What I’ve Learned from NaBloPoMo

This is my last post for the day, I promise. I’ve had to do four posts today to meet the 30 posts for November as a part of the NaBloPoMo. Technically I should have been posting once per day but I’ve had a few days of catching up here and there. Although I wasn’t able to keep up with it daily, I still have posted 30 different things this month and for that I am proud!

It’s hard to write every day. It takes a lot of thought deciding what to write about and it takes time to actually write it out. I can’t believe there are people who accomplish writing a novel in one month, but it’s true! I say good to those people! May you sleep well tonight!

I noticed on Blogher that they run post a day groups every month and I think I will try to participate in that for December. I like the challenge and I have noticed that it has become easier to write with each time that I do it. I’ve also noticed that I have fewer spelling errors to fix in editing and have an easier time picking topics. It has been fun, that’s for sure!

Well, this is it for today. I am patting myself on the back for this month and will try harder next month to get them done once a day. Then I won’t need to cram so much into one day.

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El the Elf

We used a free iphone app by Office Max called Elf Yourself to make this funny video starring El as a dancing elf. We have been making a lot of these videos over the past few days and it’s been a fun and easy way to entertain everyone for a few minutes.

If you have an iphone or an ipad, and you haven’t played with it already, check it out by clicking the link above!

The Kitchn Cure: Cure My Kitchen| Day Eight

calla lillies

Hurray! The day is finally here. This is the day I’ve been waiting for folks, the day where the task was to buy flowers! I haven’t bought fresh flowers for my home in a ridiculously long time. Too long, but with the cure I HAD to do it. Oh darn.

The Kitchn Cure | Day Eight:

Bring fresh flowers or a plant into the kitchen

I decided on calla lillies because they were inexpensive and looked more exotic than the other choices at my local market. I would have liked to get a money tree at Ikea, but that will need to wait until I’m in the area. For now, I’m perfectly happy with these pretty flowers 🙂

Only two tasks left to go and I will be done with the cure. It’s seriously taken me just under two months. Sheesh, I’m glad that I’ve stuck with it though! I have a big dinner planned for tomorrow, hopefully it will finish up this project for good!

Do you buy fresh flowers for your home frequently? When you do, what kinds do you like to buy?

Unique Gifts for the Special People in Your Lives

ryan gossling diary

Did any of you venture out into the retail world yesterday for Black Friday shopping? We did and even though we didn’t see any impressive sales, I did happen upon these impressively weird (but fun) items in a hidden isle at Target.

First up, we have this lovely fridge magnet. This straight forward and colorful magnet would be a great gift for the furry creature (or furry creature lover) on your list:

dog magnet
Every dog deserves a magnet expressing his true feelings.

For the foodie on your list, why not give the gift of pickles. In eraser form:

pickle erasers
For the foodie on your list. Or the eraserer. Or the pickle fan.

Hey Girl! Don’t forget about that feminist friend in your life! This Ryan Gosling diary is perfect for remembering all of those strong girly thoughts.. He will encourage you to just be you daily:

ryan gossling diary
Dear Ryan,
Today I decided to conquer the world.
ryan gossling diary
He’s handsome and encouraging.

For the world traveler on your gift list, think about giving this straight forward luggage tag:

luggage tag
Airport security will appreciate the honesty.

Everyone has a rebel in their life. Encourage their bad-ass side with this flashy mohawk. It’s perfect for all occasions, from birthday parties to mosh pits:

lightup mohawk
For the rebel on your list.

For the blossoming designer on your list consider these wax gnome statues. They are sure to be a unique conversation piece and come in a variety of trendy colors:

Wax gnomes (minus the wicks) in trendy colors of coral and turquoise.
Wax gnomes (minus the wicks) available in coral and turquoise.

Last, but not least (and my personal favorite) this book is sure to bring a chuckle to even the most depressed person in your life:

A great read for those on your list who enjoy feeling sorry for themselves.
A great read for those on your list who enjoy looking at life from the glass is half-empty perspective.

Did you see any wild and silly items while you were out shopping or searching the net? Stay tuned, once a week up until Christmas I’ll be highlighting more of the unique gifts available for everyone in your life!

We Hate Steak!

beef

I used to complain about my mom always making chicken or steak for dinner when I was growing up. “It’s always chicken or steak! I hate steak! We had chicken the other day!” I wonder how many of the below conversations my mom had with me about the menu.

“Mom, what’s for dinner?”

“Pot roast and mashed potatoes but they won’t be ready for a few hours.”

“URGHHH. Why do you keep making stuff I don’t want?!”

“Well, what would you want?”

“We had steak yesterday. And. You know I hate steak.”

“You love steak. What would you like to eat?”

“You are always making stuff that I don’t like!”

“Well, what would you like to eat?”

“What is there?”

“Pot roast but it won’t be ready for a few hours.”

URGH…

“I can make what you like to eat tomorrow. What would you like?”

“I’m ordering food from Golden Crust.”

“If you want to waste your money, then fine. But, what would you like for dinner tomorrow?”

“Yeah, I don’t want to waste my money. Can I get a sandwich at Wawa?”

“No, I’m not spending money. I made pot roast. You’ll like it. It’s good. What would you like tomorrow?!”

{he orders fries and mozzarella sticks; then eats dinner with us anyway}

“This is really good and I love the potatoes! It’s like roast beef!”

“That’s what pot roast is. Did you decide what you want tomorrow?”

“…”

***

“Mom, what’s for dinner?”

“Sandwiches from Wawa.”

“URGHH! You said it was my turn to pick!”

“You never answered me and I’m not going to the market now.”

“But I want hamburgers!”

I was one of four kids. Did my sister, brothers, or dad gave her lip about what she was cooking, too? How she didn’t give up making dinner every night of week, I’ll never know. She must have wanted to strangle me.

I’m sorry for being such a brat, Mom. I hope it brings a smile to your face knowing that karma has come back two-fold to bite me in my ass.

What Would You Spend $1,500 On?

I used to cringe every month when my cable bill would arrive in the mail. Without fail, every month the bill for my bundled package of cable, internet and phone would be just over $200. I was on a tight budget and had to make some tough decisions about what was worth the money. I called my cable provider to try negotiating a lower price, but even for the most basic package they offered the bill would hover in the $150 a month range.

I knew I needed internet service, and didn’t really want to get rid of the cable, but at $2,400 a year, I simply could not afford the luxury. I was scared to get rid of my cable, how would I watch my shows? But, I had to be reasonable and realistic about money, so I came up with a plan and put it into action. This is how I did it and how it ended up saving us $1,500 a year.

Checked other providers:

This was the most important step and the one that saved me the most money. After asking Comcast to give me their best price, I went on-line to Verizon and tinkered around with their packages.

In my case, not only did I get a better deal, but also a lower price, by signing up for a phone and high-speed internet package. The two combined were cheaper than purchasing the high-speed internet a la cart. My total price for high speed internet and phone was $60 per month including taxes and fees.

Dropping cable and switching my internet provider saved me $150 a month. That’s $1,800 a year in savings!

Bought a streaming player:

There are a lot of different devices out there that allow you to stream internet to your televisions. In fact, you may already have one of these devices in your home. Video game consoles such as the Wii, XBox and Playstations, as well as many BluRay players offer wi-fi features. Other devices like the Roku, Apple TV, and Google Chromecast can be purchased just for video streaming. .

These devices provide you with a variety of different “channels” that you can add to your home screen, many of which are free. The better channels that are offered come with a low monthly subscription cost, but don’t turn your nose up just yet, I’ll talk more about those soon.

Prices for these devices vary from $35 all the way up to hundreds of dollars for video game consoles. I have provided links to all mentioned video streaming devices at the bottom of this post.

In my case, we bought a Roku box for $80 and also put to use two items we already had: a Wii and a XBox 360.

$1,800 (cutting cable and switching internet provider savings)- $80 Roku purchase = $1720 annual savings

Additional Required Equipment:

Aside from a tv and a streaming player you will need two other things to make your equipment work:

  • A wireless router (internet providers usually provide this for free, be sure to ask)
  • HDMI cord (you may already have one, if not they can be purchased for as low as $8 but can cost a lot more. I bought an $8 one before I ditched cable and it works just fine.)

Ordered Hulu and Netflix and activated Amazon:

Netflix and Hulu are the most popular companies that provide tv and movie streaming. If you subscribe to these providers your fee will be $8 each per month. These are optional, but in my opinion worth the money.

Though they are similar, there are quite a few differences between Netflix and Hulu and the content they provide.

  • Hulu plays current shows a day after they air on national tv and usually only provide part of a season (and sometimes up to two seasons) of most current shows.
  • Netflix offers older shows and usually the full season catalog; they also offer some premium cable shows.
  • Neither have HBO shows.

You can read about each and browse the selections they offer by clicking the links above.

We also have an Amazon Prime membership because BF orders a lot of things from Amazon and he wanted to get free 2nd day shipping by paying an annual fee. Included in the $80 per year fee is another tv/movie service called Amazon Instant Video. The selection there is often the same as Hulu and Netflix, but not every show is free. What I like about the service is that you can order new release movies for $3.00 — this is more than half the price of what Comcast On-Demand charges.

$1720 cable cutting/provider switching savings – $16 Hulu/Netflix monthly fees & $80 yearly Amazon fee = $1,448 total annual savings

Great things about cutting cable:

Obviously, I am thrilled about the $1,500 I saved last year. Over the course of 5 years that will save me about $7,000 that I would have paid to Comcast! That is a lot of money!! Aside from the money, I really enjoy using streaming players in our house for a few other reasons.

  1. I can watch tv shows in their entirety and I mean every episode ever. There are a lot of great shows I missed out on over the years!
  2. I can watch what I want, when I want. If I have the urge to watch Desperate Housewives at 3am, I can. If I want to watch it at 3pm, I can do that, too.
  3. I can pause, rewind, fast-forward and replay anything I may want to. Believe it or not, this comes in handy!
  4. There is always something for everyone to watch, from cooking shows, to foreign films, and everything in between.
  5. It’s not as hard to do as you may think it is. Believe me, I was worried I would be unhappy, but in the end, I think it is all a matter of what you are used to.

What I do miss about cable but don’t mind living without:

  1. Live tv. Sure, coming to the party a day late isn’t always the best feeling in the world, but honestly, my life doesn’t change drastically (if at all) for watching Elementary on Friday night instead of Thursday.
  2. HBO. Yes, I missed out on Girls. Yes, it made me sad, but I really did save a lot of money, and if I want to now I can afford to buy or rent it on DVD.
  3. The News – okay, this really still bugs me. No local news. That might be a deal breaker for some, but I found my way around it.. You watch it on the computer, as it’s on air. That’s right, most news channels broadcast their news live over the internet. For a news junkie like myself, it’s nice to have the option.

How I feel about the switch:

I only wish I would have switched to cable-free sooner and saved myself more of that money!

Seriously, that’s a lot of money, especially over the course of a few years! How about you, have you made the switch or are you thinking of it? Just imagine what could be done with all of that money you’d be saving!

If you have any questions about cutting your cable and switching to on-line streaming, I’d be happy to help!

Helpful links:

Devices
Services

The Kitchn Cure: Cure My Kitchen| Day Seven

The Kitchn Cure | Day Seven:

Special Project

I really want to finish up the Kitchn Cure, so to speed things along, today’s post is a plan for the special project. We haven’t worked on it at all and don’t plan to for a few weeks. Or months. But, hammering down a plan is always a good start!

Click Image for Hardware Resource
Click Image for Hardware Resource

We plan on lightning up the room by putting a beautiful light grey color on the walls and a medium grey color on the cabinets. Once they are done we will be updating the cabinet and drawer pulls, as well as getting new invisible hinges.

We still are debating on the table and chairs I posted in the last wish list post, because now we are considering an island and then converting the attached room into a dining room. Big ideas. We will see if we have the guts to do any of it.

We will paint though hopefully someday soon! I can’t wait to get this Cure behind me! I can finally see the finish line ahead. As always, if you are working on the cure, link up! And don’t forget to click over and check out NaughteeBits progress below!

Co-Sleeping Equals No Sleeping

Our youngest, who’s almost six months old, sure loves hijacking our bed sleeping with us. This was nice for a little while, but now it’s just annoying. Sure, it was fun in the beginning, and it felt nice to have him snuggle with us, but after a few months, co-sleeping has become a literal pain in the neck.

Seriously.
My neck hurts.

Like me, baby boy loves to snuggle. and stretch out. simultaneously. and he’s really good at it. He does this in such a way that I often wake up finding myself half-way off of the bed while his head is buried in my neck and his little feet are pressed firm against BF’s chest.

20131124-081752.jpg

Aside from the bed hog hogging the bed, he likes to wake up frantically in “starving to death” mode, every three hours. Baby boy then nurses for 8 seconds before falling back asleep while I am left to lay the most uncomfortable way possible.

BF and I are realizing how ridiculous this has become and want to move him to his crib so we can snuggle with each other. And sleep. On the bed. It’s not that we don’t love baby boy, we just love (and miss) un-sore necks and unbroken sleep. So, we are making a plan to sleep train our little monster. It will be lovely when he sleeps in his crib. By himself. Hopefully, our plan will work and we will all sleep comfortably through the night.

Toast for Breakfast?

Last week my fourteen year old informed me that his school was having a breakfast party to celebrate the upcoming holiday.

“That’s great, it sounds like fun! Are you supposed to bring something in?” I asked him.

“Toast.” He replied matter of factly.

I chuckled.”Toast?”

“Yea,” he responded, “it’s easy and cheap so, I said toast.”

“Well, I could make cinnamon buns, or something if you wanted. To surprise them. Would you like that?” I asked him.

“Um, sure. That would be good but I won’t tell them,” he replied somewhat enthusiastically.

Yesterday, when we were at the market, he reminded me of the rolls I said I’d make, so I used my phone to Google some recipes for cinnamon buns. I quickly became intimidated because yeast is apparently a required ingredient.

Yeast and I don’t get along.

No worries! I’m brilliant! Instead of failing miserably making them from scratch, I decided to just buy a few containers of the refrigerated rolls. I’d just pop open the can and bake them in the morning before he left for school. Easy peasy, right?

This morning I start my coffee and open the fridge to get out the three tubes of refrigerated dough. I don’t see them anywhere. Not on the shelves. Not in the drawers. Not on the door. I begin to get anxious and imagine they were left at the store. I crossed my fingers and opened up the freezer. Yay! There they were!

I pull out my baking pans, spray them down with non-stick spray then look at the rock hard tube of dough for the temperature to set the oven.

DO NOT FREEZE UNCOOKED DOUGH.

For the next half-hour I worried over two possible explosions: my sons from disappointment or the frozen tubes of dough. Fortunately, everyone here is used to my scatterbrain, so my son was hardly concerned and thankfully the tubes haven’t exploded.

By the way — just in case you were wondering it was BF wasn’t me who put the rolls in the freezer and I don’t think there is anyone out there who really hates toast.