Thursday, November 8, 2012

Who will you reach out and touch this season?

Today, I'm asking the question... 

Remember Joey Caretti?  My girlfriend Lisa's boy?  He's still struggling as you'll read in her recent update, but when asked what he wants for Christmas this year, he responded that he wants to reach out to help someone else.  

Sunday, November 4, 2012 
Dear Friends & Family, 
It will almost be a year now that Joey Rang the Bell at Children's Hospital and celebrated the end of his long and painful treatment for his brain tumor. Just two weeks after that we found out he had Leukemia, caused from the very treatments that were suppose to save his life. 

I had decided I would make this Christmas very special. Last year I could not muster up the strength to put up the tree or many decorations, knowing Joey would be going through chemo again and then have his transplant. Several weeks ago I started asking the kids what they wanted for Christmas this year, thinking I would be clever and do all my shopping early (this never happened). Richard and Maggie each gave me a few good ideas, but Joey remained quiet. I asked him again and he said he had enough of everything. I said there has to be something you want and he shook his head no and said he was spoiled and does not deserve anything. I said "Joey, you are most deserving! You never ask for anything and we want to do something to bring you happiness." I let the subject drop, but later that night he came up to me crying. He said "I am ready to tell you now why I don't want anything for Christmas. Do you remember when we were at the hospital last year and we saw that little boy all burnt up in a wheelchair?" Instantly I knew what he was referring to although we had never spoken of it. "I had been in a bad mood, feeling sorry for myself and that boy was so happy and said hi to me even though his face was all melted and he had no hands. I was so ashamed of myself. That boy will be that way all his life. He will never have hands or be able to run and play. Look at me! I have only had a few surgeries but one day I will be all done with this but he never will! Everyone sent me all those cards and gifts but his parents did not look like they even had much. So now I think about him every single day of my life. Can't we send him my gifts?"

I was crying too hard to speak. I had no idea he had been thinking about that little boy and I told him I did not know how to find that child but we could find other children in need and brighten their Christmas.

So this year I will make the house as cheerful and as festive as possible for both Thanksgiving and Christmas (and every day). We will celebrate being together and as we continue to pray for Joey we will not forget all the other children that need our love and prayers.

Joey's doctors felt that the GVHD (Graft vs Host Disease) was getting too bad and he was put back on steroids. We are praying that he will not suffer any bad side effects from this. His rash is much better however he has been getting headaches again. Not as bad as before, but bad enough to not want to get out of bed. It does seem that as soon as one issue is cleared up, another appears, but I remain positive that he will very soon feel great. That he will have a wonderful Christmas, be able to keep up with school and see his friends on a regular basis.

I want to thank each of you for all you do for my family. Your prayers, emails, food, cards to Joey, gifts...the list goes on. I could have NEVER had made it this far without all of you.

          Love, Lisa

Last holiday season, 40,000 people answered the call when I held a get well card drive for Joey.  Messages of love, hope, prayers and more came from all the world.  It was truly an amazing experience that reached far beyond the recipient.  So many senders told me just sending a card awoke feelings of gratefulness. Those who helped process the cards from the post office to my doorstep and into Joey's hands were all moved beyond words.

Who will you reach out and touch this holiday season with a call, a card, an act of kindness, a gift or the gift of time?   There are thousands of Joeys -- young and old -- who need to be shown our loving spirit.

I'd love to hear who you will reach out and touch this season.  Here's some places to start if you need to figure out who or what organization you are going to help?   

  • local churches
  • homeless shelters
  • nursing homes
  • children's hospitals
  • orphanages
  • a neighbor who is housebound
  • a family member who isn't as blessed as you

My husband and I have chosen to provide Christmas gifts for orphaned kids in Michigan through Big Family of Michigan -- specifically, the teen boys that most people don't enjoy buying for.  If you are interested in this program, you can contact Jeanne Fowler at Big Family through the information on their website.  

Lisa Caretti is the published author of Whistle in the Dark-a suspense/thriller. She grew up in Detroit and now resides in Washington Township, Michigan with her husband, three children and two rescue dogs.  In addition to helping manage her husband's different marketing firms, Lisa is the founder of a non-profit organization called The Healing Nest, which supports women with cancer. Lisa enjoys the writings of John Standford, Sue Grafton and Linda Howard. She is currently working on her next book The Last to Know.  Read more about her at or find her on Facebook here.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

How can I prepare for ID theft or credit card fraud?

My answer to this question unfortunately comes from personal experience!  We've all heard the horror stories of ID and credit card theft  -- if not personally, at least on the news.  Credit card theft actually happened to me twice in the past few months. Thankfully, I caught it quickly and I've been educating myself on things I can do to be better prepared to help lessen the damage if it happens again.

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) shares the steps we can take to help stop ID and credit card theft:

More things to do:
  • Write "PHOTO ID REQUIRED" in permanent marker on the back of your credit cards in the signature box.
  • When ordering your checks, print only your initials and last name in the upper left corner. If someone takes your checkbook, they will not know if you sign your checks with just your initials or  your full first name, but your bank will know..
  • Never have your SS#  printed on your checks.  (DUH!) You can add it if it is necessary. But if  you have it printed, anyone can get it.
  • When paying your credit card bills with a check, do not put your complete account number on the memo line.  Draw a few dashes or asterisks (*) followed by the last four digits of your account. The credit card company knows the rest of the number and you've now eliminated the possibility of anyone stealing your number who might be handling your check as it passes through all the check processing channels.
Limit the damage:
  • Copy both sides of your license and credit cards that you keep in your wallet.  If you lose your wallet or it's stolen, you will quickly know what was in it and have all the account numbers and contact numbers in one place so you can call and cancel them. Keep the photocopy in  a safe place (not in your wallet!).  File a police report in the jurisdiction where your cards were stolen. This proves to credit providers you were diligent, and this is a first step toward an investigation. 
  • Cancel your credit cards immediately using the copies you made with all the information for the cards on it.
  • Call the three national credit reporting companies and the Social Security Administration fraud line immediately to place a fraud alert on your name and SS number. The alert means any company that  checks your credit knows your information was stolen, and they have to contact you by phone to authorize new credit.
    • Equifax:  1-800-525-6285
    • Experian: 1-888-397-3742
    • Trans  Union: 1-800-680-7289
    • Social Security Administration Fraud Line:  1-800-269-0271
To learn more about protecting your identify visit the FTC ID Theft page here where you can order free copies of knowing what to do.  

Sunday, September 16, 2012

How can I cut the cost of shaving?

A common question I get stems from the rising cost of shaving and it's: "Where can I find deals on razors?"  So, when I recently received two different offers for gadgets that supposedly extend the life of razor blades, I sought out reviews and did a little research. 

Could someone really have finally found a way to help us save a few bucks when it comes to shaving?  The answer is: YES!

Thanks to Google I found a tip that actually works.  It's not in form of a new gadget and there's no out-of-pocket costs associated with prolonging the life of an ordinary disposable razor blade for months and months.  All you need is a strop that according to Merriam-Webster dictionary is a leather strap or an abrasive strip for sharpening razors.  

What's that?  You don't have a leather strap lying around?  No worries ... just grab a pair of jeans or even a rough towel works for s
tropping -- the act of polishing by slowing down the dulling process. 
Click here to see the tip in action by Lifehacker.

Being a bit skeptical and realizing this tip sounded too good to be true, I decided my husband and I would give it a try ourselves.

We tested this technique each using our own brand of razor.  Then, I used jeans for a strop while he used a rough towel.  As of this writing, we have both been using the same razor for more than a month with the same smooth finish as the first shave -- unbelievable!   The tips we follow take just a matter of seconds, but will save quite a bit of money in the long run: 

  • Give the razor a quick puff of air after shaving by blowing on it or hitting it quickly with a blow dryer
  • Give it 10-15 quick strokes in each direction on your "strop" before storing it in a dry place
  • Give it 10-15 quick strokes before using it to shave again
My research produced a good read by a blogger named Team D who wrote a post titled: Extend the Life of Your Razor Blades - Confirmed Using Microscope that you can read by clicking here.

If you give this money saving tip a try, I'd love to hear how it works for you! 

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Slip 'n Slide Corn on the Cob!

A reader asks: Do you have any tricks for easy corn on the cob?

Answer: Absolutely!  I just learned this no husking, no "silking" method this year.  Now I want to make it over and over just because I can't believe how well it works.  I ask myself why I didn't know about this method years ago?

If you love that charred, grilled taste you can always throw the cobs directly on the grill after you complete step 5.

1. Pick your neighbors best ears of corn (or buy at the local farmers' market if you have to)
2. Place an ear of corn in the microwave for 4 minutes.
3. Slice off the bottom (larger end - see pic) with a sharp knife (being careful to hold the knife correctly so you don't slip!)
4. Grab the ear at the top where you'd normally peel from  (it will be hot, so you might need to grab it with a clean dish cloth or a few paper towels) and give it a squeeze. 
5. Corn will slip 'n slide right out of the husks silky clean.
6. Dot with butter (no margarine!), give it a sprinkle of sea salt and pepper then enjoy!

Although I would love to claim this as my original thinking... it definitely is not.  Unfortunately, research did not produce the "original" source or I'd be happy to give the credit.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Sharon asked: Can you share that punch recipe?

Well, there's a few I've made over the years Sharon, but two that I always return to are the brandy slush we started making in the 70's and this one I found about 5 years ago.  

This link will take you to a recipe for a raspberry lemonade punch that has been all over the world wide web the past few years.  It has found new life with Pinterest.  Even 
if it doesn't sound interesting to you, take a minute to read the blog post creatively titled: Why I Keep Getting Invited to the Parties!

I also have a new love of wine slushies that I get at Filipo Marc Winery if you're looking for something quick and easy -- just open the bag, mix with a bottle of your favorite wine, freeze and enjoy.

Now that I'm "talking" about it, I feel the need to make a batch of the brandy one for old times sake.  It is a slush with a hint of citrus that does a good job of cooling me off on a hot summer day.  You don't have to like tea to find this beverage refreshingly pleasing. You might want to serve it with a spoon!

Brandy Slush

4 individual tea bags

9 cups water, divided
2 cups brandy
1 can (12 oz) frozen lemonade concentrate, thawed
1 can (12 oz) frozen orange juice concentrate, thawed2 liter bottle of 7 Up or any lemon-lime sodaLemon slices for garnish

Place tea bags in a small bowl. Bring 2 cups water to a boil; pour over tea bags. Cover and steep for 5 minutes. Discard tea bags. Pour tea into a 4 qt freezer container and stir in the brandy, both juice concentrates and remaining water. Freeze overnight or until set.

For each serving, scoop 3/4 cup slush into a rocks glass. Pour lemon-lime soda into the glass; garnish as desired.
 Yield: 21 servings (about 4 quarts slush mix)