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Settle in for a Hygge kind of Evening

Living Life to the Fullest - Posted On 12/27/2016 02:07 PM, Last Updated 12/27/2016 03:08 PM


It is the middle of January. You just finished a long week at work and decided to take it easy tonight. You text your best friend, head home, change into your favorite pair of pajamas and put on your fuzziest socks. Before you dive into that Netflix queue, though, there are a few more things on your checklist. Excitedly, you line up all of your favorite candles, getting a preview of each ones scent as you light it. You break out the decorative ceramic teapot you bought last winter and brew your favorite tea. You turn off the lights and plug in some twinklers that are strung along the walls. Just at this moment, your friend rings the doorbell with freshly baked cookies. Fully prepared now, you head into the cozy paradise you have created and enjoy a perfect winter evening.

Hopefully, you experienced feelings of happiness and comfort just imagining this scenario. That feeling  being warm, cozy, and appreciative of the things and people around you is encompassed by the Danish word hygge.  

Pronounced hoo-gah, hygge does not actually have a translation in English, but many agree that its closest equivalent is coziness. Coming from the Norwegian term hugga, which means to comfort, hygge made a quick ascent in British and American culture over the past year, even earning a spot on the shortlist for the Oxford Dictionaries Word of the Year 2016.

According to Denmarks official tourism site, The warm glow of candlelight is hygge. Friends and family is hygge too. There is nothing more hygge than sitting round a table, discussing the big and small things in life. It is not surprising that this notion has become a mega trend, especially because earlier this year, the World Happiness Report found Danes to be the happiest people on the planet.  

Some argue that hygge is actually a conspiracy to sell books, cashmere sweaters and hot chocolate, or that Danes are able to appreciate the small things like this due to so many other aspects of their lives (education, social security, health care, family leave, paid vacation, the list goes on) being superior to a large majority of the world. To that, Meik Wiking, CEO of the Happiness Research Institute, a Danish think tank, says that Danes are conscious of the decoupling between wealth and wellbeing and the fact that after basic needs are met, more money does not lead to more happiness.

There are, however many wonderful things about hygge, the best of which being the fact that is actually achievable by just about anyone. Rich or poor, big home or small, large families, couples, and individuals alike can experience hygge. It is not about money or class, but it is about finding pleasure in what you do have, treasuring the people in your life, and enjoying the little things. Brewing a fragrant pot of coffee and putting on socks takes an extra few moments, but creates a feeling that would not be there otherwise. Deciding to turn on a dim lamp rather than a bright ceiling light may seem trivial, but will change the entire atmosphere of your home on a winter night.

By Ally Greer

Do You Have Integrity?

Living Life to the Fullest - Posted On 12/19/2016 11:33 AM, Last Updated 12/19/2016 01:04 PM

Do Have Integrity?

July 26th, 2011 Joel Wade

There are people whom you have known or met who have a powerful quality to them; they know themselves, they seem comfortable in their own skin. They may be shy or outgoing, but in either case they do not appear to be flustered or thrown off balance in a fundamental way very easily, and even when they are, they regain their equilibrium quickly and continue. They are the same person across many situations.

The quality that you are seeing in such people is integrity.

Integrity is one of those words that can be mysterious and vague. The implication is that when somebody has integrity, you just know it, and they just have it like some one can have good looks or talent. But there is nothing mysterious about integrity. Living with integrity is way of being in the world that you can practice and master, a set of skills that you can work on and improve; and in doing so, you can have a tremendous positive impact not only on your own life, but on the lives of those around you even on the culture in which you live.

But first we need to define what integrity means and how you can practice it, and then we can look at what living with integrity can do.


To live with integrity is to literally integrate what you think, know, believe with what you say; and to integrate what you say with what you do. It is a state of consistently weaving and reweaving your understanding of yourself as you grow and learn and experience more of yourself and the world around you.

Integrity also presumes a basic level of honesty, a willingness to look at yourself, to question what you think you know, and to continually look for evidence that what you believe to be true is actually true. This can often take courage. Not everything you find within yourself and others is pleasant, nor is everything that you believe at any given time is true.

But as with all virtues, living with integrity is not something that you have, it is something that you do. One does not come into the world with integrity ready made. Living with integrity requires rationality: the non- contradictory integration of experience. It is fulfilled through living congruently with your understanding and principles. As such, your integrity is always a work in progress.

Because of this, the concept of moral redemption is a prerequisite for actually living with integrity. It is fine to hold an ideal of how you should behave, but we do not come into the world with perfect knowledge and unwavering moral clarity. 

Living with integrity in the real world would be impossible without the possibility of doing something morally wrong, learning from it, taking action to correct it, and, through integrating your experience and adjusting your behavior accordingly as you grow and become a better person.

You may find that you hurt somebody you care about in order to try to impress somebody else; you may realize that you had been undermining somebody else is success because you were feeling envy toward them; or you may come to realize that you had a betted others in some fraud because you had so much invested in them already personally, emotionally, monetarily that you suspended your own awareness of their and/or your own wrong doing.

The pain and shame of confronting such actions, and if possible making up for the harm that you caused, is part of the process of integration. Avoiding these feelings can keep you from learning from what you did wrong and from growing as a person.

You don't have to be in a position of great power to

have a positive impact on our culture.

The decision to live with integrity the devotion to pursue rationality through the non-contradictory integration of experience and to live your life according to your understanding and principles can be a very liberating experience. A commitment to living with integrity involves adopting a few general principles that can serve as guideposts to moral decision-making. You decide to value what is true; to strive to understand yourself and the world; to understand others, which requires empathy; to know what you value; to know what you believe. You decide to pay attention to feedback pain, satisfaction, joy, disappointment, and genuine admiration that suggest that you have something to learn and integrate; and you decide to pay attention to these on an ongoing basis.

When you feel ashamed or disappointed, your decision to live with integrity draws you to look at what you are doing that has set you off track.

Sometimes this happens later than you would like. Then you need the courage to face the shame and regret that can make integrating such lessons so very demanding. These can be the most difficult moments in a life of integrity but in hindsight they can be the moments you can feel the greatest pride over or, in failing to do so, the greatest loss.

This is the personal, individual experience and action of living with integrity. But we do not live in a vacuum, isolated from others. The impact that we have upon each other is significant, and in this, the role of a person living with a high degree of integrity is substantial.


It is not simply wishful thinking that a man with integrity can have a significant impact on the integrity of others. We know from some very interesting research what a profound effect we can have on each others behavior, for good or ill. But what is not as well known is how much more powerful the influence is for good, from the living example of a person living with integrity.

Your personal relationships, and even those people who are three degrees of separation away from your personal relationships friends of friends of friends are your sphere of influence, and you are theirs. What you say and do makes a real impact on those around you and even on those a moderate distance away.

 Good and bad behaviors pass from friend to friend; we influence each others health and happiness just by our social interactions.

refuse to continue themselves!

Think about that again for a moment: When people who are urged by an authority to do harm see other people refuse to do so, only 10% continue to comply.



In practice, what this means is that people are watching. What you do in your daily life can have a very positive or negative effect on the people around you. Far from suggesting that you are at the mercy of social forces, this makes a strong case for asserting your own leadership and personal virtue.

When you return that extra change from a miscalculated bill, when you do not go along with others in your group who are willing to fudge data, or appease a bully, or gossip, or intentionally hurt somebody, other people are influenced, and that is very likely to make a real impact.

When you choose to behave with honor and integrity particularly when other people are not doing so somebody will notice, and will then be very likely to make a different and better decision as a result.
 When you behave with good manners, expressing gratitude, saying please, and treating everyone you see with respect and goodwill, that makes others feel better, and it also makes it easier for those others to pass that attitude along. 

And when you clearly and confidently express your support for liberty, responsibility, and the positive virtues of individualism particularly if you do so with dignity and respect there are people who will notice, and your example will have an effect.

You do not have to be in a position of great power to have a positive impact on our culture. It is in our day-to-day lives that most of us make our greatest impact. When you decide to disregard the negative status quo when you live actively and congruently with who you are and what you value, you have a much greater influence than those who allow themselves to be drawn away from their moral center.

Good and bad behaviors pass from friend to friend.

But this takes practice. Learning and mastering living with integrity is no different in principle from learning and mastering a musical instrument. You get good at whatever you practice. If you practice going along with the status quo regardless of your own values and understanding, you will get good at following others and at abdicating your own moral clarity. If you practice integrating your thoughts, feelings, and knowledge with your words and actions, actively living with integrity, you will get good at becoming more profoundly who you are, and you will have the power of moral clarity and a more unified purpose within yourself.

You and I decide what kind of cultural world we live in. Do you want to make things better? Live with courage and integrity in your everyday life be strong, kind, effective, just, honorable, and polite; stand up boldly and unequivocally for individual liberty and limited government and set the example for others to follow. If you pay attention, I think you will be pleasantly surprised at how much power your own integrity actually holds.

 Read the full Blog Here


Add an Extra Bling to your Holidays

Rental Tidbits - Posted On 12/16/2016 10:30 AM, Last Updated 12/16/2016 10:48 AM

Add an Extra Bling To your Holidays

What is the cure for long, dark winter nights? White string lights, of course! 

Here are a couple of unusual ideas for using string lights in your home and garden.


I find winter to be quite perfectly beautiful when the garden is filled with lots of dry seed heads and brambles and 

cold-hardy garden art covered in peaks of deep, drifted snow.

There is just two things that make it better.

1.     Providing water and feed for the winter birds, so they like to hang out in my garden.

2.     Adding strings of white lights to make it come alive after dusk.

Fresh-fallen snow and sparkling lights are indeed beautiful. Romantic, even. And it gets even better when you take it beyond the mantel or roof line.

Give a broken umbrella new life.

Add a country flare with an old ladder twigs and lights.

Dress up summer flower baskets with string lights. Icicles and snow provided free of charge.

I have an old bike in my garden I am going to do this to. And probably leave it that way through summer.


Retirees are opting to rent homes like millennials

Living Life to the Fullest - Posted On 04/27/2016 01:08 PM, Last Updated 06/17/2016 09:04 AM
A larger number of retirees are opting to forgo home-ownership and prefer renting to give themselves additional mobility and disposable income. 
Renting has emerged as a viable option because it allows retirees to have more money to fund other retirement expenses, said Robert Johnson, president of the American College of Financial Services in Bryn Mawr, Pa.

For many retirees, renting is a preferred alternative, and selling a home frees up equity that can be used, he said.
Renting is cheaper in many cities and areas unless Baby Boomers plan to leave behind the equity in the house for their children, according to a report conducted by Trulia, a San Francisco-based real estate website.
Our research shows that if a retired household doesn't care about passing along the equity to their heirs, then in most places it would actually be more expensive to buy a home than rent one, said Ralph McLaughlin, chief economist for Trulia. 
During the period of 2005 to 2015, the largest group of renters to increase was Baby Boomers or those 50 and older with a 55% gain, according to a Harvard University's Joint Center for Housing Studies report. Gen X-ers ages 30 to 49 reported an increase of 34% and a rise of 11% occurred among those under 30.
A greater proportion of Americans are renting with 37% doing so in 2015 compared to 31% in 2005, the highest level since the , the report said.
Renting is spreading across income groups since 18% of the increase in renters during this decade earned $100,000 or more, and the number of renters in the top income bracket grew by 61%, according to the report.
Renting Affordability
Since 2000, the number of people age 55 who have chosen to rent has risen by 6%, said Philip Martin, vice president of market research for Waterton, a Chicago-based national multi-family and operator.
If you rent, you don't feel stuck or trapped, he said. They are looking at this to make a change in lifestyle and one that has less maintenance involved.
Renting is more  because consumers do not have to shell out money property taxes, insurance, maintenance and HOA fees.
Some retirees also chose not to renovate their home and found the supply of new construction shrinking or exceeded their price range, Martin said.
Some people were forced to  because they could not find anything new where they wanted to live and decided they would rent in the meantime,he said.
In many major metro areas, renting remains cheaper than buying a home. While the price of renting has risen 4% each year during the past six years, exceeding inflation, the prices are predicted to moderate going forward as more new construction occurs and the increase in supply will bring down price appreciation and the number of people renting, Martin said.
We expect to see more housing options over the next several years, he said. The housing demand is outpacing the supply right now.
Longevity plays a large role in this rising  since many retirees don't want to be responsible for the upkeep  a home.
It pays for individuals to try and take the emotion out of the financing decision with respect to a place to live, said Johnson. Many people grew up equating home ownership with 'the American dream, but in retirement, that dream can actually become a burden and renting can be liberating in many ways.
Renting can be a good decision financially for consumers who chose to invest the difference in the stock market in a balanced portfolio because they often come out ahead, said Johnson.
The problem is people spend and don't invest the difference, he said. The other problem is that when people retire, they often stay in their home that is too large and  not downsize, sometimes for sentimental reasons.
Downfalls of Renting
Many  consider owning a home to be  because it lowers their taxable income. Empty nesters can also benefit from paying fewer  because the interest paid toward their mortgage is deductible. Being able to tap into the equity of your house can prove to be helpful in case of unexpected medical costs. One option is to obtain a home equity line of credit (HELOC).
Renting is not always a good  because retirees are faced with rising payments, which can be unpredictable from year to year, said C.J. Brott, founder of Capital Ideas, a registered investment adviser in Dallas and a portfolio manager with Covestor, the online investing marketplace.
Obtaining an investment return that beats inflation on the difference you are saving may not occur, he said. Many of us feel a great sense of serenity knowing the home we live in is secure financially, although it can be costly, it is also a form of income.
The American dream is shifting toward renting homes as more people seek the flexibility with not owning a home.
It is more about freedom and being able to do what you want to do instead of being burdened with responsibilities, said Johnson.

Ellen Chang - The Street - Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Living Alone

Rental Tidbits - Posted On 04/13/2016 10:43 AM
Some advice for living alone:

- When you buy a loaf of bread, take half and put it in the freezer, and keep the other half in the fridge to prevent it get moldy before

you use it. 
- When looking for apartments, be wary of any listing that seems even slightly too good to be true. Landlords often now use a bait and switch strategy; they advertise a listing at a good price, then when you get there, the listing “has already been taken” (it never existed), but they do have some more expensive units to show you! (gee, thanks…)
- Keep your blinds/curtains closed at night. If you have the lights on, you can’t see out, but other people can see in. 
- Get some tupperware so that you can freeze meals and store leftovers. If you have a little money to spend, get glass or pyrex tupperware as it lasts forever and doesn’t get cloudy or warped. If you don’t (like me), Dollar Tree sells tupperware just as good as anything you could get for over a dollar. 
- If you buy fresh veggies, keep them on the top shelf and not in a drawer so that you don’t forget you have them until it’s too late.
- You can freeze butter. Buy it when its on sale, and whenever you finish a stick, take one out of the freezer and set it in the fridge. It will defrost by the time you need it next. 
- Get a command hook (or a push pin if you’re not allowed) and hang your keys directly next to your door.

Please add any tips you have!!

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