Home Office Series: External and Remote Storage for Electronic Media

Two weekends ago, I found a place to live in Gulfport! Now, the image of my home office can begin to unfold because I can imagine the space that I will be working in. I found a three-bedroom condo right near the beach in Gulfport, so I am anticipating a tranquil environment outside. Inside, I will be working everyday during the week from my home office.

I have already begun the transition process in my current office, which will consist of transferring my electronic files onto the universal network at my firm so that others can access them, as well as transferring those files to an external hard drive to take with me. As additional protection in the event of damage or destruction to my computer or external hard drive during my move, I have enlisted the service of a remote storage company online.

Transferring Files and Other Electronic Documents/Media

If you are moving out of an existing office and into a home office and will be transferring files and other electronic documents or media from an office network that will not be accessible from your home office, as in my case, you will need to think about how you will transfer any such files and documents to your new office location. Depending on the volume of files and media you have to transfer, it may not be possible or practical to transfer your files to the hard disk of your computer. Doing so could deplete the performance and storage capacity of your desktop or laptop computer.

In order not to divert too much of your computer’s resources to storing large or voluminous files, you may want to obtain external storage in the form of a flash drive or external hard drive. The most obvious difference between methods of external storage devices that I can see is the amount of storage capacity you have. I have small, key-chain sized flash drives that may be anywhere from 1 to 6 GB. I use these for my personal files such as personal finances, letters, photos, etc. But the volume of personal files I have is nowhere near the volume that I will use for my office at home.

For business, I obtained a much larger device – a WD (Western Digital) external hard drive that has storage capacity of approximately 1 Terabyte. After transferring my files, I’d used only about 1 GB, but I will continue to utilize this drive as my operating network in the near future. With the capacity of this drive, I will be able to download large files from the Internet and email and not worry about depleting the storage capacity on my computer with the large volume of active and archived files that I will be working with in the near future.

If you are transitioning from an existing office with an existing network and will be transferring a large volume of electronic files, documents or other media to a computer, you may want to check into getting an appropriately sized external hard drive. It can spare the functionality and performance of your operating computer by storing large or voluminous files externally.

Protecting Electronic Files/Media from Damage to Computer or External Drive

You will also want to be sure to protect your files from equipment damage or other failure. Remote storage provides the ability to restore files in the event of loss or damage to your physical computer or storage devices.

I am using a company called Mozy for remote storage. Mozy provides an unlimited automatic back up of your computer hard drive and external drives that are connected to your computer for $4.95/mo. It is an investment that offers peace of mind for your small home business.

If you can imagine a worst-case scenario type of situation involving the destruction of your computer or external storage devices, in that situation, Mozy would allow you to recover all of the files from those devices. It is a sort of insurance.

When I started transferring the files from my designated network at my office onto my external hard drive, I wanted to protect myself from the possible misfortune of any damage occurring to my computer or external hard drives during my move. Even once I am settled into my home office, Mozy will give me peace of mind knowing that I will have a backup of all of my work every day.

If you will have a home office, be sure to implement a system for backing up your electronic media.

TECHY TUESDAYS is a forum to discuss various technologies and web applications. I am currently hosting a series of posts called “Building a Blog.” This series discusses all of the things that I am doing to build this website. I will also discuss tips and suggestions for building your blog based on my own progress, as well as feed back from others. If you like what you see here, please use the orange icon at the top right to receive updates by email or RSS reader.

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Modified Theme & Rental Property Conversion Series

I am back at the hull after being away for a whole week. There are a lot of things to get done and as hard as I work, there’s always more to do. Last week, I am afraid, Aspire to Grace was sacrificed in the interest of staying ahead of this tidal wave rolling through.

In the last two weeks, I have had a business trip to prepare for and was gone for four days. I have also started the move out of my office. I am in the process of transferring files to an external hard drive that I can take with me when I move. In another post, I will talk about the remote storage service I will be using called Mozy. It is a great way to secure files against damage or loss to your computer or other physical hard drives.

Finally, I also traveled to Gulfport, MS last weekend and found a place to live. Our unofficial move date is July 17. In an upcoming post, I will let you know what I encountered and how I ultimately was able to find a good deal on a lease. So, stay tuned.

Modified Theme for Mondays – “Money Mondays”

I have come to realize that there are a lot of interesting things to discuss that relate to money that don’t necessarily have to do with making money. For example, this week, I’d like to share with you some additional insights related to the rental of my property, on which I intend to make money. Next week, for those of you that may be moving to a new location, I’d also like to discuss tips on finding a good deal on property for lease in a short period of time.

While I am still mostly motivated by activities that can make me money, sometimes I would like to focus my discussion on other interesting money-related issues, such as ways to save money. After all building wealth involves simultaneously making more money while spending less money.

So, I am modifying the theme for Mondays. From now on Mondays will be “Money Mondays” instead of “Make Money Mondays.” It just seems like a better fit. Please also let me know if you have any other suggestions for money-related content.

Rental Property Conversion Series: Property Has Been Listed, Now What?

My agent listed my house as a rental on the realtor’s database about three weeks ago. Since then, we have had a decent amount of traffic inquiring about the property, but no applications have been submitted. There are likely a number of reasons, but the greatest concern cited by prospective renters has been security in the neighborhood.

I live in an area of the city that has its share of crime, much like many other urban locales. There are very few, if any, areas of DC where crime is non-existent. In fact, even most of the affluent areas are within a one or two block radius of a crime hotspot. Whether it be a drug spot, a spot for prostitution, or an area with a high incidence of robberies and burglaries. You would be hard-pressed to find an area of the city existing in a vacuum immune to crime.

When I bought my house, I recognized that it was in an investment area. My research of this area before I bought my home indicated that it had specific plans for development and it was within 3 blocks of a commercially and residentially affluent area of the city. When I bought my house, there was a $650,000 difference between the price I paid for my house and some recently renovated homes 3 blocks way. These things were catalysts for my decision to invest here. Even taking into account the differences between the houses in terms of features and space, when considering the pattern of development, it seemed pretty likely that the location of my house was slated to appreciate significantly within a short period of time. Six months after I bought my house in 2004, it appreciated $50,000.

As an investor, I expected and accepted the edginess of the neighborhood coming in. But, I must remember that I came in at a lower price so my level of tolerance was much higher. As a higher priced rental unit, however, it understandably does not lend itself well to lower tolerance levels. This is demonstrated in the reluctance I am seeing from prospective renters.

My agent listed our property on the MLS real estate database, as well as Craigslist. I even went a step farther to list our property on the military housing database. Now, three weeks later with no submitted applications, my husband and I are reconsidering whether to sell, or at least whether to put the house on the market as a sale simultaneously with our rental listing. Another factor in our consideration is that our neighbor, who listed his house at full appreciation value, saw a contract for sale on his house within a week.

One of the reasons my husband and I chose to put our house on the rental market is that market indicators showed that the appreciation value on our house had fallen as of the end of last year in the wake of the economic downturn. So, we decided that we would convert it to a rental property in the meantime and wait for prices to bounce back. Now, market indicators are showing that the value of our property may not have fallen as much as we previously thought and that property values have recovered somewhat in many areas of this city.

Now, although there are a few things that will need to be done before listing our house for sale, we have decided to do a sale listing simultaneously with our rental listing. This basically would mean that if we get a credible lease application in the near-future, we will gladly accept. But, in a few weeks time, we now plan to list our house for sale. Thus, if we get the opportunity to sell our house at an acceptable price, we will move forward instead to sell the house.

In the event that we sell, we would take a bit of a hit from the expenses that we put into preparing our house to rent, such as the refinancing costs. But, in the alternative, if we don’t sell, we could still take a hit from having a vacant property. We’d end up paying a mortgage here and rent in Gulfport. So, it may come down to a lesser-of-two evils situation. Ultimately, even if we take a hit on expenses by selling, we would still profit if we sell at or near our target price.

Who said real estate wasn’t a gamble?

MAKE MONEY MONDAYS is a forum to discuss ways in which you can create additional sources of income.  I try to focus on particular ideas and steps you can take to create alternative income and passive income sources.  I have also begun a series of posts called “Rental Property Conversion.”  This series follows my husband and I as we turn our property into a rental property.  I will also research and post other useful information in this category. If you like what you see here, please use the orange icon at the top right to receive my content updates by email or RSS reader.  

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Home Office Series: Starter Supplies for Your Home Office

Last week, I created a list of supplies that I will start with when establishing my home office.  The funny thing is, I haven’t yet chosen a place to live.  Thus, I don’t yet have a home office. 

Nevertheless, my location is not important for purposes of the starter list.  Here are some basic items that you will need to establish a home office, at least initially, even if you don’t yet have a place to put them. 

Phone

For obvious reasons, you will need a phone in your office if you will be dealing with clients or making other business related calls.  It is wise to have a business line separate from your home line so that you will have the ability to separate work life from home life.  In addition, you will be able to establish work hours. After hours it is nice to let your business calls go to voicemail.  Establishing a balance between work and personal/family time becomes more difficult when you move work into your home.  Thus, it is important to do all you can to separate the two, starting with your phone line. 

Computer/Laptop

I will be keeping the laptop given to me by my firm. It is a Lenovo Think Pad, an IBM computer.  My laptop provides me with basic functions for word processing, spreadsheets, power point and Internet browsing. 

Obviously your choice of a home computer will depend on the nature of your work.  Some computers are better for word processing-type functions, while others are good for graphic production.  Macintosh computers, for example, have a reputation for excellent graphic quality and utility. 

I have a Macbook Pro as my personal computer, which I use for things like blogging and all of my other personal functions.  I could write a whole post on choosing the right personal computer.  But, I won’t expand this discussion here.  You should do your own research to determine which is the right computer for your home office. 

Desk

Your desk choice will also be a very personal choice.  It will depend on the size and layout of your office.  There are many different shapes, sizes and colors of desks to choose from. 

Lamp/Lighting

Consider the light sources already in the room.  There is usually a central overhead light source as well as a window, which will provide light during the day.  Add additional lighting as necessary using lamps.  Also consider computer glare and the position of your desk or working space. 

Bookshelves/Bookcases

If you will have books and other references in your office, consider installing bookshelves or having one or more bookcases in your office. If you are working in a compact office, bookshelves installed on the wall are a space saver.  If your space is larger, or if you have a large supply of books, adding a bookcase will create more storage space.  Bookshelves and bookcases allow you to organize books and other reference materials.  For me, they avoid the inevitable piles of books on the floor and on the desk. 

You can also use bookends for small reference books.  In my current office, I have a very large L-shaped desk.  I use bookends to keep small reference books such as dictionaries and writing guides.

File Cabinet

File cabinets provide additional storage for important files and other documents.  While documents might also be kept on bookshelves or in bookcases, papers don’t stack uniformly, so papers on a bookshelf or bookcase can look quite messy.  In a file cabinet, papers are out of sight and can be organized more readily.  Some desks have drawers that can keep files.  This allows you to keep your files nearby.

Printer/Scanner/Fax

A combination printer/scanner/fax machine is probably the most practical and economic solution to have in a home-office.  First, having one machine will save space for a small home office.  Depending on your production levels and use of each feature, a combination printer/scanner/fax machine should be sufficient for your office. 

As of April 2009, CNET gave 4 our of 5 stars to the HP Photosmart Premium Fax All-In-One received.  According to its review, the HP Photosmart is “designed with the casual photographer and work-at-home professional in mind.”  Although CNET boasts on its high-quality prints, it notes that this product has a higher-than-average cost for black ink cartridges.  But, overall, it has a rating of ‘excellent.’ 

I plan to have an all-in-one printer/scanner/fax, but since my office will purchase this item for me, I don’t yet know which brand I will have.  Perhaps I will recommend for the HP Photosmart. 

 Computer Monitor

 I currently use a 13” computer monitor in conjunction with my laptop.  It creates an expanded view of my laptop and allows me to have two documents in view at one time.  I can also use it to view a document in one window while having an Internet browser window open in the other view.  It makes multitasking a lot easier when it is necessary. 

 In a small home office, or on a small office desk, using a laptop computer with a flat-panel LCD computer monitor will provide an expanded computer work area while saving space.     

 Other Items

 Other items that I will have initially in my home office include an external hard drive for storing and archiving electronic files, a large white board and markers for temporary diagrams and notes, and a large cork board to post important items in full view. 

 I will also have a broadband connection, a business fax line, a business phone line and a wireless card for remote Internet connection.   

 If you are transitioning to a home office within your present place of employment, work out with your employer prior to the transition, which items will be covered by your employer.  For me, my employer will cover such items as the computer monitor, external hard drive and printer, but they will not cover items such as the furniture.  At some later time, I will be looking into the extent to which I can make a tax deduction for the purchase of items used for my home office.  But, that is a discussion for another day.

 Which items would you start with when establishing a home office?

MAKE MONEY MONDAYS is a forum to discuss ways in which you can create additional sources of income. I try to focus on particular ideas and steps you can take to create alternative income and passive income sources. I have also begun a series of posts called “Rental Property Conversion.” This series follows my husband and I as we turn our property into a rental property. I will also research and post other useful information in this category. If you like what you see here, please use the orange icon at the top right to receive my content updates by email or RSS reader.

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Glimpse

For the past two weeks, I have faltered somewhat with posting. Two weeks ago, I didn’t publish a Lite Fare Fridays at all, last week, Lite Fare Fridays was posted on Saturday and this week, I didn’t post the Techy Tuesdays post that I had indicated in the schedule.

The only excuse I can provide is that my schedule has been pretty topsy turvy in the past couple of weeks and I don’t expect it to improve near term. Two weeks ago, I was in party-planning mode and this past week I was preparing to have a friend stay for the weekend. I’d like to say that I am back on track, but truthfully, I am not.

Over the next month or so, I will need to ask you to bear with me and slight changes to my schedule as I prepare to move myself and my office down to Gulfport, MS. I will do my best to provide information to my readers if my schedule changes, but sometimes it will be unforeseen. I want to assure you that if I fail to post on a day that is scheduled, I will pick up the schedule for that day on the following week. In other words, except for Tough Life Thursdays, posts for other days will not stop indefinitely. Thanks in advance for your patience.

Glimpse

Now, without further ado, here is a Glimpse from next week’s schedule:

Make Money Mondays: Home Office Series: For my transition, I have made a list of the things that I anticipate needing in my new home office. I will discuss these and other items that will be useful to supply in your home office.

Techy Tuesdays: Home Office Series: I continue the discussion about finding the right Internet service for your home office. I will discuss appropriate speeds and whether you should purchase separate Internet plans for your residence and your home office.

Wedded Bliss Wednesdays: TBD

Tough Life Thursdays: Discontinued Until Further Notice

LITE FARE FRIDAYS is anything thing that I feel like discussing on that day. I will try to keep it light just in time for the weekend! . If you like what you see here, please use the orange icon at the top right to receive updates by email or RSS reader.

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How to Handle Disagreements In a Long Distance Relationship

Don't Leave Me by abhinav.s

Don't Leave Me by abhinav.s

 Being in a military marriage, I have had to learn to handle all aspects of long distance relationships.  One of the most important things to learn in love at a distance is how to handle disagreements effectively.  By ‘effectively’ I mean in a way that allows both people to communicate their grievances and frustrations while also finding common ground to resolve the conflict. 

Airing Frustrations

I have come to realize how very important it is for me to be able to say what is bothering me.  It is also important to me that my husband acknowledges my feelings.  In turn, I realize that it may be just as important for my husband to be able to tell me if there is something that he does not agree with or that displeases him.  Communicating our feelings to each other is the first step in resolving a disagreement. 

When There Are Only Words

In long distance relationships, exchanges may occur only through verbal or written communications.  This may be particularly hard during a disagreement because couples do not have the luxury of communicating an angry or emotional disposition through facial expressions and body language, leaving only words.  Words without the context of physical expressions leave a lot open for interpretation by the other person. 

For example, when a couple is together and the man says something that is upsetting to the woman, she may give him a look of anger, turn her back and walk away.  Without words, she has communicated that she is not pleased.  In such a case, he has the opportunity to express his sorrow by putting his arm around her or kissing her softly.  Conversely, he may express his anger by leaving the room and slamming the door.  This exchange of emotion might all occur without the utterance of any words.

Couples in long distance relationships may not have this luxury.  I do realize that, through video media enabled via the Internet, a couple may actually have the ability to see each other in real time.  Such media would make it much easier to exchange not only words, but also emotional gestures in facial expressions and body language.

But, what if such technology is not available?  Many times in military relationships, spouses or loved ones are deployed to remote areas without the network capability to accommodate video media.  For these couples, there may be very few options for expressing non-verbal expressions of displeasure aside from angrily hanging up the phone or uncomfortable silences on the line.  For these distant lovers, an emotional exchange might only occur through words.

If There Are Only Words, Be Sure to Use Constraint

In a long distance relationship, words should be savored.  They should be used deliberately and mindfully.  In an argument, however, they may be used pointedly, harshly, angrily, hurtfully or impulsively, steering you far away from handling the disagreement effectively. 

Using constraint means taking a lot of the emotion out of the words.  It is certainly appropriate to express feelings of sadness and anger in response to words or other actions that have caused such emotions.  But, exercising constraint, so as not to express overly emotional impulsive responses is important for resolving the conflict.

Think about it.  When are you most likely to empathize with someone else’s feelings?  When are you most willing to listen to their side of the story?  It is probably not when that other person is yelling, screaming or saying very hurtful things to you.  In the same way, your lover will be most willing to work with you toward resolving a conflict when you are able to communicate your feelings calmly and clearly.

Think About What You Want to Say Before Saying It

It is often helpful to take some time, once you have removed yourself from an emotionally charged situation, to think about what has triggered such a reaction in you and how you would like to respond.  After taking time to reflect on your feelings, you should be able to tone down the emotion when you communicate your conflict.  But, doing so, however, does not mean denying that the emotion has emerged.

If you are angry, communicate that you are angry.  If you are sad, communicate that as well.  It is not what you say, but how you say it.  Communicate directly by stating, “I was angry when you. . .” or “when you said that to me, I was sad.”  If you think about exactly what caused your reaction and which emotion was elicited, you will be able to state this clearly and calmly to your lover during your next communication. 

It might be helpful to communicate through a writing, such as an email or letter.  In a writing, you will have the benefit of being able to ‘rehearse’ your communication.  And, if you are not pleased with what you have stated, you can erase it and write it again.  Be careful to use constraint in your writing as well. An angry writing will backfire as it does not give the person reading the opportunity to respond in a timely manner, which can leave that person feeling hostile toward you without the opportunity to defend his- or herself.

Even if you don’t want to send an email or letter, it is still very effective to write down your feelings when reflecting on the thing or things that have upset you.  Writing down your feelings helps you to organize your thoughts.  You might even have your ‘first response’ via this writing, allowing you to include all of the angry emotion and all of the hurtful words that you would have thrown at your lover had you not been using constraint.

Allow Your Partner to Respond – Listen

Once you have communicated your feelings, allow your partner the opportunity to respond in an unemotional way.  This allows both of you to get to the bottom of your disagreement and resolve the conflict, reach common ground, or agree to disagree.  It is likely that the response to your mindful words will be one with equal constraint.  This kind of communication avoids the sort of emotionally charged statements that can inflict great harm in your relationship.  Hopefully, through discussing your problem in an unemotional manner, you and your lover can understand each other and resolve the disagreement. 

Have you ever been in a long distance relationship?  How would you handle disagreements?

 WEDDED BLISS WEDNESDAYS discusses marital and relationship issues.  Although this is likely to be biased toward my own experiences in marriage and with relationships, I hope that you will join the discussion, ask questions, and suggest topics that you are interested in discussing.  If you like what you see here, please use the orange icon at the top right to receive my content updates by email or RSS reader.  

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Filed under Family, marriage, Marriage and Military, Marriage and Relationships, relationships, Wedded Bliss Wednesdays

From Employer to Employee?

For the past couple of years, I have become very interested in following the stories of entrepreneurs and other people who create alternative income sources to make a living.  My own aspirations involve eventually starting my own ventures to produce alternative income streams to supplement my career income source. 

I began following others online that were moving in the same direction in which I wanted to be moving.  I first began following Madison Dupaix over at My Dollar Plan.  I found her at a time soon after I was married and very interested in straightening out my own financial situation for the benefit of my husband and I.  Her path into early retirement, as well as her adoption of alternative income sources, including entrepreneurship and real estate investment, has also been an inspiration to me. 

One of my most pointed discoveries has been Pat on The Smart Passive Income Blog.  He is one of my favorites because he is so frank and personal about the things that he is doing to create alternative income sources.  His discussions are straightforward and very educational because he speaks about the things that he is doing, his successes and what he has learned along the way. 

In addition to my online resources, there are a few entrepreneurial individuals in my life offline that have given me inspiration.  Each of these individuals started their own businesses and has had relative successes in creating self-sustaining livelihoods.  In recent times, however, I have discovered that two of these individuals are considering re-entering the workforce.

One individual is a close friend of mine that I met while in law school.  After working for others a few years out of school, he and a partner started a law firm. Now, several years later, he is thinking about leaving his venture and transitioning from employer to employee.  

The second individual is the husband of a friend. Many years ago, he started a wireless retail establishment that was successful for many years.  My friend, his wife, who I met and befriended through an industry event, managed one of his stores.  A few years ago, he sold his business and now, he is thinking of returning to the workforce as an employee.    

These kinds of entrepreneurial stories have always inspired me.  While I am not ready to give up my career to start my own business, I’ve always relied on these types of stories as guidance for my own ambitions.  These individuals would provide a resource and a lot of education when and if I ever decided to take the plunge. 

Upon learning that these individuals were contemplating returning to the workforce, however, I couldn’t help but feel a little disappointed.  I have always envisioned successful entrepreneurship as the greatest freedom. Their stories have fueled my own grandeur aspirations that, even if a little naïve, would always cause me to aim a little higher than I could actually land. 

I questioned how one could return to working for someone else after having complete autonomy in your own business.

I have spoken with both of these individuals about their decision to consider returning to the workforce.  Based on these conversations, I have learned that despite running your own business for many years, there may still be the desire to be a part of something bigger.  Besides, even if one has been successful in selling his business at a rather young age, life goes on and eventually this individual will need to make an income again. 

I’ve also learned that owning and managing your own business can fall short of the utopia that I have imagined.  Many times, when working with a partner, you discover that you have very different philosophies about how to maintain and grow your business.  If you are not seeing eye to eye with your partner, it can shatter your imagined potential, which can be a momentum killer.  At some point, when the question of where will this business be in five years does not have a promising answer, the next option may very well be to preserve your professional worth and reenter the workforce. 

I also understand now in talking with these individuals considering the return to the workforce, that having run your own business and having managed staff in that business almost certainly makes you a much better employee because now you have the perspective of the employer.  Now, you know what it takes to run a business.  Now, you know what is required of staff to sustain a business.  And now, you know how to promote the interest of the business in everything you do. 

In all honesty, I still feel a little disappointment.  Something in me needs to believe that once you venture out on your own and make your own way that you will not desire or need to return to being dependent on an employer.  Once you have been completely autonomous in the decision-making process for a business, that you would not return to having someone else make those decisions.  My aspirations depend on this view.  You may call me naïve, or even a dreamer.  But, if I have a nice high place to launch from then I can be confident of higher landing. 

MAKE MONEY MONDAYS is a forum to discuss ways in which you can create additional sources of income.  I try to focus on particular ideas and steps you can take to create alternative income and passive income sources.  I have also begun a series of posts called “Rental Property Conversion.”  This series follows my husband and I as we turn our property into a rental property.  I will also research and post other useful information in this category. If you like what you see here, please use the orange icon at the top right to receive my content updates by email or RSS reader.   

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Glimpse

Here is a Glimpse from next week’s schedule:

Make Money Monday:  From Employer to Employee.  I will look at why some are choosing to reenter the workplace after years of entrepreneurship or pursuing alternative income sources.  I encountered individuals that have done this or are thinking of doing this and it comes as kind of a blow to my own psyche.

Techy Tuesday:  Home Office Series: I will continue the discussion on finding the right Internet service for your home office.  I will discuss appropriate speeds and whether you should purchase separate Internet plans for your residence and your home office. 

Wedded Bliss Wednesday: Handling Disagreements in a Long Distance Relationship.  When your spouse is not with you, disagreements can be very delicate.  There are ways to soften the blow and still communicate your feelings. 

Tough Life Thursday: Discontinued Until Further Notice

LITE FARE FRIDAYS is anything thing that I feel like discussing on that day.  I will try to keep it light just in time for the weekend! .  If you like what you see here, please use the orange icon at the top right to receive updates by email or RSS reader.  

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Filed under business, Career, Family, Home Office Series, Light Fare, marriage, Marriage and Military, Marriage and Relationships, relationships