My Dad’s Junk Mail

My dad lives next door to me in a 1 bedroom cottage that our family built for him.


His mailbox is out at the end of our lane, next to mine. (When it is not in the ditch because some kids are having fun knocking it off the post.)


He gets the usual: bills, junk flyers for discounts on fast food and tires, publishers clearinghouse, etc. But the other day, something new showed up. From the “Award Notification Commission”. Very official looking, saying that he has won $2,000,000! Not might. Not maybe. Has. And to celebrate, they want to send him a beautiful pendant, if he will send them $11.89 for shipping. And send back all the paperwork for verification and the check will be in the mail.

Skeptic that I am, I googled the “Award Notification Commission” and surprise, surprise…..they are not going to send him $2,000,000. Ok, I wasn’t surprised…..


So when (and why) should you monitor your elderly parents mail? After they have given hundreds of thousands of dollars away to various political parties and Jamaican scammers? (true story–not mine, but a friends) No. BEFORE it happens, you should read this. She says it better than I can. Yes, right now–go! Read it!

I understand the war this sets up in your “but they are the parent” brain. Just keep your eyes open. One scammy piece of mail may be just one scammy piece of mail. 5 or 10 may be something much more serious. Do it because you love them. And because the consequences can be awful.

It’s a jungle out there….take care of them!

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Bamboo Fleece, Anyone?

I have learned that some people have sensitive skin or other health issues and are not able to wear polyester, even in it’s soft, polar fleece form. So I cranked up Google to track down an alternative, and I discovered that there are several!

I had some socks a few years ago that were made partly from bamboo. They were SO soft, I wondered what part of the bamboo plant they had possibly come from. So when I found “bamboo fleece”, I wanted to try it. The custom sleeve that I made for my sister out of bamboo fleece is a good alternative to polyester fleece. It was a bit harder to sew and was not quite as fluffy but I think would be just as warm as my regular Sleepy or Bookworm Sleeves.

The label says it is a mix of bamboo and organic cotton. It is at least twice as expensive as polyester polar fleece, which is a downside. But for someone who needs it, it could be worth it. (Nature’s Fabrics has a good selection of colors and blends)

I was still curious as to the manufacturing process. And here is where I found another downside. Evidently there is a rough, linen type fabric that is made from the bamboo fibers, but the soft bamboo fabrics are made by totally dissolving the bamboo pulp in chemicals and extruding the “goo” to form soft fibers–essentially rayon. In fact, labeling has become troublesome, since little of the bamboo survives the chemical process. You can read an article here that does a good job of balancing both sides of the issue.

So I guess I will try some 100% cotton fleeces next time. It even comes in organic! Have you had any experience with any of the alternative fleeces? Would love to hear from you!

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Come and Get ’em Sale — just $24 each!

There are still a few Bookworm Sleeves left from my bin–some children and youth sizes too. And I sewed up a few more today, some S and M sizes. Nice prints!  A couple Sleepy Sleeves too. Still just $24!

These won’t be on the website, and most of them are one of a kind, so if you see one you like, call (570-647-6432) or email me ( make sure I still have it and we will arrange payment and shipping.

Let the savings begin!

Circles with pink cuffs - size S.

Circles with pink cuffs – size S.

Camo with black cuffs - size M

Camo with black cuffs – size M

Sleepy Sleeve, early American red and blue, size M/L

Sleepy Sleeve, early American red and blue, size M/L

Cold-blooded critters on blue - sizes M and S

Cold-blooded critters on blue – sizes M and S

Sunshine and sheep - size M

Sunshine and sheep – size M

Sleepy Sleeve, a little bit of an odd size. A little smaller than a small, but with full-length arms.

Sleepy Sleeve, a little bit of an odd size. A little smaller than a small, but with full-length arms.

Circles and pink cuffs - size L

Circles and pink cuffs – size L

Popeye with red cuffs - I have two of these: sizes S and XL

Popeye with red cuffs – I have two of these: sizes S and XL

Little League Baseball print - size XL

Little League Baseball print – size XL

Sports prints with red cuffs - size XXL

Sports prints with red cuffs – size XXL

Broncs print with orange cuffs - I have several of these. One each of sizes XXL, XL,  M, and S and two of size L.

Broncs print with orange cuffs – I have several of these. One each of sizes XXL, XL, M, and S and two of size L.

Butterflies with black cuffs - size youth.

Butterflies with black cuffs – size youth.

Hearts with red cuffs - size youth.

Hearts with red cuffs – size youth.

ladybugs with pink cuffs - one youth size and one child size.

ladybugs with pink cuffs – one youth size and one child size.

bumblebees on pink with black cuffs - size child.

bumblebees on pink with black cuffs – size child.

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Am I Losing my Mind?

Maybe I am just getting to that age now, but it seems that all around me are people moving into or through the process of Alzheimer’s or dementia of some type. It can be scary when they are family members, because it makes the rest of us wonder, whenever we forget something important, if we are next.

I read a couple interesting articles recently and wanted to pass them on. The first one was in the New York Times last weekend, actually a letter to the editor, where a neurologist said “If you are looking for early signs of dementia, ask the family, not the patient.” He says that the patient is not a good judge of their symptoms. I have observed that often the person who really is having trouble with dementia-like symptoms is not as worried about it as the people around them. And when a person is constantly freaked out about whether or not they have alzheimer’s, it may be a sign that they don’t. Not a medical opinion, just an observation.

1002231The other article is entitled “Top 7 Physical Alzheimer”s Symptoms” and it is worth reading. The 7 symptoms are: difficulty with familiar tasks, repetitive behaviors, taking shorter steps and decreased fine motor skills, getting lost and wandering, increase in daytime napping, insomnia and poor grooming, hygiene and dressing habits. You can read the entire article here.

Getting back to our series on the elderly and scams, in my next post I will give you some ideas on when and how to talk to your parents about their finances.

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Scammers Will Say Absolutely Anything (part 3 of a series)

So here in the third in our series about scammers targeting our seniors, I am going to give you some of the lines they have used. Believe me, they will say anything. They have honed their skills in sensing what will motivate (or overwhelm, or frighten) their target, and they will push it all the way to get what they want.

Let’s say you are a senior citizen, born in an time when the phone rang, it was someone you knew or at least someone you could trust. When someone identifies themselves as a police officer, you believe them. When someone says they are in trouble, you believe them. Big. Mistake.

The intro is what keeps you, the potential victim, on the line. They know they have to either trigger your interest or sound official enough that they will be scared to hang up. So they have, among other things, impersonated a radio personality, claimed that they were from the IRS, that they are helping the FBI, that they are collecting on a debt that you owe, that they are from  Western Union and they have money for you, that they are a police detective, or even that they are calling from CVS or Walmart!

After they have found the key to your attention, they continue talking to reel you in. And the goal, always, is to get access to your bank account.

Maybe they tell you that your child or grandchild is in trouble and needs you to wire them some money. Or that you have won a large amount of money from a sweepstakes or a foreign lottery (congratulations!) but they need you to send them some money for shipping expenses or to pay the taxes on your prize.

If you are still tracking with them, they set the hook. Wire them the money, but, oh, by the way, let’s not tell your family about your good fortune, let’s just surprise them when you show up with all that cash! In fact, keep it from your friends, too. Won’t it be fun when you surprise them? Think of all the good you can do with the money! You could bring your wife home from the nursing home and hire private duty nurses. You could fund the new wing on your church. You could get out of debt, or…..  you get the idea.

In the next article, I will cover some of what might happen once a senior starts sending them money. If you know someone who might be vulnerable to scammers, sign up for my mailing list and I will email you a copy of  “8 Ways to Prevent someone you know from Being Scammed”.

Be safe out there!

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5 Warning Signs that Your Elderly Parent Might be the Victim of a Scam (part 2 of a series)

It is an all too familiar story. A family member discovers that mom or dad has given a bunch of money to a virtual stranger. Sometimes it is caught in the beginning stages and sometimes their money is already all gone. It can happen to anyone, even those who were cautious and thrifty all their lives.

If you want to learn some ways to prevent it before it happens, sign up here for my mailing list and I will email you a copy of  “8 Ways to Prevent your Elderly Parents from Being Scammed”.

For the child of an elderly parent who is still living alone, here are some warning signs to watch for.

1. Increase in mail delivery to their address. Seniors who begin answering surveys and responding to sweepstakes notifications will rapidly be added to other lists as their name is sold from one scammer to another. I know of one case where the mail no longer fits in the mailbox so it has to be brought to the door in a box every day. Watch for piles of “junk” mail and a corresponding preoccupation with it.

2. Phone calls from new “friends” that absorb a lot of time. Some scammers take advantage of the elderly who live alone by talking to them several times a day, getting to know them, making them feel special and pretending to be their friend.

3. Changes in behavior. If your senior parent is suddenly too “busy” to visit or go out to eat when they used to love to do it, they may be waiting for a phone call or a promised “visit” from a scammer.

4. Unusually secretive or defensive attitudes. Scammers will sometimes urge your loved one “not to tell” their family, to “surprise” them with all the money that they are going to win. In addition, once some people realize that they have been played, they are ashamed and will go to great lengths to hide it from their family.

5. Financial clues. Maybe there is unusual activity in their bank account that they cannot explain. Or they stop paying their bills regularly. Or their valuables begin disappearing. Any of these can be a warning sign.

This FBI page explains why seniors are so often the target of fraud schemes.

If you suspect your loved one is participating, willingly or unwillingly, and you have a good relationship with them, talk to them about it. Ask questions and listen, and tell them calmly why you believe this person does not have their best interest at heart. If they are determined to ignore your advice and are still capable of running their own affairs, there may not be much you can do to stop them. But you can educate yourself and watch for further opportunities to be an influence.

Next post: the lengths to which the fraudsters will go to get senior’s money.

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Help! My Elderly Parent is Being Scammed! (part 1 of a series)

Well, not actually mine, but I recently read an article about scammers from Jamaica who are taking hundreds of millions of dollars from the elderly.

“Jamaican con artists are defrauding mostly elderly targets by selling them a bogus dream. Millions of dollars, new cars and homes won in lotteries and sweepstakes the seniors never entered, according to victims and law enforcement officials.”

When I was a hospice chaplain, I worked with lots of elderly patients. Many of them were lonely. Many of them were struggling with the emotional aspects of end-of-life issues, and many were dealing with cognitive decline. You put these together and you have someone who has a target on their back. Someone calls who is friendly, takes an interest in them, learns the names of their children, gives them a glowing picture of their future, begins calling several times a day, earns their trust, and the rest is history. They may even begin threatening and using fear, once the bond has been formed. Whatever it takes to gain continued access to the victim’s bank account.

The question of “When do I begin participating in my aging parent’s financial decisions?” ranks right up there with “When do I take away my elderly parent’s keys?” They are, after all, our parents, and stepping in and possibly making them angry is not something any loving child looks forward to. The problem is, if you wait until the catastrophic car accident or the bank account is empty, it is too late.

I would like to suggest that the time to have the discussion is long before it is needed. Just like talking to your kids about drugs before they hit adolescence and rebellion, initiating a conversation with a parent that covers the possibilities and “what-if’s” is much better done before mental decline even begins. The talk might include a family history session including questions about how various relatives handled aging, what they do or do not want to happen to them, reading an article such as the one about the Jamaican scam artists and discussing ways to avoid those issues, etc. In other words, a plan.

No, it won’t make mom or dad more open to handing over the checkbook if dementia leads to paranoia, but if I know that it was what they wanted, it might make it easier to handle their anger and confusion when I have to do it.

Interested in learning about things you can do now to make it less likely that your parent will become a victim of fraud? Sign up here for my mailing list and I will send you “8 Ways to Prevent your Elderly Parents from Being Scammed”.

Have your parents been victims? I would like to hear about it.

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Solutions When You Are Always Cold

IMG_1793One of the comments I hear a lot from people who order a Sleepy Sleeve for themselves or for their favorite patient is that they are “always cold.”

There can be a lot of reasons for this. When you are sick, you can feel cold even when your body temperature is higher than normal–chills with a fever. Various medications can cause you to feel cold, even if your body temp doesn’t change–blood thinners after surgery, for example. Chemotherapy patients often report an inability to stay warm as well. And when you are sick in bed all day, your large muscles are not producing as much heat as when moving around.

So what can be done about it?

Sleeves2Pile on the blankets or sweaters, wear fuzzy socks, drink hot liquids….all are helpful, but some options are better than others. (Read one customers comparison between a Snuggie and a Sleeve)

Our Sleepy Sleeve is made of a double layer of polar fleece, which will warm you or your patient up within minutes! In fact, we call it the “Ahhhh Factor”. Put it on and….wait for it…the exhale, the contented facial expression, the “Ahhhhhh!” And it is easier to put on than a sweater, which if you’ve just had surgery is a definite plus.

Sleeves cover the shoulders, neck, arms and hands, so tucking the covers up to the chin is no longer necessary–your arms and hands will be free to read or change the channel. You won’t know what you did without it, in fact, we have had more than one customer purchase another Sleeve to wear while the first one is in the laundry!

Let us help you change “always cold” to toasty warm!

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“Most entrepreneurs do not start their business because they want to run a sales organization” (Carolyn Herfurth). In fact, most of us get all excited about the creativity, the design, the helping people, the freedom…then run head on into the reality that “Oh, I have to find someone to buy this from me.”


Selling has been my hardest area. Marketing, not much better. I can find all kinds of things to do to avoid it and reasons why it will have to be tomorrow or next week. But without it, I am just a barn full of inventory!

I had an aha today while listening to a presentation online today from the above Carolyn Herfurth on “The Art and Soul of Successful Selling”. Now, I believe in my Sleeves. I have seen the comfort they bring to people and heard their responses to them. But knowing they would like them if they tried them and actually getting them to try on something they have never seen before are two different things. And I realized that my biggest fear is that they are not as good as I think they are.


You can see it on Shark Tank all the time. A person or couple have come up with this (to them) fabulous idea, but few other people see it that way. And maybe that is something you won’t know until you step into the tank or beat the proverbial bushes.

And now that the barn is done, the house is at least 75% settled and I have cleaned out and sorted my computer files and email box, I have no other excuses. So I guess we will find out!

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Back to Business

In case you are wondering if I forgot that this is supposed to be a blog about starting/running a business, this one is for you! Everything we have done this last year has been about business, but indirectly. We have fixed up our house, sold it, said goodbye to 19 years in Pennsylvania and moved to TN. Once we arrived here, we have built a barn for inventory storage and workshop space.


And now…back to business.

On the side, while my Sleeves were an hour away in a storage unit, I have been developing a website to sell shell crafts that my aunt and I make with mostly Sanibel Island shells. It has brought back to me all the brain stretching that takes place when starting a business.

I decided to try building a WordPress website using a purchased ecommerce theme, kinda like a template that is already made for you and then you add your own images (see, I have been affected. Normally I would use the word “photos” but after working with the site for a couple weeks, I almost automatically said “images”) and content.

I chose the theme called “estore” from elegent themes. I had already purchased the elegant theme package because I plan to transfer my You’re Getting Warmer website to their “boutique” theme. And you pay $39 a year and have access to several dozen of their themes and can use as many of them as you want. So it didn’t cost me anything more to use it.

Here is a link to the estore theme so you can see what it looks like. It will open in a new window so you can come back here after you look at it.  

Then I had to figure out what to do with hosting. That is the company that you pay to “host” your website, to make it visible on the web. It is usually $100-200 per year, depending on your plan and how you pay. I use DreamHost, which was recommended to me by a techie friend when I started You’re Getting Warmer. As I researched, I discovered that my current plan with DreamHost supports numerous websites, so adding this new one didn’t cost me anything more than I was already paying…nice!

So it is not finished, and if you compare it from day to day, you will see changes and things that need fixing, but if you want a sneak peek, you can go to www.lowtidetreasure and check it out. Make sure and click on all the little thumbnails and links so you can see what it does! I am just installing a shopping cart, and it has messed with some of my backgrounds and colors, but in time I will get it all tweaked back the way I want it.

Working with this theme has taken me dozens of hours. Like learning a totally new language–which it is because I have never done anything like it before. I am hoping that now the changes that I make to You’re Getting Warmer will be easier because I understand more how WordPress works.

Just when I think I am on the home stretch, I install the shopping cart and find that there are probably hours of figuring out how to tweak it for what I need. And that I need a “child theme” to save the changes I have made to the code to customize the theme, and that I need to have a way to backup the database and files in case DreamHost would have a catastrophic failure. So back to the world of ftp, css and gb’s I go, armed only with determination and stubbornness! I will keep you posted….

Leaving you with a photo of one of our shell fragment sculptures that Cody took using his incredible light painting process. Great to have a photographer in the family!

_DSC3954 testing for featured

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