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"Trade ya?"
"Trade ya?"

Barter your way to a better life

I am a vehement Craigslist enthusiast for a multitude of activities. I find the site a useful resource for freelance jobs in my makeup/fitness realm. Its calendar of events can be a goldmine of local activities. Do not underestimate the entertainment factor that can be glommed from the "Missed Connections," "Rants and Raves" and "Pets" sections.

Most of all, I utilize Craigslist for its "For Sale" area. If you want it or need it, God knows it's gotta be on Craigslist. I think of it as another way to save money, to consume less, to recycle and reuse. For all of that and a feeling of camaraderie with my fellow penny pincher, the shining star of the 'List is the "Barter" area.

Bartering has a rich history and is almost a primal instinct in children. Remember the power an individually wrapped piece of candy had at the lunch table back in elementary school days? That morsel of sugary goodness could be exchanged for any number of material desirables.

How about baseball cards or Garbage Pail Kids – a "collecting" activity motivated by the barter system. "I'll trade ya for a ..." fill in the blank. You could get what you wanted by means of exchange back in the day. Trading items is not only useful, but has an element of sportsmanship that makes it fun too, so no wonder kids see the option of exchange as a natural means for an economic system to get what they want.

These days, Craigslist is the hub of the bartering world (for me at least – if you know another resource – do tell!) I have found much success recently doing what I call the "Barter Bus." It started with "Bowflex Dumbbells for Spin Bike" and then went successfully to the next stop, "Trade Spin Bike for Treadmill."

I got an almost instantaneous response and therefore, immediate gratification almost identical to shopping for something brand new! You can start at a one-item destination and trade up to whatever your last stop will be. Remember that guy who traded a paperclip for a house? The Barter Bus can …

There were five lessons I learned during my surf lesson that extend way beyond the water.
There were five lessons I learned during my surf lesson that extend way beyond the water.

Surf's up

I've been avoiding writing this blog since it means I am reflecting on my visit to warm, sunny Maui, which in turn means I am back home in the cold and back to the daily grind. The sour part of me wanted to muse on reasons not to take vacation since re-entry into real life is so difficult, but then I couldn't fathom the reality of a year without escape from everyday life into some tropical wonderland.

Instead, I have chosen to tap my fingers away for a much better reason – to share my adventure getting on surfboard for the first time at age 36 and the lessons I learned from the Papa heʻe nalu. (That's surfboard in Hawaiian.)
My husband and I went Maui bound for the second year in a row and this time, had only one thing on our leisure radar – surfing. Chuck set up a lesson at Maui Wave Riders where they specialize in "beginners and cowards."

I qualified for both. The ocean is an intimidating force when you were mostly raised on pavement. It's only been in recent years that I have even been exposed to open water and braved the waves. But, we were resigned to learn to surf on this trip. We were amped to yell our "Cowabungas!" and "Shaka Brahs!" (We learned real surfers actually say these phrases! Well, maybe not "cowabunga." And I learned there is a difference in the direction your hand faces as you flash "hang loose" with your fingers.)

We arrived in Maui late on Friday night and rose a few hours later stoked to catch a wave. We were the first students to arrive at surf school and as our co-pupils trickled in, we were impressed with the diversity of the bunch. But, we were completely fascinated with the instructors, each a living, breathing example of Maui surf life. They were amazingly friendly, relaxed and very tan.

Our instructor was yet to show up, but we were intrigued with stories about the sole female teacher, aptly named, "Sol" who would be our guide on the water.

Some sort of station wagon/truck/van (basically a vehicle exactly like you …

Create a long-lasting holiday look with these do-it-yourself tips.
Create a long-lasting holiday look with these do-it-yourself tips.

Makeup tips for the perfect smoky-eyed holiday look

'Tis still the season for non-stop parties, photo ops and public appearances, so add some holiday sparkle to your makeup routine!

The most requested look I get at this time of year is the "smoky eye," and I'd like to share my secrets for a long-lasting, sexy look that you can achieve on your own with the right products and tools.

I've added a glittery topper perfect for New Year's Eve fetes using my new go-to glitters by Eye Kandy Cosmetics. They are super-fine and really easy to work with, making fab shimmer attainable for all!

The key to this makeup is layering products and blending, blending, blending! Invest in quality brushes and practice using them to achieve professional, polished peepers. The products, brushes and step-by-step instructions are listed below, along with a video tutorial for my visual learners.

The look I do in the video is a cleaner, bronze-y version of the exact same makeup I'm wearing in the picture, except mine is a more messy, darker, rock 'n' roll translation using the exact same technique. Tweak the colors and the shape to make this beautiful look your own!

Have fun "making up," and may the rest of your holiday season be glittery and glam!

Suggested products:

  • Eye shadow primer (Smashbox Photo Finish Lid Primer)
  • Two soft, blendable eye liners (Urban Decay 24/7 Glide-on Pencil or MAC Eye Kohl) – one for eyelid and to line under eye and one very black to rim waterline. (You can use black for both like I did!)
  • Two eye shadows – one darker that coordinates with eyeliner for lid and under eye and a lighter shade for under brow bone (Urban Decay Naked 2 Palette)
  • Glitter (Eye Kandy Cosmetics Sprinkles)
  • Glitter adhesive (Eye Kandy Cosmetics Liquid Sugar)
  • Mascara (L'Oreal Voluminous)
  • False lashes
  • Lash adhesive (Duo)
  • Bronzer
  • Eye shadow brushes (MAC No. 242, No. 252, No. 217, No. 219, No. 224)
  • Glitter application brush(es) (Eye Kandy Cosmetics Brush Large and Small)

Step One: Apply primer to eyelid from lash li…

How do you know when to tune out the OPO?
How do you know when to tune out the OPO?

When OPO attacks

The effect of other people's opinions (OPO) can be extremely powerful. Input from a collective group can be helpful, valuable and quite constructive.

Just look at Yelp. I use this site all the time for restaurant and service recommendations. I employ the Yelp user reviews as direction to where to eat, who to get my nails done by in a foreign city or to choose a local florist to deliver an arrangement to an out-of-towner. I trust without question the opinions of complete strangers who offer star ratings, testimonials and detailed journals of their personal experiences regarding local businesses. Yelp has yet to be wrong.

On the flipside, there are times when unsolicited OPO makes its way into your life. There seems to be a particular phenomenon that when you share your medical adventures – everyone else wants to share too, and most of the time it's horror stories of pain, discomfort and gore.

When I recently relented and decided to finally get a cortisone shot in the tendon sheath that runs around the thumb and into the wrist to alleviate the physically limiting pain I was experiencing in my left hand, I was impaled by OPO – a bevy of well-wishing folks who detailed the humongous needle, shooting pain and general horror I was about to undergo.

By the time I arrived at the doctor's office, I was a blubbering mess. I commandeered my husband to be my official "hand-holder" and was resigned to getting the shot, regardless of the unbearable, bone-shattering pain "other people" told me I was about to endure. I was so worked up I was sweating, my stomach was in knots, nausea set in and at one point I thought for sure my body was about to hit the floor.

Then, the doctor came in and suddenly had second thoughts on whether the shot was the correct recourse. (That, or he viewed my pallor and decided I might need a moment before he shot me up.) He decided to do x-rays (to buy some time and) to be sure the joint was not the problem since at this point, I could not even f…