Sunday, March 29, 2015

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

My New Love

On Mondays and Thursdays, when I have the morning free and feel like putting on pants, I take the baby and sometimes the husband to my new favorite store: the somewhat local thrift shop!

Just a short drive away in a neighboring county (about 15-20 minutes) is a secondhand store, which offers 50% off half of their items (color-coded) on Mondays and Thursdays.  This store is in Howard County, which is the 4th wealthiest county in the country.  I tell you what, their wealth is really working in my favor.

The past few weeks I've been going through the last unopened boxes/suitcases, trying to find my pants from before having Claire.  I remember that most of my jeans were pretty thoroughly worn out, so after a few days of looking, I figured I must have thrown them away.  Off to the thrift shop I go!!!

Just this last Monday I found a brand new white shirt from J Crew, with the store tag still attached, for $3!!  I also bought a pair of jeans, 2 pairs of shorts, a pair of casual pants, a skirt, a toy for baby, and a few other items for a project I'm working on, and spent only $45.  All the clothes are virtually brand new, and mall brands.  Now I'm set for at least the next year for clothing for myself.

I have the same experience every time I go - great deals and brand new items.  Lucky for me even when I don't end up buying anything baby girl gets to have a fun time seeing all the people, colors, and things.  She absolutely loves it, and it wears her out pretty well.


Sunday, March 22, 2015

Spring Break 2015: Day 4/Final Day

Sunday night we drove to Charlottesville, VA, about 2 hours from the Jamestown area.  Well it should have been 2 hours.  More like 4-5 hours.  A car was burning and shut down the freeway.

Monday morning we drove up to Monticello, and learned a lot about Thomas Jefferson and his hobbies that caused his massive amount of debt.  It really is a beautiful estate.  After Jefferson's death, the home was purchased by Uriah Levy who had greatly appreciated Jefferson's fight for religious liberties. As a result of his admiration of Jefferson and unwillingness to change the home, the house was kept up and kept in its original state so we can see it today. 

Then we drove home and it took forever because of traffic. Nothing new. The end.

Friday, March 20, 2015

Spring Break Day 3: Jamestown, Yorktown

Jamestown is just a short drive, maybe 10-15 miles? away from Williamsburg.  Sitting on the Chesapeake Bay (unless it's not...I'm not super awesome at geography around here...), it started out as a cold and windy morning.  We listened to our tour guide praise John Smith, and walked around the statue of Pocahontas and the museum with thousands of artifacts.

After walking around Jamestown, we went down the road to the glass blowing house...where Claire had a major blowout on both herself and me.  Outfit change!!

Yorktown was around 15-30 minutes away, the site of the last battle of the Revolutionary war.  To tour this area was a long auto tour, similar to Gettysburg (we've spent countless hours touring there).  We were kind of battlefield-toured-out, which is a real shame, so we decided we were done with Yorktown after viewing the short film and walking down to the monument and back.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Spring Break 2015: Day 2

We woke up bright and early (thank you little girl) and after getting ready for the day, made our way over to the free breakfast at the motel front lobby.  I'm not sure why, but free breakfast really excites *someone* in my family. Without hot food at this one, though, he was sadly disappointed.  Eggo waffles and a warm yogurt were enough for my taste buds.

We got to the Williamsburg visitor center just as it opened.  I went here when I was 12, but couldn't really remember many of the details.  We made a stop up by the horsies.  I made a fool of myself trying to get Claire excited about seeing the horses, but she took little to no notice.  Ah well.

After seeing the horses we headed for a tour of the governor's palace.  Baby girl got a little bored and little cozy and took a quick nap.

I love seeing the color of all the walls in these historic homes - supposedly they try to re-create the color of the paint or wallpaper to what you might have seen during the time period.

We took a quick walk around the gardens of the "palace".

We took a break for eating, and Claire found Caleb's jokes hilarious, as always.

The rest of the day was filled with touring an old Presbyterian church, lots of other homes, a millinery, a bindery, a coffeehouse, and the capitol.  At the coffeehouse we got to try some "sipping chocolate", made to taste how it might have back in 1780ish.  Think cocoa, nutmeg, cinnamon and cayenne.  It wasn't to my liking, but everyone else was able to down their cup.  There was a LOT of rain this day as well, hence the lack of photos.  Lots of jumping around puddles, and soggy socks.

We had a lot of fun in Williamsburg, Virginia!

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Spring Break 2015: Day 1

What should have been a 3 hour drive took 7 hours.

Not because I have a baby.  Because I had to drive through stupid traffic before and after D.C., and before and after Richmond.  Which was basically the entire drive.

This is the end of spring break day 1.

Watch for tomorrow's post: spring break day 2 (bet you didn't see that one coming).

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Poll: Spring Break Style

We need to get out!!!

Caleb's spring break is next week, and he has no obligations other than church from this Friday night to next Friday night.  We want to get out for at least 2-3 days and go somewhere fun...only problem is, we are coming up blank as to what to do (we are apparently very boring).

Places nearby which we've already seen:

Shenandoah Valley
Fredericksburg, VA
Mt Vernon, VA

Probably a bunch more that I can't remember.

Anyone have any suggestions?  One place we don't want to head is very north (i.e. Palmyra, Niagara, etc).  Just don't want to chance bad weather.

Willing to travel up to 5-6 hours one way.  Winning suggestion gets a souvenir! (or a picture...hehe)

Friday, March 6, 2015

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

My Couponing Experiment

Since quitting my job (just kidding - since I got my new job a year and a half ago) I have struggled with spending.  Really bad.  I didn't have time take time to look at sales, cook from scratch, purchase with a plan, nothing.  In my defense, I did get a time-consuming calling at church, get pregnant with my first child, move, deliver a baby, go back to work, have to buy a new car, quit my job, and move again.

But guess what.  I'm stressed out, and if everyone I've ever known are to be believed, life is only going to get more stressful.

I've got to get things under control, especially since we have little to no income now.

I like to follow a coupon blog, The Krazy Coupon Lady.  She makes it easy for me.  While I'm sure it saves money and is a good resource, I've got to be realistic:  I have no interest in cutting coupons and spending hours following local sales and matching up coupons, following coupon policies, etc.

I can go to her website once a day, or once every few days, and scroll through the deals she's found.  I look at the ones that I see are realistic for me - it has to be an item I will actually use, the store must be relatively close, and it has to be a coupon or deal that I can get right at home.  For now, I'm not going to order the paper to get coupons.  Maybe someday.

There are really great coupon apps too!  You guys should use them!  Right now I'm using Ibotta, SavingStar, Checkout51, and Snap by Groupon.  You can browse their offers, then keep those offers in mind when you go to the store to shop.  Last week I got some really great deals on a new granola from Nature Valley by stacking coupons from the different apps.  Sometimes they have a coupon just for buying bread, pasta, bananas, lettuce, etc.  No brands are necessary for those coupons, it's usually healthy for you, and you still save!

I guess what I'm saying is, if you have a smart phone or a tablet, or anything that can take a picture of your receipt, you can save on things you might be already purchasing.  Each app has a different minimum balance, but once you hit that balance (some are $5, $10, or $20), you can cash out in the form of a check, Paypal, or gift cards to places like Amazon or BestBuy.  Each app is different.

If you join Ibotta and we are Facebook friends, any coupons you redeem "help" your other friends using the app.  From what I understand, if you redeem the minimum balance (usually $5 or something similar?) and your team as a whole redeems a higher balance (usually around $15...) you get a bonus.

I also use the Walmart Savings Catcher, which is like price matching for the lazy girl (me).  Price/ad matching is intimidating here (from personal experience), and not something that I want to do.  However, just by using the Savings Catcher app, I racked up almost $70 since I started using it in August.  I cashed out to the BlueBird pre-paid card before the end of February, and was able to double that balance by using their promotion (which has unfortunately since ended).  They made a lot of changes to the app last month, which makes me angry, but I'm hoping it will still be somewhat beneficial.

Do you guys have any other tips?  What have you tried?

Monday, March 2, 2015

Begin Again Again

Ok folks, after an almost 3 year hiatus, I am going to start teaching piano again.

I'm not sure how I feel about it this time. I didn't have great experiences with teaching in college.

One of the women in my ward, though, put out a request for any piano teachers in our ward for her 2 oldest (ages 6 & 8).  They didn't have the money to pay what most would charge here, so I knew that if I didn't teach, they might not get taught.

So I'm being the martyr and doing what any good former piano teacher would do - I'll teach.  ;)  Aren't they lucky.

I'm hoping it will go well.  I'm not doing it for the money, and I won't be able to take on other students, but maybe it will be enough of getting out during the week to keep me from going crazy.  Ashley, their mom, is willing to watch my baby while I teach as well, so I don't have to worry about interrupting Caleb's school or work schedule.

Wish me luck!