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Finished Shopping?

My husband and I finished our Christmas shopping on Saturday- finally.

Although there were no Ingersoll Rand air tools on his list, most of his list cost about $20 each, which meant he didn't get very many items. So although we both spent the same amount of money on each other, I got way more presents than he did.

Since we are leaving in a half an hour to head up to Virginia to visit his family, we decided to open some of the presents. I promise it had nothing to do with the fact that I am impatient and was excited about presents....

We are still bringing up some of our presents, and all of our daughters presents, the car will be crowded, luckily it's just a two hour trip.

You wont hear from me for a week or so. Have a Merry Christmas!

Colds

It's Cold season here. The weather keeps getting warm then cold, then warm then cold again. We have been passing colds around since November 10th. Lexi got sick, then I got sick, Eugene got a little sick, (I was still sick) then Lexi got sick again, now I'm coughing, sneezing and have a stuffed head. And of course, Eugene is coughing, and Lexi is coughing still.
We haven't been taking too much medication, every once and awhile we'll take something, but if this continues we might all have to check ourselves into a drug rehab program by the time we're all healthy again!
Anyone else struggling with colds?

The True meaning of Christmas

I was watching Everyone loves Raymond the other day and in it Ray gave his mom (Marie) a Christmas present. It was a membership to the Fruit of the month club. Each month for a year she was sent a basket of the fruit of the month, so each month it was a different fruit. She wasn't too happy with the present because she thought it was a lot of fruit, but really there is no pleasing that woman. Maybe if it had been a wine of the month club membership it would have made her happier.

This seems like a good gift to give to someone who likes wine, it would last all year long, each month a new bottle of wine gets delivered to their door.

Some people are hard to buy for, Do you have people like that on your Christmas list? I always get stuck wondering what to get the people who have everything. I normally lean towards gift cards, but some years I buy for people who get a trillion gift cards every year, so even a gift card isn't a good gift.

Sometimes you can make them something- which I love doing and can be a cheaper way out too. One year my husband's family decided we wanted to do a "homemade Christmas". We weren't allowed to buy ANY of the presents. Everyone made something for someone else. We thought it would be cheaper. The truth is we spent more money that year than other years, and we still had to spend a bunch of time making the gifts. :) Oh well!

If only we could accept the fact that Christmas isn't about presents, it's about Jesus' birthday, then we'd truly win. It seems like all of us have that head knowledge, but we still want to buy and get presents. I don't know anyone who doesn't get a little caught up in gift giving.

If you have gotten past the gifts of Christmas, please share your wisdom! With us Christmas is the only time we get presents, or anything so we look forward to it. Do you buy gifts for people at other times of the year? Do you just get things every once and awhile instead of just waiting until Christmas?

packratism.

In case you are wondering, packratism is the tendency to hold on to anything and everything you think you might ever, ever need again- ever.

I used to suffer from this disease. I am slowly being cured. My husband still has it, and although I am trying to cure him, he seems to be immune to the methods I used on myself.

I used to have just about every note I ever received from my friends in high school, as well as a bunch of other things that sat in boxes and were never looked at. Between the two of us we had about 5 boxes (including two footlocker trunks) full of "stuff".

While mine held things like notes and pictures drawn for me, my husbands included toy cars and bulk cable, among other things.

Each year since we have been married we have managed to pull out the boxes and go threw them, finding that some of it had lost it's value and wasn't worth the space it took up in our tiny apartments. Now (five years later) we are down to two boxes. Hopefully that number will shrink even more in the next year. Some day those things wont seem important right? After all, if they are sitting in a box never being looked at- why keep them?

Hopefully packratism will be completely cured, and not passed on to our children.

Deal or No Deal.

I don't know if you watch Deal or No Deal or not, we do on occasion.

Everytime I watch a show that gives away a million dollars to contestants who just have to pick a case or sing a song I get caught up in "what would I do?"

On Deal or no Deal it's always "would I take that deal, or go on?" I watch over and over how the contestants are offered deals of over $100,000 and turn them down for the chance of getting more money.

I have to be honest, I would have to have a pretty good board to turn down $150,000. A VERY good board.

Yes, there is the small possibility that you could get more money, and you will be VERY disappointed when they make you "finish" the game and you find out you could have had more. But think about how much $150,000 would change your life!!

Sure, it wouldn't buy you any Las Vegas Real Estate, but it would pay off your debt, make a good down payment on a house, provide money for a nice vacation, bless many other people, and start a good savings account for your children.

Could you turn down $150,000 to take a chance to get more money?

Neobits



Have you ever heard of Neobits? They provide phone and broadband services to small businesses.
They have customers in a wide range of fields, including: retail, wholesale, medical, professional, service, engineering, construction, real estate, finance, IT, software, and consulting.

They also sell everything you need to set up your phone and computer systems for your business of 2 to 250 people. They have corded and cordless phones, voicemail systems, on hold music, surge protection, head sets and more! They have a wide variety of brands available for sale on their website, from Talkswitch to Panasonic and everything in between.

They also have numerous testimonials on their site and after reading them I have decided they look like a very good company to go with if you are starting a small business and need services like these. Almost everyone has commented on their fast shipping, and the good experience they have had ordering products from them.

They offer live chat help on their website, and extended warranties on the products available. Everything seems to point to their motto “Talking Leads to Help.”

Having a great phone system is very important to a business and knowing that someone is available to help you if anything goes wrong gives you a peace of mind.

College as a personal accomplishment

I dropped out of college after my sophomore year to get married.

I don't regret it one bit.

I don't recommend it either.

I have found myself thinking about going back to college a lot lately. Although I wouldn't go back to work unless something happened or our children were out of the house I still want to finish.

Is it wrong of me to want to finish college so I can add that to my list of personal accomplishments? I don't think it is. Everyone needs something to be proud of, even Washington DC medical malpractice lawyers.

I just want to know that I personally finished something, and I could do something if anything ever happened to Tig and I had to support us. I don't know as though I will finish college, especially anytime soon, but it's a thought in the back of my head.

The Computer battle

We got a new computer about 3 years ago, what we got was good for back then. Now it's pretty slow.

I doubt we'll be getting a new computer any time soon, because we don't buy big ticketed items like that very often.

However, my sister in law is in the market for a new computer. It's amazing the battle that's going on between a desktop and a notebook computer, MAC or PC.

Many houses have several computers in it. Some as many as one per person.

I have to admit, although I like technology I don't like that aspect of it. Kids have tv's, dvd players, computers, and video game systems in their rooms.

As of right now I am saying I don't think I could ever allow that. How do you have family time, or be a family if everyone is in their rooms with their faces glued to tv or the computer. Even if you don't think about the lack of family time, if kids have computers with internet access in their rooms it is just asking for trouble. Even if the kid is a good kid, there are people all over the internet wanting to get children, and they are sneaky.

So no matter what our next computer choice is, the computer will stay in an open place.

Christmas tree

We got our Christmas tree all set up and decorated. Eugene and I took Sunday afternoon while Lexi was napping to decorate it. It looks great :) it smells even better. I love the aroma of a pine tree.

Lexi was funny when she woke up and we brought her out here. She just stared at it, you could almost see the wheels in her head turning "hmm, that wasn't like that when I went to bed..."

She's been pretty good with it, even though the cables to plug in the light go right next to her play Kitchen she doesn't mess with them. The most she does is pull the ornaments off. We made sure to keep all the breakable ones out of her reach.

I'm sure she wont even mess with it in a week. hopefully.

Mock Turtle Neck

I received a mock turtleneck in the mail the other day from a company called Clothing 4 All. Although it wasn't the size I expected (I thought it was going to be a 2T, it was a children's size 2-4 instead) It looks VERY warm. I would highly recommend you going to www.clothing4all.com and ordering one for yourself too.

Here's a picture of the shirt..


Since it wasn't the size I expected I couldn't post a picture of it on someone.

I wish I had bought a size for me though because it looks so warm. I put my arm in it to test it out, and it's super soft on the inside. So soft infact I think I could crawl up in it and sleep.

The black is the perfect shade of black, but they are available in a bunch of different colors, I picked black because it will go with anything. It's going to make a great Christmas present for a niece or nephew of mine, one that I know will last awhile and stand up to the rough and toughness of a child.

Vacations

During our 6 hour drive home yesterday, my husband and I were talking about vacations.

Since we've gotten married we haven't ever really had a family vacation. Most of the jobs my husband has had did not offer paid vacation days, if they did we used them to visit family. Any holiday or day he got off was always used for traveling to and from Maine, Texas, North Carolina, Pennsylvania or Virginia.

We live pretty far from my family, so we don't see them that often, when we do it's always a rush to make sure we see everyone while we're in town.

His job he has now gives him 2 weeks of paid vacation. That might actually leave us enough days for traveling to see family AND having our very first ever family vacation.

Which of course has us thinking about where we should go and when. Do we fly or drive? Stay in a hotel, rent a cabin or camp? Get travel insurance or not?

We had thought about going to the beach somewhere. Probably either in North or South Carolina, then we realized we probably have access to someone's house in Florida, so we could go there for free. There are so many choices. Wherever we go we want it to be relaxing and fun, not jam packed with doing things and seeing things and spending money. We want a low key vacation. Does anyone have any good ideas?

Thanksgiving

We took a trip to Tennessee, it was great. I didn't realize how bad I missed everyone until we saw everyone.

We had a nice relaxing Thanksgiving, and a surprise birthday party for me the day before thanksgiving. Really it was a good relaxing trip.

I'm so excited about Christmas coming, This weekend we will venture out and buy a Christmas Tree. I cannot wait. I love Christmas Tree's so much, it's my favorite part of Christmas. If they made rehabs for Christmas Tree addicts like they make alcohol rehabs I'd have to check myself in.

There is just something about bundling up, wondering around in the cold picking out the perfect tree. Then bringing it home, setting it up and decorating it. It doesn't get any better than that. The whole family around the tree, hanging ornaments and lights.

What is your favorite part of Christmas? The tree? The family time? The food? The presents?

I'm leaving

on a Jet plane... Don't know when I'll be back again.

OK, that is a lie. I'm not leaving on a plane, and I know when I'll be back again.

But I'm soooo excited because on Wednesday (my birthday) we'll be getting in the car and driving 6 hours to visit all our good friends in Tennessee. We miss them so bad, we haven't seen them since July and Lexi has changed so much since then.

We'll be spending Thanksgiving with Jim and Kathy, and visiting all our friends from our church. We'll be coming home on Monday. I'm sure I wont want to leave.

So tomorrow and Tuesday I'll be packing our Samsonite luggage and loading the car. ok, we don't really have that nice luggage, but someday....

I'm always afraid I'll forget something. Last weekend when we went to visit my sister in law we forgot to bring any of Lexi's toys. Luckily they have a 7 year old who had some toys Lexi could play with. We're going to try to avoid forgetting the toys this trip, We wouldn't want Lexi having to play with dog toys!!

Football

My husband is becoming addicted to football.

Today we watched parts of 3 or 4 different games. We watched all of the Stealer's game, of course with him being from near Pittsburgh he's staying loyal to his home turf.

He got so irritated when they lost in over time he threw a plastic potato chip at the tv.

I better get him under control or we might be looking for Superbowl tickets in the near future.

Well, I don't know if it will go that far, but he is liking football. Tomorrow he'll go to work and spend time discussing all the exciting plays of the game with "the guys."

Gifts

I have mentioned before that I have the hardest time deciding what I want for my birthday or Christmas. Some woman have no problem making a list, including diamond earings, D&G watch, kitchen appliances, clothes.... their list go on I'm sure.
For me, Christmas and Birthdays has always been the only time I get things I need or want so it's so hard to decide- do I want craft things, or a new shirt!?
With my husband it's really easy, it's a CD every time you ask him what he wants.
Does anyone else have a problem deciding what they want, or am I the only one?

Exercise

I've started exercising again. Exercise is something I've never been consistent with, eating on the other hand... well, I've been consistent with that. This unequal balance is the reason for the extra weight around my waist.
In the past I have tried Pilates, Slim in Six, running, and now I'm working out will Billy Blanks and his Tae Bo tapes. I would love to be able to afford some exercise equipment, especially a treadmill. I really like running, but it is hard trying to go running when you don't have a jogging stroller, and it's dark before your husband leaves for work and after he gets home.
I've had success in trying each of those programs, they all do different things and I haven't followed the diet for any of them. I find just cutting back on the amount of food I eat not what I eat, works best for me.
So what happens? Why do I stop working out consistently? I'll work out for months then suddenly I just don't feel like it. So I stop. I loved the Slim in Six work out videos. I was borrowing them from my neighbor, I had been doing them for about 3 months when I found out I was pregnant. So I stopped. They were too hard for me to do and feel safe. I got bored with pilates because it was toning my body but not getting rid of the fat that covered the muscles. Under the excess weight there were some pretty nice muscles I'm sure.
what works for you? are you consistent? Do you use a treadmill or some other equipment? or is a video your choice to work out with?

Cell phones

I talk on the phone entirely too much. I have used more than 900 peak minutes in a month.
Our two year contract ran out with our cell phone providers and we decided to cut the minutes down to 700 SHARED minutes so we could afford to get a land line with unlimited long distance. Sounds good doesn't it?
I called the home phone providers and they informed me I had to wait over 2 weeks before they could get someone here to set up the phone stuff! Can you believe that?
Imagine how hard it is for me, someone who is used to having 900 minutes myself, to try to use only 350!!! That's no where near enough minutes. I need a cell phone booster for my battery. My husband would say I just need to stop talking on the phone.
He's a guy, what does he know about talking? Obviously he doesn't know it's a necessity! :)

Baby shower

My sister in law is due in the end of January. I am one of the lucky few that gets to help plan the shower.
I'm having a hard time with this because I want it to be something spectacular. Great, wonderful, awesome, amazing. Something you'd see in lights in Vegas.
It's hard because the four of us that are planning it all live between 45 minutes and 2 hours away from each other. I'm sure with her husband's family helping it will be a good shower, I just hope it is.
My number one priority in this shower is to make sure April and Jason get EVERYTHING they need and want for little baby Elijah. My nephew's not gonna be in need!
As a matter of fact, my nephew's going to be spoiled! Just like he needs to be.
So hopefully in the month that we have to plan this shower we can get everything taken care of so no one has to worry about anything!
Crazy!

Cartoons

Have you ever noticed how far fetched cartoons are? Sure, some cartoons like batman and superman are made to be unrealistic. But I'm talking about Caillou.
Caillou (I think the spelling of this word is ridiculous. I feel terrible for any boy with this name.) anyway, Caillou is about a little boy and his life, just the daily things he does. Sometimes it cracks me up.
The other day he went to the hospital with his grandmother, or maybe it was a nursing home. Either way, his grandma helped out there, so he went with her. She let him push the healthcare cart through the halls delivering the food. Tell me something, who would let a 4 year old be in control of all the food? he he.
There are other times I just laugh at the things they let this little boy do by himself. He has a lot of responsibility for a four year old.

Making ends meet

I'm so proud of my husband. He works hard all day at work, then comes home and plays hard with his daughter.
He's always good to make sure he provides for us, Yes, God is the ultimate provider, after all, He gave my husband this job he has. But my husband takes his job of watching over us seriously.
As you all know we recently moved and he started a new job, which he is really enjoying. He makes more money, which balances out for the higher cost of living, but he also has amazing benefits.
To help us make ends meet even more he has started doing side jobs for people who are looking to get their ideas patented. He has finished one project, which came in perfect timing, because we are needing to get work done on the car.
He's going to be working on a couple more projects too, which will hopefully give us some money for birthday, anniversary and Christmas presents.
He enjoys doing these, they're new, exciting ideas they require a lot of research, he might even need to do some market research in the future. Mostly he just has to make sure his drawings meet all the patent offices requirements.
It's just amazing to me how my husband can work so hard at work, then come home and work hard too. I love him!

Medicine

Did you know it's bad for your medicine to be stored in the bathroom? Beth told me this the other day and I quickly rearranged my minimal cabinet space in the kitchen to get all my medicine out of the humid bathroom. While I was doing so I found some yummy chocolate calcium supplements. I had forgotten all about them.
I don't take nutritional supplements, I'd much rather eat meat than take a pill. I do have a vegetarian sister and friend though and I know supplements are very important to them. I'm sure I should be taking more, I know I don't get enough milk. once glass every other day isn't enough is it? he he.
These particular calcium supplements I have i was given by Kathy a while back. I take them when I remember because they taste so good! it's a good chocolate fix when I'm craving it. YUM chocolate.

sports bloopers

Do you ever watch Sports bloopers on tv? We were watching some the other day and I saw all the typical bloopers, you know the bat goes flying as the batter swings, the biker flips over the handlebars, the bull rider goes over the fence.
Then I saw a new one! A lady was riding a horse, and wouldn't you know, her equestrian riding apparel- as snug as it was, got all caught in the saddle and the horse bucked and guess what? she was stuck hanging from the horse. How those tight clothes got caught, I have no clue, but i found it interesting an thought I'd share.

Movie theaters in your house

I have a friend who was building a movie room in their house. Can you imagine this? a big screen, projector, reclining comfortable luxury seats, popcorn machines, the whole nine yards.. All in your house! I don't think I'd see my husband again unless I went in that room! What is even more amazing to me is that this is becoming quite popular among wealthy people!
I never go to movie theaters because they cost so much, maybe that is why people are doing this. Maybe it's so they can have big parties and watch the super bowl, or newly released movies with all their friends. I really don't know. I do know that when my husband was doing residential drawings at his old job, he drew up many a house with a movie theater in it! I just can't even imagine that!

our lawn chairs

For the third time in our life it looks as though we will be putting away the lawn chairs.
Maybe I should explain. We don't buy furniture. Nope. The only piece of furniture we have ever bought was our bed. Not a head board or foot board, just a mattress, box spring and cheap metal frame for under it. The only reason we bought that is because my husband worked for Sealy so we got the employee discount. And man was it a discount!
Through the years we have acquired several pieces of furniture, my husband came into this marriage with an antique dresser and a set of nesting tables- both given to him from his father's antique shop. I had a twin bedroom set that I used growing up, desk, bed frame and dresser.
We have managed to get two tables (one small kitchen table and one solid oak dinning room table). We have also received a very nice buffet table, a washer and dryer, a microwave, and a crib.
Two things we have yet to come by are a nice couch and a nice wood entertainment center. We've been given several couches, most have some weird problem (one was extremely cute and comfortable but had no legs, so it was really low, one was comfortable and nice, and had legs but it was pleather and the stuff flaked off everywhere. A few have been on the stinky side, and one was just way too big as well as slightly chewed from a puppy.)
When we are in between couches (pretty much every time we move) we use our lawn chairs. So for the past 3 months the seating in our living room has been provided by our slightly old, falling apart chewed on lawn chairs. (thanks to that same puppy).
Well, it seems we will be inheriting another couch soon, so (PRAISE THE LORD) our lawn chairs can get folded up and put back in the closet. One of these years with a bonus or income tax we are going to just go buy a nice couch and entertainment center. I think we'll check a discount furniture store first. We've seen several nice, cheap pieces of furniture in stores like that.
Until that time, we'll continue using hand me downs!

Can you feel the love tonight?

The other day I was thinking about the movie The Lion King.
I have no clue why I was thinking about it. I don't even like the movie. I thought it was okay when it first came out, then they came out with 2 or 3 other sequels and I was wondering if they would ever stop making them.
I wonder if the sales of Elton John tickets went up when the movie came out? I don't remember ever hearing about him before The Lion King. I know he was around and pretty famous but I had never heard of him.
So then I was wondering how many little kids went to Elton John concerts because they liked The Lion King. I wonder how many CD's he sold, and if he won the hearts of any adults from his amazing sound track.
Then I realized how random and dumb my thoughts can be, and now I am wondering why I am sharing all this with you?!

Beating the odds

I've been thinking a lot about graduation lately. Not just high school, but college graduation too.
I wonder how many people who start college actually finish. I was trying to look up some statistics, but I'm not that patient and nothing really helpful was coming up on the front page of google!
However I did notice some statistics from one particular college that compared itself to other colleges.
Their bragging rights? 54% of people who started college in the 4 year program graduated in 4 years or less. That was higher than the other colleges it had listed. I don't know how many of the 46% that didn't graduate in 4 years or less didn't graduate at all, or how many just took 5 years to graduate but 54% was actually higher than I expected.
Part of the thing I have been thinking about is the number of people who start but don't finish. I am one of those people. I went to college for two years for Elementary Education. After 2 years two things happened that influenced my decision to "drop out". The first was I decided I didn't really want to be a kindergarten teacher, the second was I met a guy who lived far away from my college.
So even though I loved the social aspect of college, and I loved the homework and classes and teachers (yes I'm a geek) I left college to pursue my MRS. Degree.
Do I regret dropping out? Sometimes yes, but most of the time no. I wouldn't trade a college diploma for my husband or my daughter. Besides, all it would do for me now is give me a very expensive piece of paper to look at. Am I encouraging people to drop out and get married- NO! At times I wish I had a piece of paper. Just to prove I didn't quit. I don't look at it as I quit though. I look at it more as I realized what God wanted me to do.
Graduating from college is a huge milestone, it must be so fun to send out graduation announcements and receive graduation presents and praise from everyone you know. It must be so rewarding to look at your diploma and know how hard you worked for it. I admire people who graduate college.
Like I said earlier, there are very few times in my life I look back and say "man, I wish I had graduated" but never to I look at anyone that has graduated and say "man, you wasted time and money." Even if they are a stay at home mom like me.
So if you're a college graduate- Congratulations. I admire you. If you are a college graduate who is now a stay at home mom (or dad) I admire you even more! If you, like me "dropped out" or never went so you could start a family- you're not a loser! God has big plans for you too!

Cool new Safty products


I was sent these amazing Hot Walkers to try out and review. It is one of many self defense products offered by Security Solutions.
I was thrilled when I received these. They are weights weighing one pound each that you can use while you walk or jog.
So what's so exciting about Hot Walkers? How are they any different than other weights?
I'm so glad you asked.
The top of the each weight opens up, one has a hole that you can store money or keys in then replace the lid. The other opens up to reveal that it is fully equipped with pepper spray!
The reason I was so excited to get these was because I go jogging almost every day and with the crime rates increasing my husband and I have been concerned for my safety. Sometimes My husband goes with me, but that is not always possible.
With Hot Walkers we both have much more peace about me being out jogging alone. They make me feel safer and they also add to my work out! They also have that convenient slot for storing things.
If you are like me and get a little uneasy at the thought of walking or jogging alone, I highly recommend this product.
They have a ton of other safety products available, including things to protect you and your whole family. You can see them all at their website . While you are there sign up for their newsletter and you'll receive free safety tips as well as product specials through your email.

It's Christmas!!!

I am so excited! My husband has agreed to go along with Cloth Diapers. It took me 14 months but I have finally got him convinced it's worth it. Sure, the savings with Lexi might not be much since she is already 14 months old, but we will use the same diapers with the rest of the babies when they come, so we will get a lot of use out of them. (Especially since we want about 3 more-babies that is.
When the diapers finally arrive on my doorstep it is going to be like receiving a brand new Rolex or a BMW- that is how excited I am about getting these diapers.
For money reasons I have decided to go with prefolds, they are the cheapest and dry the fastest. Sure the All in ones and pocket diapers are easy and nice, but for the price of one you can get almost a dozen prefolds!
I am super excited!! Can you tell?

Carrying baby

I'm excited to do this post, partially because it's a payu2blog assignment, partially because it's about something that I enjoy.
Although I am not as enthusiastic about this topic as my friend Beth from The Natural Mommy, When my daughter was little I did use and love baby slings.
There are so many different slings available now it's crazy! We used the Ultimate baby wrap with Lexi when she was really little, once she got bigger we didn't like it so much and only used the snuggli when we had to.
Beth loves her Maya wrap and also has a homemade sling too.
Slings are great for days when the baby is being exceptionally clingy and does not want to be put down, but you still want to get stuff done. They are also great for shopping or walks with a little baby.
Some slings can be used up to 35 or more pounds, but I don't know as though I would want to be carry around my 22lbs baby in a sling!
They do create a comfortable, secure environment for the baby which of course makes the baby happy and calm.
Make sure you check out Beth's post for a TON more information on the benefits of baby wearing!

My new site

In my last post I told you I was moving. I am so excited to have my own .com!! I feel cool now.
I plan on using my site www.beautyfromchaos.com to share my thoughts and feelings on everything. I also will eventually have a store up and running there (hopefully). I plan on selling hair bows, Taggy blankets, bibs,and burp clothes. Maybe even a few other things.
As I said in the last post this site will continue to be up and running for my payu2blog assignments. I thought rather than try to be completely creative and think of ways to use words like billet grilles in a post about my daughter or saving money, I'd be free to talk about whatever I want to complete my assignments.
So please, visit my new site, leave me a comment :) While you're there look at my blogroll and go tell Ashley (twentysixcats) and my mom (ain't no place) thanks for helping me get it up and running! And much thanks to my husband for making the banner for my new site!

Breaking the Silence

I've been so quiet on this blog lately. I've been enjoying blogging at my site, but I thought it was time to break the silence over here at ha ha made you look.
I can't believe it's October already! The year is flying by, seems like each year goes faster than the one before it.
Football season has started and I have to admit I'm kinda getting into the game. My husband and I have actually found ourselves sitting on the floor in front of our TV watching the game on Sunday afternoon. I'm really missing all my Tennessee football fans.
I remember when we first moved to the Volunteer state I couldn't believe how crazy those people were over their college school football team. Bright orange was proudly displayed and worn everywhere by almost everyone. I have even seen a house with bright orange shutters and a bright orange door. I thought those people were crazy.
Little did I know I'd fall in love with some of the biggest Volunteer fans there are. I'd even get to know one of the bodies behind the mascot, Smokey the dog. I have to admit for about 2 years of hearing Smokey I thought they were referring to Smokey the bear. I thought Volunteer goes pretty good with Smokey the bear right? Maybe the football team was also the volunteer fire department? So I was a little uneducated. I learned!
For all my VOLS fans out there-Go Big Orange.

nice jewlery

I'm not a big fan of spending a ton of money on jewelry. Really the only expensive pieces I have are my engagement ring and wedding band. The only thing we've spent money on is the engagement right. Our wedding bands were my parents. I love sentimental value!
I saw these really nice wedding bands on this site and I love them! I'm not saying I would spend that much money, if I didn't have sentimental wedding bands and I was getting married, then I'd think about it.
They have some cute gold bracelets too.
I'm actually kind of funny about jewelry. I used to get so jealous of a friend of mine because her husband would buy her expensive necklaces, earrings, and rings just about every time they celebrated anything. I knew deep down inside I would probably make my husband return it if he ever spend that much money on a piece of jewelry.
I don't know why I'm so weird about that. When we spend money I really want it to be on something that we can keep and I want it to be worth it if we're spending a lot of money on it.
My husband often gets mad at me because I think eating out and going to see movies or renting movies is a BIG waste of money. really anything that involves going out and spending money (unless it's shopping!) it wasteful to me. I guess that's just my frugal brain...

Moving

Yup, after two years and nine months I have finally decided to get my own site. You can now read all my blogs at www.beautyfromchaos.com Make sure to add my new site to your google reader!!

This blogger site will be used for my payu2blog assignments, so there will still be activity, but my actual blog will continue at Beauty From Chaos.

Six Simple Solutions to Saving Money


I woke up at 4am this morning and for some reason my first thought was "oh, I haven't done a Frugal Friday post yet. oh well, I'll do it later since it's only Thursday." Then it hit me, no... today IS Friday!!! So then began the hour and a half long struggle of me trying to fall back asleep knowing I didn't have even the slightest idea of what to do for a post.

My mind was running, my brain was ticking. I couldn't think of anything.

Everything that I came up with ended with either "I already blogged about that" or "everyone already knows about that."

Then I came up with six simple things I do that combined together actually save a lot of money for us.

At this point I tried to fall asleep. I figured "ok, I have my idea, I can sleep now." I was wrong. I had to get out of bed and find a piece of paper and a pen to write my ideas on before I fell back asleep.

Here they are:

  1. Avoid Walmart. Actually, make that avoid all stores. I like Walmart and Kmart and Target. The list of stores I like could keep going since I really like to shop. However when we go into Walmart or Super Target because we need a gallon of milk, we come out with three bags full of stuff that we didn't need. Lately when we need milk or bread we've been going to the grocery store instead of a store that carries other things. It's kept a lot of dollars in our pocket and out of the cash registers. Believe it or not, milk is actually a couple cents cheaper at Food Lion and gas stations than it is at Walmart.
  2. Keep the Change. If you have a Bank of America in your area you're probably familiar with that saying. When we moved here we switched to them and signed up for their keep the change program. What happens is every time you use your debit card Bank of America rounds it up to the next dollar putting all the change into your savings account. We have been here for 2 months and if we wouldn't have spent any of that we would have over $50 in there by now. Just from change. If you use cash make sure you put all your pennies (nickels dimes and quarters too) in a jar or something at the end of the day. You'll be surprised at how fast change adds up
  3. Share. This one is my favorite I think. Not only does it save money it helps out other people and keeps the amount of boxes being stored to a minimum. If you have something that you're not using right now, let someone who needs it borrow it! Right now I have 2 boxes of maternity clothes at my sister-in-laws house. I also have one box of size 2 clothes at Beth's for her daughter. And when my sister-in-law has her baby, half my baby stuff will be gone too! It's great. Make sure you only share with people you trust if you want it back though. The great thing is other people will share with you! (Beth is sending the box back full of clothes for Lexi!!)
  4. Recycle/Reuse. I'm not talking about bags, newspapers or aluminum. I'm talking about everything. Clothes especially. If you have a pair of jeans that has a hole in the knee, cut them off into shorts. If the whole is higher you can make all sorts of things out of old pants including aprons, purses, and skirts. If the straps on your tank top are too long resulting in a VERY immodest shirt, use your handy dandy sewing machine (or needle and thread) to make them shorter. If you've out grown it completely, give it to someone else.
  5. Make it yourself. It's so easy to go out and buy things isn't it? I've realized lately just how easy it is to make things that other people are selling. Laundry detergent, as an example is very over priced in the store and it's very easy to make following a recipe. The other thing I've noticed lately that is way over priced is girls hair bows. I found some I loved at a site and they were between $6-$8 for one!! That's a bit high for a frugal homemaker like me.
  6. Avoid Disposables. I could write a whole blog here, but I think Beth is going to take care of that for me. I'll keep it simple. Many things that you think you need can be replaced by reusable stuff. We have not had paper towels or napkins in our house for almost a year. (We have one roll of paper towels hidden for when I want to clean glass, I haven't found a rag that works good yet). I've discovered that rags and "cloth napkins" can replace these very easily and cheaply! Plastic baggies are another thing that we don't keep in the house too often, I have a jumbo roll of plastic wrap that I use in their place. Plastic wrap is a lot cheaper. When we do use plastic bags I wash them out and reuse them. The next two things wont affect you if you are male, they might even embarrass you so I apologize if you're a male reader. Disposable nursing pads can be replaced with cloth ones, or lilypadz. I found this product after I stopped needing nursing pads, so I haven't tried it yet. Maybe with #2. Another product I found but haven't gotten yet is the Diva Cup. This can replace all the tampons and pads you have to buy- that would save a lot of money.
Just a side note, we do use disposable Toilet paper, I'm not that desperate to save money yet.

These six steps together have saved us a lot of money in the past and will continue to do so in the future. As I read more Frugal Friday posts I'll probably find more solutions to saving money too.

Believe it or not, there are Consequences

Ashley and I were talking this morning about debt and choices we made "when we were young". We are both in the process of paying off debt and trying to save money (although I think she has a head start on my husband and me).

I wish I could go back in time and tell my 18 year old self a couple things about debt and money. I realize now that I had no clue that there were consequences for the way I spent money. Unfortunately it takes a lot longer to fix what you've messed up when it comes to the financial aspect of life.

I remember applying for a credit card shortly after I turned 18. I thought it would really help me build good credit. I had plans for using it and paying it off each month, just to "build" my credit. I was always told that some credit is better than no credit. I think that is a lie Credit card companies make up to get young people into debt.

I did good for awhile, since my father had died the summer before my senior year I was receiving social security checks each month, I was also working a part time, very low paying job. I had plenty of money coming in. I saved absolutely none of it.

A while after I stopped getting the social security checks I started to enjoy having the Credit card. I am very glad that my credit card had a $400 limit. I think it helped me a lot.

The credit card was just strike one on my list of mistakes. The not saving money was strike two.
I did pretty good until I got married. My husband had made some bad choices before we got married and had a high loan from college (he got no financial aid, I was lucky enough to get a lot of financial aid and ended up with only a small school loan).

From then on our money choices went down hill. We figured his credit was already messed up so it didn't matter. We didn't understand the consequences of not paying doctor bills. We didn't understand that every time we chose to go out to eat, or go to the movies instead of put the money towards debt we were just digging ourselves deeper into the hole of debt.

For a long time we both worked, we had way more money than needed to pay our bills, yet we didn't make any effort to pay the ones that didn't send us monthly statements.

When our daughter was born we knew the best thing for her would be if I was at home taking care of her. We didn't want a stranger raising our daughter, we didn't even want someone we knew raising our daughter. So we went down to one income.

It's now, now that we barely have enough money to pay our bills, that we realize how bad our debt situation is. We have credit agencies calling us daily about doctor bills. We couldn't get a loan or credit card right now if it was a life or death situation. Of course, now, now that we are in this situation we realize the consequences of buying everything you want. We realize the importance of paying your bills. We realize life is NOT all fun and games.

You know what the worst part about us spending all that money was? We have nothing to show for it. We didn't buy a house, we didn't go on vacation, we didn't buy furniture. Nope, we spent it on eating out, movies, CD's, other useless things.

That is why if I could go back in time, I would tell my self to remember that there are consequences.

I tried it.

Today I did it.
I was scared.
I tried it anyway.
The washer stopped.
I opened it.
I reluctantly pulled the first piece of laundry out.
I sniffed.
Hmm, it didn't smell like Vinegar.
Something must be wrong.
I pulled out another piece of laundry.
I sniffed.
This one didn't smell like vinegar either!!!
Each piece of laundry I pulled out I smelled.
None of them smell like vinegar.
I'm impressed. I should have known Beth wouldn't lead me astray. I had to question it though, I mean 3/4ths a downy ball full of vinegar has a lot of smell. I have no clue how none of it stuck to my laundry.
Homemade laundry detergent, Vinegar fabric softener and line drying. The combination certainly makes doing laundry a lot cheaper!

I do have one complaint though. I had one towel in the load and it is hard as a rock. I don't think I could ever use that to dry off with. Next time I'm gonna try putting my towels and wash cloths in the dryer to see if it makes them usable. If not, I will have to reserve fabric softener for my whites. Does anyone else have hard towels, or am I the only one?

Free tooth whitening






My husband and I have been wanting to whiten our teeth for years now. Ever since we saw the first whitening strip on a store shelf. However, with our limited budget we were unable to purchase the whitening kits. I thought we were destined to have yellow teeth forever.
Then I saw it. The cheapest (free for us) way to whiten your teeth that actually works. here's how you do it.
  1. get baking soda
  2. get peroxide (normal 3%)
  3. mix the two with a q-tip until it's like paste
  4. use the q-tip to apply the paste to your teeth.
  5. wait as long as you can, (no more than 20 minutes, I wait 10, my husband waits 5)
  6. Make sure you don't swallow the mixture
  7. Spit, then use your tooth brush and any remaining paste to brush.
  8. Rinse (i often brush with a normal toothpaste after this because I can't stand the taste left in my mouth.)
  9. then stare at your teeth, admire their whiteness!
Sure, it's not as convenient as other tooth whitening products, but it's a lot cheaper and it works for me!

red ants

After reading Joanna's blog about spider print bedding I had a thought of my own. Why don't they have animal print bedding that looks like red ants? Have you ever noticed the multi colors of red ants? Probably not because most people either stomp on, or move away from a red ant when they see it.
Our front "yard" is really our driveway/parking spot. It's mostly sand and gravel, and it is completely full of ants.
Often when we sit in our car we count the ants on the windshield, one time we counted 9.
That is how I learned to admire the coloring of red ants. Sure, I'd much rather curl up under a blanket that looks like a butterfly, but red ants are pretty.

Cooking

I think I like cooking. I haven't decided. Sometimes it's great and sometimes I hate the chore.
The days that I hate it I blame it on my ever so picky husband. I'm serious, he's picky (I still love him though). The majority of our meals consist of meat and potatoes or pasta. Veggies are made for Lexi and I, the only "veggie" Eugene will eat is corn.
The days I like cooking are days that I am actually able to find a recipe for something exciting that my husband will actually eat. I had one of those days the other day. I made homemade scalloped potatoes with kielbasa in it. It was pretty good if I might say so myself.
Another thing that helps me like cooking is fun cookware. I really like my square stone baker that I got from Pampered chef. Another Pampered Chef thing I can't live without is my veggie peeler- it rocks and it's pretty cheap. I stumbled upon some berndes cookware the other day. I bet a nice set of that would make me like cooking. I'm sure they are worth every penny.
My mom used to cook some of the best food, all from scratch of course, none of the boxed food ever came in our house. I wish I had paid more attention while she was cooking, I bet I would like cooking more now if I had. I'd atleast be able to cook some more food!

A Lexi Post

I haven't done a post about my darling Lexi in a long time, so I chose today to fill you in on her.
She is still just crawling, she wants to figure out how to pull up, she tries but she always chickens out. She can crawl really fast though, and if you hold her fingers she'll walk everywhere. Her favorite thing to get into is still the electronics and I can't really blame her. We keep her toys right next to the entertainment center (which has the game systems and dvd and vcr right there at her head level when she's crawling.) What child wouldn't be tempted to play with it?
A few weeks ago she learned that the cabinets and drawers in the kitchen open and this has been another favorite to get into. I am blessed though, she stays in the room I am in, she is very much a people person. I'm lucky because my mom watches her granddaughter Scout who, despite being 4 months younger than Lexi, can climb up and pull up and stand and get into all sorts of things. Scout will also leave the room you're in to find more stuff to get into. So I have been blessed.
Lexi still has just two teeth, there is one trying to come through on the top, but it's been unsuccessful so far.
We got her a turtle sandbox at a yard sale on Saturday and she is loving it. I have to watch her close though because she really likes to try to eat the sand.
Friday night we went to the fair to watch a demolition derby as a family. It was the first one I have been to (that I remember, my mom might say different). It rained a bit before it started but it was still really cool. (Yes I know we're rednecks). Eugene took Lexi down the big slide, which was a great disappointment because the rain and taken away all the slickness and he ended up having to pull himself down. We also let Lexi play the "pick a duck" game. She of course got a duck with an "S" on it meaning she got a small toy (i think there is only one M and one L duck in the whole pool).
When we leaned her over the toy bin she picked a stuff snake. A Snake! not a girly bear or anything cute, an ugly stuffed snake. Did I mention that her favorite toy in the car is a tractor? Our insurance guy gave her a stress releaser tractor that she absolutely loves. She lights up when you give it to her. I think I have a tomboy in the making. Not that I am upset by that. I was a big tomboy myself growing up.
Well, Lexi has woken up from her nap, so my time to blog is over for now. Time to bathe the baby.

Great CVS and Walgreen's shopping

I started CVS shopping back in May (I think that was the month). They had lots of good deals where the products you bought were free because they give you Extra Care Bucks(ECB) back after you buy them. It was a great month to start because it was easy to stock up on ECB's. I'm still pretty new to the pharmacy shopping to save money, Crystal and Beth are much better than I am at figuring out how to use their coupons and make the best out of their trips.
Yesterday was the 5th time I did really good with my CVS bucks, unfortunately I've never posted any of my adventures to share with you. I did post one about my trip to Walgreen's, but I've accumulated so much more than what is in that picture.
To date I have spent around $20 at CVS and about $46 at Walgreen's. That $20 I spent at CVS in May, which got me about $19 ECB's, since then through my shopping I have managed to build up to now having $24 ECB's. It's a little confusing at first, but with the use of sales, coupons and ECB's you can actually make money at CVS.
Here is a picture of my purchases from CVS last night.
The Adidas deodorants were $3.29, (3x3.29= 9.87) I had 2 $1.00 off coupons, bringing the total for Adidas down to $7.87. This month you get $3 ECB's when you purchase Adidas deodorant, which means I got $9 back. I made $1.13 on that deodorant.
The Speed stick was $3.99, (3.99x2=7.89) I had a $1.00 of 2 coupon, bringing the total for Speed Stick down to $6.89. This week you get $3 when you purchase Men's Speed Stick (only the kind in the picture). So I got $6 back. I spent .89c on 2 things of deodorant.
The Colgate this month is on sale for $2.99. I got 3 tubes (because as I will tell you later I have a plethora of toothpaste). (3x 2.99= 8.97). I had 2 coupons for Colgate toothpaste, one was for .50c off one tube, the other was for .75c off 2. bringing my total for the Colgate down to $7.72. This month the you get $2.99 ECB for the Colgate toothpaste (it's free up to 5 tubes). I got $8.97 back in ECB's. I made $1.25.
The lotion was on sale for $2.99 and I had a $1 off coupon. So it was only $1.99. I didn't get any ECB back on this.
My total before tax and coupons was $29.81, after coupons $25.56. I used my $22.96 ECB I had from sopping before and ended up paying only $2.60 out of pocket (I only paid .50c tax on all this too). I could have saved more money because I had a $4 off when you spend $20 at CVS coupon and I forgot to use it.
I got back $23.97 in ECB.
I know this is all confusing, but just ask me, Crystal or Beth if you have questions. Crystal has a lot of information on her blog that could help you too.
Now on to Walgreen's. I showed you one of my Walgreen's trips earlier in this post, I did a lot better on that trip but that is because they had better deals. Here are my purchases from Walgreen's.


The FortiFense is on sale for $5, plus you get $5 register rewards (RR's) to use on your next purchase. I made two transactions with this, buying the Fortifense first of course.
There was a coupon in the Walgreen's sales ad for 3/$2 for the Eclipse gum, and the Airwick was on sale for $7.99. I had a $4 off coupon from one of Sunday's papers for this Airwick mini, and Walgreen's has a $3 Mail in rebate (MIR) on it this month. So the total out of pocket for Walgreen's was $5.34 for the first transaction and $1.66 for the second. Plus I have $3 coming back to me from the MIR.
Two nights ago I went to Walgreen's and purchased the following
The Pantene was $4.99, the Rimmel foundation was $8.99 and the Aquafresh toothbrush was $3.99. My total was 19.18 after tax. All of these are free after MIR.
Like I said Earlier, to date I have spent a total of $46 at Walgreen's, but I have $23.06 coming back to me on a gift card.
With Walgreen's MIR you have 2 options, you can either get the MIR by check, or you can get it on a gift card. If you chose the gift card option you get an extra 10% back.
I also want to say that with a coupon in Walgreen's Weekly sales ad you can get an ink cartridge refill for free on Wednesday this week.
Walgreen's often has good deals, obviously this month it didn't compare to the deals I got at CVS. They key is to spend time preparing, and use coupons!
Rite Aid/Eckards also has some good deals. I was planning on going there last night to get some things that will be free after MIR but it was closed by the time I got there. I have gotten some good deals there including face wash, mouthwash and toothpaste. This week I plan to purchase Imodium and Mylanta which are both free after MIR. They also have Colgate toothpaste free after MIR. Speedstick deodorant is on sale for .99c (and I have coupons).
Over all I don't think that spending $43 is bad considering with that $43 I have purchased 1 box of FortiFense, 3 packs of gum, 4 packs of tic tacs, 1 air freshener, 2 bottles of dish soap, 2 bottles of lotion, 7 shampoos/conditioner, 7 sticks of deodorant, 3 body wash, 1 bottle of hand soap, 1 thing of astringent, 42 pads, 5 bottles of mouthwash, 1 can of shaving cream, 11 tubes of toothpaste, 4 packs of razors, 7 toothbrushes, and 1 jar of foundation. All name brand!
My husband thought I should figure out how much all of that would have cost without ECB's or coupons and put it on here for you. This is just an educated guess using my last two shopping trips as examples... My educated guess is around $289. How is that for savings?
Check out your local CVS and Walgreen's and Rite Aid to see what kind of deals you can find!

The great (phone) debate

Phones. cell phones, cordless phones, old rotary phones, touch tone phone, pay phone, car phone and now the iphone...
There are too many phones to choose from.
Eugene and I have had cell phones since August of 2002. We signed a 2 year contract with Verizon and have kept renewing it every time it runs out.
The only time we have had a home phone was the brief period of time when my mom lived with us and she wanted one. I think that lasted maybe 6 months.
At first it it was awesome to have cell phones. The luxury of being able to call whoever, whenever wherever you were was great. Driving down the road and want to know better directions? Call someone with the internet and ask them to look some up for you. Out at the store and can't remember what the good CVS deals are? Call Beth, she knows. (Yes I've done that).
I've always loved my cell phone. There's only one problem, well maybe 2.
Minutes. I'm terrible at watching my minutes. I go over regularly. I used to have 400, then that plan moved up to 450. I went over so many times we had to just switch me to 950 minutes. Yes, I have 950 day time minutes and I still go over.
I didn't used to be this bad. When I was working I didn't use my cell phone very often so I stayed in my plan most of the time. Once Lexi was born and I was at home all the time my phone became a good friend.
The second problem is the battery, that's not as a big deal but like a cordless phone battery you have to charge it a lot.
When we switched my minutes from 450 to 950 it extended my 2 year contract to February. Eugene's ends in December. We were debating about what to do. We've been tossing around the idea of getting a home phone possibly with unlimited long distance and local calls and getting rid of my cell phone. That way I can call whoever I want whenever I want with no minute restrictions! The down side is that we will soon be having a second vehicle which means it will be possible for me to be on the road alone with Lexi. I don't like the thought of driving around unless I have a phone in case of emergencies.
I think we finally devised a plan that will help us with all the people we call. We will get a home phone, with just a basic local calling plan. Then I will get a Cingular (A&T) pay as you go cell phone .The people I talk to the most are April (my sister in law), Beth, my mom and my sister Bethany.
April has a home phone with unlimited long distance, so she will be able to call me on my home phone with no additional charge to either of us and we will be able to talk all day if we wanted.
Beth has a Cingular cell phone, so we'd be able to talk from cell phone to cell phone without using minutes. Therefore it will be free to both of us.
My mom and Bethany have Verizon, Since we will be keeping Eugene's cell phone with Verizon they will be able to call me on his phone using mobile to mobile minutes which equals FREE. If they need to get a hold of me during the day we all have the internet and can email or IM.
So I think we cheated the system. Of course we still have to wait until February to start this, unless I convince my husband to take my phone for 2 months, then we can start in December.

Frugal Shopping

I'm trying so hard to be frugal with my shopping. This is difficult for me because I am an impulse buyer and I love to shop.
I've been going through Crystal's Supermarket Savings 101 course and it has me thinking even more about saving money and stocking up my "pantry". I did manage to buy 3 weeks worth of groceries for $100, but we will still need to buy milk, Orange juice and bread as they run out. However I'd like to stock up my cabinets, as well as get my household items.
She is very frugal and does all her shopping with $35 or less a week. This includes groceries, cleaning items, toothpaste, deodorant and all the necessities. She does a lot at CVS and Walgreen's, which I have recently started taking advantage of their deals. You can get a lot of stuff free or close to free if you spend a little bit of time couponing and checking out their flyers as well as the forums (like families.com).
We subscribed to the weekend paper, to make sure I'd get all the Sunday coupons- in the past I have bought the paper and not gotten them all. Today my goal is to sit down and look at the sales ads, comparing sales and Extra Care bucks (CVS $$) and coupons. Hopefully I'll get a list of some free or close to free items and be able to stock up. I noticed RiteAid (Eckards) had a lot of good free items.
My husband thinks I'm crazy; sure, he enjoys that I save us money and get free stuff, but he doesn't understand why we need 10 tubes of toothpaste. My thoughts? "if it's free, why not get it?!" He thinks I need some coupon rehab, kinda like a drug rehab program.

Car space

So far our Ford Taurus has been a good purchase for us. We bought it right after Lexi was born last year because it was very evident that our little 2 door Hyundai Accent was not going to be big enough to haul around all the stuff needed to take a baby on a trip. After all, we could barely fit the car seat in the back seat.
This last camping trip we had a lot of stuff and we didn't even bring a tent, stove or any other camping gear. We had a cooler and some food, as well as our luggage, small stroller and bedding.
We barely squeezed all our stuff in the empty space (which included the trunk and the back seat next to Lexi.)
This trip really made us realize there's no way we could travel in this with 2 children. Unless we strapped some things to the roof. We thought about getting a cargo bag for on top, but last year on our trip to Maine with my mom we learned those leak really bad in the rain unless you have a roof rack on the top of the car. (It's really not fun riding from TN to Maine getting wet. My step dad got so wet he looked like he rode on the roof).
I don't think you can just put a roof rack on your car like you can put a truck rack on your truck can you? I think it's one of those things that needs to be put on when the vehicles is made.
So maybe we could purchase a trailer of some sort to avoid the cost of purchasing a mini van or maybe a semi truck.
cccccccccccxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx (That's Lexi's input)
I was the youngest of 5 and I remember riding to the campground sitting on my sleeping bag and my legs propped up on coolers (and we had a huge van). So how do you travel? Do you have problems fitting everything in the car?

My Messy Desk!!

YAY another meme thing! I am normally a neat freak. I'm semi-anal as my husband's family calls me. Everything has a place and everything needs to be in it's place. The one thing I let slide?? papers. Yah, bills, old bills that are already paid, coupons, easy saver catalogs. Anything paper has been deemed the privilege of stacking up on any flat surface available. This includes my desk.

So, Since Beth tagged me in her messy desk meme, I decided to see if I could find 5 crazy items on my desk. First I need to mention that the desk we use as our computer desk is entirely too small to be used as a computer desk, but it's all we have. So here we go...

  1. A size 18 month toddler button up shirt shoved in an envelope addressed to Benjamin Zapf. I guess I'll mail it soon.
  2. a 3V button cell battery that came out of my pedometer. It's dead but i want to make sure that when i go buy a new one, I get the right size. So for now it sits on my desk.
  3. A bobble headed funny duck that's supposed to go on the dashboard of a car. It sits on the monitor now that I don't have my car.
  4. a plastic Door stop. Yes I have a doorstop on my desk. Why? I have no clue.
  5. PAPER!!! this includes a small dictionary that my husband keeps taking off the book shelf and leaving on the desk, some receipts that need to be entered into my check book, an easy saver catalog, an ad for a photo contest that picture me is having, some coupons, my work in progress daily and weekly schedule, and an estimate/work order from the last time we had the oil change. Oh, there are also some papers in my mail organizer. I don't even know what they are though. (I can fit a lot of paper because our printer/scanner is on a small table next to the desk and the top is level with the desk, so it gets papers piled on it too).

I'm gonna tag my mom. This means she HAS to make a blog. She's been talking about it. (Mom, if since I tagged you it means you have to make a list of the 5 weirdest things that are on your desk like I did.)
I also tag anyone who may look at my blog. If you look at my blog leave a comment on this post with a link to your blog (if you have one) I'm just curious as to who reads this.

Family Reunion/camping trip

My sister and I had so much fun camping over Labor Day weekend that we decided we wanted to make it an annual event and try to get more people to join us. Two of our aunts were supposed to join us but they both had to back out at the last minute.
We don't have any plans set in stone yet, but we're hoping to go to either Cooperstown, NY or Huntington Beach, SC (near Myrtle beach). No matter where we go hopefully all our family will pack up their tents, camp stoves, sleeping bags, fishing poles and fishing tackle and then we'll have a great time enjoying our family!!

Middle Name Meme.

I guess it's called a Meme, that's what Ashley called it when she tagged me in it.

The Rules:

  1. You have to post the rules before you give the facts.
  2. You must list one fact that is relevant to your life for each letter in your middle name. If you don’t have a middle name then use a name that you like.
  3. When you are tagged you must write a post containing your own middle name game facts.
  4. At the end of your post you must tag one person for each letter in your middle name.
  5. Don’t forget to comment them telling that they are tagged and to read your post to get the rules.
Ok, I really don't like my middle name, but it's not a secret. In fact like Ashley, 2 generations share this middle name, me and my daughter. The name is Renee.
  • R:Rearrange- If I have to live in the same place for more than 6-8 months I have to be able to move my furniture or paint, or change something! I love change, I don't like the moving process, but I love to be in a new place. My husband gets annoyed with me because of how often i move our furniture around.
  • E: Eyes- everyone always told me I have pretty eyes, until I had lexi, now they tell her that.
  • N: Naive. Growing up I was very naive. I would believe about anything anyone said.
  • E: Expedition. I love to explore. Being outside in the woods, hiking around mountains. Anything that has to do with being outside!
  • E: economical. At least I try to be. I do have a bad case of impulse buying that sometimes messes me up.

As for tagging people, I don't know 5 people who have blogs, Ashley and Beth have already done it, so I'll say
Katie
Stacy

that's all i know and neither of them actually put anything on their sites anymore. so who knows.

fees

I am little irritated with companies right now. I briefly mentioned the fees that State Farm adds in each month to your policy in my blog about saving money. I just don't understand it fully. We HAVE to pay our monthly bill- everyone knows that.
Well, most companies send you a statement each month with the little tear off section at the bottom that you can include with your payment (if you still mail in payments). Some companies offer paperless options where they send you an email each month saying your statement is available and you can look at it online.
I guess once companies started offering the paperless statements they decided it would be fun to charge people who still wanted the paper statements. Not all companies do this, but some do. Ok, fine, I'll go paperless to avoid extra monthly fees. We normally pay all our bills online anyway (the ones that offer online payment options.) One time I called a company to make my payment over the phone and they said it was a $10 fee to pay over the phone!! $10!! to pay THEM! Of course I told them that was ridiculous and decided to pay online instead.
Other companies have the drafting option, where they just automatically take the money out of your account and you don't even have to worry about paying the bill. I really do not trust this, so we've always avoided it like it was the flu.
Then we meet State Farm. They charge $3 if you want a monthly statement. no paperless option. and $1 for drafting it out of the bank account.
Let me get this straight... You are going to take an extra $1 a month to take my money out of my bank, but if i want to do all the work and mail you a check it will cost $3 a month? Something doesn't make sense here.
So we pay an extra $1 a month for renters insurance. Oh, and we get a "bill" each month saying the money will be drafted on the 5th. So if we get the letter anyway, why do they charge $3 a month for those people who don't want it drafted?!
Today my husband made the car payment. Guess what? There's a $5 fee to pay online. There never used to be!
This is getting a little bit out of hand. Soon there will be fees if you want to mail out an envelope by leaving it in your mailbox for the mailman. Or maybe on the use of auto accessories. This world is crazy.

Get free books

My mom and step dad are both book lovers. There bedroom walls are lined with floor to ceiling book cases (the have more in their extra bedroom too).

I'm not a big fan of books, but there are a few I like. My mom seems to always be talking about new books they got or want to read and one day I finally asked her how they support their book addiction.

She told me about paperbackswap (www.paperbackswap.com). It's really quite neat. It's a place designed to trade books. If you have some books you have read and no longer want you post them on there and earn credits for the books you post. Then you look at the books other people have posted and use your credits to "buy" their book.
No money is used except what it takes to ship out a book- shipping is paid for by the sender. So the only thing you need to start is a pile of books you don't want anymore and $2.50 to mail books that other people might want.
If you sign up, tell them I referred you! Enter my email address mccurdygirl @ yahoo.com (just remove the spaces)

Find more money cutting ideas at Biblical Womanhood

Tribute to Beth Part 2

So I found some more great pictures. They were in my photo album, go figure... Most of my pictures are kept in boxes.

There's not a better work out in the college dorm then dragging your friend up a hall in a laundry bag now is there? I wonder who's laundry bag that was.

attack of the killer quotation hands!! Really, Beth what were you doing in this picture?

Happy Birthday Beth!

Yup, Today is Beth's 25th birthday. She is a quarter of a century old. Be sure to wish her a happy Birthday.
I thought I'd wish her a happy birthday by honoring her with this post to remember good great times. Although I don't have pictures of all of our great memories, and I seem to be missing a few pictures that I do have, I thought I'd share some of these memories with you.


Who me? Beth is sitting in front of the computer, I'm sure she was studying...


Sinful. The nail polish! not us!


I don't even know...

We honestly had some real good memories, I wouldn't trade them for the world. I loke my Beth. So Beth, HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!!

The most over used profession in America

Lawyers.

No one wants to take the blame for their own mistake so they sue each other, accusing neighbors, doctors, car salesmen, farmers. Yah that one cracked me up.

I did a google search on the word "sued" I got 19,800,000 results. That's a lot.

I think we've gone overboard. Dr's actually have to perform c-sections on some pregnant women, just to avoid being sued. Churches have to serve packaged food to the children in the nursery to avoid a lawsuit. That's pretty insane if you ask me.

There are 31 pages of attorneys in my phone book, I don't even live in a big city. I'm sure there are more ads in New York City in the category of medical malpractice attorney New York City does seem to be the place to file lawsuits. Unless of course you're sueing a farmer.

Does anyone else think we sue each other too much!?

Payu2blog assignments.

Well, They're keeping me busy at Payu2blog! I was afraid I wasn't going to get too many assignments since I had 14 on my very first pay period. But apparently they like me. On my 10 new assignments that showed up today are little stars. When you view the individual details they all have a comment like this " The sheriff is looking out for you. You have been given an extra assignment. Thanks for all of your hard work."
Maybe it's because of my lovely usage of the words incontinence products. I am aware that I didn't use that in it's proper context but I didn't feel like writing a whole blog about bladder control issues or trying to figure out some other creative way to complete that assignment.
Anyway, I just wanted to warn you readers that I have 10 more assignments to complete, including this one that I am using to complete my hydroxycut link. I'm a cheater, I know.
So be waiting for my 9 more fun, exciting (or should I say awkward) words

We Won not just one but 3 vacations!

A few weeks ago my husband and I went to the Life and Family tour at the local even arena. We weren't sure what was going to be there, but we had free tickets so we figured it would give us something to do on that Saturday.
When we got there we realized it was a bunch of vendors trying to get you to buy their products... the perfect place for people with no money right?
The first booth that suckered called us in was the Charlotte observer. They offered us a deal we couldn't refuse. Friday-Monday paper for only $8 a month. Since I normally get the Sunday paper every week anyway we figured why not. Plus they gave us a $10 gift card to walmart and no money was needed that day. Perfect.
We managed to give enough looks that people new not to try to get us to buy anything as we walked past their booths for a while. Then some guy asked us if we signed up to win a trip to Orlando yet. OOH! Win a vacation?! you got our attention. So we signed up, then continued walking around forgetting about it.
About a week later I got a phone call. It was the people giving away the vacation. 20 people out of 950 won, and guess what? Yup, we were one of the 20 people. YAY! So as they are telling me all the stuff we won (6 days 5 nights in a 4 star hotel, all accommodations paid for 4 people, 2 5 day tickets into Universal studios with the fast pass included) I'm quickly typing it all into a word doc so that after I get off the phone I can tell my husband. Then they tell me that we were chosen out of that 20 people to win an additional trip to Las Vegas. WOW! 2 vacations?
That's when I realized there had to be a catch. no one just gives away that many vacations. The guy started telling me what we would be responsible for, we'd have to get to these destinations, pay the tax and go to a brief orientation...
Then I remembered an episode of my favorite show The King of Queens where Doug took Carrie to a ski resort for their anniversary. He had one the trip just like this. Turns out it was one of those places that wants you to buy a timeshare, so they make you listen to their little "orientations" all weekend.
The guy on the phone tells me he has to switch me to another guy who will get my address to send me the packet of information. The whole time I'm on hold I'm debating the situation in my head. 2 vacations, and all we have to do is listen to them talk for a little bit. We don't have money to purchase a time share anyway so it's not like we'd be tempted to buy anything...
The second guy gets on the phone. That's when he told me of the 3rd vacation I had won. a trip to Aruba!! OH COUNT ME IN! I can handle someone trying to pressure me into buying an Orlando vacation home if I get 3 free vacations out of it!!!
I'm so super excited by this point that I can actually ignore the thousands of times the two guys said "welcome to Orlando". Then he asks me for my credit card information..
Wait. what? I have to pay to go on my FREE vacations that I won?
Oh yah, tax. Ok, can't be too much right?
$398.
but $398 for 3 vacations is so super cheap! too bad we don't have the money. We don't even have a credit card (we're working on only buying things if we have the CASH to purchase them). So yah, I finally win something and I can't even have it.

Car insurance savings

Maybe I should save this for a Frugal Friday post, but I had to share my excitement.

Since before we got married we've used Farm Bureau insurance for our car, well when we moved her we were bummed to see that there wasn't one in our town. Eugene took one day off from work to get everything with car insurance, drivers licenses, inspection and all that stuff done. We were kinda rushing and just decided to go with State Farm- my mom and dad always used state farm and i used it before i moved to NC from Maine- it was pretty cheap then.

Well we got a quote of $86 a month for full coverage on our Taurus. We were quite shocked since in TN we were paying about $140 for 3 months. We knew the cost of living was more here so we accepted it, added renters insurance (which we were astonished was so cheap, about $11 a month. I wish we had known that earlier!) so our total per month was $97. That was fine, we could make do.

Well then we got something saying it was going to go up because in NC they have insurance points (not points on your license) and Eugene had 2 from an accident he had almost 3 years ago in the Band Van. So our new monthly total was $130!!!! That was crazy. Plus an extra 67.83 to make up for the difference in premium.

We started looking at other places and found a Farm Bureau in the town Eugene works at and decided to check with them. Before we signed any paperwork we had the insurance agent check with the "underwriter" who can see more information and give us an exact quote. I Highly recommend doing this, that way you don't jump into anything then find out it's way more than you expected. So our quote with them for six months for just car insurance was 620.78, because of our bad credit we were unable to get renters insurance with them but it was still a savings.

$620.78 compared to $778.35. $157.57 every 6 months, $315.14 a year we are saving. That's 3 years worth of car insurance we saved by switching to Farm bureau (sounds like a commercial) .

There are some other fees involved with both, State Farm charges $3 a month if we want to pay by check - they say it's to cover the cost of the bill and postage, yet we picked to have it drafted for $1 a month but we still get a bill. I have no clue. anyway that's $12 a year. With Farm Bureau you have to pay a yearly membership of $25. So technically we are only saving $302 a year. Either way, we're saving almost 3 months of insurance!!

So I suggest you shop around for car insurance- but make sure not to switch until your policy has run out (normally every 6 months) or you might end up paying a fee.

I also recommend you look into renters insurance if you rent. It's so cheap I think just about everyone can afford $11 a month, you might have to give up a soda or a meal at McDonalds, but think about how it would help you if anything ever happened to your apartment.

Gotta have it.

I'm a pretty generic girl. I love to save money especially when it comes to buying store brand products, but there are some products that have to be name brand for me. The first one is garbage bags! forget the Walmart brand, go for glad. I can't stand pulling a full bag out of the can and having it split and having trash all over my kitchen floor. The other product I definitely need to be name brand is toilet paper! We used to go cheap name brand with Angel Soft, but I was annoyed with how fast we used up a roll- and there are just two of us using it. So we switched to Cottonelle. Now I can't stand anything but Cotonelle. There's just something about generic one ply sandpaper going across your bottom that makes me cringe.

What Works for you?

Camping trip

YAY! We're home! We left on Friday afternoon for a weekend camping trip on Lake Moomaw near Hot Springs, VA. (this is also known as The Middle of Nowhere- but we didn't know that before we made plans.) So we spent the weekend there with my sister and her husband. We had tons of fun sitting around and relaxing. Since it was in the middle of nowhere there wasn't much to do, there were some hiking trails and a beach- but the lake was really low do to the lack of rain this year so the beach wasn't that exciting. it was VERY icky. We still had fun though, I got to run with my sister which was great since Eugene is not a runner and I normally run alone. She pushed me further than I thought I could go and I shocked myself. Despite the great amounts of fun I am so glad to be home. Lexi came down with a cold or allergies or something so we got very little sleep, plus there's nothing like my bed and my computer- yes I'm addicted to the internet.
There's one bad thing about coming home from camping. the piles and piles of dirty laundry, as well as the need to put away all the camping gear. I've done four loads of laundry and I still have at least one more to do. 3 of them were from our camping trip and the other two were left over from before we left. My kitchen looks like a war zone and my bedroom's not much better. oh well, at least we're home.

Diapers and diaper and more diapers

I was so excited to have a baby.

What could be better that having a blessing from God in your own house? A bouncing baby girl. How exciting. I knew having a baby would cost money, I'm not dumb enough to think that we wouldn't have to change our spending habits in order to afford all the diapers. However, I am a firm believer that if you wait until you "can afford" a baby, you'll never have one. Unless of course you're married to a very rich man, or come from a family with money (I am neither).

When Lexi was born we were given so much! I couldn't believe the amount of diapers we received as gifts, not to mention all the other important things you need for a baby. We didn't have to regularly buy diapers until Lexi was almost 9 months old. We honestly only bough about 5 packs for her between birth and nine months, and 2 of those packs were because we had gone on a 2 week long trip and didn't want to take all the diapers we needed along.

Once she hit 9 months and our supply had run out we started purchasing them weekly. Boy did this add up! I'm sure we spend about $40 a month on incontinence products.

I have thought about switching to Cloth diapers, Beth uses them for her two so I know I'd have support if I needed it. The problem is we haven't seemed to have the money needed to get started with them (plus my husband's not a big fan of this option).

So for now we shop around and use coupons to get the best deals on the diapers, maybe with Eugene's end of the year bonus we'll buy some cloth ones, or maybe she'll be potty trained by 18 months. (I'm sure since she started crawling at 12 months, and got her first 2 teeth at 12 months she'll jump right ahead to being potty trained....)

Buying Children's clothes

Frugal Friday is here again!

I am very excited to say that my daughter is 1 year old and we have only purchased about 15 articles of clothing for her, only 5 were new from a store and we only paid full price for 2 of them. Oh, and did I fail to mention we pretty much have all the clothes she needs until she's 3? How do I do it? Most of the clothes came from friends and acquaintances, as their daughters or grand daughters outgrew the clothes they'd give them to me. I highly recommend used clothes. Especially when they are little because they don't wear the clothes very long. Some of our clothes were shower gifts or birthday presents, others came from consignment sales. This site is great because you can put in your state and it brings up a list of children's consignment sales in your area. I love consignment sales! If you're expecting a baby you should really check one out, it's a great way to save money. In TN I used to go to one called Just Between Friends, it was by far the biggest one over there. They have them in several states so check and see if there is one near you. There are also children's consignment stores all over the place which is where I have purchased a few things for her if we really need them and can't wait until a sale is coming up. I've also learned to shop in clearance sections as well as in thrift stores and at yard sales. My favorite by far are the consignment sales though! I just recently found another site which I haven't used yet but you can exchanged children's clothes, toys and items with other people. It's called Kidzoodle. No money is used except what you spent to mail out what other people request from you. You post items you have that you want to get rid of and you attain credits for those items, you then use the credits you received to get other people's items. Check it out.