Tag Archives: sell my diamond

9 Ways to Save During the Holidays

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It’s the same story every year, isn’t it?  The holidays arrive, in a whirlwind of candied yams, spiked nog and flimsy tinsel, and then all of a sudden it’s January 2nd; you’re cold, still hungover and decidedly broke.  So what’s a festive yet cash strapped gal/guy like yourself to do?  Why, start your shopping bonanza with thriftiness as well as cheeriness, that’s what. 

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Don’t Budge (from your budget), Blixen 

Most people begin the shopping process by fashioning a list of all the people they need to procure presents for, in a jolly and jovial, Santa-esque manner.  This is a big Ho-Ho-No.  You first need to look at the cumulative present budget that you have to work with.  Now, you can break it down, communist-like, by dividing the figure by the exact amount of people you need to buy for, and each person gets a present within this set monetary parameter.  The other option is to allocate varying percentages of the budget to each individual (let’s face it, great Aunt Trudy who’s visiting from Albuquerque, that you’ve met once, shouldn’t get the same caliber of present as, say, your spouse).  After you perform a fair assessment of who should get what, you may find that you need to trim some fat from the list; sorry, slightly sketchy Steve from down the block, no fruitcake for you this year.

Be Practical, Prancer 

A further caveat to factor in to the spending budget is any and all other holiday related expenses.  These may include, but are not limited to, shipping costs for delivering presents to those pesky out-of-state folk, postage for holiday cards, any new holiday specific home decor items, the anticipated surge in the electric bill due to lights continuously running, scrumptious holiday themed treats, and merry more.  Decide what is essential and then assign these things a monetary cap.   

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Carols & Cash only, Comet 

This is an age old trick that can help even the most magnanimous shopper stay within required fiscal boundaries; leave the credit cards at home and only carry wintry-cold, hard cash.  Some people can never stick to the budgets they have devised once they find themselves in the glittering shopping malls, all strategically loaded with goods designed to drain your bank accounts.  To avoid a Maxed Out X-mas, leave all forms of plastic behind and just bring the set amount of bills necessary to get all your stuff.  This way when your cockles are warmed by the sight of a Twerking Elmo or an Electrolux with disco lights – ‘That would just bring little Timmy oh so much joy this year!’ – you are forced to stay within the confines of your cash limit.  

Don’t dawdle, Dasher!

Often the weeks leading up the the big events can be hectic and stressful, leaving you with little time to get your shopping done.  So what’s the result?  You end up sprinting through whatever stores are open on Christmas/Hanukkah/Kwanzaa Eve; a virtual prisoner to whatever items are left in stock, at ridiculously marked up rates.  “Was gonna get Janey a doll made of yarn this year, but the only thing left here are these Tiffany earrings – oh well!  We’ll have to get her ears pierced, too – they do that for toddlers, right?”  No matter how busy you are, don’t procrastinate!  Get your shopping done post-haste.

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DIY, Dancer

Sure, everybody likes shiny wrapping paper and all that jazz, but some presents can take the form of actions rather than goods.  Offering to shovel an elderly neighbor’s walkway, cat-sitting your crazy aunt’s even crazier cat, making a few extra gingerbread cookies for your ornery mail-person; all these kindly gestures are presents that will be very much appreciated and don’t cost a red-nosed cent.  

Use e-Cards, e-Cupid!

Holiday greeting cards can be fun, but when you think about how expensive they can be, along with the added burden of postage, in addition to the amount of trees that have to be murdered… e-Cards look like the way to go.  With zero waste and tons of fun, you can customize these little fellows to say (and even sing!) anything you like.  They are either free or very inexpensive, relative to physical cards, so utilizing these can help free up some extra cash for the rest of the budget.  Also, they’re quite time efficient; knock out that entire list in a just a couple of clicks.   

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Donate, Dunder 

If times are tight for you, just imagine how bad they can be for some others out there.  One way to combat the rampant commercialism and overindulgent consumerism is to collect a few of the more mature members on your list (not the lil’ ones, of course), and see who would be amenable to taking a donation (in their name) to a charity in lieu of a present.  Volunteer that you would like to do the same thing; this way several of you can combine your assets and deliver a sizable gift to the organization of your choice.  It’s the season of giving, and going through with this will have you feeling truly in the spirit.  

Let’s Vacay, Vixen

If you have a significant other, significant mother or close-knit family, you may want to skip the gifts altogether and go on a trip.  The good news here is that during the actual holiday dates (Christmas, New Year’s Eve), prices on hotels, plane fares and the like take a dramatic dip.  It’s a great way to come together as a couple, or entire clan, and see some of the natural and man-made gifts already out there for the taking! 

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Be resourceful, Rudolph 

If you end up with a couple of pennies left over after all is said and unwrapped (or are given a few of those super thoughtful ‘gift cards’ to various stores yourself), you can think ahead to next year and take advantage of the cavalcade of sales now occurring at all the local shops (and online as well).  Yes, shopping may be the last thing you want to engage in all over again, but the slashed prices on inventory (that just needs to be moved) are really unbeatable in January.  So light your sleigh to savings! …or something like that.  

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-Joe Leone   

Luscious Jewelry Terms

Starting with “L”

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Labradorescence – here we have an extraordinarily fancy way of saying that a stone looks blue (as in the color, not melancholic).  Specifically, this occurs with the gem labradorite, and in some very rare instances, in Labrador retrievers.

Lace Ring – this is a ring mounting type where the sides are constructed of an open webbing, which obviously resembles the material that fancy underwear is made out of.

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Lambrequin – while this sounds like it is the odd lovechild of a lamb and a mannequin, it actually refers to little ornamental pieces that look like woven fabric.  Worn by fancy soldiers of yesteryear, this arty thing was commonly found in one’s coat of arms.

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Lapidary – this is the name given to those who cut, polish, slice and dice gemstones and dense minerals (except diamonds, of course – those who deal solely with diamonds are called “diamantaires,” and wouldn’t sully their fastidious fingers with lesser gems).  Some lapidaries also can carve cameos, thereby making them mini sculptors (take that, diamond snobs!)

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Lathe – is something that modern jewelers thank the high heavens for each day.  It’s a sophisticated machine that basically does all of the essential jeweler tasks in one, such as grinding, milling, drilling, (thrilling!), and oh so much more.

Latten – this is a material that is comprised of copper and other, less expensive metals (it’s an alloy).  Highly popular throughout the entire Medieval period (5th through 15th centuries), latten could easily be shaped into words and symbols on jewelry, like latin phrases and ‘yo momma’ jokes.  Most signet rings created during this time were made of latten (those are the rings you would stick in wax to leave your seal on letters, like an ancient @handle.)

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Lava Jewelry – a very specific type of jewelry endemic to the ruins of Pompeii, Italy.  Travelers venturing to Pompeii during the 17th century, seeking to unearth more of the location’s petrified secrets, would return home with souvenir jewelry made out of the lava/mineral debris from the actual site.  These would often be in the form of dirt and clay-colored cameos, carved to resemble some of the lovely lost Roman souls.

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Lavallière – a delicate link chain that culminates in a hanging pendant (typically featuring a pearly pearl).  Turn of the 20th century kids couldn’t wait to get their hands on these.  The necklace type takes its nomenclature from the allegedly breathtaking Louise Françoise de La Baume Le Blanc, who not only possesses an insanely long name, but was the number one side chick of Louis XIV (hey, in 17th century France this was something to be proud of).  She was also the ‘Duchesse de La Vallière’ (hence the necklace name…finally).

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Lazo – no, not the term for a sloth-like person in Spanish, this actually means “bow” en Español, and is employed when describing earrings that have some sort of design at the top, a bow in the middle and then a ‘drop,’ or hanging, jewel or other metal piece.  The phrase eventually morphed to include brooches that have a ribbon motif.

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Leontine – pocket watches in Spain would simply crash to the floor (el piso) without the aid of a leontine, the chain that connects the watch to one’s pocket (via a little clasp).  Often constructed with a flourish (hanging gold tassels and the like), leontines were the bold precursor to wallet chains, donned primarily by mid-90’s posers.

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Limoges Enamel – this is a precise form of enameling that put Limoges, France on the map.  Conceived during the 1400’s, this enameling technique uses a metal material as the canvas to which a heavy enamel layer is applied, and then a clear one over that (really letting the colors ‘pop’).  This artistic practice is used today in nail salons around the world.

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Liquid Silver – much like the body of the ferociously undulating Terminator first introduced in Terminator 2: Judgement Day, liquid silver seductively flows like a shiny river of metal.  It’s the name given to sterling silver beads, which when polished to a fiery sheen and strung tightly together, simply ooze opulence and stream through the night.

Lobster Claw – many of you may have a lobster claw dangling from your body right at this moment and you don’t even know it.  Before you reach for the lemon and butter, this is just a kind of clasp that at lot of necklaces and bracelets use.  It’s fun to open it and pinch your friends with.

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Lorgnette – you’ve seen plenty of fancy ladies of the past using lorgnettes; they are those glasses that are held up to the face with a precious metal handle (not an adorably precocious one; ‘precious’ here meaning one that is made of gold or silver, etc.)  Lorgnette rose to prominence during the tail end of the 19th century and stayed in fashion throughout the daring Art Deco era.  Can be used today in lieu of Google glasses.

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Lost Wax Casting – in French it’s “cire perdue,” but in any language it means the same thing; you make a wax mold of some sort, pour hot liquid metal in there and then burn the wax away, leaving you with a newly cast metal, primed for a good ole polishin’.  And yes, it also sounds like the casting session to the mysterious, hit ABC series “Lost Wax.”

Lover’s Eye Miniature – let’s take a look see at this jewelry concept, which will undoubtedly go down as one of the creepiest in history.  It’s basically a little pin, pendant, brooch or ring encased painting that your lover gives to you.  Depicted there, is their very own eye, symbolically watching over (aka ‘stalking’) you at all times.  This trended briefly at the end of the 18th century, however the Lover’s Eyes soon lost favor as people started to accumulate various lovers, and therefore, more eyes to peer at them.  Presumably, they just got freaked out by all the incessant staring.

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Lover’s Knot – way less weird than the previous item, this refers to rings that were crafted to depict two pieces of rope that were tied in a symbolic union.  The ancient Romans used them as betrothal rings; contemporary grooms use them for the same thing…when they are trying to come up with clever ways to not have to buy a diamond.

Luckenbooth Brooch – you can take their land, but you can never take their brooches.  These charming Scottish pins are designed to look like a heart (or two hearts).  They were first made during the Middle Ages and became fashionable during the 1800s.  This term can also be applied when you happen to luck into a booth in a restaurant.

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Lunula – what’s not to love about the Bronze Age?  That’s where we got this moon-shaped necklace from, which can be made from any material but often shows up in gold or…bronze.  Lunulas are not just beautifully designed creations that evoke images of nighttime illumination and revelry, they also have a really fun name to say out loud.

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-Joe Leone  

Goodbye Diamonds: You’ve Got Options

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Engagement Ring Stone Varieties

Ok people, ’tis the season once again.  No, not just that of the annual ‘turkey stay of execution,’ of avaricious munchkins clamoring for toys and the ‘imposed family visitation’ season; it’s marriage proposal time as well.    For some reason, one third of the year’s proposals occur during the holidays.  Perhaps this is because people are feeling so cheery and warm (despite the plummeting temperatures) in their lover’s arms, that they can easily envision and hope for a well spent life together.  Maybe they just get all giddy at the sight of candy canes.  We’ll never know for certain, but one thing that is for sure is that engagement rings will need to be purchased. 

So what’s a potential proposer to do?  Drop the requisite ‘three month’s salary’ on a costly, environmentally destructive, possibly bloody diamond?  Well, that’s always one way to go – but luckily there are a bunch of other merry options.

Be “Fake”

If you’ve been following diamonds in the news at all over the past year or so, you will have seen an explosion of information on the man-made diamond front.  Scientists are becoming increasingly more efficient and clever at growing diamonds in labs (instead of under the earth’s crust, like ‘real’ diamonds that are made by the gods).  These stones have the same exact chemical composition as naturally derived diamonds (often with less blemishes too; they’re farmed in pristine labs, not the dirty, dirty dirt).  The only noticeable difference is that they are cheaper: significantly.  Score!  White diamonds, the most desirable across the board, that are fabricated will run you about 15 to 20 percent less than natural diamonds.  Even better if your thinking lies somewhere over the rainbow; colored High Pressure, High Temperature (HPHT) diamonds can cost an astounding 80 to 90 percent less than ‘real’ diamonds of the same hue.  

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Moiss Doesn’t Grow on a Rolling Gemstone 

Now, on to the ‘diamond simulant’ category.  These are stones that mimic diamond in many sparkling ways.  The much maligned cubic zirconia is in this batch; the main complaint about this guy is that it chips, breaks and eventually loses its luster.  As a result, most people turn their noses up to the high heavens at all diamond simulants.  However, there is one of these diamond copiers that has some real staying power; moissanite.  Naturally occurring moissanite is found in meteorites (obviously making them the most cherished gemstone of intergalactic aliens) and is incredibly similar to diamond in terms of density and glitter-ifficness.  Believe it or not, moissanite can have a higher rating than diamond in the brilliance (sparkle) and fire (the way that light is refracted and dispersed through the stone) categories.  Moissanite is commonly replicated in labs now, just like diamond, and is priced well below what human-made diamonds go for.  Expect to pay about a cool grand (or less!) for a perfect 1 carat moissanite stone.  Unless your soon be to betrothed and all of your mutual friends are expert gemologists, no one is going to be able to tell that this isn’t a diamond.  We’re not saying to try to pass it off as one; just use all that saved cash for more essential things as an engaged couple, like a ravishing vacation or bathroom supplies.  

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Alt. Rocks 

We’ve been touting the benefits of alternative gemstones for quite some time.  Not even getting into how much cheaper these all can be than diamonds, they can also be so much more unique and personal.  Each gemstone has its own story as to where it comes from, how it was named and what its hue (or hues) symbolize.  Maybe you pick your lover’s birthstone, maybe you just go with their favorite color.  The possibilities here are endless (see?) 

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-Joe Leone 

10 More Diamond Ditties

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They just can’t stop turning them out, can they? 

Musical artists never seem to get tired of writing songs that are about, feature or memorably mention diamonds.  Not sure what it is about these reflective stones that is so aurally pleasing or visually inspirational to these singer-songwriters (perhaps because diamonds look like disco balls, and these people all secretly love this retro, lost art form?)  Well, no need to analyze their musical motives; let’s just give a listen to some of the most recent diamond ditties to hit the scene (aka, Spotify).  

Rihanna – We Found Love 

Everyone’s favorite Caribbean Queen has dazzled again, this time paying tribute to the gloriously golden orb of the gem world: the yellow diamond.  In her insanely catchy track “We Found Love,” RiRi dishes on how her and some unnamed (and lucky) gentleman were able to discover some sort of amorous bond in a highly unlikely and spiritually destitute location.  A funky synth-organ beat from Calvin Harris and the rest is music gold…or, should we say, fancy vivid yellow diamonds.  

 

Lil Wayne – Diamonds and Girls 

Wildly popular lilliputian rapper Lil Wayne (known to his fans as “Weezy” – most likely because he’s a huge fan of the band Weezer) is not once to mince words.  Here he leaves no doubt as to what are the two things that he is systematically seeking most in life; more than any other objects or genders out there.  

 

Arcade Fire – Headlights Look Like Diamonds

Here we have a love ballad of sorts, where the immolated arcade crew describes a lover as having these gem-reminiscent ‘headlights,’ which one can assume means “eyes.”  As said headlights approach, they bring the promise of all the glittering goodness inherent to diamonds.  Sadly, once this car has metaphorically sailed by, the “Taillights burn like coals,” which can mean the singer was ‘burned’ (more fire symbolism), but also possibly has regressed a bit (as coals are thought to be the early form of diamonds …even though that is simply a myth).  In any event, this is a super-meta song that shows just how bad love can scorch in a conflagration of searing beauty.  

 

Jay-Z – Diamond is Forever

Ah, not to be confused with diamonds, plural, this track is about the one and only diamond in Jay-Z’s life.  That’s right, his true Bae: himself.  Mr. H to the Izz-O pontificates on this rap about how truly phenomenal his spitting skills are, amongst other accolades.  The actual diamond referenced here is His Truly, and the self-aggrandizing is not wholly undeserved; it’s a shout-out to how his fans make a diamond shape with their hands at his concerts in an homage to his sparkling performances and hard-Roc-A-Fella spirit. 

 

Rob Thomas – Her Diamonds 

We now take a turn for the touching in this love inspired serenade from Thomas to his wife.  Apparently she has a debilitating disease that affects her immune system, and this song was written to compliment her for her strength and bravery in facing it.  Her tears seem to him like diamonds, indicating that what is inside her is simultaneously aesthetically beautiful and fundamentally hard.  She sings on the tune as well, giving it even more emotional substance.    

 

Sheryl Crow – Diamond Ring

The Missouri native hits us with another gruffly sweet, yet epic folk tune, this one about diamond rings.  Crow has seen her fair share of them over the years, as she has been proposed to three times.  Hence, her collection of the things is quite extensive, relatively speaking.  This song is supposedly about her break-up with performance-enhanced cyclist Lance Armstrong,  but Crow never confirmed this tidbit of gossip.  Either way, the track is pleasing to the ears, despite its slightly melancholic tone. 

 

Common – Diamonds

Ironically, there is nothing that lyrically commonplace when it comes to the One they Call Common.  This track is rife with modest statements from the Chicago bred wordsmith, such as “I’m a rare diamond that’s hard to find, man,” and others that express that his time is ever so valuable as well “My time, man, precious like diamonds.”  A Common misconception about diamonds (indelibly sung by Rihanna) is that they “shine,” when they simply reflect and refract light; this is further espoused here too: “Imma be shining til I die, man.”  

 

Tim McGraw – Diamond Rings and Old Barstools

Off the seminal 2015 album “Sundown Heaven Town,” this country gem illustrates the classic case of a couple that just doesn’t see eye to eye.  The titular juxtaposition of what are presumably breathtakingly lovely engagement rings and beat up, dingy, beer soaked chairs is representative of the two warring lovers (fairly certain it’s ok to assume the lady in question is the dazzling diamond and the dude is the stinky stool).  McGraw’s crooner cousin, Catherine Dunn, sings back up vocals on this jam, providing the “Coke” to this “watered down whiskey.” 

 

Devon Allman’s Honeytribe – Endless Diamond

An odd hybrid of sounds and styles, this mystical rock song details the “endless diamonds” of the world, which ostensibly are humans that were able to reach the pinnacle of their potential.  It seems as if the narrator is some sort of deity or possibly an alien life form that is watching over these little sparkling entities called ‘people.’  The metal meets country meets Brit Rock flavor of this song is definitively indicative of the intriguingly diverse nature of the human race, and our eternally bright moments.  

 

Supergrass – Diamond Hoo Ha Man 

Fun loving English power-pop-punk posse Supergrass truly know how to have a good time.  That’s the core essence of this bizarrely named track.  According to the band, a Diamond Hoo Ha Man is a reckless chap who is always up for some shenanigans, a “really dodgy Fear and Loathing-type traveling salesman.”  Whatever this phrase really means is immaterial; the bottom line is that this is a great term and should be used stateside from this day forth.  

-Joe Leone 

10 Fun Things To Do That Are Totally Free

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The belt buckle tightening time of the year is upon us once again (fiscally speaking, of course; you’re going to be doing the polar opposite of that come Thanksgiving dinner).  As you plan out your budget in anticipation of a pricey holiday season, you realize that you are definitely going to have to cut back on some of the more extravagant elements of your lifestyle.  That certainly doesn’t mean that you need to stop having fun.  In fact, the opposite can be true, yet again.  Delving into some new, adventurous, absolutely gratis activities will have you feeling like you’ve just won the Lottery of Fun.  Read on for some no-cost enjoyment!

Lights, camera(phone), action! 

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Have a camera with video function on your phone?  Of course you do.  Get a group of your friends together and shoot a movie!  Either write it out beforehand, with storyboards and all that jazz, or just wing it and improvise the whole thing.  You may be surprised at how creative you end up being, Fellini-like friends.  Can’t find any willing participants?  Channel your inner nature documentarian and film some indigenous sparrows and squirrels, as they frolic tither and thither.  If that gets boring, just start photo-bombing your own production.

Speak your mind. 

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Whether you strive for the spotlight or shun it like Gollum, there are endless opportunities for you speak in public.  Either throw together some corny jokes for Open Mike Night at your local comedy club, or a few choice mellifluous sentences for a poetry reading OR break out the ole six string and soulfully strum away at a volunteer music venue.  This will be goofy fun if you are comfortable in these situations.  If you are like most people, and are inherently shy about voicing your opinion in a public forum, then this will be a splendid chance to tackle those fears head on and prove to yourself that you can overcome anything.

Call your loved ones.

Face it, there are some people that you care about a tremendous deal, but you hardy ever communicate with (a “merry x-mas” text doesn’t count).  Speaking directly to your parents, distant relatives or old college chums for a few minutes can be truly rewarding.   Yes, this can seem like an absolute chore in some cases, but the more difficult/awkward the task is, the better you will feel about yourself for having done it once it’s over.

Get a pen, pal. 

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In keeping with the theme of reaching out to someone, there is yet another means of getting in touch that can be really satisfying; writing a letter.  A hand written letter is a real rare commodity in these modern times that we live in.  The cool thing about writing a tangible letter is that you can scribble little drawings in there, tape cut-outs from magazines, add scents; whatever quirky little thing you like.  Those on the receiving end of the letter will be treated to a delightful surprise.  Don’t have anyone you want to send warm messages to?  Well, this is a splendid opportunity then to send some anonymous passive-aggressive tips to to a deserving foe, or even a fun ransom note.

Volunteer and spread cheer.

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Volunteering your time doesn’t have the same somber association that it once did.  Perceptions about what this means have shifted; it’s not about being ‘stuck doing something – just to be nice,’ as there are now tons of milieus to choose from.  A quick Google search will provide you with oodles of different types of activities in your area that you can engage in, from face painting for kids to planting trees to cleaning up a garden to helping people with their resumés.  Just pick something that speaks to you and have fun with it.  The people running these programs, as well as anyone who benefits from them, are typically so very grateful to have you there.  Bottom line, you’ll feel great about contributing; it’s a win-win.

Spend a day away from all forms of technology.

This may not sound like ‘fun’ to most people; it’s really more of a challenge for yourself.  If you really commit to this, and do not go near the likes of a phone, tablet, laptop or any other conveyance of contemporary, digital content, you will be amazed at what you find yourself up to.  Listening to vintage records (or that “Mmmbop” cassette single), reading that book you never got a chance to, pouring over old photo albums, exploring new parts of your world; the possibilities will soon reveal themselves to be endless.

Free wheelin’.

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Many people out there already have a preferred way of transporting themselves from place to place (via what is known as an ‘automobile,’ or in some colloquial circles, a ‘car’).  Did you know that you can travel on a self-propelled device that also has wheels?  It’s called a bicycle.  Get out there and do some cycling today – no matter the season (minus the 30 degree below weather days of January, naturally), a brisk bike ride is invigorating and helps you clear your mind – and, in staying with our free theme, doesn’t cost anything in gas!  Already an avid biker -or- just don’t have access to a bike?  Find some alternative wheels.  Rollerskates, blades and skateboards are readily at your disposal (if you don’t own already, just ask to borrow some – everybody’s got these things just collecting dust in their garages, attics or storage units).  Oh, just be sure to wear a helmet; you don’t want this free-fun activity turning into a costly E.R. trip.

Get cookin’.

Go through all the items in your refrigerator and find things that you never use (‘What is this wasabi infused, mesquite bbq sauce doing here?’) and some other items that don’t have such a long shelf life and will have to be thrown out soon.  Take said items, find a recipe that incorporates them and BAM!  Become Emeril or Rachel Ray – that part is totally up to you.

Purge!

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Getting rid of old stuff can help clear your closet as well as some much needed headspace.  It’s fun to go through these preterite things and reminisce about where they came from.  The best part about this task is when you put a magnanimous spin on it and donate the articles to a charity.  You’ll feel zen-like about having more room, a fresh start and the knowledge that you helped pay-it-forward to someone else.

Just say “Yes!”

…to free things.  The concept of having a day/night where you say “Yes” to every question posed to you (meaning ones that require an affirmative or negative response, not “Hey, what time is it?”) is not a new one.  There was a “Frankie and Grace” episode about this very subject this year.  The twist here is that you employ this mantra, but only in relation to things that do not cost a penny.  Depending on where you start off, this can lead you down some interesting/exotic/flat out weird paths, but hey, as Mao Zedong once famously said “YOLO!”

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-Joe Leone