Thursday, January 29, 2009
So I decided, just for kicks, I would take a look and see if there was anyplace warm where we could go for a long weekend and not break the bank. So far, I haven't found anything.
Sandals Resort is saying that they are offering 60 percent off some of their packages. Well, for four days, including airfare it is still about $1,700 for the two of us. Not really what I wanted to spend.
There is a nice package for a 3 day cruise to the Bahamas that would be $558 for the both of us. Not a bad price at all! But, round trip airfare is about $200 for each of us. So there goes that idea. Plus, cruises worry me. There are pirates, people getting sick and people disappearing.
There is a 50 night Mediterranean Cruise. Fifty nights! That is for people who are so rich they don't need to work, and they have all the time off in the world. This cruise is over $8,000 and that doesn't include airfare.
Well, I think that I won't be going anywhere until October when we go to Disney.
So until then, I think I will surf Netflix for travel videos.
Wednesday, January 28, 2009
So we have been looking around at houses for awhile. We probably have toured about 20 different houses and came up empty. We actually put in an offer on a house, but they turned us down.
Our quest continues and we grow incredibly frustrated. For one thing, houses in our area are so over priced. If I hear one more newscaster say that the housing market is a "buyers market" one more time I am going to chuck the TV across the room. It might be a buyers market elsewhere, but not here.
I decided to do some research at different places throughout the country to see what a comparable house in each place would cost and here is what I found out.
Where We Live
This house is right in our area. It is 2150 sq ft, with four bedrooms and two bathrooms. It also has a two car garage. The house is brand new.
This house comes with the hefty price tag of: $224,900
Ohio (Closer to home, but a little more west.)
I have a friend who lives in Ohio and told us that the houses were pretty reasonable. So I thought I would check them out and see what they had to offer.
This house here is a little smaller then the one where I live. It is about 1544 sq ft. It has four bedrooms, two and a half baths, a two car garage and was built in 2004. It's a little older and a little smaller, but still a very nice house.
This house is on the market for: $100,000.
Now that is a major price drop!
Indiana (The mid-west)
I saw at a couple of different places that Indiana was one of the best places to find a nice house at a reasonable cost. I can now see that is very true.
This house is still smaller than the first house with 1,494 sq ft. It has three bedrooms, 2.5 bathrooms, and a two-car garage. This house is the oldest one so far. It was built in 1999.
It is listed at: $116,000.
North Carolina (Sign me up for warmer weather)
I one time went on a vacation to Myrtle Beach, and we decided to visit this town in NC. I immediately fell in love with the community and it's small town charm. It had several business downtown, and was a really pretty city. So naturally, it was a choice for me to look at their houses for sale.
This house might not look like much, but it is a completely refurbished 1920s bungalow with 1,085 sq ft, three bedrooms and one bathroom. There isn't a garage, but parking is available off street.
I know the house is a lot smaller then the one available in my area, but this house is right downtown in the adorable city. Within walking distance from farmers' markets, restaurants and great stores.
This house is for sale for:$114,950. Oh, I should also mention that a beach is only about an hour away.
Washington (The Wild West)
So we have hit the north, the south, the Midwest and now time for the west. I will say that a lot of places out west are very expensive. But, I did happen to find this community to have a decent amount of houses for a reasonable price.
The photo (being this small) doesn't do this house justice. It isn't run down, it is just the pixelation of the photo.
So this house is 1500 sq ft, three bedrooms and one bathroom. I can't find anything about parking.
But the inside is all new and looks very nice.
This house could be yours for: $120,000.
Now I understand that not all of the houses that I have shown are created equally. The one where I live is bigger than all the others, but the other houses have various other good qualities.
The biggest point I am trying to make is, that where I live is considered to be a distressed community. If we are that distressed, than why are our houses so expensive? Are we all doomed to rent for the rest of our lives while we wait for this huge drop in the housing market?
But, for now, I guess we will continue to look and keep our eyes peeled for "our house."
Tuesday, January 27, 2009
I am really upset at you.
We have spent so much time together. Long days traveling through the jungle; nice quite evenings visiting my farm and hanging out with my cows and fishing. But, now you have really hurt me deeply.
Wii....I'm not sure if we will ever be the same.
Under the urging of my nutritionist, I decided to start up a new exercise regiment. He had been telling me to join Curves, which I was going to do, but then my dad found a Wii Fit at Target and snagged one for me.
So we brought it home and set it up about a week ago. As soon as we had it setup and turned on, an adorable little animated wii fit balance board popped up and told my husband and I some instructions. Then it told me to step on and it would analyze me. Well, I should have known better, but as soon as I stepped on and the wii balance board went "oh" I should have known it was not going to be good.
Then the adorable little balance board exclaimed in a high pitched cute voice, "That's Obese." Then my little Mii's tummy ballooned out and stood there in all its obese glory.
Like I said, I knew exactly what it was going to say because I had been seeing my nutritionist, and I had been working hard to get my weight down. (56 pounds so far, baby!) But, it still took a lot of my patience to not kick the balance board and then list it on eBay.
I decided to give it another shot, and tried some of the exercises and games, and I do have to say I had a lot of fun.
The Wii Fit program is broken into four different areas, yoga, balance games, aerobics, and strength training.
In yoga, you follow a trainer as they show you how to do the pose, and then you give it a shot. While you are holding the pose, the balance board keeps track of your balance and then gives you a score accordingly.
I really enjoy the balance games such as heading soccer balls, walking a tightrope and even doing a ski jump. Once again, as the name states, these games focus on your ability to balance on the balance board.
For many people, the aerobics section is the one they are most interested in. This area contains several mini-games designed to get you moving and grooving. Hula-Hoop, dance stepping and jogging are all great exercises. My favorite, which is jogging, let's you run around a virtual island following a Wii Mii who serves as your pacer. During this exercise, you do not use the balance board, but you either hold the wiimote or put it in your pocket and jog in place. Eventually you can unlock free run which allows you to create your own jogging path through the island.
The final area is strength training, and it is the place that I am most interested in. This is what my nutritionist wants me to focus the most on. He said that by strengthening and toning my muscles, it will help me lose more weight.
For these exercises you have to choose between either a female, or male trainer. I chose the female one, for obvious reasons. (My husband chose the male trainer, and I really can't see much of a difference between the two.) Anyway, this area gives your various exercise such as torso twists and jack knives (they sound like torture devices) to help target different muscles in the body.
I would definitely rate Wii Fit as something you should buy. It is a fun way to keep in shape. The price tag for Wii Fit is about $89 if you already have a Wii. But, if you would need to go and purchase a Wii you can add on about an additional $250. But, all things considered you have to think about how much you would spend on a gym membership. I am sure you would come out financially on top with the Wii.
Here's to your health!
Monday, January 26, 2009
I am currently writing freelance articles for a local newspaper, I have my photography business (which has slowed down significantly) and I am not sure what to do next.
Ever since I was about in eighth grade, I have known what I wanted to do. I knew that I wanted to become a journalist, I was going to go to Columbia School of Journalism in New York City, get a job at Rolling Stone magazine and interview Paul McCartney for a cover article at some point.
During the journey from my eighth grade self to my now self this has changed a lot. I knew that if I would go to NYC I would be going completely on my own. My boyfriend (now husband) would not be going with me, my parents (who I am very close to) would be really far away, and I just thought I did not want to give up what I already had.
So I decided to go to a college that was closer to home, and had a really good program, than to pursue my dream of living in a big city and experiencing that exciting life.
Right before I graduated, I started my job at a local radio station. While working at the radio station I started another job working on developing the downtown where we live. I really enjoyed my job and thought I was giving a lot back to the community in which I grew up.
After this job, I really didn't know what to do next. I had always had the proverbial branch right there to grab on to before I had to let go of the previous one. Now, I was in a free fall and not sure what to do.
I decided to do the photography business, and then talked to an old boss of mine when I was a freelancer back in college and he got me into where I am freelancing now.
You would think that because I make my own schedule, I am doing what I went to college for, and I have a wonderful husband that supports me in my endeavors, I would be contented and happy.
But, for some reason I am not. I keep looking back and seeing the dreams that I had, and I see how I am nowhere where I thought I would be. I guess I had just always pictured my life to be a little different than it is now.
In a way I feel almost trapped. The town that I live in is an old coal mining town, not that there is anything wrong with being a coal mining town, but coal has died out a long time ago, and people refuse to believe this. So the town has stagnated. The quality of life is horrible. The theatre in the town is slowly sinking, so is the public library and no one wants to really do anything about it except say, "We are going to do a study" or form committees that never actually meet. People have just lost hope. There are not that many young people in the town, and the older population cannot understand why. There are no jobs for people with college degrees, and housing is so over priced. Oh, and I forgot, the city is bankrupt and taxes for housing within city limits is ridiculous.
I got a little off prompt here, but I guess what I am trying to figure out is the age old question, what should I do with my life?
There has always been a part of me that thought about going to law school. So I have been doing research on this and I found out it is really expensive! I knew it was not going to be cheap, but I did not think it would be that expensive.
This has lead to numerous questions, and several anxiety attacks, like how can I pay for this, what if I do not like it, what if I cannot get a job, what would I have to sacrifice in order to become a lawyer?
I am really scarred. I have never been in this position before. I just wish there was a way I could know exactly what to do.
For now, I think I will continue to study for the LSAT, take it and see how it goes and go from there.
Wish me luck. If you have a map that shows me how to navigate through this, could you send me a copy?
Friday, January 23, 2009
If you are anything like me, you have tons of little things floating around the house and you don't know where to put them. Things like old magazines, trinkets that you have collected over time, or items that you use everyday, but have no place to put them. And if you are also like me, then you are a really big fan of Martha Stewart, and when it comes time to find a solution to a domestically challenged problem you ask yourself WWMD?
So today, I decided to turn to Martha to get a few helpful hints on helping to organize your home, and quite possibly your life.
Cereal Box Organizer
If you are like a lot of people in America, then you eat a lot of cereal. The problem with eating all of this cereal, besides too many carbs, is what do you do with the box after you are finished. A lot of people just through it away. But, with this new trend all about being "green," there is even a way to make your garbage more trendy.
Martha suggests turning your cereal box into all types of organizers. Big ones can hold magazines, medium sizes can work for recipe holders, and the small ones can be used to hold supplies.
America may be the land of the free, but it is also the land of the cell phone. You can't go anywhere without seeing someone talking or texting on their cell. Take a look next time you go to the mall. The major problem is what to do with all the chargers. You don't want your cell phone, iPod, and Blackberry cords hanging all over the place. So Martha suggests that you buy:
Two cloth-covered boxes with hinged sides and grommet finger holes. ("Library project" cases, $17 each, containerstore.com)
Utility knife with a fresh blade
Power strip (with an on/off switch to conserve electricity)
Self-adhesive Velcro strips
Self-adhesive cord hooks (3M Mounting Cord Clips, $3.50 for 4, amazon.com)
1 foot of 1/2-inch-wide ribbon (optional)
1. Prepare the bottom box: On the side of the box that has the grommet hole, draw a 1-inch-tall rectangle at the other end (trace a small Post-it note). Using a metal ruler as a guide, carefully score along this line with the knife until you cut through (do not try to pierce the box and then saw).
2. Push the prong end of the power strip out through the hole from the inside. Use the Velcro to anchor the power strip to the inside back of the box (or the bottom, depending on what best accommodates your adaptors). Plug in the adaptors, and thread their ends out through the grommet hole.
3. Prepare the top box: Space the cord hooks a few inches apart, attaching them near the back of the box to allow room for the gadgets when you shut the lid. Thread the device ends of the adaptors in through the box's built-in grommet hole, and anchor them under the hooks
4.Optional Finish the edge of the rectangular cutout with ribbon and glue. Also optional (if a little
messier inside): Use just one box, stick the power strip to the very back, and coil the cords with twist ties.
Tip: Leave the box open when recharging so heat doesn't build up, and so you don't forget to grab your gadgets on the way out.
Us ladies have a lot of jewelry. Some of it is special occasion, others is just costume and great for adding color to a boring outfit. However, all of this jewelry ends up in a massive, tangled ball that even Clark Griswold wouldn't be able to take apart! But have no fear, Martha has a solution!
I think a lot of her ideas are generally good ones, and practical. But, sometimes she has a few that leave people scratching their head thinking, "who does this?" This is one of them.
Take antique tea cups and saucers and place them in a dresser drawer lined with velvet. This way you can see all of your jewelery. (Great if you have the china and velvet lined drawer.)
I hope you enjoyed today's tips, and even found some to be useful. For more organizing ideas, or ideas on other domestic areas, visit www.marthastewart.com
Tuesday, January 20, 2009
I don't really blog about political things. I have opinions on politics, but I think that there are enough blogs out there to do that for us. (As a matter of fact, there are too many.) But, I do have to say something about the historic event that happened today. America elected a new breed of president into the White House.
Photo from Cnn.com
I am not only talking about Obama being a black man, but a man with a different paradigm. A man who grew up poor, and has worked for a living. I am not saying that past presidents haven't worked, but a lot of them have been blessed to be able to slide into a position in the family business. But, I do believe Obama has needed to work to live.
I don't want to give the wrong impression, I was not a big Obama supporter from the beginning. And some of my ideologies still do not match with his. But, I have to do something. I have to do a four letter word.....hope.
The state of the United States is in a bad spot. We are collapsing in on ourselves. People are losing jobs, the economy is hurting, there is so much fighting in the world and senseless killing. We as Americans need something to hope for. We need to have something to make us get up every morning and think that maybe today will be just a little better than yesterday.
I am sure I am not the only one saying this, but I would not want to be in his shoes. Like the great Titan, Atlas, he is precariously balancing the world on his shoulders. And let's hope that Atlas doesn't shrug.
I was watching an episode of Boston Legal the other day. One of the cases was about a gentleman wanting to sue the United States for not finishing what they started with getting involved with the horrible things going on in the Sudan. One of the things the judge said can also apply to today's events, "Because we're Americans. Because we're a nation-perhaps the nation-that's supposed to give a damn."
So let's all use that four letter word today, and HOPE for a better tomorrow.
Friday, January 9, 2009
After my incident with last night's Shepard's Pie I started thinking about stains, and the various ways to get them out of clothes, carpet and other materials. During my search on the web, I found these helpful hints from the Queen of Clean, Heloise!
Ball-Point Ink Stain
Rubbing Alcohol: "Ink formulations, fabrics, and hairspray ingredients have changed today. To get rid of the ballpoint ink from clothing you launder, place the garment on a towel stain-side down. Lightly dampen a cloth with rubbing alcohol and gently dab (do not rub) the stain." ~ Heloise
Candle Wax on Carpet
Ice and Metal Pan: "Put ice cubes into a metal pan. Place it right on top of the candle wax until the wax is frozen solid. With a small hammer, hit the wax to break it up. Pick up the pieces. Then apply dry-cleaning solvent on a clean cloth to remove any leftover residue. " ~Heloise
"Generally, lipstick can be removed from washable clothing with isopropyl rubbing alcohol. Use two hand towels; put one down and place the lipstick stain face down on it. Dab the back of the stain with the other towel, which has been dipped into the alcohol. Repeat until stain is gone. If there’s any residue, use a pre-spotter or stain remover before laundering and let air dry to be sure the stain is gone. Lipsticks today have newer formulas, such as long-lasting or those with a lot of gloss. Several treatments may be needed to remove these stains."~ Heloise
"For clothes that you launder, soaking the bloodstained garment in cold water for about 30 minutes will usually remove it. However, if stains are visible, mix a bit of water with unseasoned meat tenderizer (which breaks down the protein in the blood) and apply to the area. If the garment can’t be laundered at home, take it to the dry cleaner right away and identify the stain. Let the professionals save the clothing. " ~ Heloise
"Suddenly you notice a stain, but it really isn’t a mystery because it probably was there when the garment was put away or actually laundered, but did not come out totally. These stains frequently are from a light-colored liquid, such as a clear soft drink or white wine that contains sugar. If you’ve tried all of the normal spot-and-stain removers without success, give this a try: If the garment is white or light colored, use three-percent hydrogen peroxide on a cotton swab to dab at the stain. Allow it to set for several hours because it acts as a milder, slower bleaching agent."~Heloise
Thursday, January 8, 2009
I really can't stand winter. Sure, it has it's nice points like drinking hot tea or hot coco all snuggled under a blanket with a special someone. Or how I can justify hitting the snooze button a few extra times because it is just too cold to get out of bed.
But, for the most part I can't stand it. I hate being cold, having to layer up and wear shoes and socks all the time. I also really hate having to worry that I might step on a patch of ice and end up on my bum. (I am not the most graceful when it comes to walking.)
I love to be able to have the windows open, have a warm breeze float through the house and having pretty painted toes slipped into some colorful flip-flops.
Right now as I type this it is 25 degrees outside, and tomorrow's high is only supposed to be 27! By this Saturday, they are calling for us to receive three to six inches of snow.
When it is this cold, I don't want to leave the house and then I feel like a prisoner.
I thought I would make a great winter dinner for my husband and I, Shepard's Pie, and I ended up dropping the casserole in the oven, upside down, and ended up with our dinner all over the oven. Thank goodness McDonald's is only a half mile up the road. (Incidentally, my husband dropped his French Fries all over the floor, next to the oven. There is some bad juju going on around the oven.)
Well, perhaps a cup of tea will improve my mood and warm me up.
Tuesday, January 6, 2009
As another weekly segment that I would like to add to the "special" weekly blogs every Tuesday, is "Buy it, Borrow it, or Skip it." This blog's intention is to tell you if a product is worth your money or not.
It is my intention to use this weekly segment to let you know about various products that can make your life easier or more enjoyable. But, after reading this book, I felt like I had to share my thoughts.
I just finished reading "Roasting in Hell's Kitchen," an autobiography about the world renowned chef, Gordon Ramsay.
The thing you need to know about me, is that I really admire this man. Sure, at times he can seem harsh, and even a little bit crass. But, he always says what we wish we could say in situations, but don't have the "bollocks" (to use a favorite word of Gordon's) to do so.
If only I could be a little more like him, then I would not be roped into doing things I don't want to do, and I would not end up sprinkling a little white lie here and there as to not hurt some one's feelings.
The book starts at his childhood, so you can see where he came from. After reading this chapter in particular, you really feel for him and what he had to endure. His father was an unrealistic man and keep uprooting his family so he could pursue his fly-by-night dreams all over the UK. His father would often encourage Gordon's younger brother Ronnie, who later became a heroin addict, to physically fight Gordon, to toughen them up. This would often end with Gordon hiding underneath of the dinner table crying and cowering with fear.
A later chapter describes the abuse he had to endure while he trained with top chefs throughout Europe. Verbal abuse, and even a few plates full of food flying at his head, were some of the things that went on in the kitchens that he studied under.
The book also goes on to more personal things like him dealing with his addict brother, as mentioned earlier, his wife and children, and his early football career. (That's soccer to us Yanks.)
But, after reading this book, I have more respect for him than I had before. He took all of the pain and ugliness that he had to endure as a child, and made it into this successful empire that is truly built on a passion for fine cuisine.
My recommendation is to buy this book. It is real page turner, and you will finish it quickly. The collection of color photographs is a nice touch and helps you connect with him even more. Like a fine marinate, this book will only get better with each read through.
Friday, January 2, 2009
I have decided that I would do a couple "special" blogs a week. The first of these blogs will be a post every Friday about Helpful Hints. These are things that I have learned that have really made life a lot easier, more enjoyable, or even added a little bit more change in my pocket.
It's Easy Being Green
Contrary to what our favorite Muppet, Kermit the Frog, might have us think, it is rather easy being green. When it comes to the environment that is.
It seems like you can't open a magazine, flip through the TV channels, or even drive your car without seeing or hearing something about the big green movement and how "hip" it is to be environmentally aware.
My move into becoming more green came as a happy coincidence. We had just adopted our crazy calico cat Anastasia, and I was worried about using the same floor cleaner I had been using because of all the chemicals there are. (Plus Ana has this knack of eating and or licking everything off of the floor).
So I surfed the Internet, and after some research I found some great alternatives to cleaning chemicals. As an added bonus, these cleaning solutions are a whole lot cheaper than their over the counter counterparts.
Window and Surface Cleaner
* Get a squirt bottle. You can find these at most department stores in the garden section or haircare isle. I got mine at a dollar bin at Target.
* In the squirt bottle, combine equal parts vinegar and water.
* Shake to mix and Voila! You have a cleaner that can be used on everything from mirrors, to glass and counter tops and other surfaces.
Mild Abrasive Cleanser
* Take a little bit of baking soda and put into a disposable container. I use a plastic cup.
* Add a enough water to make a paste, but not to much. You don't want to have the cleanser be too runny or else you will have a mess on your hands!
* Apply the paste to the area you want to clean and rub in.
* Get a damp sponge or cloth and wipe away the paste.
* You can also wipe the surface again after you gather the left over paste.
* This concoction is great for porcelain, electric cook tops and kitchen sinks.
Toilet Bowl Cleaner
* This is not only an easy way to clean your toilets, but it is fun to watch!
* Shake some baking soda into your toilet and then add some vinegar.
* This will create a fizzing action. During this, grab your toilet brush and start scrubbing.
* Flush, and you are all done!
* Combine vinegar and water in a bucket. Some people add some different scents like lavender or lemon juice.
* This solution works on everything from tile to wooden floors.
Polishing Wooden Floors
*Grab a bowl and mix equal parts of Vinegar and Oil.
* Here is the hard part, you have to get on your hands and knees and rub this polish into the floor with a cloth.
* BE CAREFUL!!! This solution can be very slippery, so make sure to rub it in really really well. Also, be extra cautious until you know that it has really soaked in.
* You don't need a lot, so use it sparingly.
Those are just a few examples of the cleaning supplies I use around our house. Make sure to have a bucket, a mop, some sponges and or cloths.
If anyone has any other great homemade green cleaning products, I would love to hear. Just post it in the comments section.
I have been only one day into 2009 and things seem to be sailing along as usual. We undecorated the house today and put together our joint Christmas gift that we bought ourselves: an electric fireplace. It is really sweet! It has a beautiful mantle and a remote control, so us lazy people can turn it on and off from the comfort of our sofa.
I will have to take some photos tomorrow and include them in a post.
This year I have decided to keep the tradition of making New Year's resolutions alive. So far, I am keeping one that I made, which is to blog more. With all of this technology available at our fingertips I thought I would try to keep up posting more about what is going on here.
The second of my resolutions is to finally get my Etsy store in place. I have been saying that I am going to sell my photography and purses on the Internet. The only problem is that I have to supply a credit card, and I don't have one and I don't feel like having my debit card information floating out there. So I applied for a Target Visa and we will have to see how it goes.
My third resolution is to change my name. We have been married for over a year now, and I still need to "officially" change to my married name. I just don't want to sit down at the Social Security Office for hours on end when I could be doing something more productive with my time.
This blog was not too interesting, but I thought I should post something.
My contacts are drying in my eyes as I type, so I think I am going to head to bed.