Our Monthly Newsletter

A Frugal Family Tradition

An accountant’s thriving business in a small Scottish town had been in the family for generations. The main offices were in an old building and clients had to walk up a single marble step to reach the front door.

Over time, the marble step wore away until a deep dent developed in it from all the footsteps. One day, the accountant asked a stonemason to take a look and give him a quote for how much a new marble step would cost. The stonemason looked closely at the worn step, then scratched his head.

“It’ll be a big job,” said the stonemason. “But I suppose I could give you a new step for 100 pounds.”

The accountant frowned. “That’s a bit more than I wanted to pay.” They both looked at the step, and then the accountant turned to the stonemason:

“What if you dug up the step, turned it over, and put it back into the ground? Then it would be good as new.”

The stonemason agreed. “I’d do that for just 20 pounds.”

“Please do it,” said the accountant, and he went back inside the office.

An hour later the stonemason rang the bell. The accountant opened the door and saw the stonemason standing in a hole with the step. A nearly identical dent was evident on the other side.

The stonemason chuckled. “From the looks of it, I’d say your great-great-great-grandfather thought of the same thing about 150 years ago.”

Elisa McNinch



Our Featured Listings

Elisa has redesigned both the BrunerTeam.com and ElisaMcNinch.com websites this month. Click on the Home button on the top menu bar to navigate to the main BrunerTeam website or use the right-hand window. Take a look at our Feature Listings below:


Theme Vacation Ideas

Traveling to see the world is always popular, but increasing numbers of people are staying in their own countries to vacation. To make the vacation more interesting, many people are choosing themes. For example:

  • Foodie Vacations: Possibilities include visiting wineries and distilleries, taking cooking classes in culturally distinct areas of the country, and eating only at small diners.
  • Oddities Vacations: Use a book or websites to research the most unusual sites and attractions along the way from here to there.
  • Haunted Holidays: Travel from one haunted house, spot, or feature to another, enjoy the stories, write a blog post about the adventures!


The only limit to your impact is your imagination and commitment. ~Tony Robbins


Questions Expand Perceptions

One of the world’s most famous paintings is “The Night Watch,” by Rembrandt. When curators hung it in Amsterdam’s Rijksmuseum, they conducted an experiment:

They asked museum visitors to write questions they had about the painting. The questions they received were varied: How much did the painting cost? Had it ever been forged? Are there any mistakes in the painting? Why did Rembrandt choose this subject to paint? Who were the people in the painting?

The curators then posted the questions, and the answers, in a room next to the gallery where the painting hung. Visitors had to walk through that room to view the painting.

Curators found that the average length of time visitors spent looking at the painting jumped from about six minutes to half an hour.

Elder Caregivers Checklist

Ever more people are responsible for taking care of elderly relatives or friends. Being a caregiver can be stressful, and their efforts are often overlooked. The Kaiser Health News website offers this advice for caregivers who want to be involved in medical decisions regarding their loved ones:

  • Get your name included in medical records. Make sure doctors and hospitals have your contact information and know how to reach you in case of emergencies.
  • Assess your own abilities. Can you physically handle taking care of a family member? Assisting someone who can’t walk, for example, may be beyond your strength. Talk with doctors and be clear about what duties you can and can’t perform.
  • Be part of the care plan. Address your capacity to take care of your loved one when setting up a care plan with doctors and health care providers. If you work all day, make sure they are aware of that fact so they can make appropriate arrangements for caregiving during your absence.
  • Connect with community resources. Be aware of agencies in your community that can help with training, equipment, and other support. Call on them as needed before you get too stressed out by the challenges of taking care of another adult.

Halloween Truffles

by Land O’ Lakes

Halloween Truffles Recipe

Nothing beats homemade treats for Halloween, especially if they appeal to the young sugar-seeking trick-or-treaters and adults alike.  You’ll be sure to enjoy these festive delicacies, just remember to save some for the kids!


Giant Otters Roamed Ancient China

Otters may look cute and cuddly, but they weren’t always that endearing. Scientists have discovered the fossilized remains of an otter weighing more than 800 pounds that lived in China’s Yunnan province some 6 million years ago.

Paleontologists found the cranium mostly intact, but somewhat flattened and very fragile, so it can’t be reconstructed physically.

However, CT scans allowed for a virtual reconstruction. The giant otter’s teeth share some features with the badger, so it was given the name siamogale melilutra—in Latin, meles means “badger” and lutra means “otter.”

Still to be determined: the reason behind the otter’s size. Large carnivores needed size to hunt and subdue their prey, but these ancient otters likely ate small creatures like mollusks, and thus wouldn’t need to have grown to massive proportions. Why the big size? No one knows, yet.

Financial Planning For
New Parents

A new baby is a joy, but it also represents new financial responsibilities. Well before your baby’s birth, start making financial plans for the changes to come:

  • Set goals: Think about what you have to save for— college, a new house, a car, and so on. Set priorities and be realistic about how much you need and can save. Start saving early, putting money into a savings account, but also into compounding investments.
  • Make a budget: Nobody likes to budget! It’s a restriction and who likes restrictions? But that discipline can save your life by reducing your stress, and allowing you to meet your financial needs. Include savings in your budget so you don’t forget to pay yourself first.
  • Set up a cash reserve: Experts recommend saving the equivalent of three to six months’ salary in liquid cash. It’ll take time to build the reserve, but it’ll be worth the effort if an emergency strikes.
  • Do estate planning: Include life insurance, a will, and investments in your plan. Contact a certified financial planner, and possibly a lawyer to make sure your estate is set up correctly, and that your investments are ideal for your age and situation.

I learned the value of hard work by working hard. ~Margaret Mead


The Most Important Inventions

Quick…what do you think is the most important single invention of all time?

Anthropologists often consider the wheel to be the most important human invention. Wheels provided leverage for our ancient ancestors to more easily move objects, allowing for further migration. Eventually, waterwheels and windmills were used for irrigation, which made large scale agriculture possible. Additionally, waterwheels were used as part of larger milling machines to grind grain into flour.

Other influential inventions in human history include the knife (made of stone) and the spear. From modern times, we have the light bulb, the nail, the printing press, and of course, the computer. What invention do you think is most important to history?

Strange Interview Questions

Here are strange questions that job candidates have been asked. Don’t dismiss them as too kooky! Instead, consider how you’d answer each of these, because you just might be surprised when one is included in your next interview.

  • “Would you cry if your work was criticized?”
  • “What emojis best describe you?”
  • “I know the job said full-time at X salary, but it’s actually part-time at a much lower salary. Is that okay?”
  • “If you were a fruit, what kind would you be, and why?”
  • “How is the relationship between your parents?”
  • “How many basketballs do you think you could you fit in this room?”

Logic will get you from A to Z; imagination will get you everywhere. —Albert Einstein


DIY Tip For Perfectly-hung Pictures

Image result for forkCheck out this article at Southern Living if you wish to find a simple solution for a household problem that everyone has experience with.  You may be surprised how easy and effective this quick fix can be!


Mindfulness For Health

Research from Dignity Health, one of the nation’s largest healthcare systems, explores how mindfulness can benefit friends, family, and communities. A survey of 1,051 participants found that 87% of respondents believe that practicing mindfulness – defined as a state of active, open attention to the present – can benefit not only one’s own physical and mental health, but also the people they interact with, causing a positive ripple effect.

Dignity Health encourages people to set aside a minimum of two minutes every day – in the morning, during a work break, a stressful time throughout the day, or in the evening – to “check in” with yourself. Take this time to reflect on your relationships and the purpose or meaning behind your work and daily activities.

97% of survey participants said they believe mindfulness has a positive impact on their health, and 95% believe it has a similarly beneficial effect on their mood. The majority of the participants said they believe it makes them calmer (69%) and happier (58%) and leads to better sleep (61%).

5 Kinds Of Trash To Dispose Of Properly

Here are five kinds of trash you should either recycle or dispose of responsibly.

  • All Batteries. Car batteries, rechargeable tool batteries, and all those little A, C, and D batteries contain either dangerous chemicals (such as acids and lead) or valuable resources (such as polymers and silver oxide). Recycle to recover resources, and to reduce dangerous pollution.
  • Large Quantities of Cooking Oil. Pouring cooking oil down the drain is a way to waste a good source of energy and clog up your city’s sewer system. Instead, decide to either discard it in the trash, reuse it, or even convert it to biofuel.
  • Medicine. So many medications have been flushed down the drain in the past few decades that there is a measurable effect on sea life. Water treatment plants are not designed to remove pharmaceuticals. Instead, see if you can return unused meds to the pharmacy. Otherwise, dispose of them by mixing them in with yucky garbage, such as kitty litter, bag the mess in a sealed bag, and toss in the trash.
  • Small Electronics. Most small electronics are filled with valuable resources, such as gold. Other elements such as plastics are not valuable in themselves, but the original manufacturing took up valuable resources. By reusing those end products, we reduce the carbon footprint, as well as recapture finite rare metals.
  • Aerosol Cans. You’ve just finished spray painting all of that old patio furniture. What do you do with 20 almost empty cans of spray paint? If completely empty, throw them in the trash. If not empty, they can explode or leach harmful chemicals as the cans deteriorate. Take aerosol cans, as well as any old brush-on paint to a local paint recycling center.

If you’re wondering about some product you have laying around, such as tires, holiday string lights, ink cartridges, corks, and more, enter this search string into Google: “How to dispose of ___.


To Our Cy-Fair Helping Hands Community:

As the holiday season is rapidly approaching, our thoughts turn to the blessings we have received through the support of our caring Cy-Fair community. Every year, we have the lofty goal of providing our nearly 300 pantry clients and their families with a lovely Thanksgiving meal. It is our prayer that we can once again count on you, our supporters, to put a holiday meal on the table for those in need.

Our Thanksgiving Blessings Boxes will include all of the ingredients for a Thanksgiving meal. Along with these boxes, we will also be providing our clients with $25 grocery gift cards for the purchase of a turkey or ham. (As we had a few problems with these cards in the past, we are asking that gift card receipts be taped to the corresponding cards). We will be able to accept a limited number of fresh and frozen turkeys.

How can you, your business, church, school or organization help?

Go to our website, https://cyfairhelpinghands.org  click on “DONATE,” and indicate “Thanksgiving” in the comments area; mail a check for “Thanksgiving” to: 7710 Cherry Park Dr. #T-385, Houston, Texas 77095; or drop by Cy-Fair Helping Hands with your donation, 7510 Cherry Park Drive, Suite G, Houston, TX 77095, Monday, Tuesday, or Thursday, between 9:30 a.m. and 12:30 p.m.

Essential items for our Thanksgiving Blessings Boxes:

  • Boxed/Bagged Dressing (300 boxes/bags)
  • Instant Mashed Potatoes (300 boxes)
  • Boxed Mac & Cheese (600 boxes)
  • Cans/Boxes/Packets of Turkey Gravy (No GLASS, please) (600)
  • Canned Cream of Mushroom, Cream of Chicken Soup
  • Chicken Broth (600)
  • Canned Corn (600)
  • Canned Green Beans (600)
  • Canned Peas (600)
  • Canned Sweet Potatoes/Yams (600)
  • Canned Cranberry Sauce (600)
  • Canned Apple, Cherry, Peach Pie Filling (600)
  • Boxed Pie Crust Mixes (300)

The deadline for all donations is Friday, October 26, 2018. This will allow us to assess our needs, purchase gift cards and assemble the Thanksgiving Blessings Boxes prior to the first week of distribution on November 5th, 6th, and 8th. To partner with Cy-Fair Helping Hands this Thanksgiving, please contact: phudson@cyfairhelpinghands.org. Office: 281-858-1222 / Cell: 832-795-8862

September 2018 Trivia Answer

Question:  Why do we call a herd of cows ‘cattle’?

Answer: The word ‘cattle’ is derived from the French word ‘chatel’, which meant something like ‘personal property’.

Congratulations to Amy Mouton! Your name was randomly selected from all of the correct entries. You won a $50 gift card to Amazon.com, Academy, Target, Khol’s, Los Cucos Mexican, OR Pappas restaurants. Your choice!

October 2018 Trivia Question

Question: What is a hallow?

Everyone who contacts Elisa via email (elisa@brunerteam.com) or phone (832-746-7911) with the correct answer by October 20th will be entered into a drawing for a $50 gift card to Amazon.com, Academy, Target, Khol’s, Los Cucos Mexican, OR Pappas restaurants. Your choice!