Saturday, September 27, 2014

A Very Frozen Halloween - Target Cartwheel Deal 40% off Today Only

I used to do a lot of coupon shopping but I felt like I bought a lot of stuff I didn't need and my husband hated the hoard of shampoo and makeup so I cooled my jets the last couple years but in the last few months I've started using some online coupons that I access via my smart phone.  Cartwheel is one of my is deals just for Target that you can use with other manufacture coupons and I love it!  I decided last month that I was going to be making the costumes for all my kids.  My two youngest girls wanted to be Elsa and Anna (the older one wanted to be Anna and the younger one wanted to be Elsa...I don't judge), so I spent the last month pinning costume tutorials and I found a lot of really cute ones but as Halloween started to get closer my older children picked their costumes and they are ones that are going to be a little more time consuming for me and I started questioning the wisdom of making all four costumes.  Yesterday my sister in law mentioned that cartwheel had a 40% off even though technically we are still in no spend September I headed over to see what they had.  I know I cheated....but I justified it in my mind on the fact that the costumes were going to be bought either way, today I could get them for 40% cheaper.  I found Elsa and Anna.  The Elsa costume was $30, with coupon and my 5% off with my Target card $18.  The Anna was $20, with my coupon and my 5% off $12.  That is less than I would have spent on the fabric to make them, especially the Elsa dress that was going to take a lot of expensive fabrics and now I have more time to work on my older kid's costumes.  The girls love them.  They immediate put them on when I got home and Cheetah started belting out "Let it Go" while Peach put Frozen on.  I'm super pleased with them and while I technically had to cheat to get them I'm happy I did.  I am planning on still making Peach a cape to go with hers but otherwise we are done.  Now to move on to my Princess Bubble Gum wig and dress.  Should be a fun sewing week.

Friday, September 26, 2014

Wireless Republic Review - Saying Goodbye to my iphone and expensive cell phone service! summer was the first time in a long time I haven't had a cell phone.  If fact I was cut off from a lot of the things I'm used to, a car, regular internet, a phone, netflix, pandora, hulu (none of these are available in Kenya so unless you want to buy a VPN that fakes them into thinking you are in the states you are out of luck).  Of course that actually slows you internet speeds down a smidgen because you have to bounce and considering how spotty my internet already was it just didn't seem worth it.  Dr. J had two phones while we were in country.  The first he burned the battery out on.  The second was his jail broken Iphone.  It was the only way he had to communicate with his intern at the hospital who was expected to do night cover so it was a good thing he had it but I just didn't see the point in having a phone.  I almost never went outside of the compound when I wasn't with Dr. J and I didn't really have anyone in country to call.  The few times we called home we just Facetimed with our family on our ipad.  I thought being without my phone would be the worst thing ever but the truth is I just didn't mind that much and so when I got home and realized that just for our basic cell phone service on our two IPHONE 4s (3G service via sprint) we were paying $120 a month I was a little sick, especially since truth be known I just mainly use my phone to mess around on the internet and call my sister.  Throw in our home internet and I was spending almost $200 a month to have internet.  It seemed so wasteful and so I started looking for an alternative.  At one point I considered having no phone at all, but since we don't have a home phone and J can't just leave work to get sick kids that didn't seem like a great option.  I looked at all the major competitors, I looked at Walmart's Straight Talk, Virgin Mobile, Cricket...I looked at everything.  I finally decided to go with Wireless Republic.  I told Dr. J the idea, showed him the money and he was sold.  The next week we said goodbye to sprint and our iphones and we've been with Wireless Republic ever since and I love it.  

Wireless republic is a phone service that uses Wifi when you are at home or connected to a wifi nextwork and then trades onto cell service when you move out of the wifi area.  So far I've experienced that transference to go seamlessly.  It then moves on to sprint service so if you don't have grate sprint service in your area this would probably not be the plan for you.  We were moving from sprint so we already knew what the service would be likely.  Mostly good, occasionally bad in some areas but for the price we were willing to risk it.  Also if you had horrible internet I hear that can affect your phone but you can actually tell your phone to ignore a wifi connection so there is that.  The one time we really had trouble was when Dr. J was in the hospital at work and I was at another hospital with Peach.  Hospital's are notoriously just not great places to get cell phone service and the wifi in my room was sort of shoot.  That one experience aside I'm still happy with our service.  If we ever have any problem at all Dr. J and I just say, "40 bucks a month and we are happy again."

There are four cost price points and you can change your plan up to two times a month so if you pick one plan but then want something else while you are on vacation or whatever you have the ability to do that.

WiFi Only $5 a month - Unlimited Talk/Text/Data over Wifi.  We don't use this option but I decided early on if I hated the service and wanted to go back to something else I'd just use my phone with this plan as a home phone at home.  Definitely affordable.

The Republic Plan $10 a month - Unlimited Talk/Text over WiFi and Cell, Unlimited Data over WiFi.  This is actually the plan I personally went with.  When we were in Kenya it became glaringly obvious to me that I spent way to much time on the internet on things that had absolutely zero importance.  This plan limits my ability to do this.  There was one time when this was super inconvenient and I wanted to look something up but for the most part it keeps me off Facebook at the park or whatever.  I can still use things like Cartwheel by just connecting to the Wifi at Target, so that's great.

Republic +3G $25 a month - Unlimited Talk/Text/Data over WiFi and On-Network 3G.  This is the plan Dr. J picked.  We were still using IPhone 4S so all we had was 3G and we didn't mind it.  He likes being able to use the internet whenever and he's been happy with his service so far.

Republic +4G $40 a month - Unlimited talk/text/data over wifi and on-network 4G.  If you had to have 4G this would be the plan for you, although at $40 I think you are getting closer to the price of what you'd be paying at other services so it might be worth looking around especially at the Straight Talk plan from Walmart.

So we now pay $40 a month for cell phone service (that includes my The Republic Plan, Dr. J's Republic +3G and the $5 in taxes and fees our state lumps on...each state is different).  From the $120 we were playing to be on my mom's phone plan that is an $80 savings a month!  An $80 savings...which is amazing!  

The One Con
Here is the one cons as I see it on the plan, you have to go with one of their phones because it has to have the software/hardware to transfer between wifi and cell service.  This is a con because maybe you are super attached to your iphone or maybe you don't want to shell out extra money because that has to be added into your service against your savings but when we did the math it was still so worth it.  They currently have Two Cell Phones you can choose from with a third coming soon.  Right now you have the Moto G at $149 (with 8 GB of internal memory) or $179 for 16.  This phone does 3G.  They have the Moto X for $299 with 16GB of memory and it does 4G.  They are getting the Moto E soon which will be $99.  It will have only 4GB internal memory but will be expandable up to 32GB of memory with a micro SD card.  
Just doing some quick math for you, we did the Moto G's at $179.  Two with taxes came to something a little under $400.  If you split that cost over a twelve month period it is $33 dollars.  Add that to our $40 a month and we are still saving almost $50 a month.  If we keeps these phones two years, the standard term of a contract, and spread the cost over that period we are looking at a $64 a month savings.  Some things that would make that cost go even more in our favor....

Selling our iphone 4s or turning them back in-I actually did this.  I sold my iphone 4s to my mom for 100 bucks.  Both her and my brother have water damaged theirs and she's resistant to getting a new iphone with sprint because they are trying to force her to leave her family plan which had unlimited data to a limited data shared data plan which actually cost more.  She bought my iphone for 100.  Even if she hadn't have wanted it I could have sold it back to sprint for $78 or taken my luck on the craiglist or ebay and sold it from anywhere from $80-$120.  Since the $78 is a guaranteed I'll just use that number, over a 12 month period we are selling our phones back to offset some of the cost of our new phones saving $60 a month.  Over a 24 month period we are saving $70.

Another thing that could have saved us even more money would have been to buy our Wireless Republic Phones used on ebay.

I should also note that we got $20 dollars off by using an old med school friend's referral code.  She got $20 off her bill that month as did we.  
Do I ever miss IPhone, sure, getting used to an adroid after years an apple was a little confusing at first but now I'm pretty happy with my phone, it does what I want and the savings makes it all worth it.  If there is ever a moment where I'm a little annoyed I think of how much money I'm saving and am like, "Nope, worth it."  I was slightly in awe when I saw the new 6 but then I thought, why do I want to be in this race any more.  Apple releases a new iphone like every year and then you are stuck constantly trying to upgrade their $600 phone.  I've noticed fewer and fewer companies are giving you the phone for free and heaven forbid you lose it.  My Iphone got stolen one year into my contract and sprint and apple were zero help.  I'd gotten the insurance with Apple (a waste of $100 in my opinion because it only covers problems with the phone that honestly I think they should cover it being a lemon or having glitches...losing it or getting it wet the two things most likely to happen you are on your own).  Find your phone won't work if they just reset your phone completely which is what a cell phone thief will do and then they sell them over seas or jail break them. So I ended up having to buy another phone off ebay.  I think it cost $270 bucks.  Just way to much money when you add that to the $200 I'd paid for the phone originally with my contract and the $100 I'd paid to insure it against nothing.  So while I love you iphone I don't miss the cost you add to my life even with the savings of being "under contract".  I like the fact that if this phone gets lost or stolen I can replace it for $150 bucks total for a new one and new one isn't going to cost me over $600.  Just something I tell myself in the few times I was feeling a little jelly ;)  If you ever have any interest in switching over let me know.  I can give you a code that will get you $20 off.  

Friday, September 12, 2014

Decorating with Maps - Serving My Kids the World Under Their Not So Silver Platter

I have always loved to travel and I have always loved maps and globes.  As a kid I used to stand at the globe in my classroom, put my finger lightly on it, close my eyes, spin the globe, and then when it would stop open them to see places I wanted to visit someday.  For a long time I wanted a globe in my house, but the kid I like are expensive but every time I thought about buying one it occurred to me I really didn't have a great place to display it.  They aren't exactly the most unobtrusive thing. Then last month I was walking through Costco and saw these maps that they had over by the books.  They had a world map and a US map for $15.   There were three different styles to pic from, the classic bright blue school type maps, a more muted color, and then one that had more cartoon figures on it for children.  I picked the muted map because I knew I wanted to display it in my home.  It was my one impulse buy of trip and when I brought it home I threw the maps in the closet not quite sure what I wanted to do with them.  I remembered two friends on facebook had probably a year ago mentioned displaying maps in their homes.  One said he had them on his table, the other mentioned she hung her in the dinning room.  I knew I wanted one in the dinning room.  I decided to go with putting it on the dinning room table.  Here is our table as it stood two weeks ago.  We got it for $70 at a garage sale six years ago and it has severed us well.  It is covered in fork holes where two of my daughters have decided poking the table is more fun then eating food, the legs are a little chewed up by the former owners puppy and there are some permanent marker stains but for the most part it does what is is suppose to, is a nice big table for the family to sit and eat at.  I wanted to punch it up a little though and add some interest to our family meals.  I decided to put the US table on the map.  I used tiny heart stickers to mark all the places we'd lived.  I bought a piece of clear plastic at Hobby Lobby that I found in the home decorating rolls of fabric using a 40% off coupon on their app.  The 70 or so inches I needed cost me $6.00.  I brought the plastic home put the map on the table, stuck the plastic on and thought the sides where the map didn't cover looked super boring.  I went upstairs and grabbed a bunch of post it self stick picture paper that I'd bought years ago when I was using coupons.
photo I have no idea if they still sell this stuff but it worked amazing for this project.  I measured out how many pictures I'd need to cover up the edges of the table then got on my computers and started printing off favorite pics of the kids and our family.  When I had enough pictures I laid the map back on the table and taped down the edges.  Then I pulled the backs off the post it pictures and stuck them down.  Finally I put the plastic back on, folded the edges and secured it under the table using push pins.  I love my table so much.  We've had it like this for two weeks.  The downside is I have to remember to put hot pads down before I put anything hot on the plastic.  I am thinking about doing some cute airplane or car ones though that would match with the motif.  The upside is the table stimulates so much conversation.  The kids love looking at pictures of themselves.  They love looking at the map.  They love talking about places we've been, places they want to go, or places our family lives.  I'm really enjoy it.

Cost Break Down
map - 7.50
plastic - 6.00
post it paper, ink, push pins on hand
If you had to order them, I used 43 pictures.  If you ordered them from walmart and then just taped them on you are looking at under $4.  Pushpin are $1 at the dollar store.

So total project cost for me 13.50...if you didn't have pictures and push pins on hand 18.50. 

With the second map I decided I wanted to hang it.  I'd seen this cool map on Brave New Home and I knew I wanted to pretty much just follow her lead.  I went to home depot to get the wood.  I had a huge debate over what to get.  I finally settled on filler pieces.  They are like 50 cents a piece or something like that, and I got three.  I've read some people use lattice and I've seen some people use thing molding, I just wanted the wood to be really thin so the filler pieces worked perfect.  I brought them home and measured them to the map and cut them to sizes.  We have a miter saw but I was too lazy to pull it out so I literally just used a hand saw that Dr. J uses to cut tree branches.  It was hanging on the garage wall and easy to get to.  I then sanded the pieces because filler pieces are pretty rough and stained them with the same stain I used on our height ruler.  Originally I was just going to go exactly with what she had but about halfway through the project I got the brilliant/not so brilliant idea to add a strip of cork board so I add pictures from our overseas travels to the map and then hopefully someday if I get my act together add string from those pictures to the places we've been (that day has not come yet).  I had this huge roll of cork I bought for another project at hobby lobby (cost was something like $11 but I always use my 40% off coupons on my phone) and I just used my rottary cutter to cut a long enough strip.  The problem was the cork was really thin and I was worried it was going to break so I cut a second strip and then glued the two strips together with spray glue I had from that same first project.  Then it was time to glue it all together.  This was the worst part of the whole project.  Brave New Home had used her glue gun and that's what I wanted to do because it is fast, easy, I already had it and it holds pretty well.  Unfortunately it just wasn't as easy as I hoped.  This was a long map and by the time I got the glue all down and the wood in place more than once the glue had dried, I had to pull it all off and start over.  The first piece was easy because I could because I could just roll the map out onto it and the top part of the cork board was the same but that piece in the middle was a beast.  Finally I got it all down and relatively even but if I had to do it again I'd probably pick a glue that took longer to dry.  Sure it would be a pain to wait but it would be nice to have an extra minute to readjust if there was a problem.  I then screwed in two eye hooks I got from home depot (1.50 for 5), and added a piece of string.  The map is hanging in my family room right now and I love it.  I've added a few pictures from our recent trip and need to put up some from some of other trips.  I also want to add some string going from the pictures to the places we've visited.  Totally love looking at this map everyday and love that at book group on Tuesday my friends were up looking at it trying to figure out where Ukraine and Liberia were.  It is nice to be able to see where current events are happening.  I hope this map increases my children's curiosity about the world around them.  By the way just to keep my life in perspective this is what the past what my camera was showing picture looks like of that map.  Just keeping it real folks, just keeping it real.  Also what do you think of my 60's cane back chairs?  I picked them up for a steal from a woman in town. I was planning on painting them and doing new fabric.  Dr. J who for reasons I don't understand is in love with light wood is begging me not to paint them so now I need to find fabric that matches that wood.  I'm a little hesitant about the whole project but also super excited!

Cost Break Down
map - 7.50
wood - 1.50
eye hooks - 1.50
stain, string, glue, and cork board roll on hand.  

Total cost to me $10.50

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

August Book Reviews 33-34

So after getting home from Kenya and getting my phone and TV back my reading definitely took a hit.  These are the only two books I read in August.  Yikes.  You do realize that this means I need to read five books a month to hit my goal.  Great job Glenda.  Anyway here they are.  

Out of the Easy - Ruta Sepetys This is the same author that wrote Between Shades of Gray, which I LOVED!  Unfortunately this story was just not as great.  This time she moved to a girl, Josie, living in New Orleans.  Josie's mother is a prostitute living in one of the classic houses on Conti Street.  The houses is full of a variety of interesting characters all of which seem hell bent on keeping Josie out of the life.  She has very little interest as well and while working at a book store is dreaming of escape to college.  This story was ok but it felt like it was an alternate ending for the movie Pretty Baby.  I don't know.  It just didn't hold the power of Ruta's first book.  

Cinder - Marissa Meyer

I picked up Cinder thinking it was a two book series.  I've since found out that is not the case.  AHHH I get so sick of these stories that just don't wrap up easily.  How many years do you want me waiting for you to finish books, and then as in the case of Hunger Games, and Harry Potter how many years do I have to wait for all of your movies to be done.  You know I started reading Harry Potter before my twenties.  I was married and had created a family of six for myself before that series was finally completed.  SERIOUSLY ANNOYING!  I know people who like have more stories to read but the waiting it out part kills me.  I picked up Cinder though because I thought I'd enjoy a futuristic spin on the tale of Cinderella.  Cinderealla is played in this version by Linh Cinder a cyborg mechanic trying to figure out a way to escape from her adopted mother.  Prince Kaito is her lover interest, suffering from the loss of his father, trying to figure out how to lead as a plague ravages his populace and he is being asked to marry Queen Levana of the Lunars, a wretched woman who is probably responsible for the plague.  This is a nice little YA fiction.  The only downside it is a five book series.  Scarlet and Cress are already out.  Fairest and Winter won't be out until 2015.  A deal has been signed for movie rights.  Five books people.  I'll have grandkids before that's all done.  I kind of think I might just walk away and let this one be.  

July Book Reviews 30-32

The problem with not doing this reviews in the month that I'm reading is I completely forget what books I'm reading.  I know for a fact I read more books than this but these were the only three that were on my kindle and I just can not remember.  So yikes, here are the three I can remember.

The Secret Garden - Frances Hodgson Burnett
This is a weird little collection.  I was getting pretty desperate for reading material but I was living in a city with no library..well apparently there is a library but it had a very limited selection so I was pretty much just down to what I could get on my kindle for free.  The Secret Garden was first up.  I watched this movie when I was kid quite a few times and I always liked it but reading it was seriously just so delicious.  I think I was super psyched because we were going to be in London in just a few days, add to that the fact that I'm a BBC junkie and well it just makes sense.  I think most people have a basic idea of what The Secret Garden is about, little girl grows up in India with fairly distant parents.  Ends up being completely spoiled and horrible.  After her parents die she is sent to live with her hermit uncle on his huge Estate.  He is even more distant than her parents and while he provides for her physical needs he has no time for a child.  Left to her own devices Mary becomes obsessed with solving an Estate mystery about a secret garden and a wailing sound off the moor.  Such a great story.  If you have only ever seen the movie I strongly suggest you read the book.  It's just a great piece of classic literature.  If you have children it is a great book to read out loud as well!  I would definitely recommend this.    

UnEnchanted (An Unfortunate Fairy Tale, #1)UnEnchanted (An Unfortunate Fairy Tale Book 1) - Chanda Hahn
So along with my old books are free books, self published books are also free.  That's how I ended up with UnEnchanted.  This books wasn't amazing, but considering the source it wasn't half bad.  Mina Grime isn't popular, shes super uncoordinated, and she spends most of her life just trying to disappear.  Then on a field trip she both causes and accident and savers her crush who almost dies as a result of that accident.  This leads to the discovery that she actually the great, great, great, great, great granddaughter of the Brother's Grimm and that she carries the same curse that have lead all her fellow grandparents to early deaths.  This is nice little YA with some magic and romance.  I'm not going to lie, even thought it wasn't the greatest I got sucked in.  This is part of a series.  I'm super curious if these got better as they went.

The Best Christmas Pageant Ever - Barbara Robinson
This book follows a small town Christmas pageant.  For reasons I'm not going to go into the worst kids in town end up at Church on the day the Christmas pageant parts are being chosen and end up getting all the rolls.  These hooligans are going to destroy Christmas...or are they.  Short, cute, a great little Christmas read!


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