Tags: 03/11

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School's out for snow

Guest post written by Rita Bronson
 

Even though I remember how excited I used to get as a young kid whenever it would snow, I'm still amazed by just how crazy my kids act when they find out that school is cancelled for the day. I'm glad that I'm a stay-at-home mom because I don't have to worry about setting up babysitters for them and driving to work on the bad roads.

But I don't really have to be concerned about that, actually. When they were off of school for a few days last week, I looked up the recipe for snow cream with my Satellite Internet and got them to help me some of it.

I had made it before a long time ago so they didn't really remember me making it for them. But they loved it! Th! en the next day they asked me to make some more of it and I told them that it was only really good if you make it one the first day right after the snow falls. Luckily, I also had some left over, so I just made it go a little bit further by adding in some more milk and sugar. They didn't know the difference.

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When I Grow Up

So I'm really going to have to decide what I want to be when I grow up - soon.  Well, one of these days, anyway.  I even entered a giveaway recently, and to enter we were supposed to tell what we wanted to be when we grow up - or what our dreams for the future are.  I entered anyway, even though I really don't know.  I just said that, now that my son is in his first year of college, I guess it's time I figure out what I want to be when I grow up.
 
I wonder if I should start by deciding what I don't want to be.  Or maybe what I don't think I'm cut out for.  For instance, I don't think that anything that requires wearing nursing scrubs is for me.  Mostly because I think there's a lot of school involved, and I'm not really ready to commit to a lot of years of school.  If I paid for all that school, I'd definitely need discount scrub pants to make up for it!  It's not just about the money, it's more about the time involved.  If I'd started earlier instead of staying home with my kids, it might have been different.
 
I'm really thinking I'll have to pick something I already know how to do and decide this is what I want to be when I grow up.  Now, what would that be?  Cook, cleaner, web page tweaker?  I'll figure it out eventually.  The only upside is that I won't need to find out where to buy cheap scrubs.  I'll leave that to the people who figured it out earlier and already did the school thing.
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So Many Houses on the Market

In the two-mile route I walk every morning, there are at least 4 or 5 houses for sale and one that has been basically abandoned.  There are several other houses in our small town that are for sale, too.  It seems as long as we've lived here, for the past 13 years, there have constantly been houses for sale, people moving out of town, and people moving in.  With the slow down in the real estate market, houses have probably been on the market longer or selling for a bit less than they were at one time.  Unfortunately, I haven't been paying close enough attention to know for sure, and since real estate here in Eagle isn't quite as up-scale and exclusive as La Jolla real estate, I don't know that there's any good place to look it up. 

It's also hard to keep track of this stuff because 'Accepted Offer' and 'Sold' signs don't always go up.  Sometimes the 'For Sale' sign just disappears, and we don't know if the house sold or if the owners just gave up and decided to stay - unless and until the moving van shows up, and then we figure the house must've sold.  There is one house along our walking route that does have an 'Accepted Offer' sign, so that's encouraging.  Current mortgage loan rates make it a good time to buy, though with all the houses on the market and declining home values, it's not the best time to sell.  I'm wondering if home owners have to sell at a reduced price but get a good price when buying a new house, if it doesn't work out OK in the end anyway?

I'm not sure - no, I know - I don't know enough about it to know whether that's true or not.  I'd have to read some more, starting with this article on What Determines a Healthy Real Estate Market, and hope that we don't have to move anytime soon.  Or, if we do, that both the selling of the old and the buying of the new go smoothly.
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Online Shopping - Finding the Best Deals

Whether I'm shopping in a store or shopping online, my goal is usually to find the best deal possible.  Sometimes it really is best to shop in a store, but oftentimes, the best deal is found online.  It's certainly a lot simpler to compare prices and deals when shopping online.  Instead of running all over town from one store to the next, you can simply visit the online retailers.  Even better is to use a shopping comparison engine like ShopWiki.  They include all online retailers, and all you have to do is search for the item you're looking for to find a list of all the stores that carry it along with the prices for each - making it really easy to see where you're going to get the best deal.  It works really well here in the US and is also rapidly expanding overseas to areas like Australia, Germany, the Netherlands, and Spain.

If you're not sure exactly what you want, there are some helpful buying guides to help.  There are gift guides for holidays and special occasions, a Green Guide that includes information about organic wines, Energy Star appliances, vegan living and more, and guides for clothing, accessories, electronics, jewelry and more.  Since our daughter is expecting her first child and has been looking for a crib, I had to check that one out.  It's been a while since I had babies, so I don't necessarily know or remember what you need to know when you're buying a crib.   Safety guidelines have changed, too.  We bought a used crib when she was born, but that's not really an option now, making it really important to find the best deal on a new one - one that they can afford but will be safe for the baby and will last.

Sometimes when I'm shopping online, I get bogged down in user reviews and in checking and double-checking prices and looking for coupon codes.  I love sites that make it easier for me to get that done more quickly and easily.
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To Have Satellite TV or Not?

A lot of people we know have canceled their Satellite TV and Cable TV and get all their television shows via the Internet and/or service like Netflix.  I tried to convince my husband that it would save us a lot of money if we did the same thing.  We can get our local channels with the antenna in the attic, and practically everything else is available online - and it's amazing how often there's 'nothing on' even with all the channels we get anyway!

Jeffrey wasn't completely convinced about living without his satellite TV.  He especially didn't want to miss out on watching his Illini basketball games, and I don' t think there's any way to watch those most of the time, unless you have ESPN or the Big 10 Channel.  Also, he sat down and figured out the cost of buying either a BluRay player or computer to use for playing Netflix shows and movies and compared that to the cost of paying for Direct TV for the next two years, with all the promotional deals they offer, and came to the conclusion that it would actually cost less to switch from Dish Network to Direct TV.  I'm just going to believe him on this, because he's the cost accountant...

So we switched, and we've got Direct TV for the next couple years.  After that, we either need to re-visit the antenna/Netflix option or switch back to the other company - because they only give the best deals to new customers.  I personally think they should give the best deals to everyone, new customers and old.  That way, they would get and keep customers based on what they have to offer, not just sign-up incentives that go away after the first year.

We had Starz and Showtime free for 3 months, but we just canceled that, since our 3 months was up.  I recorded a bunch of movies on the DVR while we had the movie channels, so we can watch them later - sometime when there's 'nothing on' I'm sure!