Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Quitting Time

I apologize for the lack of pictures of my house. I'll get them uploaded tomorrow! Today, I need to vent some frustration about something completing unrelated to my house. Rather, it involves a big project and technology.

Recently, I completed a project where I transferred old cassette tapes of my grandma over into CD's so we can have them to listen to forever. The project had a few bumps along the way, but I adjusted and got it all done with cheap technology from Amazon and a small learning curve on using sound-editing software. Not bad? I thought so. I also thought it would be easy to take my family's old video tapes (8mm or Hi8) and change them into DVD's.

Boy, was I ever wrong.

Fail #1: Dad sent the video camera, but the cord was missing and it had no battery.

Fail #2: I ordered what I thought was the right adapter for it. It turned out to only charge batteries and the adapter didn't fit the video camera.

Fail #3: Lots of searching at thrift stores and online was met with no success for finding the actual adapter to the camera.

Fail # 4: Dad found the camera case with an adapter in it. The adapter was the correct voltage but still didn't fit.

Fail #5: Two brand-new batteries that were in the case failed to work either. (That charger I accidentally got did charge them, but the battery part of the camera doesn't work at all. So, new batteries or not, it doesn't matter.)

Fail #6: The software that came with my video capture device refused to work, even after uninstalling and reinstalling, plus other troubleshooting. I downloaded a newer version and got it to work with my VCR, but it only has a 15-day trial.

Fail #7: I got one of my VHS tapes onto my computer and burned two different DVD's, but neither had sound.

Fail #8: I tried transferring the video file to two other programs. Neither was compatible, so I couldn't try burning another DVD.

Fail #9: Radio Shack couldn't help us find something to fit the video camera.

To quote Napoleon Dynamite, "It's a piece of crap; it doesn't work!"

I am usually pretty persistent, but I think I'm going to quit right here. Can anyone blame me? I feel like I've tried everything in the book (and more) to get this process to work, but it just doesn't.

Solution: Get someone else to do it for me and pay $10 per DVD. Will it be worth it? Yes. It's frustrating to have to admit defeat, but my family's videos will still be preserved. That's what really matters. I can't wait to watch them. I've been wanting to, but life happens. Lesson learned: technology from the 90's is not really compatible with today's. If you can't get it to work, you probably aren't alone!

Friday, July 26, 2013

Exercise

It took me a while as a stay-at-home mom to really get into the habit of exercising. I can't believe that I didn't before! Since we have only one car, I've found that exercising at home works well for me.

My "Equipment"

1. Exercise videos. I have an assortment, all from thrift stores, that I rotate through. I do a good mix of cardio, weights, dancing, yoga, and pilates. Nothing hurts while I'm pregnant, so I think I'm covering my bases. (Used videos: $2-3 each New: $10-$12 at Walmart.) My favorites are any videos by The Firm.

2. Weights. I have a set of 5 lb. weights that I got at D.I. For lighter weights, I use cans of pineapple. They weigh almost a pound!

3. Step. I got this at D.I. and it goes along with my videos. It was a steal at $2.

Aside from having a DVD player to actually watch the videos, that's it! I love working out at home. I can wear whatever I want, I don't have to worry about weather conditions, and it's easy to get started. I don't have to worry that anyone will see me except for my boys, and they usually don't laugh. Not having to pay for a gym is a blessing, and I've been able to avoid 90% of aches of pains that plagued me during my first pregnancy. I will never quit this habit unless I'm sick or dying.

How do you like to get exercise? Do you find it hard if you have little kids?

Friday, July 19, 2013

Shopping Around

I actually get quite a thrill out of saving money. When I started writing about our frugal lifestyle, I realized just how much I enjoy saving money, especially when it's a significant amount.

As much as I don't enjoy shopping for clothes (for me), I love checking out the cheapest places to find the things we need. It's not as easy as buying things new. It takes time, just as almost any frugal practice does.

From cheapest to most expensive, here are some thrilling ways to get cheap things.

1. The trash. I don't mean dumpster diving specifically, more like curbside diving. People throw away perfectly good things all the time. Just recently, we rescued a high chair that was sitting next to the dumpster. It was in perfectly good condition and looked great after a thorough scrubbing. We gave it to my sis-in-law and bro-in-law for their baby since they didn't have one yet and we already do.

2. Hand-me-downs. People are always willing to get rid of clothes that they don't want anymore. Sometimes all you have to do is ask! You might get things you don't need. Just pass them on to someone else that does need them. I've also gotten free craft supplies that people didn't want anymore.

3. Freecycle or craigslist. It can't hurt to look! Freecycle is like craigslist, but only for free stuff. You never know what you'll find. Craigslist has amazing deals sometimes if you're quick to get them. Our washer and dryer set was only $125 from craigslist. (Too bad there isn't one for Vernal! We're too small and isolated, unfortunately.)

4. Yard sales. I use yardsaletreasuremap.com to plan a good yard sale route based on a) how close the yard sales are to my house and to each other b) what the ad says they're selling. There is a place to make notes on that! Yard sales are great for all kind of random things, and they are about half the price of thrift stores. We most often get clothes, occasionally some furniture.

5. Thrift stores. We have a D.I. and a pawn shop. D.I. has similar things as a yard sale would, just more selection and better organized. I like getting clothes and office supplies (like binders) there. Pawn shops are really great places to get DVD's. There's a lot of other stuff, but we don't go there as often.

Where do you like to shop for good deals?

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Exercising My Right to Be Grouchy

Please let me do it, people.

The waiting is killing me! I'm not patient anyway, but 4 extensions to our closing date? Really?

I'm living in limbo right now with a half-packed house. I feel like my hard work yesterday is somewhat wasted since I don't get to move this week.

Our rent contract ends at the end of this month, and I have a fear of being homeless.

We're supposed to close this Friday. Is it really going to happen this time? What if we just get another extension? And another after that?

I know it will happen. I'm not trying to dwell on the negative, but I keep having anxiety dreams about signing lots of papers, and then the realtor disappears and doesn't bring me the rest of the papers I need, so I don't get the house.

How many more things can go wrong?

I have no control over any of this, really. I feel like I'm 39 weeks pregnant and people keep wanting pictures of my new baby, but it hasn't arrived yet! I don't like to be disappointing to my friends and family. I want more than anything to post some pictures of our new home.

I guess we'll all have to wait just a little bit longer.

On a positive note, I gave myself a haircut today, and it turned out nice. I chopped off 7 inches. I think I will survive the heat for the rest of summer. :)

Pictures from Vacation (Since I Forgot)

Kenny meeting baby Kate, my birthday buddy

airplane museum

just because it's funny, and I didn't think it was legal to swear in Utah

aracade games for our anniversary

dinner for our anniversary

me in Idaho Falls

Kenny styling on the 4th of July

right after we got home, new duds in a package from Grandma

Friday, July 12, 2013

Cheaper Eye Care

I don't love being blind. It's no fun to have to correct my vision, but it's life. I've found a few way to make things a little cheaper (or a lot, depending!)

1. Buy generic contact solution. 2 bottles cost $5 compared to $15 for the name brand stuff. I've never been able to tell a difference in how well it cleans my contacts. I can't believe I used to be afraid to try it, because it works just as well.

2. Buy contacts online. Lens.com is the cheapest as far as I can tell. My contacts cost me $26 per box. Walmart would charge me $43, and the eye doctor (the worst place to buy contacts!) would cost me $50 a box. I used to believe in rebates, but the last 2 I sent in never gave me my rebate. Lens.com saved me a lot more money than a $50 rebate would on full price contacts.

3. Wear contacts longer. My eye doctor assured me that wearing contacts for twice as long as they're "good for" is perfectly safe and lots of people do it. So, I wear 2-week contacts for a month to 6 weeks, and I change them when they start to bug me. My eyes always check out healthy.

4. Buy glasses online. I got my last pair for $10 (after shipping!) from zennioptical.com.  Wow. They're just as nice as any glasses I've had before. I can't believe how much cheaper it is.

5. Wear glasses instead of contacts. I think this one speaks for itself. I wore glasses for a year to save us money when we didn't have any. I don't love them, but I'll do it again if I ever need to. There's no way to make one pair of contacts last for years, but glasses can last almost forever if you take care of them.

Glasses or contacts? (For me, it's all about the contacts. I like to look like this :-) instead of this B-( .

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Vacation Part 3: Reunion

I decided to take some time alone on the morning of the 4th, so I skipped out on most of the parade. I was glad I did. It gave me a chance to feel like a normal person again.

We packed up our stuff and headed to Albion, ID, for the annual Head reunion. We got there fairly late but got to see everyone and eat dinner.

I didn't do much on Friday except hang out, because I had a terrible night of sleep. That's just life when I share a room with my kids. I took a nap and tried to regain some energy, but I didn't feel too well all day. James went to a basketball tournament after dinner, so I put the kids to bed and was kind of bored. Oh well.

Saturday I went shopping with Melodie to get lunch for everyone. I definitely took a nap - for 2 hours! while everyone was out swimming or in the hot tub. After dinner there were karaoke and a talent show. I played a couple of games of Mafia with the cousins. I'm not good at it because I can't lie very well, but I suppose that's a good trait to have.

Sunday we packed up and went to part of Sacrament meeting in Albion. Then, we drove home! It was a wonderful feeling to get back to Vernal.

I spent yesterday working much too hard for having a cold, but it was necessary to do laundry and buy food, because our fridge was completely bare. I went to bed totally wiped out but still didn't sleep great since I feel like I can't breathe too well. However, I am on the mend and taking it easy today. We found out the we will probably close next week on our house. I can't wait! We had to do some more paperwork yesterday (since we were supposed to close then) but I think it's a blessing in disguise since I have no motivation to pack anything. I'm okay with that, because I know it can be done in 2-3 days if necessary. This will be our 5th move in 4 years, and I sure hope it's the last for a while. I would love to live in one place for more than a year since that hasn't happened yet.

Vacation Part 2: Anniversary

Though our anniversary was technically on the 3rd, we started celebrating on the 1st by going to see Star Trek in the Rexburg theater. We liked it a lot. We played some arcade games afterward, and I won at all of them. That never happens in board games at home, so it made me feel pretty good.

We went out for a romantic dinner at Olive Garden, then on a walk around the river in Idaho Falls. After dessert, we spent our first night ever away from the kids at a cheap hotel. It was great to get a good night's sleep in air conditioning turned up all the way. We ate a yummy breakfast at Denny's in the morning and then continued the quest at a couple of thrift stores for some shirts for me. Still no luck, but it was fun to look around all the same. We got home in time for lunch (though we weren't hungry). I missed the boys, and it appears that Kenny really missed me. He cried when I walked in the door and wouldn't let me out of his sight until he went down for his nap. I guess he's still Mama's boy. :)

We were going to take the boys to the zoo, but it was closed, so we went to dinner instead. We then visited my Aunt Pat. It was really great to see her and my cousins.

The boys went fishing on Wednesday, which made a delicious dinner of fish and grits. I prepped the turtle popcorn (a snack for the reunion) and made a trip to Winco with Melodie. James and I went on a double date with Sam and Jesse to Millhollow and the Spori to see artwork. By the way, I'm an aunt! Sam and Jesse's little girl Charlotte is so cute, and Joseph is already claiming that she is HIS cousin, so no one else gets to share her. He's a funny boy, and I think he will be very protective of his little sister. Kenny just tried to hit her (not in a mean way) and said, "Baby! Baby!" He's still a  baby himself, so I don't blame him.

Being away from the boys for a day made me realize that I'm still exhausted all the time. Summertime is not my favorite while being pregnant, so I'll be glad for some cool weather again!

Vacation Part 1: Rexburg

We've been home now for two days from our epic trip, and all I can say is that I'm relieved! 10 days is a long time to be gone from home, and I tend to stress out a lot during travel. I doubt that will ever change, because I don't sleep well, eat well, or get to stick to any kind of routine. I'm also around a lot of people constantly, which really drains the life out of me. I'm an introvert; can you tell? I thrive on being alone for a few hours a day. Due to the length of this trip, I have returned home with a cold.

It was a pretty good trip as trips go. We left on Friday, the 28th, around 7 a.m. and stopped in Pleasant Grove, UT, to visit one of my dearest friends. The visit was much too short, as they always are, but I got to meet Cindy's sweet baby, Kate, who was born on my birthday!

We stopped for lunch and took the boys to the Hill AFB museum. They loved it. I was pretty tired by then because of it being so darn hot, so I sat and took a rest while the boys looked around. We got to Rexburg in time for dinner and then went out for ice cream with James's parents.

Saturday I lazed around (after an awful night of sleep) while James went paintballing. Since it was so miserably hot, I went on a quest for maternity shirts that don't require a second layer but still look good on me. No luck whatsoever.

Sunday we had family over for brunch because Jacob gave his farewell talk in church. He's doing a service mission in the temple, among other things. Family came over for dinner as well, and it was great to see my brother, Christian.

I have some pictures that I'll have to add later. We left the camera in Rexburg! Boo.

Friday, July 5, 2013

Keeping Office Supplies Cheap & Organized

Cheap

1. Check out thrift stores/yard sales for office supplies. My #1 money-saving purchase is definitely binders. I can often find the nice binders with clear covers and pockets for $.50-1.50. New, they would cost $4-6 at Walmart. They generally need a little dusting, but that's it. Binders last forever if you're not carrying them around in a backpack.

2. Keep free stuff. If you end up with handouts or printouts with blank sides, why not reuse the other side? I scribble out love notes, blog posts, and all sorts of things on scratch paper. When my kids get interested in drawing, that's what they'll use. I know they won't mind, because that's what I always had. :)

I save rubber bands from produce I buy, and if I get things with paper clips, I save those too. It's amazing how many I've accumulated, and I've never had to buy a single one!

3. Make your own. I never have to buy notepads (though I've gotten those free as well). I cut scratch paper into fourths and staple it together.

I had some ancient folders that were falling apart, so I cut and hole-punched them to use as dividers in a binder. They're sturdy and work just as well as real dividers.

4. Fix things. I've gotten pretty expert at fixing books, I'm afraid to say. However, a recent skilled taping job saved me from buying a $20 book at the library! Scotch tape is perfectly clear, so I recommend keeping it (not an off brand) on hand for this kind of job.

I use packing taping to fix binders that are falling apart a little bit.

5. Reuse. While James and I were in school, we used the same school supplies until they were completely trashed. Though I'm not sure we've thrown away any binders, we finally used up notebooks after several classes of intense note-taking. When a new semester started, we fixed up binders, flipped over dividers and put in new labels, and ripped out old pages of notes in notebooks to make room for new classes.

If we get packages in the mail, we save the bubble wrap-lined envelopes and small boxes for when we need to send things in the future.

We also use rechargeable batteries. We keep a few regular batteries on hand, and when they run low, they get put into the clock. A clock is a low-drain device, so it uses less voltage that something like a child's toy or electric toothbrush. The supposedly dead battery will then work for another few months. After the clock, it's really dead!

Organized

Binders and dividers are my very favorite way to keep things neat. One binder has all our important papers and financial documents by year. Another binder keeps our inventories of food storage, clothing, etc., and another has all of James's school/work information. I have a few smaller folders for user manuals and documents for our car. Nothing takes up a lot of space and I can always find it.

I hate having too many papers around, so I try to keep things to a minimum. I clean out papers as often as I can, only keeping ones we absolutely need. I don't let junk mail accumulate. It goes in the trash as soon as it gets in the house. For papers that need sorting a little later, I pin them to a cork board and take care of them within the week. These include receipts and bills that need to be paid.

How do you keep up with the paperwork in your house? Do you ever find good deals on office supplies?