Sunday, December 13, 2009

Fowl Play

If you think that you are being less cruel and being healthier by eating “cage free” or “free-range” eggs, you might want to think again. Animals in "free-range," "cage-free" and other systems are still often subject to some or all of the following abuses:

Overcrowded living conditions
Denial of veterinary care
Abusive handling
Transport through all weather extremes
Painful mutilations (debeaking, castration, dehorning, etc)
Unproductive, "spent" or by–product animals, such as
male chicks of the egg-laying industry, are killed by
methods such as suffocation and crushing.
Violent slaughter

"Free Range" means that the animals must have some access to the outdoors, but there are no government regulations about how much outdoor area must be provided.
United Poultry Concerns, an advocacy group for poultry, describes the typical free-range egg farm like this:

"Typically, 2,000 or more hens - each hen having only 1 to 2 square feet of floor space - are confined in a shed without access to the outdoors during their lives. If the hens can go outside, the exit usually is very small allowing only the closest hens to get out. The yard may be nothing but a mud yard saturated with droppings and intestinal coccidia and other parasites."

"Cage-free" eggs means that the birds aren't in cages, but the majority of cage-free eggs are produced by hens forced to live in overcrowded sheds. These living conditions aren't as horrific as the typical battery cage, but overcrowding and cruelty are still common occurrences in many cage-free operations.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Free Gym Membership

One of the benefits of being a full-time student at BSU is a free gym membership at the Student Rec Center. I admit that I have been having difficulty finding time between work class, homework and family-that and the fact that I tend to be sorta lazy. Since school was out this week, due to Thanksgiving vacation, we decided to check it out. We went 4 times this week. One of my sons who is also a full-time student decided to join us as well. Hope to try to make this a regular routine, since I really need to get my fat ass in shape and why not take advantage of a FREE gym membership.

They have all the benefits of a regular gym-cardio, weight machines, free weights, classes, climbing wall, racquetball, basketball, indoor track, etc. For an extra fee, there is massage and personal training. There is also an aquatics center located elsewhere on campus, for those that prefer swimming and such. Used to like water aerobics, but hated traipsing back to the locker room all wet, cold and drippy, then having to get out of a wet suit.

Also, think my body may be rebelling against this healthy crap. Since I started eating vegan (started off as a self-intervention for a psych class and decided to continue for health and ethical reasons) and exercising my GI system is complaining (well, complaining more than it usually does-have IBS). Gonna try to keep this up though. Think the health benefits will be worth it. And did I mention the membership was FREE!

Friday, November 27, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving

Normally, not a fan of some of Peta's tactics, but like this ad.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Stop Animal Abuse

Warning-contain graphic images. Please help stop animal abuse. If you don't have the time, money or patience to properly take care of an animal...don't get one! And if you already have one, please give them to someone who can. I don't understand how people can be so cruel, all animals want is someone to feed them, give them somewhere warm to sleep, someone to play with them and give them some attention and a lot of love. The same as every one of us wants. I don't think that is too much to ask.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Plowing Their Way to Zero Waste

Interesting article on a family in Shoreline, WA (where my parents used to live), trying to eliminate their impact on the earth and living more sustainably.

SEATTLE - A family of four has moved from the farm to an urban Puget Sound community and is now plowing its way to zero waste.

When the Peterka family moved to Shoreline, they brought part of the farm with them. They ripped up the backyard lawn and planted a large garden.

They built a fenced chicken coop in one corner, and worm and compost bins in the other. Then they made some sacrifices.

"We stopped buying groceries that came in plastic, essentially which was a big deal, not an easy task," explained Brian Peterka.

The family trimmed its plastic waste-line by adding on the bulk. They buy most of their food in bulk then store it in jars. They buy their vegetables fresh and unwrapped and grow everything else in the garden.

The Peterkas have successfully re-created the perpetual farm cycle they enjoyed in the country.

Here's how it works: The leftover food goes into the chicken coop or worms bins. The chickens return the favor by providing the next meal, the worms produce nutritious soil to put in the garden, which produces the Peterkas' meals, and leftover stems and leaves that go to a compost bin where more soil is produced.

At the end of the week, the Peterkas have about a baggie full of garbage leftover. They only put out their bin once a month for the CleanScapes garbage trucks to pick up and then its only about half full.

"This is impressive," exclaimed CleanScapes President Chris Martin who toured the Peterkas' yard today.

Martin says because his company is small, small trash producers like the Peterkas, allow him to serve more neighborhoods with fewer trucks.

Cleanscapes is even hosting a contest to see which community can reduce the most waste.

Shoreline is taking part and has found a goal to shoot for in the Peterkas' backyard.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Eating Animals is Making Us Sick

Saw this article on CNN and it is pretty interesting, thought you might enjoy it.

  • Jonathan Safran Foer: Inhumane way we raise animals for slaughter poisons us all
  • Foer: Factory farming tied to global warming, swine and bird flu, other illnesses
  • He says animals loaded with antibiotics, live in gruesome conditions
  • System driven by food and pharmacetical industries; Foer asks: Why no outcry?l

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

I apologize for the lack of posting lately, but I started back to school in August.


I am trying to figure out how to juggle school, work, home and all the mom stuff (with 5 kids still at home). All while getting good grades. I haven't taken any classes for about 11 years and got my AA in 1993. So this has been a little stressful, but rewarding. I feel like I am actually using my brain, now-instead of just asking-"Are you ready to order?" My current major is Health Education and Promotion. Am thinking about working in some kind of childhood obesity program. I still need to come up with a minor and am thinking about Psychology or Multi-Ethnic studies.

I am currently taking Medical Terminology, two 300 level Psychology classes (Human Sexuality-fun class-and Psychology of Health), and a Cinema History and Aesthetic class.

Haven't had a lot of free time for posting, but will try to keep tabs here and there.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Free Boise Entertainment

ALIVE AFTER FIVE on the Grove downtown Boise

Boise's favorite Summer Concert Series runs June 3rd through September 30th every Wednesday and is held in the Grove Plaza downtown Boise. Listen to live music and enjoy cool beverages, vendor booths and delicious food each week. Cool off in the 'til you drop...or just sit back and watch! Either way, it's a great event for the whole family to enjoy...and it's FREE to attend! The event starts at 5pm and lasts until 8pm.

Great place to hang with your friends, have a drink (we bring our own-much cheaper) and listen to some good music. The opening bands are all local. The local band this particular week the pics were taken are just 2 kids from Timberline high school. Awesome! I think their name is BoDo.

Also a great place to people watch-from rednecks to hippees to grungers, cowboys and goths, punkers and everything in between. The guy in the floral shorts is there every week along with the roller-skating guy in a dress. People playing hackey sack, jump ropers and hula-hoopers.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Free exercise

Hiking in the foothills at Camel's Back Park with my husband, Chris, and youngest daughter

View from the bottom

Holy Crap! I'm out of shape!

Views from the top

Lunch after our hike-in the shade. Silly Alexis with sandwich hanging out of her face!

Friday, June 19, 2009

Think Globally, Hoop Locally

Wilson's Rebound Basketball Shows Company's Commitment to Making the World a Greener Place

Just in time for Earth Day, the global sporting goods company releases the planet's first "green" basketball.


CHICAGO, IL-April 11, 2008- The key to curbing global warming and greenhouse gas emissions is to re-examine the way we do business. Wilson Sporting Goods is taking the lead by producing a green basketball that will be good for the player and the planet he or she dribbles on.

Wilson's Rebound came about when the company's engineers decided to tackle the question of how to produce an affordable basketball that would have less of an impact on the environment. The ball itself, which will be available just in time for Earth Day on April 22nd, is comprised of a surface that is made from 40% recycled rubber. How will the use of recycled rubber impact the planet? In practical terms, every 70 Rebound basketballs Wilson produces is the equivalent of one less tire ending up in a landfill.

"We know that today's young athletes are very aware of their impact on the environment," says Mike Kuehne, General Manager of Basketball for Wilson Sporting Goods Co. "And we're always looking for ways to improve our own performance. The Rebound will afford young players the chance to work on their game in an environmentally friendly way. Wilson is proud to be a leader in moving towards a greener, more sustainable planet."

In addition to the green composition of ball itself, the Rebound's display box is produced from nearly 80% pre or post consumer board. To add to the greenness, The Rebound was designed with a green and black color palette and features the slogan "Think Globally, Hoop Locally." The Rebound retails for $14.99 and will be available in stores across the country.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Making Music Biodegradable

Think I am going to have to get my son some of these guitar picks. They are from a company called Wheatware and they sell a lot of biodegradable products made from wheat and corn. Here is some into from their website....™ exclusively distributes Wheatware™ and Cornware™ products in the USA. Our products are manufactured in America from annually renewable crops grown in America. Who we are is a company of people committed to environmental values.

Purchasing our crop-derived Wheatware™ products, instead of forest-derived wood or cardboard products, helps supports’s mission to annually save millions of virgin forest trees and their precious habitats. Within these habitats, a multitude of species live. As these habitats are destroyed, species are perishing everyday. We also recognize the importance of our forests acting as air conditioning systems for our planet. With each forest lost, Earths capacity to cool itself becomes diminished.

Forest-derived products, such as chopsticks, clothes hangers, golf tees, cardboard drink coasters, and drumsticks, combined, cause the destruction of over 30 million forest trees per year, typically by “clearcutting” (see deforestation).

Our commitment is to continue to offer an ever expanding number of products which replace virgin forest wood products in order to help secure a sustainable future for our children and generations to come. We thank you for buying our Wheatware™ and Cornware™ products… make a difference.

Their website is

Wednesday, May 27, 2009


Sorry for the lack of posts lately and it may seem like I have been slacking, but life has definately gotten in the way lately. Besides work this month, we have had my son's girlfriend's birthday on the 7th and mine on the 9th, son's guitar concert, daughter's band concert, son's surgery (tonsils and adenoids removed) and I attended a 1980's prom theme bachelorette party. And I have the pictures to prove it.......

These pics were taken at Flying Pie Pizzeria. The BEST Pizza in Boise! They have what they call "It's Your Day", and when it is your day you get to come in and make a free pizza. On this day it was for everyone born in May, so my son's girlfriend and I got to make a free pizza on the same day. Awesome. Their website is Check it out.

First we had to pick out our goofy hats. I chose a moose and leila chose a deformed turkey (reminds me of the poor turkey from the Thanksgiving episode of "South Park".

Dough Masters

Now for the best part.....Eating. I've got a really good canadian bacon, jalepenos, artichoke hearts, pineapple, zucchini, mushrooms, mozzerella, gouda and one other cheese I can't remember what it was now. I just remember it was delish! Leila made half her's without cheese for the vegan boy.
Daniel's guitar concert. He's the one with the bandana with the hair in his face next to Mr. Grant his teacher. This is his second year.

Alexis got to play 2 solos, since she is the only 6th grade band student. And then she also played all the songs with the 5th graders. This is also her second year.

Dan before his surgery...after he got the happy drugs. Looks like he's feeling quite well.

And after.....feeling rather miserable.

Now sorry if some of these are a little risque', but it is a bachelorette party after all.

Some of the girls posing with Fabio........

In the limo on the way to dancing and drinking downtown. I'm the old one on the right.

Love this pic. Check out those straws.

And Sharon getting a lap dance from the Prom Queen (er, bride-to-be). Check out the top of the tiara. Took tons of pics (the battery on my camera died-guess I should have paced myself), but just wanted to post a few for ya'll. Now you know why I have been so busy, so I will try to keep up with this a little more. Glad to be back.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Local Dinner

Went to our local downtown Farmer's Market last Saturday and picked out a few things for a nice dinner. Got some bread from Alipcella a local Boise bakery. It is a mushroom, spinach and feta cheese bread that I basted with fresh garlic butter and toasted on the grill. The Bok Choy and Kale stir-fry was from a local farm. And the Wine is from the Snake River Winery, also here in Idaho. Served with whole wheat spaghetti and a chickpea, veggie marinara sauce, topped with fresh romano cheese. Delish.

Check out your local Farmer's Market and see what you can find. Makes for a fun Saturday. We also got some local salsa and some huckleberry honey, an heirloom tomato plant and some organic Kale and Chard for the garden.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Ahhh, the smell of freshly line-dried clothes

We finally got some nice weather and decided to take advantage of it, by hanging out some clothes to dry. Using some culled lumber that was deeply discounted we were able to build our clothesline for under $20. Unfortunately, by the time we got it finished last year it was just in time for the nasty weather to start. At least I got a few loads done today before we get a few days of rain and some cooler days (rats).
Unfortunatley, I only can get about 2 loads on my clothesline at a time, so I put clothes wherever I could find room. I hung some on the gazebo and jeans and socks over chairs in the sun.

Clothes dryers use 10-15% of domestic energy in the US. They are one of the biggest energy users in your house. By hanging clothes you can save more than $25 a month off your electric bill. And an added benefit is that your clothes last longer. Where do you think that lint in your dryer comes from-it is worn away fabric from all your clothes. And your clothes smell better, too.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Grandma's Brag Book

Sorry, I haven't posted for a while. Our computer died just after we sent the laptop in for repairs, and then my son and his family came for a visit and wanted to spend as much time with him as possible. My son is stationed in New York at Fort Drum and was able to get leave for about a week and a half. He spent some time with us and also his wife's family that live in Wendell.
And here is little missy, Isabelle. She is almost 7 months old.
Ya think Archie may be a little jealous.

And here is 8 year old Uncle Evan with Isabelle.

And Uncle Evan being used as a teether.

And finally, with Great Grandpa. Unfortunately, Great Grandma didn't get to see Isabelle. She got to spend the day with my son. He went to church with her and then had lunch at her house after, but Isabelle was with her mom in Wendell that day and my mom had to go to Seattle that night (she has a business in Seattle and flies back and forth between here and Seattle every couple weeks or so). Hopefully, it won't be too long before my son can get leave again. I want to make sure little Isabelle doesn't forget her Gma, Gpa and all her Aunts and Uncles.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Platic Recycling Voyage

SAN FRANCISCO, California (CNN) -- Imagine collecting thousands of empty plastic bottles, lashing them together to make a boat and sailing the thing from California to Australia, a journey of 11,000 miles through treacherous seas.

You'd have to be crazy, or trying to make a point. David de Rothschild is trying to make a point.

De Rothschild hopes his one-of-a-kind vessel, now being built on a San Francisco pier, will boost recycling of plastic bottles, which he says are a symbol of global waste. Except for the masts, which are metal, everything on the 60-foot catamaran is made from recycled plastic.

"It's all sail power," he said. "The idea is to put no kind of pollution back into the atmosphere, or into our oceans for that matter, so everything on the boat will be composted. Everything will be recycled. Even the vessel is going to end up being recycled when we finish."

De Rothschild's vessel, scheduled to set sail from San Francisco in April, is called the Plastiki. Its name is an homage of sorts to Thor Heyerdahl, the fabled Norwegian explorer who in 1947 sailed 4,300 miles across the Pacific on the Kon-Tiki, a raft made from balsa wood.

De Rothschild is something of an adventurer himself. The scion of a wealthy British banking family, he is one of only several dozen people to traverse both the Arctic and Antarctic ice caps. In 2005 he founded Adventure Ecology, an organization that uses field expeditions to call attention to environmental issues.

Joining him on the Plastiki will be a permanent crew of three sailors and scientists plus a handful of other crew members who will rotate through the voyage. The Plastiki is expected to stop in Hawaii, Tuvalu and Fiji on its way to Sydney, a trip estimated to take more than 100 days.

The plastic sailboat is taking shape in an old pier building not far from this city's famous Fisherman's Wharf. Here, thousands of two-liter soda bottles are being stripped of their labels, washed, filled with dry-ice powder and then resealed. The dry ice sublimates into carbon dioxide gas and pressurizes the bottle, making it rigid.

The vessel's twin hulls will be filled with 12,000 to 16,000 bottles. Skin-like panels made from recycled PET, a woven plastic fabric, will cover the hulls and a watertight cabin, which sleeps four.

"This actually is the same material that is made out of bottles," said de Rothschild of the PET fabric. "We actually wrap the PET fabric over the PET foam and then basically put it under a vacuum, heat it, press it and create these long PET panels. So that means the boat is, technically, one giant bottle."

Two wind turbines and an array of solar panels will charge a bank of 12-volt batteries, which will power several onboard laptop computers, a GPS and SAT phone.

Only about 10 percent of the Plastiki will be made from new materials, de Rothschild said. He declined to reveal how much it's costing him to build the boat.

"We could potentially put together a boat that costs a fraction of what normal conventional boats are made of," he said. "The idea is to take the Plastiki, break it down [after the voyage], and put it back into the system. So, it may come out being a jacket, a bag, more bottles. It's infinitely recyclable."

The ultimate goal of the Plastiki voyage is not just to encourage people to embrace clean, renewable energy but also to see consumer waste as a potential resource.
That's what this is all about -- showcasing cradle-to-cradle products rather than cradle-to-grave," de Rothschild said.

Whether the Plastiki will successfully complete its unique journey remains to be seen. But to conservationists concerned about the amount of energy required to manufacture and distribute plastic bottles, its symbolic message is a welcome one.
"Anything that gets in the news and makes people stop and think about plastic can be very helpful," said Betty McLaughlin, executive director of the Container Recycling Institute.
"But it strikes me as a long way to go. I flew from Los Angeles to Australia once, and it took forever. This trip strikes me as kind of dangerous."

Monday, March 2, 2009

Luxury Toilet Paper More Harmful to the Environment than Gas Guzzling Cars

Found this article in the Daily Mail (a newspaper from the uk)

Luxury toilet paper is more harmful to the environment than gas-guzzling cars

By Ryan Kisiel
Last updated at 1:51 AM on 27th February 2009

More than 98 per cent of toilet paper in the U.S. comes from virgin forests

Extra-soft toilet paper is more harmful to the environment than gas-guzzling cars, campaigners claimed yesterday.

An obsession by Americans for the expensive quilted and multi-ply paper means that thousands of trees are being cut down for the U.S. market every year.

More than 98 per cent of toilet paper in the country comes from virgin forests and uses hardly any recycled materials.

Toxic fumes are also released into the atmosphere because of the chemicals used in paper pulp manufacture.

In Europe, up to 40 per cent of toilet paper comes from recycled products.

Scientist Allen Hershkowitz of the Natural Resources Defence Council, said: 'This is a product that we use for less than three seconds and the ecological consequences of manufacturing it from trees is enormous.

'Future generations are going to look at the way we make toilet paper as one of the greatest excesses of our age.

'Making toilet paper from virgin wood is a lot worse than driving Hummers in terms of global warming pollution.

'I really do think it is overwhelmingly an American phenomenon.
'People just don't understand that softness equals ecological destruction.'

Greenpeace has launched an ecological guide to toilet paper in an effort to counter the multi-million pound marketing budget of luxury toilet paper manufactures.

Lindsey Allen, Greenpeace's forestry campaigner, said: 'We have this myth in the U.S. that recycled is just so low quality, it's like cardboard.'

Americans use more paper than paper than any other country - about three times more than people in the UK, and 100 times more than the average person in China.

Toilet paper manufacturer Kimberly-Clark denies that its products are damaging the environment.

Spokesman Dave Dixon said his company used paper from sustainably farmed forests in Canada.
He added: 'For bath tissue Americans in particular like the softness and strength that virgin fibres provides.'

Thursday, February 26, 2009

The Truth About Animals and Global Warming

Go Green, Go Veg.

Interesting Information about the effects of animals on the planet.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Here's to more veggie meals

The less meat, we eat, the less greenhouse gasses are produced. My kids thought this was hilarious.

Global Warming School

Want to teach your kids about global warming-see kids it is your fault. Enjoy!

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Tips for Reducing Your Energy Consumption, Part II

These easy at-home energy savers will instantly improve your home's energy-efficiency, and save money on your utility bill. A quick trip to the home improvement or hardware store will set you on your way.

The gaps around the windows and doors in an average American house are the equivalent of a 3 foot by 3 foot hole in the wall! Caulk and weather-strip to seal off these air leaks.

Stop air from escaping under doors with "sweeps" or "shoes" attached to the bottom.
Use window putty to seal gaps around loose window panes.

Cover bare floors with padded rugs for added insulation.

Look for other air leaks you can seal, such as those around plumbing penetrations or ceiling-mounted lighting fixtures.

Better yet, call an energy rater who can test your house for hidden leaks with a "blower door."

Compact fluorescent bulbs
Lighting accounts for about 15 percent of household energy use. If you swap the five standard light bulbs you use most for energy-saving compact fluorescents, you can save roughly $60 each year on electricity. Make sure you use EnergyStar compact fluorescents, which are tested for quality and longevity.

Water Heater Blankets
Bundle up your water heater, especially if it's located in an unheated part of the house.

Fresh Filters
Keep your air-conditioning and heating systems properly maintained by changing air filters and keeping air conditioner coils clean.

Low-Flow Showerheads and Faucet Aerators
Replacing old models with new low-flow designs prevents the energy used to heat water from going down the drain.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

How to Get Fat Without Really Trying

The meat and dairy industries receive the most government financial backing. Corn and soy are subsidized, allowing cheap processed foods to be created and sold at high profits. This short video sums it all up nicely and should push us all to rethink what we eat and what we feed our families.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Where does your child's school lunch come from?

How to reduce your energy consumption, Part 1


Unplug seldom-used appliances, like an extra refrigerator in the basement or garage that contains just a few items. You may save around $10 every month on your utility bill.

Unplug your chargers when you're not charging. Every house is full of little plastic power supplies to charge cell phones, PDA's, digital cameras, cordless tools and other personal gadgets. Keep them unplugged until you need them.

Use power strips to switch off televisions, home theater equipment, and stereos when you're not using them. Even when you think these products are off, together, their "standby" consumption can be equivalent to that of a 75 or 100 watt light bulb running continuously.

Set Computers to Sleep and Hibernate

Enable the "sleep mode" feature on your computer, allowing it to use less power during periods of inactivity. In Windows, the power management settings are found on your control panel. Mac users, look for energy saving settings under system preferences in the apple menu.

Configure your computer to "hibernate" automatically after 30 minutes or so of inactivity. The "hibernate mode" turns the computer off in a way that doesn't require you to reload everything when you switch it back on. Allowing your computer to hibernate saves energy and is more time-efficient than shutting down and restarting your computer from scratch. When you're done for the day, shut down.

Take Control of Temperature

Set your thermostat in winter to 68 degrees or less during the daytime, and 55 degrees before going to sleep (or when you're away for the day). During the summer, set thermostats to 78 degrees or more.

Use sunlight wisely. During the heating season, leave shades and blinds open on sunny days, but close them at night to reduce the amount of heat lost through windows. Close shades and blinds during the summer or when the air conditioner is in use or will be in use later in the day.

Set the thermostat on your water heater between 120 and 130 degrees. Lower temperatures can save more energy, but you might run out of hot water or end up using extra electricity to boost the hot water temperature in your dishwasher.

Use Appliances Efficiently

Set your refrigerator temperature at 38 to 42 degrees Fahrenheit; your freezer should be set between 0 and 5 degrees Fahrenheit. Use the power-save switch if your fridge has one, and make sure the door seals tightly. You can check this by making sure that a dollar bill closed in between the door gaskets is difficult to pull out. If it slides easily between the gaskets, replace them.

Don't preheat or "peek" inside the oven more than necessary. Check the seal on the oven door, and use a microwave oven for cooking or reheating small items.

Wash only full loads in your dishwasher, using short cycles for all but the dirtiest dishes. This saves water and the energy used to pump and heat it. Air-drying, if you have the time, can also reduce energy use.

In your clothes washer, set the appropriate water level for the size of the load; wash in cold water when practical, and always rinse in cold.

Clean the lint filter in the dryer after each use. Dry heavy and light fabrics separately and don't add wet items to a load that's already partly dry. If available, use the moisture sensor setting. (A clothesline is the most energy-efficient clothes dryer of all!)

Turn Out the Lights

Don't forget to flick the switch when you leave a room.

Remember this at the office, too. Turn out or dim the lights in unused conference rooms, and when you step out for lunch. Work by daylight when possible. A typical commercial building uses more energy for lighting than anything else.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Love on the cheap heats up romance in recession
Tips on how cash-conscious couples can keep the romance in their marriages amid the stress of the economic crisis.
By Melissa Rayworth
The Associated Press
With a recession raging, keeping the romance in a marriage isn't easy. Expenses that many couples considered basic a year ago — dropping $50 on a Friday night baby-sitter, buying each other impromptu gifts, planning weekends away sans-kids — are being eliminated.
Couples lying awake at night wondering whether they'll survive the next round of layoffs probably don't have romance on their minds. These days, "the very last thing on that list of priorities is physical connection," says author and marriage therapist Michele Weiner-Davis.
And yet, the same pressures that have Americans cutting back on expenses — rising costs, fear of losing a job, panic over dwindling savings — make it especially vital for couples to stay connected. Under siege, people need all the benefits that a strong relationship can bring.
So how can cash-conscious couples make sure their marriage isn't a casualty of the economic
Carve out time
As over-scheduled as most parents are, it really is possible to find pockets of time to focus on your spouse.
Step One is cutting down on distractions. Don't reflexively reach for your computer, iPod or the remote, says Doug Brown, author of "Just Do It: How One Couple Turned Off the TV and Turned on Their Sex Life for 101 Days (No Excuses!)."
Step Two is getting your kids to bed on time. "If you have one of these deals where the kids float around all night," says Brown, "give up on your sex life."
Call each other during the day just to say hi.
And if you work near each other and your schedules coincide, meet for lunch once a week, even briefly. It may be easier to dine at your desk, but the extra effort pays off.
Plan at least one night a week that will belong entirely to the two of you, and decide how you'll spend the time. "People think you lose all this stuff because you don't have the spontaneity," says Brown. "But planning it does give you this anticipation."
Time together doesn't have to be about wild romance, says sex columnist Yvonne K. Fulbright. "Have one evening where you're giving each other a sensual massage, and it's just about that and a good night's sleep."
Be a cheap date
A night out doesn't have to break your budget. Have dinner at home with the kids, then have a baby-sitter come for just two hours. Go out for dessert and coffee while the sitter does the work of putting the kids to bed. And have a movie chosen to watch when you get home (a monthly Netflix subscription can be cheaper than a single visit to a multiplex).
If there's no money for baby sitters, swap child care hours with friends — you watch their kids this Friday night, they watch yours next Friday. And don't feel guilty about it."
I see people with young children who, because they work so much, they're feeling guilty about spending an evening away or a weekend night away," says Weiner-Davis. "The best thing you can do for your kids is to put your marriage first. ... You may be feeling like you're sneaking away and stealing time, but you're really building the foundation of a family."
Small splurges
Two great steaks from the supermarket butcher will cost far less than you'd pay for dinner at a good steakhouse. Ditto for salmon steaks and jumbo shrimp. Put the little kids to bed early on a Saturday night and set the older kids up with a movie, then cook a late — and luscious — dinner just the two of you. Use your favorite dishes and glassware, and bring out the linen napkins.
If you both have work to do on a weeknight — whether it's folding laundry, returning e-mails or doing homework for a class — do it in the same room. Put on some music and have your favorite small treat on hand — cookies and cocoa, maybe, or beer and chips.
Bring home a single flower or a tiny box of chocolates, says Fulbright: "People shouldn't be afraid to make it old-fashioned, the way lovers used to woo each other."
Create a sanctuary
It doesn't have to cost anything, says Doug Brown, to make your bedroom a cozy, inviting place that's all about the two of you. "You've gotta have candles somewhere around the house," he says. "Just straightening up the place and getting rid of the Dora the Explorer dolls and taking the big portrait of granny off the walls ... makes it a really sexy, friendly kind of place."
Add some framed pictures of the two of you, and make sure you've got some good music on hand — maybe songs from your earliest years together.
The single most important element in all of this, Weiner-Davis says, is communication. Spend time really talking with each other about something other than the kids or the miscellany of running your lives."
Nothing makes you feel more connected to the person than talking about dreams and aspirations and what you can do together in the future," says Weiner-Davis. "There's something really exhilarating and inspiring about planning that together."
Copyright © 2009 The Seattle Times Company

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