I’m Primed about Amazon Prime

AD.  <- Big Brother makes me say this because I have affiliate links but I wouldn’t rave about anything if I didn’t believe in it.

When my husband wanted to sign us up for Amazon Prime I was less than enthusiastic.  However, kind of like the whole marriage thing, I went with it and have to say I’m very happy with the overall experience.

1.  I love free shipping (most of the time).  I admit everything I want isn’t always on the free list but I’m lazy and enjoy having things shipped to my door instead of me driving to the store.  I was able to have Despicable Me sent to my cousin free shipping for Christmas which was awesome because I’m a procrastinator and always waiting until the last minute.  I was able to spend my savings on them gift wrapping it for me.

2.  Instant movies and TV shows!!!  My daughter is obsessed with Blue’s Clues.  Of course, when she demands to watch it there is never a current episode on TV.  We have a Roku and stream Netflix and Amazon Prime through it so when she wants Blue I can easily turn it on.  Some might question this parenting style.  I am a pick your battle type of parent and some days if I need to cook dinner and she wants Blue then she shall have Blue and we will both be happy!

3.  Borrowing books free to your Kindle.  Hubby loves this and occasionally I can get a book and wrestle the Kindle from him for a read.  Now, we have two Kindles so the old one is Baby Bug’s and I put kid books on there for her.  She doesn’t get to use it that much but when traveling or at the doctor office it is a great tool to pull out of my bag of tricks.  Last year Hubby and I shared this book on his kindle.  Great read!

Overall, I have found Amazon Prime to be completely worth it!  It is $79 a year but we make up that money in savings on books, getting rid of cable and shipping costs.  Right now you can try Amazon Prime with their 30-Day Free Trial.  If you find in that 30-Days it isn’t working for you, cancel.  Simple.

Has anyone else found Amazon Prime to be as amazing and worthwhile as I have?  Just don’t tell my husband I think he was right.  It will go to his head and the next thing you know he will be declaring I have to cook or clean or some other domestic job.  No one wants that but him.

While we are talking about Amazon what books are you most looking forward to reading in 2014?  I’m growing my list and taking suggestions.

Shop Amazon – New Year, New You in Books
Disclaimer:  I am an Amazon Affiliate.  If you click on any links and make a purchase, I might get some kick back.  All monies from my Amazon Affiliate account go into savings for our second adoption.  However, I have integrity and the opinions are my own.  If it was crap, I’d tell ya.

Money Saving 101

Currently I am looking into ways to save money.  Lucky for me I have some pretty talented friends.  My friend, Kyttra, is a money saving guru.  She is an exemplary SAHM of three funny kids.  I’ve known her for over 20 years and I am constantly in awe of her energy, talent and accomplishments.  I begged asked her to share some of her knowledge with me.  Please make her feel welcome!

Money Saving 101 by Kyttra

Coupons: Coupons are the number one way that I save money for my family! I have dropped our monthly food/cleaning supply budget from $800 a month to $400 a month. We are a family of 5 and for $100 a week we eat, have vitamins, have all our cleaning supplies and paper goods, over the counter meds, band-aids, pet food and more. Not too shabby.

Coupons are fairly easy.

1.     Be organized– I receive the Wednesday & Sunday newspaper. I clip all coupons and file them immediately. The more categories the better or you won’t find them later. (Don’t just file all frozen foods in one section. Divide it into Frozen Veggies, Frozen Meats, Frozen desserts, Frozen Snacks…Get it?)

2.     Use the WEB– I am signed up for PCH coupons and Box Tops Coupons.  I also search the web for coupons on ALL sale items or anything I have to have. I am constantly shocked how many coupons are out there.

3.     Ask Friends– Lots of people HATE couponing. They just don’t want to bother. Do not hesitate to ask them if you can have their coupons.

4.     Do it your way-I tried to join a local group of couponers, but they were way too specific and their methods were things I would never follow through with. So I quit. Tweak it the way you need to. None of our brains work the same way. Organize it your way and you are more likely to do it consistently.

5.     Be prepared to stock up– I know it is hard to budget this way, but if a sale is taking your favorite toilet paper from $7.99 to $5.99 and there is a $1 coupon, buy several and stock-up.

6.     MOST IMPORTANTLY, give up brand loyalty– I used to only use Crest toothpaste, but Colgate has great sales and consistent coupons. I now get all our toothpaste free. I love Quaker Oatmeal and Quaker Chewy Granola bars, but they are very stingy with their coupons. Now we eat Active Lifestyle oatmeal or generic and Nature Valley Granola Bars.  Obviously there are things you won’t want to switch brands, everyone has that one thing that HAS to be what they love. I get it. But, do your best to be open-minded.

Groupons/Living Social/Entertainment Books.

1.     Housecleaning–  This is one of those things I love to buy on these sites. I get 3 to 4 hours of cleaning with 2 cleaners for $65. Then if 3 others buy from your link you get it free.

2.     Hotels– We are lucky enough to travel a lot. We buy Groupons for Hotels all the time. Not only do you get a great room rate, they throw in crazy stuff like Champagne, chocolates, free parking, breakfast and at our last hotel, $20 restaurant credit and a beer tasting.

3.     Kids activities– We have purchased trampoline, bounce house passes and ceramic painting and ice skating lessons. My son took swim lessons and gymnastics through these sites. I have even given these Groupons as gifts for my friends kiddos. I love being able to try something deeply discounted before enrolling my kids at full price and finding out they aren’t really into it.

4.     Eating out– One of the biggest money wasters is eating out. Unfortunately it is one of the things my family loves to do. So, in order to work it into our budget we buy Groupons and Living Social deals all the time. You have to subscribe, because let’s face it we are all too busy to remember to check all these sites on our own.

Garage Sales

1.     Family Outing– No joke, every Saturday morning our family gets together, makes a list of what we are looking for and hits the sales. Teach your kids early that life is expensive and Garage Sales are a perfectly great way to buy things in good shape for pennies on the dollar. My kids love it. They look forward to it and even budget what they want to buy. We give each kiddo $2 and it keeps them busy all morning.  We only take $40 with us each week and we rarely spend it all. We have purchased Soccer cleats and shin guards

2.     Family Money Making venture– Twice a year we conduct a “Burge Purge”. We go through the house and garage and clean out anything that hasn’t been used in 1 year, is too small, doesn’t fit our needs anymore or we would like to update. We hold (at least) 2 garage sales a year. Buy your signs at Dollar Tree and keep them sale to sale. Have a regular pattern for setting up tables so it is streamlined and doesn’t feel like as much work. Have the kids help you price things. Seeing how little you get at a garage sale compared to the original price paid is another GREAT lesson. We also have the kids do a lemonade stand. It is a bit of nostalgia I love, and helps them see how long it takes to earn a few dollars. At the end of the sale, have the whole family help get the leftovers to a donation center.  (The lessons are endless.)

 This is our first lesson. Come back next time when I will write about gift giving and travel savings.

Did you learn something new?  What are some of the tricks you use to save money?  I’ll be honest and admit I am not a coupon guru like Kyttra.  I did use two coupons last week and saved $9 on my grocery bill.  However, she reminded of a few ways I save money in my hippy way.  I’m working on a companion Money 101 Hippy Style version where I share information on co-ops and farms.  I’m off to check out Kyttra’s Groupon tip for deals on kid’s activities.   I love how there are so many ways to save money for every type of lifestyle.  

Can I be Crafty?

I’ve been spending my 40th year asking myself once a month Can I be…  So far I can be a Travel blogger if I’m not attempting 19 states in 20 days with a 10 month old, I can be organized if by organized I don’t have to pass a Peter Walsh test and I can be a Fitness Warrior even if I can’t workout because of a sprained toe.  For October, I asked Can I be Crafty?

Why, yes!  I am a crafty little bugger.   I blame my mom.  I come from a long line of crafty women.  We can all sew, paint, knit, crochet, cross stitch and tin punch.  Some have mastered stain glass, ceramics, quilting and felting.  Growing up surrounded by talented crafting women was inspiring.  I remember I was not into Barbie until I realized I could design and sew her outfits to wear.  Another favorite project was building dioramas with shoe boxes and cardboard.  Somehow in my twenties I broke my crafting bone.  I would start a dozen projects but not complete one.  It seems along the way I changed.  What was my problem?

One of my favorite paintings by my grandma.

This month as I was working on my daughter’s Ladybug Birthday party I realized something huge.  I’m afraid of it not being perfect.  I struggled to make the tutu because I feared it might have imperfections.  I stressed over the reusable snack bags as some women do over their outfits.   What if little kids point their fingers at me and laugh?  What if dogs pee on me?  What if all the women gather to gossip about how awful my crafting abilities are?  What would Tori Spelling think?  What happens if I make it and it sucks?

I cautiously knotted together her tutu until I had an adorable ladybug tutu.  There were a few knots which weren’t even.  Guess what happened.  Nothing!  The world didn’t stop.  The craft police didn’t show up to confiscate my glue gun.  Tim Gunn wasn’t knocking down my door to forcibly remove my sewing machine.  The fact of the matter is I’m the only one who cares!  You want me to really blow your mind?  Other people are more impressed I even tried because they are stuck in the afraid of imperfections mode.  I’m their freakin’ hero!   I strapped on my ribbon tulle belt complete with glue gun, fabric scissors, crafting clue and a ruler.  I was going to craft.

A painting I did as a child before the fear of imperfection and before we found out I was partially color-blind.

I felt so good about the successful Ladybug Birthday party I hosted a Pinterest party.  It was a blast and I will have the post up about it next week.  I can safely party and say I can be crafty.  I think I will go make another board on Pinterest to find inspiration for another Pinterest party.

For the month of November, I am asking Can I be Financially Thrifty?  So far, I’ve had my bank card info stolen and a rough budget meeting with hubby.  It might be my first big failure month.  However, I am excited to announce I have a guest blogger with some Money Saving tips.  Her first post will be up Monday and is about Coupons.  I’m not very good at using coupons but I did save $9.00 with two coupons last week.

Are you crafty?  Do you have a closet full of 1/2 finished craft projects?  How do you throw caution to the wind and just craft?

Sunday Social

My buddy Marlaz (who I will soon be seeing in less then a week!) pointed out a site in her 10 on Tuesday and its accuracies or more accurately its inaccuracies.  I checked out Spok.eo myself. 
A.  It had me at an old address but in all fairness I move lots. 
B.  It put my old house value at $148!!!!  I should have made $60 more on my sell.  Plus, they actually show my neighbors house instead of mine. 
C.  They have me as a gemini. 
D. It said: (All true)
Loves reading
Subscribes to magazines
Cares about healthy living
Enjoys gardening
Is self-driven  – How the heck would it know that????
E.  It said I have some college.  Hello!!!  A BFA thank you very much.

Tip Junkie some awesome DIY coat racks!  My favorites are 5,7 & 17.

As it would be The DIY Spot highlighted the very store where I could buy the knobs needed to make my DIY coat rack!  Lucky me.  Only need to fly to London.

Money Crashers had a post called 5 Tips to get your Friends to be Frugal with You.  I would like to add number 6:  Share this post with your friends.  :-) 

The Everything Yoga Blog reminds us that Oct. is Vegetarian Awareness Month.  She has a great post with resources to check out if you are interested in vegetarianism.

I’m heading to Savannah tonight for our house hunting trip.  I love house hunting.  Fingers crossed that we find something amazing.

Thrifty Thursday

One of the concepts I have been intrigued with lately is the one of passive income.  It is partially my dream to spend lots of my time traveling the world.  The way to do that is with moola!  So either I need a job that can be done anywhere and/or have a means of passive income. 
What jobs would proved me with money and can be done anywhere? 
Website designer – Not really my thing. 
Writer – This one is possible but would take time to build a career or actually produce a hit that would bring in income.  I’m working on it with my next degree.
?  – Any other ideas I haven’t thought of?
How do I build passive income?
Investments – This takes money to make money.  We are about 18 months away from being completely debt free and then we will be able to start working on investments.
Rentals – First you have to own a property.  Second you have to be close enough to take care of it.  This seems more trouble than it is worth. 
Invent the next big thing – I’m not that creative. 
? – Are there ways that you make money passively?  Do you have other ideas? 

Tuesday Musings

Not a busy weekend.  We completed one project.  Yes – just one.  We spent four weeks! Four Weeks!  Searching for the most affordable and yet comfortable patio furniture.  Finally we found this lovely bistro set for $98 and the rug for $28.  How awesome is that???  I love the chairs.  They are big enough for me to curl up in since I’m a curl upper.  I always have my legs folded up under me so this is perfect.  This is were spent the majority of the past two days.

I had the oddest illness on Monday.  I woke up so sick!!  I had like a brick in my middle.  It was below my chest but above my belly button. I was nauseous and in pain.  I think it was something I ate and/or I might of been dehydrated from our long walk in the heat the day before.  Either way it sucked because……

We have company coming this weekend and my house is a freakin’ mess!!!!  We are only staying in the apartment for six months (five more) and so I am not unpacking everything.  We live in a fortress of boxes.  I have four days to make the house not look like casa de cardboard.  Plus, it has to be safe for four humans, four dogs and one baby.  I’m still a bit sick this morning so I’m moving slow.  I just want to curl up on my patio to look at our view. 

It’s a golf course but so relaxing.  You don’t hear the traffic and feel like you are in the country.  It was so funny yesterday because some golfers were on the green and this rabbit came out and was running down the green.  It reminded me of being on the farm and playing farm golf.  We would have a chicken and kitten chasing the golf balls as we hit them.  So adorable. 

Frustrating point of the week.  Ok.  I have two.  One is that I’m on CD 42.  A little late even for me.  The second is that I’m trying to lose weight again.  However, I’m struggling again.  I hate PCOS!!  Two weeks ago I averaged 1,400 calories a day which would be right for a 140 pound woman.  I’m way above that.  Plus, I worked out like 10 hours.  Guess what I lost.  .8 pounds Yeah – .8.  Sucks.  So the next week I worked out even more and had even less calories average 1,200.  What did I lose?  I gained!!!  .8 pounds.  WTF!!!  PCOS sucks!!!!  We shall see what happens tomorrow.  It better be a loss or someones getting cut. 

Tomorrow I will go over the May 10 in 10 and the June 10 in 10.  I have a little surprise.  :-) 

Topic Tuesday – Food

I admire people that can clip coupons and have the savvy to buy $210 worth of groceries for 25cents.  I’m just not one of them.  I’ve tried multiple times to clip coupons and take them with me but often fail to actually use them.  I just plain forget.  However, I have an even bigger problem.  I can’t find coupons for the food I buy.  It is rare.  I have never found a coupon for apples, lettuce, bananas, nuts, and all my organic food.  There are a few coupons in the flyer at the local health food store but rarely for the products I actually buy.  Does anyone else have this dilemma?  I’ve tried buying produce from Wally but have found that they go bad 3 x’s faster then if I get it at my health store or the local big store.  I’ve never got good apples from Wally.  I do try to make it to the Farmer’s Market when it is seasonally open and that helps.  I stock up on eggs when I go home to the farm.  I do believe that you can eat healthy on a budget.  I have found a local coop that looks good but I’m waiting to find out if we are even staying in the state before signing up.  Eventually once we are settled I hope to grow some veggies myself and that would be the best option.  Any good ideas out there?

While we are talking about food let’s bring up Jam.ie Oliver.  I’ve only got to watch one episode so far.  Here is my dilemma.  While I overall agree with his message, I wonder about responsibility.   I’m sure this is another case of “You don’t have kid so you don’t know what you are talking about” type of things but here I go with my fingers stuck in my ear yelling, “babababa I can’t hear you.”  I’ve worked in several schools.  I agree that the food needs total improvement.  I’ve watched the kindergartners I had eat a darn donut at the school lunch room for breakfast swallowed down with sugar juice.  So, of course, they have crashed by 10 as soon as all that sugar has gone away.  One little girl brought her lunch and I looked at it.  It was four cookies, a small tin of chips,  and a can of pop.  I asked, “Did you pack your own lunch, sweetie.”  “No.” (For the record I proceeded to go get her some protein from the line.)  Let’s face facts.  Most children eat just as badly or not worse at home!   So while I do believe it is the responsibility of the school to provide nutritious meals. (NOT counting fries as a veggie.  PLEASE.)  I, also, feel the movement should be about educating people on how to shop and cook nutritiously at home.    People need to take responsibility for their half of the equation.  A child spends just as much time at home eating crap as they do at school eating crap.  I don’t buy the argument that you can’t afford to eat healthy on a budget.  You can if you have the tools.  Most people just don’t have those tools.  Let’s face it we can pass out veggies to people for free on the street but if they don’t know what the heck to do with it than it will be a fruitless effort.  (Pun intended)  I just don’t want us to be only pointing the finger at the schools.  Americans do not like to point the finger at themselves but the truth hurts baby.

Eavesdropping on Myself:
Yesterday I picked hubby up from work.
Hubby: “OMG!  It is so hot in there.  You have no idea.”
Me: “I’m sorry.  Too bad you can’t wear shorts.”
Hubby:  “You have no idea.  When we go to the store I am going to buy a bag of frozen peas.  Tomorrow I’m going to take them to work with me and at around 2:30 I’m going to get them and shove them down my pants.”
Me: “Ok.  I won’t be eating them for supper I hope you know.”
Hubby:  “What!  That was part of the plan.  It is this whole new concept I have going called crotch pot cooking.  I’m going to start a website with recipes and everything.”
Me:  “Ah.  Good luck with that.”

Wednesday Musings

I wish I had something quirky, funny and witty to say. I don’t. Sorry.

I did notice this morning that as my hubby was walking into work I sort of didn’t do a great job on his haircut Monday. There is two small bald like spots slightly behind each ear. Oops! That is what he gets for having me cut his hair. He can’t see it so I figure it will grow back quickly.

Post Op – The cyst was classified as borderline. They won’t say it is precancer but it was not normal. Basically it is rather unimportant at this point because what could be the best situation happened. It hadn’t attached. It was taken out in whole, it didn’t open and it was put directly in a bag while in my body so it didn’t touch any other part of me. It is recommended that I visit with a dr. who specializes in ovarian cancer to review what are the best options for me to consider in the future for prescreening as far as other possible abnormal cysts popping up. In addition, I’m to consider seeing a genetic counselor which is a whole different topic IMHO and I will talk about that in another post.

OK – Now the good news. Everything looks wonderful. I’m all cleaned up and good to go. We are prepared to start with the next cycle which should be within the next week. We will be doing an IUI with injections.
My slow recovery is not unusual – she says. I’m heading back to the gym today.

Then I went to my regular doctor. Guess what. She is 9 months pregnant and due next week with number 5. Sigh. She is my age. It always makes me feel so far behind my peers. I know it is not a race or anything. On the other hand it makes me feel better because someone my age is pregnant. I won’t be the only one with a walker at their graduation.

I got the disc of everyone’s photos from our Mission trip to Mexico. I’m sad because I miss my little girl to whom I grew so attached. Sniff.

During the day we worked (gardening, put up a roof, demo, soup kitchen) but in the afternoon we got to spend several hours at the kids club playing with the kids of the barrio(neighborhood). The one in blue on the far left is my buddy. She just came up and grabbed my hand and I was hers for the rest of the week. This is us coloring. We played basketball, they put me on a skateboard and pushed me (tried to kill me), I refused to roller blade, we played lots of games(I learned a new way to play Uno), etc. It was so fun. We spent most of our time trying to communicate. After four years of Span.ish I am still terrible. My girl decided she was my interpreter and would try to communicate between me and others. I am much better then I was when I arrived. The last night after the kids went home when we came out of the compound to go to dinner she was waiting in the street. She came flying down the street and threw herself at me for another long hug. Sniff.

All this time on blogs has put a crimp on my fb time. I hop on there for my games real quick and then I’m off again. I’m actually quite happy to spend less time wasting time.

I am very busy working on organizing our office. I’ve filled two bags with paper to recycle and possibly killed the shredder.

I lost another 2.9 pounds this week! I’m down 62 pounds! I am a little sad that I didn’t reach my first goal which was to lose 76 pounds before my next IUI. However, I’m only 14 pounds away and I’m still losing steadily so I’m not going to feel bad.

Thursday Musings

I will stay positive. I will stay positive. So let’s see how I shall spin the start of this year in a positive way.

1. I am so glad that now that we are car payment free that our truck chose the coldest night of the year to die. Now we get to be a one car family again and spend more time together when I have the wonderful opportunity to get up early and drive him to and from work daily. This will be super great for relationship.

2. We had saved up money for several months of living expenses, the amount needed to sale the house and for some of the infertility procedures. Lucky for us that we get to spend almost all of it in January. The main joy is coming from the fact that our insurance fees went up (causing us to dump our dental to make up the difference so let’s hope for no teeth problems this year and just found out our deductible went from 200 to 400 so my surgery will be over twice what was originally planned.) This week it is a really large medical payment due, plus the deductible for my procedure(sounds so much simpler then surgery) and next week college(which I may now drop due to the truck and surgery) and then a few large yearly payments. I guess we could have been unable to pay any of them. I am not ready to face the reality that after my surgery we will not be able to start the infertility treatments again for a couple months as we save up the money again besides that would be negative thinking. I’m sure that I will win the lottery in the next month so that we can afford the next round of infertility after this procedure fixes all my problems or I will suddenly get pregnant and we won’t even have to worry about it. How’s that for positive? Booyah! Pay no attention to the blob behind the curtain crying.

3. Actually this one is positive. I lost 6.3 pounds this week. It would sound more impressive if I hadn’t gained 11 pounds in Cali. but at least I only have 3.8 pounds to go to get back to pre-vacation weight. Total weight loss 57 pounds. With all this weight loss soon I might be able to earn us some money by working the street.

4. Well, there are other things but it would seem as if I was complaining.

Well, I’m off to take my hubby to work and then I’m off to my pre-op appointment with my doctor. Next, I shall hit the gym and then beyond all reason I shall stop for some *bucks using the change in the bottom of my purse or I may stop to give plasma beforehand so I can afford it.

Monday Musings

Busy Week! Why is it always so freakin’ busy in December? I think people like it to snow now so that they have a reason to slow down.

We went to Wally’s to buy gifts for the Angel Tree at church. We bought 6 gifts and spent $90. OMG!!! I said to hubby, “This is only six gifts. Can you imagine if we had kids how much we would be spending?” He said, “Well, hopefully we can teach them to not be all materialistic.” We can dream.

It is another BF week. I get to spend Tues. with my childhood BF, Barbie. She is coming to town to pick up the rowing machine she made me go get for her off of Cr.aigs Li.st. Thrift stores here we come!
On Wed. I will spend with my BF who is about to move to GA. I will miss her. She leaves in a moving van the day we fly back from Cali so Sat. at work may be the last time I see her for awhile not counting S.kype.

Good news: I might be done with this awful class by Tuesday. Last class is tonight and then it is a take home final and we have a group meeting on Tuesday afternoon to complete it. I will be happy to get this class out of my life!!!