and use a service such as Netflix, turn off all electric appliances when not in use, lower the temperature in your apartment in the winter and raise it in the summer.

All of these will help to lower your expenses. You might want to get rid of your landline phone if you have a cell phone and take a good look at what you are paying for your cell phone. Look at your car insurance and opt for a higher deductible. If you live in the city, consider selling your car and relying on public transportation. These are desperate times and they call for some desperate measures.

Look at the deductions on your pay stub. Are you using the federal government as a savings plan? It is time to stop that, you should break even at the end of the year and put that money on your high-interest credit cards. If one of your cards has a better interest rate, try moving the balance from a higher rate card to the lower rate card and stop using your credit cards. If you are renting a car, you need your credit card but for most things switch to a cash economy.

Depending on what your financial health is, your budget may look pretty grim. It may take months even years to get control back but you can do it. The object is to spend less than you make and to save money so that in case of a dire emergency or job loss you will be able to survive for at least six months without any income.

In order to get your financial house back in order, you may need to work extra hours or even an extra job. Will that be difficult? Yes,  it will, these days it can be hard to find an additional job. You may have to resort to extraordinary strategies but where there is a will, there is a way.

Making a budget that will work for you is going to be one of the hardest and most satisfying tasks you will ever tackle. There will be a lot of lessons learned along the way but at the end of the day, you will emerge financially sound and with a true appreciation for the role that money plays in your life. What are you waiting for, your financial future is in your hands?

Friday, February 2, 2018

Five basic wardrobe pieces every woman needs

When it comes to women’s fashion, for many women, there is no such thing as too much. But if you are trying to build a basic wardrobe, there are a few classics that are the building blocks of a wardrobe that can grow over the years and still look good. There are certain wardrobe pieces every woman needs.

Narrowing it down to five may be a little difficult, but it is definitely possible. Before discussing the five wardrobe pieces that every woman needs, it is import to discuss a few other things. First of all is quality. When choosing the pieces that are the foundation of a wardrobe, it is important to buy the best quality that you can afford. In the long run, well-made, classic pieces are timeless and may even be good enough to pass on to the next generation.

The second important thing is care. If you want your pieces to last a lifetime, you need to care for them. Always follow the manufacturer’s suggestions for cleaning your garments and take the time to hang them on quality hangers.

Black dress

The little black dress, made popular by Coco Chanel, has been a staple wardrobe item for generations. Keep it simple. For your basic dress, thinking A-line and sleeveless is always a good option for those with toned arms. Keep it knee length or above and use accessories to make it trendy. When it comes to building your basic wardrobe avoid trendy, at least in your basic pieces.

Good fitting pair of jeans

Of all the items in a basic woman’s wardrobe, jeans are the most elusive. Most women have many pairs; fewer have ones that fit well, look great and that they love. It is a time-consuming process to find jeans that look and feel good. Color is important. When in doubt, go darker instead of lighter with the wash. When you find a style and size that works, buy multiple pairs.

Pencil skirt

A pencil skirt looks good on just about any woman and is very figure flattering. It can be dressed up or down and is appropriate for a day at the office or a night on the town. Again, fit is important and there should not be any bunching going on.

White button-down shirt

For most people, this will be a cotton button-down shirt, but if you have an aversion to ironing, then choose a shirt with stretch that doesn’t require much more than a touch-up with an iron. This is one item that is really not for the long haul because it is nearly impossible -- no matter how well you care for your white button down shirt -- to keep it gleaming white for years. Like a white tee shirt, get a new one every year or so.

Jacket

This piece offers the most variety. Leather is hot and a leather jacket is almost always a wise investment. A denim jacket is another popular choice, especially if you have a casual lifestyle. A woolen jacket is a staple that will be used over and over again. So choose a style that is not too trendy and a color that will mix and match well and find that jacket of your dreams.

As all women know, these are just the basics -- there is so much more. Trousers, a great pair of heels, a trench coat, a black turtle neck and all those wonderful accessories are really necessary for most women’s wardrobe. Be stylish, shop within your budget and get things that work together and soon you will have an amazing wardrobe that can take you anywhere at any time.

Friday, January 26, 2018

Minimizing winter heating bills

It doesn’t really matter if you are a homeowner or a renter,  if you are paying for your own heat; the cost of keeping warm has been rising for years. It has gotten to the point where some people, especially those on fixed incomes, have to make hard choices between being warm and being hungry. Here are some tips to help to minimize your heating bills.

Insulate

If you own your home you need to check your insulation. Losing heat around windows and through your walls and ceilings is a big waste of money. There are a variety of different types of insulation that you can lay down or have blown in to help keep the valuable heat you have to stay where you need it. If you rent, talk to your landlord if you are losing heat.

Cover your windows

If your windows are steaming or icing up you may be losing heat there. There are plastic sheets that you can see through that you place over your windows that help to keep the heat in. They are easy to install. Some of the sheets attach with tape and other have the tape already attached to the sheets and then you warm them up with a blow dryer and they fit very tight over the window. If this is not something you can or want to do then having insulated shades or drapes can help to keep the cold out and the heat in.

Caulk or weather stripping

If you are feeling a draft near your windows or door the first thing to do is to check the weather stripping or caulk. This is one of the least expensive fixes for heat loss. Doors are the main offenders. Check to see if there is light under or around your exterior doors. If there is, you are losing precious heat. Your local hardware store sells inexpensive weather stripping. You can also buy a draft snake which is a snake-shaped draft-blocker that fits on the bottom of your door. This requires no insulation it just slips on and can be removed when the cold weather is over. 

Install timed thermostat

When you are at work or sleeping, your home does not need to be as warm as it does when everyone is at home. By installing a thermostat that changes the temperature several times a day, you can really minimize your heating bill. When no one is at home you can lower your heat by 10 or 15 degrees. It is amazing the difference in the amount of fuel that is used to heat a home or apartment to 60 degrees and what it takes for 70 or 75.

Consider eco-friendly options

If you are willing to spend some money, you can help to reduce the amount of money you spend on heating and also the impact on the environment by introducing a geothermal system into your home. It uses the heat underground to help lower your costs and is a really good option if you can afford it.

Shop around

Call all the local fuel dealers and ask for price quotes. Negotiate if you can. Dealers want customers, you want a good price. Don't be afraid to ask for possible discounts.

Efficiency

It is important to make sure that whatever heating unit you are using is working at maximum efficiency. Changing filters and getting furnaces cleaned is important to get the most from your unit with the least amount of fuel.

No one wants to be cold. No one wants to be hungry. Using these tips, you should be able to minimize the amount of fuel you are using and the price you are paying for that fuel.

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Romantic Quotes

As we get closer to Valentines Day, I thought that I would share this article I wrote a few years ago. If you are making a special something for your special Valentine, you may want to use one of these quotes to express your feelings. 

Love is the strongest emotion that humans feel. Putting those feelings into words is something that most people have trouble with. Thankfully these writers were able to give us the words we have come to love.

"Grow old along with me The best is yet to be" Robert Browning (1812-1889)

"How do I love thee? Let me count the ways. I love thee to the depth and breadth and height My soul can reach, when feeling out of sight" Elizabeth Barrett Browning (1806-1861)

"I love you - those three words have my life in them". Tsarina Alexandra to Tsar Nicholas III (1872-1918)

"The courses of true love never did run smooth."William Shakespeare (1564 1616)

"The supreme happiness in life is the conviction that we are loved - loved for ourselves, or rather, loved in spite of ourselves." Victor Hugo (1802-1885)

"Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. " St Paul 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 (10-67)

"True love is eternal, infinite, and always like itself. It is equal and pure, without violent demonstrations: it is seen with white hairs and is always young in the heart."Honore de Balzac (1799-1850)

"Better to have loved and lost, than to have never loved at all."Alfred Lord Tennyson (1809-1892)

"Absence diminishes small loves and increases great ones, as the wind blows out the candle and blows up the bonfire." Francois de La Rouchefoucauld (1613-1680)

"Love is composed of a single soul inhabiting two bodies." Aristotle (384BC-322BC)

"Young love is a flame; very pretty, often very hot and fierce but still only light and flickering. The love of the older and more disciplined heart is as coals, deep burning and unquenchable." Henry Ward Beecher (1813-1887)

"But true love is a durable fire, In the mind ever burning, Never sick, never old, never dead, From itself never turning." Sir Walter Raleigh (1552-1618)

"There is no remedy for love but to love more." Henry David Thoreau (1817 - 1862 )

"Love is the master key that opens the gates of happiness." Oliver Wendell Holmes (1809-1894) 

"Who ever loved that loved not at first sight?"   Christopher Marlowe (1564-1593)

"My love is like a red, red rose That's newly sprung in June. My love is like the melody , that's sweetly played in June". Robert Burns (1721-1784)

"And think not you can guide the course of love. For love, if it finds you worthy, shall guide your course." Khalil Gibran (1883-1931)

"As for me, to love you alone, to make you happy, to do nothing which would contradict your wishes, this is my destiny and the meaning of my life" Napoleon Bonaparte (1769-1621)

"Come live with me, and be my love, And we will some new pleasures prove Of golden sands, and crystal brooks, With silken lines, and silver hooks." John Donne (1572-1631)

It is hard to image another four letter word that has inspired as many quotes or as much emotion as the word love. While all of these are heart felt, your words to your loved one hold as much if not more value in their eyes.

Friday, January 19, 2018

Decorating the church for a wedding

When you have decided that you are going to get married in a church, there are many things to think about. You will pick the celebrant, the music, and the ceremony. You will also want to decorate the church. Every church has different rules and regulations about what they will and will not allow. Be sure you understand all the restrictions before you begin to make your decorating plans.

Have a discussion

One of the things you will want to discuss with your minister or priest is what decorations they allow in their church. They will tell you what they allow and what is not allowed. In some Catholic Churches, the decorations are not allowed on the main altar but must be placed at the front or side of the altar. Some churches prefer fresh flowers over artificial and others won’t care either way. Just ask.

Flowers

Flowers are one of the main components of decorating the church for your wedding. You can start with the doors, will they be open or closed? You may want to have wreaths of fresh or artificial flowers for the doors. In the sanctuary of the church, there may be large vases that you can fill with fresh flowers or you can place an arrangement on the altar if it is allowed or in front of the altar. If there are side altars, some brides and grooms choose to place arrangements on them as well. Ask the celebrant if the flowers are to be left in the church for the weekly service or if they want you to remove them.

The runner

The aisle runner is also part of your decoration of the church. Most brides choose a white aisle runner. Before you rent or buy your runner be sure that the church allows them. Some churches with marble aisles don’t allow them because they are a hazard to guests. They can move when walked upon and cause people to fall down.

Greenery

One way to decorate the church for your wedding is with greenery. It can take the form of topiary plants at the entrance or green plants and vines. Especially during the Christmas season, greenery on the doors and on the pews is very appropriate and beautiful as well. Pomanders are also part of winter decor.

Pews

The pews are another blank canvas for a bride’s creativity. Some choose to use bows on the pews, others floral arrangements. These can take the form of a single flower such as a calla lily with green behind them or baby’s breath. Depending on your color scheme, there are hundreds of options. Some churches offer the option of candles in the aisles for the wedding. You can then also choose to decorate the candles poles with flowers or ribbons. Tulle, gauze, and pearls are also very wedding appropriate and add a touch of romance.

Whatever decorations you choose, should in no way overshadow the bride. She is the center of attention when she comes down the aisle, the decorations should enhance her, not take away any attention. Better to be understated than to take any of the shine from the bride.

Friday, January 12, 2018

Beginners guide to antique auctions

As a former antique dealer, I have made just about every mistake a beginner can make at an antique auction. Over the many years of attending weekly auctions, the transition was made from an amateur to a pro and a thing or two was learned along the way.

Going to your first antique auction is going to be very exciting. It may be in a barn, under a tent or in an auction house. You will be trying to find a great deal on some wonderful antiques. Here are some simple steps that you can take to make sure that you don't have any regrets on your way home.

Preview

All auctions offer a preview time to look over the items for sale. This can be anytime from several days before the auction to the hour before. Whatever is offered, take advantage of it. "NEVER" buy anything without previewing it. This is your chance to look at an item, pick it up, pull out the drawers and check for condition, check for marks, don't be afraid to get on the floor and look underneath items. You don't want any surprises when you get the item home.

Research

Before you buy anything know "what" you are buying. Invest in some books on the particular type of antique you are interested in. Go to as many high-quality antique stores as you can or to art museums, galleries or decorative arts museums. Get to know your particular favorite. You need to be able to spot the "real thing". You don't want to buy a Ming vase that was created by Joe Ming! Knowledge is power. Remember that it is always buyer beware and as-is.

Know the value

You are responsible for knowing what an item is worth. A secret all dealers know is that they can't compete with a collector. Dealers need to make a healthy profit so they are never going to be willing to spend what a collector will. Use this to your advantage. Know who the dealers are. If they are bidding on a particular item it is probably real and you can relax and know that you can afford to pay more than they can. You can be happy to know that you are still going to pay a lot less than you would if you wanted to buy the same item in a dealer’s shop.

Love your antique

Never buy anything unless you love it. Antiques don't make a great investment. That is not to say that some things may not appreciate and some very quickly, antiques are cyclical. What is in fashion this week may be impossible be sell next week. If you love the item it won't matter.

Know how to bid effectively

You have done your homework, previewed the offerings and set a price in your head that you are willing to pay. Now what? You are going to register and get your bidding paddle. Use the time you have until your item(s) are offered to observe bidding etiquette. Don't be over anxious. Don't open the bidding, let your competition get things started. You don't need to bid until it appears the end of the bidding is in sight. Keep in mind you will also be paying a buyer’s premium, at least 10 percent and also tax.

One last thing, try not to get caught up in the moment; adrenalin will get your heart pumping and your paddle raising. If the bidding goes above what you want to pay  unless you can't live without it, let it go!

All that is left is for you to do is to go out there and have a great time. Hopefully, you will buy some wonderful antiques at a great price. Attending your first auction will be an exciting time for you whether or not you decide to purchase an item or not. Just remember to relax and to keep control of your bidding paddle.