Good Advice

Welcome 2020!

Welcome 2020!!

Happy New Year Everyone!

Congratulations, we made it to 2020! It’s been a while since I have posted, but that’s because 2019 was full of challenges that followed right into 2020. First, my printer died or technically stopped printing in color. On the same day that I was given a new printer as a Birthday gift, my favorite (one and only) laptop died! I am not one to run out and impulse buy new electronics, so I tried to have it repaired only to learn that the hard drive was gone and no data was recoverable! There went my $30 in stock photos purchased and my some of my beloved photos.

Now I know those things are minor compared to what’s going on in the world right now. For some people the holidays (thank goodness they’re over) are a tough time to get through. Especially if you aren’t surrounded by loved ones, don’t get along with family, are facing health issues, have recently lost a job, or are simply alone. During the Holidays the media continues to bombard us with images and scenes of a perfect life of health, wealth and family. if you are facing any of these challenges, it can be hard to feel like celebrating.

Remember It’s perfectly okay to take some alone time for yourself.

So here is a fresh new year, ready to be conquered. I’m sure it will present it’s own set of new challenges, but you will make it through. Your past has brought you to the place you should be and life is all about lessons. I want to encourage you to focus on your goals, continue fighting for your dreams, and try to make amends with loved ones. Unlike my computer and my printer, they are not replaceable. Take the lessons of 2019 and turn them into wisdom, and forgive yourself for the mistakes.

Last year I learned that nothing is stable. Not my job, my electronics, or my health. This year has taught me that you should always have a back up plan, especially for your computer! (haha) After much hesitation, I bought a new computer and I love it! I learned to let go of the old, welcome the new, and keep moving forward!

I’m looking forward to the this year, the lessons, the blessings, and the journey! I wish you all peace, success, and a Happy 2020!

Blog, Good Advice, Home Decor

Everything You Need To Know About Paint

Are you ready to spruce up your home? The fastest and most inexpensive way to do so is with paint! There is something so promising about opening up a new can of paint. It has the power to transform walls, and freshen up a room almost instantly. Here you will find everything you need to know about paint and pro-tips on how to make your next painting project a success.

As you know, if you have visited my website previously my favorite color is aqua, hence the name “The Aqua Cottage.” Aqua blue reminds me of my favorite tropical beaches but; Did you know that the color blue is tranquil and calming? That’s because it’s the color of the sea. The word Aqua is not only a color, but in some languages also means water. The color blue  promotes relaxation which makes it ideal for bedrooms and bathrooms.

***This post contains affiliate links, which means I may receive a small commission, at no extra cost to you, when you make a purchase. Please, see my affiliate disclaimer for more details.***

Before you choose colors consider the function of the space. For example kitchens are high traffic areas and bathrooms have high humidity. Living Rooms and bedrooms are more restful. Do you want your paint color to spark creativity or encourage rest and relaxation? Before you pick up a brush, let’s look at the different types of paint and finishes first.

Types Of Paint

Primer: A coat of primer lays the foundation for a lasting paint job. Primers are formulated with special binders that help paint adhere to it. You can have your primer tinted to match your paint and ensure even coverage. There are also many new paint options that have primer already combined into the paint.

Latex: Today most paint is vinyl acrylic or one hundred percent acrylic latex. It’s water soluble and DIY friendly because it cleans up easily with soap and water. Latex paint dries quickly, usually in two hours or so and cures in a matter of weeks.

Oil: Oil paint is known as alkyd or solvent based. It dries slowly and must be cleaned up with mineral spirits. Oil paint also hardens well to create a durable finish. 

Low VOC: This paint has ingredients that contain volatile organic compounds to eliminate the gas which creates that familiar paint smell. It’s best for those with breathing or health issues where as regular paint fumes may be hazardous to your health. Today there are many low to no VOC lines on the market that still offer great color and coverage.

Paint Finishes

  • Semigloss: It’s less shiny than gloss and almost as easy to clean. It is the finish of choice for most kitchens and bathrooms. For the bath, choose a paint or primer with mildewcide such as Kilz (see below) to handle high humidity.
  • Flat: This finish has little or no shine creating and even tone and hides surface imperfections. It is harder to clean than finishes with sheen, also good for ceilings and living areas.
  • Satin, Eggshell: Good for foyers, family spaces, and high traffic areas: This finish has less sheen than semi-gloss. It also cleans up more easily and resists “burnishing” or shiny spots that result after being rubbed and scrubbed.
  • Matte: This is a low gloss finish that can help camouflage tiny cracks and bumps in the walls. Good for bedrooms, livingrooms, and dining rooms, this finish delivers a rich coat of color.
  • Milk Paint: This powered paint formula comes in dozens of colors and gives walls and furniture a vintage look. Just add water and mix with a blender or a hand mixer.  It can go right over sheetrock.

Find it here:

Painting 101

Now that you know the type of paints and finishes, and how much you’ll need, it’s time to get started! Before you open that can of paint or dip that paint brush, here are some application techniques and secrets to giving your walls and trim a flawless finish. Painting walls is a delicate balance of cutting in with a brush around trim, outlets, inside corners, and the ceiling. Only cut in as much as you can roll while the paint is still wet. Otherwise you may notice a difference in sheen or a stripe that occurs where the wall meets the ceiling.

Click image to find list items here on Amazon.

One gallon of paint covers about 400 square feet. To figure out how much paint you’ll need, add up the lengths of all your walls, then multiply that amount by the room height. Subtract 20 square feet for each door and about 15 for each window. Divide the result by 400 to get the number of gallons you’ll need for one coat.

Now it’s time to paint! Follow these basic steps after applying painters tape.

  1. Cut in around the edges with a 2 ½ inch angle brush. Only dip the edge of the brush into the paint or less than half way in  to avoid over saturating the brush. Shake off excess paint, to prevent drips down the wall or floors. Draw the tip up to meet the edge, then drag the brush steadily along. Reload brush when the paint starts to fade. To prevent overlap marks avoid working the paint brush back and forth. Finish with a light pass across the area.
  2. Use the roller once you’ve cut in around a wall to fill in the field. Damped the roller before using it (with water for latex and paint thinner for oil). Dip the roller into a lined paint tray with just enough paint to reach the grate. Roll it back against the grate to distribute the paint evenly and squeeze of the excess. Make sure the roller is covered completely before using it on the walls to avoid dry spots. Start out rolling by making a W on the wall and then fill it in using short easy strokes. Now you’re painting like a pro! Aim to cover a 3-by-3 foot patch with each rollerfull. Keep a damp cloth handy to wipe up any drops along the baseboard. Continue painting until fully covered. Overlap the edge to avoid visible brush marks. Wait an hour to retouch the wall before applying a second coat.
  3. Remove painters tape pulling it off slowly while the paint is still wet. If you wait for it to dry the tape can gap causing damage to the finish or surface.

Once all of the walls are completed and the walls are dry, step back and take look at your work. See if there are any touch ups needed. Now, enjoy your newly painted space and decorate accordingly. If you love coastal decor, see The Ultimate Guide To Beach Cottage Style. I hope you found this article to be helpful. Save time and money by ordering online and have one neat pro-painters box shipped right to you door. You can easily find all of the painting supplies on the list through my link here on Amazon. Also, If you are planning to renovate your kitchen, see The Ultimate Kitchen Renovation Guide.

Blog, Good Advice, Home Decor, Lifestyle

The Ultimate Kitchen Renovation Guide

Are you looking to create the perfect kitchen of your dreams? The first step is to figure out your must haves and create a wish list. Proper planning is the key to success. You can use this guide and free printable checklist to plan any style kitchen renovation. I created this article as a guide for my own future renovation and sought expert design advice from contractors and renovators. Now I am more than happy to share it with you! A kitchen is an investment that impacts your quality of life and the value of your home, so you’ll want to invest wisely.

***This post contains affiliate links, which means I may receive a small commission, at no extra cost to you, when you make a purchase. Please, see my affiliate disclaimer for more details.***

The kitchen is the most important room in your home. It’s where we live, entertain, and make wonderful memories. Whether you’re creating a brand new kitchen or updating an old one, the key is to tailor it to the way that you live. When planning a renovation, consider choosing eco-friendly products and finishes that are beautiful and sustainable. You want to design a kitchen that not only makes the most of your space and budget, but also improves your quality of life. The modern kitchen is the new command center where we handle most household affairs. Designing a kitchen involves lots of choice. As you start to weigh all of the elements think about longevity.

Before you get started, ask yourself these important questions.

  1. How do use your current kitchen?
  2. What kind of kitchen will suit your needs? 
  3. Do you like the current layout or do you need more space?
  4. Does your kitchen need updating or and extensive remodel?
  5. What is your budget with contingency?
  6. What permits will you need if any?
  7. Are you going to do any of the work yourself or hire a contractor?
  8. What is your time table to complete this project?
  9. Are you renovating with intent to sell?

Are you wondering how much all of this should cost? Of course! Here is fairly accurate prediction of what each part of the renovation should cost. This should give you some ideas on how to break down your initial budget.

Source: National Kitchen & Bath Association.

Assessing The Project

If you are working with a small budget and your kitchen is functioning properly, then you may want to consider a moderate make-over. The easiest and least expensive way to change the look of your kitchen is by applying a fresh coat of paint on the walls and painting the kitchen cabinets. Remember to update the hardware. These minor cosmetic changes plus updating the appliances can dramatically improve the look of your kitchen without spending a fortune. If your floors need updating, consider using durable yet affordable eco-friendly linoleum, not vinyl. All of these projects can be done without having to hire a contractor.

A full or partial renovation means a more time consuming and costly undertaking. The advantage is that you can expand the layout, knock down walls, move the appliances, add more counter space, and update the style. For example relocating the stove may involve installing another gas hook up and vent.  Moving or adding a sink will require additional plumbing. Anything that requires venting plumbing, gas or electricity requires a professional. You can easily remove walls, but if the wall is load bearing you will have to take special precautions to support the structure during the process. I suggest hiring a designer or and architect who can assist with the renovation and assure that you get the best kitchen for your money. Re-configuring space means buying new cabinets, which is the biggest portion of the budget.

A major overhaul is the most expensive type of renovation because it involves adding space to enlarge the footprint. There are many ways to open up and reconfigure most kitchens within their existing space. If you have a small kitchen and you want to add an island, breakfast nook or home office, you will need to consider building and addition or taking part of an adjacent room  such as a den or spare bedroom. I personally prefer knocking down walls to create one cohesive open space such as a kitchen, living and dining room combination. Any additions will require and a new foundation and roof, so you will need to factor the labor, materials and permit fees into your budget. I recommend hiring and experienced architect who can design and integrate your new kitchen seamlessly into your home. 
When planning a major overhaul, you will need to be prepared for any plumbing, electrical or structural issues before you begin. Usually these surprises sometimes sprout up once you begin opening up the walls. Don’t skip on fixing any issues that arise just to save time and money. You want your renovation to add value to your home, so be sure to hire a good contractor and make smarter choices. Yes there is lots to think about, but it doesn’t have to be overwhelming. Your renovation does not have to be a nightmare, there are new innovative products and materials on the market everyday to make it go smoother. 

Before you start planning, think about the following questions. Are you looking for low cost or best quality? Do you want to use the kind of products that will last a lifetime? Will you use eco friendly products that have a low impact on the environment? The truth is although there are lots of choices, there is no right answer for everybody. That because everyone has a different budget. What matters most is figuring out what’s more important to you and why. 

Now that you have answered those questions, it’s time to plan. Whatever the scale of your project, first organize your ideas to allow you to make smart decisions along the way. I highly recommend using Pinterest for inspirational ideas! Don’t focus on trends, but think about both style and function before you make any choices. Think about what would suit your households needs in the future.

  •  Do you cook in your kitchen often, or entertain regularly?
  •  Do you need space for more than one cook? 
  •  Do you have enough cabinets and countertop space?

If you answered yes to any of these questions, you’ll need to incorporate them into your design to make sure the kitchen of your dreams not only comfortable but functional. Remember, you’ll want your kitchen to have lasting value. There are lots of options, but for now you can start planning by answering these questions

Next you will need to consider:

  • How old is your house?
  • Any Asbestos or Lead Paint?
  • What kind of electrical wiring is in place and how old it is.
  • What kind of lighting will you be adding in the ceiling?
  • The kind of insulation in the walls if any.
  • What kind of plumbing is in place, how old is it and is it functioning properly?
  • Are you adding wiring for computers, smart homes and audio and visual components?
  • Can your heating, cooling and Hvac systems handle the changes you want to make.
  • Are your walls plaster or sheetrock?

Now let’s think about the style. What style will you choose? There are over sixteen different types such as Modern, Traditional, Contemporary, Rustic, Craftsman, Industrial, Mediterranean, and Beach to name a few.

My personal favorite design is Beach Cottage Style. A beach cottage style kitchen should be light and airy reflecting the colors of the sea. Your design plan should include white cabinets, but if you have dark cabinets that are paintable, consider lightening them up by painting them in a cool coastal blue.

See list below to shop this look.

Add shiplap, wainscotting, engineered wood, wood look ceramic tile, or bamboo floors for warmth, and chunky open shelves to display pottery and give the kitchen a cottage feel. Next include natural elements in the decor such as flax and linen, and nautical elements such as seagrass, sisal and driftwood.  Remember to add comfortable seating to keep it cozy and casual. I hope you enjoyed this post. View my Pinterest board Coastal Style Kitchens for more design inspiration.

Shop or find items in Image on this list here.

  1. Safavieh Jute Area Rug –
  2. Dining Room Chair – Wood Seat – Set of 2 – Blue/Green-
  3. Solid Wood Dining Table-
  4. Kitchen Cabinets-
  5. Wood Look Ceramic Tile Flooring-
  6. Golden Lighting 3602-L-CH-WH
  7. Seaglass Bottle-
  8. Emerald Coast Countertops-
  9. Seagrass Baskets-
  10. Glass Back Splash Tiles-
  11. Cabinet Hardware-
  12. Kitchen Canisters-
  13. Moen Faucet-
  14. Sink-
  15. Cabinet-
  16. Wall Clock-
Good Advice, Health, Lifestyle

How To Keep Your Home Clean, Organized, & Fresh

People always ask me how I keep my home clean and fresh all the time. When friends  come over, I always here “Wow it smells so good here, what did you do? I would just laugh it off, not realizing that they really did want to know my secrets. I didn’t know that people struggled to keep their homes clean as it comes natural to me.  Our home is our sanctuary, and who wants a stinky sanctuary? Haha Well the good news is that I am going to share my cleaning secrets with you. It doesn’t matter if you have kids or pets, you can do it too. I have had dogs and cats, and no one could ever tell upon entering my home.

I love the smell of candles, fresh clean laundry and Clorox, yes Clorox. I mean who doesn’t love the smell of fresh clean laundry?I don’t spend a lot of money on cleaning products either. The secret is that I make my own, floor cleaner, carpet fresh, kitchen and bathroom cleaner. (All from the same 3 products.) Friends and family think I have spent hours cleaning my home to keep it smelling fresh but I don’t. Here are my secrets to keep your home neat, tidy and fresh smelling.  

Create A De-cluttering System.

The first thing you should do is get rid of clutter. A messy house always looks dirty. Did you know that clutter can make your home feel chaotic and affect your sleep?  Get organized and find a place for everything. If there is no room in your closets to put anything away, then guess what? It’s time to donate the things you are no longer using or need. Having too much stuff can stress us out and be exhausting. Clutter can stress us out because our lives are already overwhelming enough. It can have a negative impact on both adults and children.

Start small by picking one room or closet at a time.My goal is to help you be able to put a system into place where you can easily find everything. Here is an easy organization tip. Buy the large, $5 clear storage bins and line them up with the lids off. Label them near the area that you wish to organize. Now divide and conquer. Pick one item at a time, examine it, then simply drop it into the bin. No need for messy piles on the floor. That way, however you decide to dispose of the items, it’s all  packed into the bins and ready to go. Simply place the lid on and tote them away. After sorting and purging, go ahead reload those kept items back into your nice clean space.

Now label the bins:

  • KEEP- These are the items that you can’t part with, so find a home for them. Place them in some decorative storage baskets for your closet.
  • DONATE- These are items such as clothing and shoes that are still in good condition. You can donate them to your local church, charity, or goodwill. Trust me, you will feel so much better about giving these items away to someone in need.
  • TRASH- Any items that are broken, worn, has holes in them, or stained should be discarded.

Time to Deep Clean

Now that everything is in its proper place, it’s time to clean. When you first walk into your home, stop and take a deep breath. How does it smell? If you are nose-blind (like in the Febreze commercials) step outside again. Do you like the smell? If not get rid of any nasty smells in your house immediately! Now open up some windows for fresh air and get to deep cleaning. You don’t have to spend lots of money on cleaning products. Here are my 4 secret products to a great smelling house.

  1. Clorox bleach
  2. Tide pods
  3. Baking Soda
  4. Dryer sheets 

Okay so at first you may not be impressed, but as I said previously, “Who doesn’t love the smell of fresh clean laundry? Just about everyone has these products on hand in their house already. No need to run out and buy anything. Now here is how to use them around the house instead of in the laundry.

  • Make your own cleaner- Grab an empty spray bottle and dissolve half a laundry pod with two capfuls of clorox bleach. This can be used all around the kitchen and bathroom surfaces, and especially dirty countertops. 
  • Floors– Melt one pod in super hot water with ¼ cup of Clorox. You can use whatever your favorite laundry pod is, but I personally love “Tide with Downy”. The fabric softener and super hot water easily dissolve dirty, sticky, stained floors and the Clorox automatically disinfects.
  • Carpets-  Baking soda naturally gets rid of nasty smells in the carpets. I use baking soda on my rugs before vacuuming and that’s about it. It’s kid safe and pet friendly. Sprinkle baking soda on carpets and let sit for about 1 hour before vacuuming. I usually do this first before I start my cleaning routine, then all that’s left to do is vacuum. 
  • Bathroom toilet-  Open the lid and pop one laundry pod in the tank. Let dissolve. Pour ¼ cup of bleach in the toilet bowl and let sit. 10 min.Then flush. As you flush, swish with a brush, the cleaner will come down into the toilet bowl surface. The softeners in the laundry pod will soften the grime and make removal much easier. Now cleaning the toilet will be a breeze and your bathroom will smell great.
  • Bathtub- Fill up your tub with super hot water, pop in a laundry pod and ½ cup of bleach. Make sure to keep windows open when using bleach. Let sit for one hour for tough tub ring stains. Any dirt should dissolve easily, if not get out a brush, scrub, rinse and then drain.  Your bathroom will smell amazing as the steam releases the fresh laundry pod smell into the air. I did not address bathroom mold because I simply (never let mold grow) in my home. It horrifies me and it’s a health hazard.
  • Dryer Sheets- I take a dryer sheet during the summertime and place it in my air conditioner with the filter. It makes my whole house smell amazingly clean. Remember to clean the filter often and change the dryer sheet daily.

Once your house is all clean, remember to put things back in their place right away, and clean as you go (meaning if there is any mess, clean it up immediately.) Don’t give it a chance to turn into a smelly mess. Your house will stay cleaner and be easier to maintain.I hope you find these simple cleaning hacks to be helpful, if you do share it! Now enjoy your newly clean and fresh smelling home, without spending a ton of money!

Good Advice, Health, Lifestyle

Simple Ways To Reduce Daily Stress

Are you stressed out? Are you worried or anxious most of the time? The secret to conquering daily stress is in how we start our morning routine.

In our busy, overscheduled lives it almost seems normal to walk around stressed and anxious all of the time. As soon as we wake up and turn on the news, we are bombarded with negative information which is not the best way to start the day. While listening to the radio on the way to work, we may hear more bad news while stuck in traffic. Social media isn’t any better for us. Whatever tragedy we may have missed on the news is right there waiting for us online. Thanks to the advance of technology, we live in an age of constant and immediate information, and that’s not always a good thing. 

***This post contains affiliate links, which means I may receive a small commission, at no extra cost to you, when you make a purchase. Please, see my affiliate disclaimer for more details.***

Every morning the first thing I would do after waking up was drag myself out of bed, make coffee then turn on the TV and listen to the news. It was my daily morning ritual while getting ready for work. I mainly was interested in hearing the weather so that could plan my outfit accordingly, but the depressing stories in between the forecasts always get me down.

Once I arrived to work, the same terrible news would make its way into chatter around the office. It seemed to follow me like a dark cloud, but then I thought to myself “Oh well, everyone starts the day off with this way.” But why do we do this? Yes it is important to know what’s going on in our world, but this isn’t the way we should begin our day. If you don’t believe so, think about the weekends and how you wake up. Automatically your mind knows to relax and let you sleep in a bit. That’s because our minds are conditioned to do so. 

Signs of stress.

For many years I struggled with anxiety and depression, so I can tell you from experience that these tips provided here today do really work. I have definitely improved the way I start my mornings. Daily stress needs to be reduced and managed. Remember that stress can eventually cause physical and mental health issues. So how do you know if you’re stressed? Chances are If you are walking absently-minded or too caught up in the drama in your own head to see what’s happening around you, then you’re stressed. Here are some physical symptoms of stress and anxiety that you should pay attention to.

  • Your stomach feels upset, achy or cramped
  • You grind your teeth at night
  • You get frequent headaches
  • You often have sleepless nights
  • You have panic attacks
  • You’re feel sweaty or achy all over 
  • Your face breaks out frequently as an adult
  • You have reddish skin or eczema
  • You have a low libido

When you are really stressed out, cortisol “the stress hormone” levels rise in your blood causing increased heart rate and blood pressure which puts your health at risk. Your hormones are out of control which compromises the immune system. Next, the body has trouble producing white blood cells that fight off diseases and infection. This leaves you susceptible to all kinds of illnesses and can also lead to chronic inflammation. If you are experiencing many of the symptoms listed above, then could be suffering from an anxiety disorder. You should talk to a doctor who might recommend that you work with a therapist, psychiatrist or psychologist. Stress is unavoidable, so our main focus should be how to manage it in better, more effective ways. 

Click here to shop item below:

Chesapeake Bay Candle Scented Candle, Balance + Harmony (Water Lily Pear)

The best ways to reduce daily stress.

  • Start your day better by avoiding TV, the news, checking phone messages, social media, and emails. For many years I was guilty of waking up and immediately grabbing my phone which can cause instant stress, and who needs that first thing in the morning? Try leaving electronic devices out of the bedroom. If you use an alarm to wake up, try soft music instead of that annoying buzzing sound. For years we are programmed to wake up this way, so why not change to a less stressful morning routine? Take a moment and look outside instead of turning on the weather report. You can always check on this later, after you mind is awake and at ease.
  • Eat Breakfast. You must properly nourish your body in the morning and a cup of coffee alone won’t do. After a long night of sleep, our blood sugar and metabolism are lowest. A healthy breakfast re-energizes the body and get us prepared to take on the day. Say for example you leave for work without eating and then become hungry while on the way to work. You think about grabbing a bite on the way to work, but then suddenly you become stuck in traffic! Now not only are you late for work, but your still hungry and may not be able to eat until lunchtime. This creates instant stress, no it’s not your fault your stuck in traffic or late to work, but you will be able to handle the  stress coming your way better with proper nourishment. Instead of arriving to work hungry and frazzled, you can be ready to move forward, be productive and take on the work day. 
  • Start off the morning with positive thoughts. Your first thought in the morning should be “I’m going to have a great day.” You can think your way into a having a better day by telling yourself just that, even if it’s a lie. Even if you are dreading that board meeting or whatever unpleasant task you have to face. When it comes to positive thinking, think mind over matter. Scientific studies show that thinking positively can moderate your how you handle stress.
  • Just breathe. Practice mindful breathing to get stress out of your system. When you are faced with something unpleasant, just take a moment and take in a deep breath. It’s the quickest and most direct way to calm yourself down.
  • Get moving. Exercise naturally lowers your stress levels and increases your confidence. I helps you to settle into a state of well being by boosting endorphins. (The feel good hormone.) It’s a great way to start the day but if your time pressed in the morning try getting in a couple a quick stretches. Then exercise later on in the evening. It doesn’t have to be anything strenuous. One thing that always helped me during a long work day, was to take a brisk 15-20 minute walk during my lunch hour. This is a great way to get some sunshine during the winter season, when daylight savings time causes it to get dark outside early, or for those affected by Seasonal Affective Disorder. 

Remember that stress, anxiety and depression if not managed properly, can begin to affect your physical health. I was a stressed out child growing up which lead to severe anxiety and depression once I became an adult. I firmly believe that this lead to a diagnosis of chronic illness later in my life. I always wonder if could have done something better to manage my stress when I was younger. Maybe it would have prevented my chronic illness? Now I feel it’s my responsibility to warn others about the dangers of living with chronic stress. Remember that you are your number one priority in life, and to take good care of yourself. If you find this information to be helpful, or try any of these techniques for yourself and like them, share it, I wish you the best!

Good Advice, Health, Lifestyle

How To Enjoy Doing “Absolutely Nothing!”

Are you super busy? Is your life extremely hectic with no time for yourself? In life we are taught that we always need to be productive, and if we aren’t then we are considered to be lazy. The truth is that we don’t need to be doing something every single day. You need to take some time to rest and recharge. Overextending ourselves can lead to things like stress, complete burn-out, mental health issues, or chronic illness. We should never feel guilty for taking time off to rest and recharge. 

I used to be one of these people who felt like I needed to be doing something great all of the time. I used to work long hours and although I loved my job, I was always looking for an escape. I am grateful for all of those years of hard work, but now I am considered to be a professional escape artist. Sometimes the demands of life and the world can be very overwhelming for many people, (especially me)!

Now I have no problem turning off my phone, the news, or tuning out what ever I think will spoil my day of solitude. I think it’s funny because my family often accuses me of hiding from the world. But sometimes you just simply need a break, and I’m here to help you realize that there is so much more to life than the demands of our busy schedules. I’m not saying you should strive to do nothing all the time. I’m saying it’s good to create a healthy balance in life.

Here are reasons doing “nothing at all” is actually good for us.

  • Relaxation is good for the mind, body and spirit.
  • Taking time off fuel’s creativity.
  • Escape from everyday chaos.
  • Reconnect with yourself and clear negativity.
  • Create a calm, more peaceful day.

How to take a day off from life (with no guilt):

You may be wondering what to do with your time, but there are many great ways to fill up the day that make you feel good. I promise you won’t regret it. In Fact you may decide later that you will want to take a week or even a month off. But for now, take one day out of the weekend for yourself and..

  • Turn off the phone and tell everyone you’re unavailable.
  • Leave the kid’s with the sitter and declare a “Me” day.
  • Go to a relaxing spa and get a massage, manicure and pedicure.
  • Spend a day at the beach just looking at the waves.
  • Learn to enjoy spending time alone and tune out the world.
  • Take a drive, explore and see where the day takes you.
  • Make no plans and spend the day listening to your favorite music.

In life we often encouraged to remain busy and have many goals, because we think if we don’t work so hard we won’t be successful. Every achievement is celebrated, but why can’t we take a day and celebrate doing absolutely nothing. It sounds strange right? Why isn’t it okay to celebrate someone who is taking a little time off to rediscover what life is really all about? Spending time in solitude is important, because during this time you may realize that you want to take a different path, change your life’s direction, or try something new. After taking a day off from life you will be ready and even more energized to tackle the next project that you are working on. You will also be more motivated and ready to deal with whatever challenge you are facing. After all, finding balance in life is they key to our true happiness.

Finances, Good Advice, Lifestyle

What’s In Your Wallet? Everyone Know’s Thanks To Capital One!

Hello Everyone. If you are one of the 100 Million Capital One Customers affected, then this post is for you. I am also one of these unfortunate customers, and I’m very angry! I hope this post reaches the top executives at Capital One, as if they even cared! The reason I know they don’t care about their customers is because I called customer service to find out some answers and guess what? They had none! All they could say is “We are still investigating.”

Are We Really Secure?

First off I want to say that most of their customer service representatives are overseas, so they couldn’t care less what’s happening here in America. They are just happy to have a job. So here is a list of questions you may want to ask yourself and Capital One’s customer service before trusting them again. 

  • Why are secured card customers the only ones affected? Are we less important than regular credit customers?
  • Why are there different security regulations for non secured customers?
  • How do we really know that they caught the woman from Seattle in time?
  • What if she has already sold our information and will be sitting on a nice payday when and if she is ever released from jail?
  • What is Capital One doing to prevent incidents like this from ever happening again?

I am seriously considering transferring my balance to another bank, and cancelling my credit card with Capital One. If you have a secured card, Capital One is pretty smart about having you payoff the balance before getting back your security deposit. Why not just apply it to the balance owed? That would certainly speed up the process of closing the account, and of course they don’t want that! I also am not very happy with the lax apology statement from Capital One’s CEO quoted below.

While I am grateful that the perpetrator has been caught, I am deeply sorry for what has happened,” said Richard D. Fairbank, Chairman and CEO. “I sincerely apologize for the understandable worry this incident must be causing those affected and I am committed to making it right.”

See the full letter here:

I’m sorry, but 100 Million people affected is just too many, even one person is unacceptable. To these corporations and CEO’s we are just numbers! Numbers that make them money! After about two weeks of seeing all of the bad news in the media, Capital One posted this downplayed link on their website: Learn more about the Capital One cyber incident. That’s it? Really? They forgot to tell customer service about the incident too.

I also found out that Capital One lied to me in the very beginning when I opened up the secured credit card. Yes I needed to rebuild my credit. (Don’t judge me.) I had thousands of dollars of medical bills cleared away from my credit report and settled with 3 hospitals after becoming chronically ill. I thought it would be a good idea to use a secured card to rebuild my credit and lift my score.

They lied to me by saying that as long as I paid my balance on time every month for six months I would be eligible for a credit line increase. Well they kept that promise, and I did get a slight increase. But then only one year later when my pet was sick and I requested another increase, they told me that secured cards are not eligible for increase. I have never missed a payment with them in three years and there was no notice to this policy change!

I am really starting to like Dave Ramsey’s idea of closing all of my credit cards and putting a permanent freeze on my credit reports. He also says that the debtor will always be a slave to the lender. Now i can see why. As long as you owe money to anyone they can basically do whatever they want.

These companies can no longer be trusted, in fact this whole incident is just another reminder of the Equifax data breach. In September 2017, the credit reporting agency announced that breach compromised the identifying information of over 143 million Americans. Personal data like Social Security numbers, driver’s license numbers, and addresses were accessed. How can we really keep ourselves safe if the very company’s that house our data are subject to hacks themselves??

Just the fact that I had to hear about Capital One through the media first  was enough to get my blood boiling! One week later there were still no answers, and for that Capital One, YOU FAILED MISERABLY! I will also include a list of ways to protect yourself online, if that is even possible!

Capital one makes millions of dollars in interest and they can’t even use some of that money to protect the people they rip off! Should you payoff all credit cards then close them? It’s up to us to protect ourselves, and here are the best ways to do so.

As a Capital One customer, and someone who worked in the banking industry for over seven years; I felt it was necessary to share this information. I felt the need to point out the lack of security and just plain carelessness practiced by some of these major financial institutions today. If you can close your account or transfer your balance to another back consider doing so. Once the big financial giants start to lose most of their customers, maybe they will pay better attention to the people that matter, instead of the bottom line. I know this first hand.

Does anyone remember First Union National Bank? They were certainly giants when I started working there many, many years ago with banks all across the eastern seaboard.

Now they are non existent! Do you see where I’m going with this?

Now I Definitely need a day at the beach!!!

Good Advice, Health, Lifestyle

Surviving The Loss Of A Pet

About a year ago, I lost the love of my life. No not my significant other, my furbaby. Her name was Cookie. She was a Yorkie-Terrier mix, which means she was all attitude and a whole lot of endless energy and fun. I have owned other pets, but no other pet has impacted my life the way she did.

The Aqua Cottage

Our Story

My dog Cookie came to me at a time in my life when I was losing everything. I was diagnosed with severe rheumatoid arthritis, and had just been ordered by my doctor to stop working. I had not owned any pets for several years because I was always working, but when I stopped I invited one into my life again. Now I had the time to devote to a pet. One day while visiting my sister, I saw 3 of the most gorgeous little pups running around her neighbors yard. They were so friendly! in the loved these dogs and often stopped by to give them toys or treats. The owner didn’t mind, so I visited them too and fell in love. That’s when I got the surprise of a lifetime. He told me that they weren’t puppies but fully grown, and the female was expecting. Immediately I told him I wanted one, so he told me to come back in about 2 months. I waited patiently for my furbaby to be born! 

The day I met her, I cried as the owner placed this tiny being in my left hand. She fit perfectly. I cried because I loved her so much and I knew one day she would break my heart. Her mother barked as I wrapped her in her new blanket, and I leaned over to tell her “Don’t worry, she will have a good life with me. I promise to take care of your baby.” She was still so little that I had to bottle feed her, waking up at 3 am just like a real mom would feed her own baby. I should add that I don’t have children due to my chronic illness.

We had 5 amazing years together until she became sick. One day I noticed her having problems digesting her food. Then I noticed a lump so off to the vet we went. He found 2 more lumps on her belly and the look on his face was grim. My heart sank as he gave me the news. She was diagnosed with cancer. He said with her 15 lb weight they could start chemo but most likely it would kill her. I knew what my RA meds did to me, so I didn’t want to put her through that. I cried for about 2 days because I he told me she would live about another year or two. I declined chemo, but agreed to bring her in more often to keep her comfortable. I wanted to make sure she didn’t suffer. I dedicated my time to taking care of her and immediately stopped all dog foods and treats. It turns out she was allergic to the red dye found in most dog treats which also caused her seizures. I cooked for her daily, healthy batches of organic fruits, rice, vegetables and meat. Her digestion improved immediately and the seizures stopped. I supplemented her vitamins and spent a ton of money on Amazon, but I didn’t care. My baby was now terminally ill. I would do anything for her. I can’t tell you the amount of sleepless nights and vet visits but I have no regrets. She was my world.

You see the only time we were ever separated is when I was hospitalized. If I traveled far, she was always by my side. My little road companion loved car trips. Every time I came home my baby was there waiting for me. She slept near me always, and when I was sick she knew. She was the smartest, funniest little dog I had ever met. What a personality, and everyone instantly fell in love with her. What I didn’t realize is that now I was so focused on her health, mine actually improved and I began to go into remission. But life is so unfair, because here I was now finally getting better but my baby’s health was getting worse. As I noticed her health declining, I packed up my belongings and decided go and stay with my mom so I could afford to admit her to the animal hospital when necessary. I took her to the vet to make sure she would survive the 12 hour car ride. He said sure she’s great, she only had a slight ear infection and he gave me some drops and pain killer. Off we went to my moms house. During the trip she began breathing funny. I was so worried I must have drove 100 miles and hour to get her to the vet near my moms house. When we arrived she curled up next to my mom, and my mom said to her “I know you don’t feel good” as she lay her head in her lap. The vet thought she had asthma from breathing in toxins on the road. She gave her a breathing treatment and send us home.

Saying Goodbye

The next night I woke up at about 11 pm and noticed my baby struggling to breath. Back to the 24 hour vet hospital we went. He put her on oxygen and said that she had developed aspiration pneumonia. He did a chest x-ray and we found out that one of her tumours had burst causing her breathing problems. She would not survive. That night I had to make the unselfish choice to end her suffering. I walked into the room seeing her on oxygen, and even though she was still alive the light was already gone out of her eyes. I told her that I loved her very much more than anything. I told her she was the love of my life and I thanked her for being my guardian angel.

 I gave the vet the ok to give her the shot and put her to sleep sending her back to God. Then they took her off oxygen and she was put into my arms asleep. I nearly lost my mind as I carried her to the car. We took her home and I put her in my bed, I curled up next to my baby and she looked so peaceful. I had no idea what I would do with her body. I couldn’t bury her, I tried; but there was no way I could put her into the ground and walk away.  I had her cremated instead. Even in death that little creature still demanded to be near me.Taking her to be cremated was the next hardest thing to do as I nearly lost my mind.

 I thought I would never survive it, and my family became worried for my health. When I got her ashes back they handed them to me in my left hand. It was her complete cycle of life,  and i instantly remembered the way her mom’s owner handed her to me when she was born in that same hand in a tiny package. I was overwhelmed with grief and my heart was broken. Cookie taught me so many things about life and because of her I now appreciate all kinds of animals. I still have not gotten another pet because she still has my heart. I’m not ready to give it to a new creature. I felt guilty for a long time, wondering if I really did all I could to save. I recently me a wonderful nurse who put our who experience into perspective. She said “That little dog came into your life to save you, and now her job is done. I don’t think you would have ever gone into remission without her.” How amazing, I never thought of it that way!

How To Cope With The Loss

You will find the courage to go on. My only comfort is knowing that my beloved pet is no longer suffering. People tell me I was a good mom, lol and that she only survived to be 7 and a half because of the way I took good care of her. Here are some ways to cope.

  • Remember the love and all of the things they taught you! The funny moments get me through the tough days.
  • Make room in your heart for a new furbaby, but only when you are ready! I still am not so its ok if you aren’t too!
  • Don’t listen to anyone about how to grieve. Take all of the time that you need. I was told by many people that I should be over this by now. (I think they are heartless)
  • Spend time with other peoples pets. It fills helps to fill the void a little. I often see dogs in the park and they come up to me. I pet them and instantly feel better.
  • Talk to you beloved lost pet. I still talk to Cookie as if she is still here. I still tell her Love her everyday because I do! I believe their spirit never leaves us. I can often feel her around me the first few months that she passed I often would dream that she is right near me. I would wake up and smell her.
  • Remember that your bond is forever and that one day you will see them again. I firmly believe with all my heart that I will see every pet I ever loved on the other side. That is what keeps me going, and that is how I survive the loss.
  • Remember you did the best that you could for them. They know when it’s time to say goodbye, and that the love remains forever.

Here She Is! “My Little Love”

If you are reading this and still have your furbaby is still alive, thank your lucky stars! Know that when that day comes to say goodbye you will become super strong to be by their side. I waited for her birth and in the end I waited for her death. Knowing that she died peacefully in my bed  is my comfort forever. Thank you for reading this. It has been more than a year before I could even begin to write about “my little love.” I want the world to know what an angel she was, and how pets can save your life. If you like this article or find it helpful, please share it.

Good Advice, Lifestyle

Why You Should Quit Your Job Right Now!!

The Aqua Cottage

Do you hate your job? I hope not, but if you do then you should find another immediately. Life is too short to not be doing what you love!

I recently quit my last 2 jobs within 3 months. That’s right! I went to lunch and never looked back! I know it’s totally unprofessional, but so were the places that I worked, so I call it even. I should add that I don’t have a degree, but I did attend college. I could not finish college because of my health. About 12 years ago, I had a great job as a human resources assistant. We worked well together as a team in our tiny office, and respected each other as human beings.

I loved that job, the benefits were awesome including tuition reimbursement. I took advantage of those benefits because I worked for a medical center and I wanted to be a nurse. Sadly after being diagnosed with a chronic illness I was unable to work for about 10 years. The past couple of years I have been healthy enough to return to work. With no degree thanks to my health, I worked in customer service which is what I had done for over 15 years. So you could say I have plenty of experience.

Now here is where things get tricky. Back in the day (like 15 years ago) there was such a thing called (OJT) or On The Job Training. Companies actually cared about the service their employees were providing to their customers. Employees felt confident in their work (because they actually knew what they were doing) and it was a more productive work environment.

 I have only been out of the workforce for about 10 years, but I realized how everything has changed (and not for the better). These new corporations don’t seem to care who they hire, or about training them. The attitude I have experienced in my last 3-4 jobs has been “Lets throw them to the wolves, and if they get it, then they can keep the job.” Kind of like when someone throws you into deep water unprepared and you either “sink or swim”.  Sink and “You’re fired!” I don’t agree with “fake it until you make it”.

Not only does this ridiculous idea of treating your employees like crap and not training them properly for the job create a highly stressed work environment, but it creates a high job turnover. Sadly some companies purposely create a hostile work environment wanting high turnover so that they don’t have to pay benefits. You are doomed if you stay!  If you are companies please understand that while profits and the all Mighty Dollar are very important, people are important too! Stressed out employees create stressed out customers. Is that the ultimate goal? What customer would ever want to return to your miserable establishment to do business? Eventually it will fail.

Another big problem is hiring one employee to do the job of three. Dumping the entire workload on one person creates burnout, which is exactly why I went to lunch and never came back. I was completely burnt out after only 2 weeks on the second job, and doing the work of 3 people. Many employees would leave early and were always calling out “sick.” That’s certainly not somewhere I would want to be to all day to earn my money.

The supervisors were useless, there was no team effort, and some even yelled at untrained employees for making simple mistakes. Um …hello? You should have taken the time to train them instead of belittling them! All they ever did was complain about how they had no help! Gee I wonder why? 

This needs to change and if you are working for one of these companies I advise you to start looking elsewhere immediately! Here are the reasons to quit your job soon!

  • They lie about training: Have you ever been told you would train for 2 weeks or a month? All of sudden you are working all alone after 2 days with no help or no clue as what you are doing? Quit!
  • Lack of respect: You walk into the office and the boss can’t even lift up his head to speak. Apparently a simple hello or good morning is too hard. The employees are yelling and swearing at each other and there is no team effort. Quit!
  • You are doing the work of 3 people:  Did you ever find yourself working a double shift covering for someone all the time? There is a reason everybody keeps calling out of work. They are tired of being overworked. Quit!
  • They don’t listen to your ideas: Let’s say you have a brilliant idea and you bring it to your bosses attention and it just gets brushed aside. Quit!
  • No room for advancement: This is huge because there are many people who have no college training and start at the bottom to work their way up. If your company doesn’t have any room to grow chances are you won’t either, and you don’t want to be stuck in a dead end job. Quit!
  • High employee turnover: You ever notice how a certain company is always hiring? Constantly advertising how they are “growing” yet people are leaving as fast as they are hiring? Well of course, it’s such a horrible place to work nobody stays. Quit!

Now, i’m not unreasonable at all. I completely understand if you have responsibilities and it may not be that easy to just quit, but my advice is don’t find yourself trapped in one of these situations. You may never be able to get out and start doing what you love. Have you ever heard stories about people who were laid off from a job, or all of a sudden find themselves unemployed and they are devastated? Only to find out later that it was the best thing that happened to them? Through lack of employment they were forced to find their passion or start their own business. They realized that some of the best failures is what created their success.

After I quit my most recent job, I took some time off and spent the weekend on the beach. I needed to get away and clear my head from that horrible work experience. It was there I met a wise, wealthy woman who owned one of the beach houses and she gave me some great advice! She was really friendly and sat down near me with her dog. As we talked about enjoying the ocean breeze, eventually she asked me what I did for a living. I told her how I had just quit my last 2 jobs and how poorly I was treated. She said “I absolutely don’t blame you for quitting.” I was completely surprised by her response. Then she said “Don’t you notice a pattern here?” You quit because you are not doing what you love!” The money doesn’t matter because you need to work for yourself, you need to follow your passion.”  

It was then that I remembered what I loved, which was writing and helping people! I have been so happy since I took her advice. I started blogging again and I have never been happier. I can’t wait until I see her again so that I can thank her. That day I made a decision, I refuse to work for anyone else again but myself. With my new found freedom, I have had time to meet some really nice people. I know I was meant to meet her.

I am sitting on the beach (my new stress free office) as I write this article, and I want you to know that I won’t ever go back to a miserable job again to earn a paycheck. I refuse to be just another replaceable body, because I am unique, and so are you! I hope I have inspired you to figure out what it is that you love to do. Go after your dreams and find a way to make money while doing so, and quit that miserable job! If you liked this article, or know someone in this situation please share it.