Category Archives: Adulting!

Tips for adulting in a modern world

That Time I Met Ozzy Wearing a Bathrobe in his Hotel Room…

It never ceases to amaze me what people will say.

rita1I read a recap article about how Rita Ora wore a bathrobe to host some awards.

Silly commenter says:

Rita Ora has on a bathrobe in a public event where many were present and that makes her okay, and Harvey Weinstein had on a bathrobe in his hotel room where a woman was present and that makes him a creep. Females are inconsistent and dishonest and I have seen females at work sexually flirt and joke with good looking higher paid guys and laugh at return sexual banter, but complain and harshly label an unattractive guy as a creep for doing the exact same thing.

I…I cringe at the stupidity presented here.  I know, I can’t expect much from Yahoo comments, but seriously.  Almost as frightening was the amount of people supporting this guy’s comment.

So let me tell you a little story…

A long time ago in a high school I once attended, they had a radio station that broadcasted in a small radius – maybe a handful of towns received our signal.  I got my DJ license, and it being around 1990, I hosted a metal show on Tuesday evenings.

This allowed me the opportunity to meet some really cool musicians, doing interviews by phone or in person and whatnot.  I am particularly honored to have met Warren Haynes of Allman Brothers fame, and Tom Morello of Rage Against The Machine and Audioslave fame.

ozandrandBut nothing will top my crowning achievement of interviewing the legendary Ozzy Osbourne.

We were coming up on the 10th anniversary of Randy Rhoads’ death.  Randy was his guitarist after Ozzy left Black Sabbath and tragically died in a plane crash.  I wanted to see if I could wrangle an interview with him to honor the anniversary of Randy’s passing.

I don’t think Mike Schnapp, his US manager at the time, ever knew that I was only 16 when I started calling him, nor did I divulge it in case he thought I was just a fan trying to get access – I wanted to be professional.  And after months of some back and forth, Mike set up the interview at the Helmsley Palace Hotel.

At the lobby of the hotel I am greeted by one of his team, who escorts me up the room.  The guy is friendly, asks if I’ve ever met him before and assures me he’s a great guy.

At the door…knock…door opens.

And there stands my musical idol, OZZY FRICKIN’ OSBOURNE, in his bathrobe.

I was more bemused that he was shorter than me, though I must admit him being in a bathrobe was a bit disarming.  I’m used to the black outfits, jewelry and crazy hair.  This guy looks like he just stepped out of the spa.

But here is the ENORMOUS DIFFERENCE between my experience being in a celebrity’s hotel room while they wore a bathrobe and the experiences of many other women lodging complaints about other celebrities in the news today…

Ozzy. Wasn’t. Inappropriate.  AT ALL.

He never flirted.  He never came on to me, he never made a suggestive remark, he never asked me to do anything for or to him.  He didn’t touch me (I think we perhaps shook hands at initially meeting), or try to hug me or massage me or anything like that.  I asked a handful of questions and he talked for 30 minutes.

Ozzy Osbourne was a perfect gentleman and a consummate professional.

The other celebrities in the news now?  Not so much.  I never felt uncomfortable, or threatened, or got any bad feeling in the pit of my stomach.  Trust me, I know the feeling, like the vast majority of women do at one time or another.

What is my point in all this?

The commentor above clearly has no frame of reference, and little capacity to accept the words of women.  Do women falsely accuse?  Yes.  But few are truly willing to be publicly scrutinized, picked apart, called horrible names and smeared like they are in this day and age just for a few minutes of pseudofame.

Weinstein wasn’t just sitting there in his bathrobe.  He was trying to coerce them into sexual favors based on his position of power in the industry.  He could make or break their careers, in an industry that can be extremely hard to make a living at.

The workplace scenario – men cannot sexually flirt with those in lower levels to them without the possibility of it being a power play ala Weinstein “give me a backrub, you know we have an opening at the head of the Whatever Department…”  Women are held to the same standard – they cannot coerce those in lower levels to do inappropriate and unwanted things with no fear of reprisal.

Does it happen?  Yes, all the time.  Which is why so many people are talking about it (both women and men who have been victimized).  It’s more common than Generic Man may have ever realized.  Perhaps they simply can’t wrap their heads around the enormity of the issue.  Perhaps they don’t want to believe that their mother was forced to smile while enduring slaps on the rear as a secretary at the law firm, or that their sister was consistently pinched or grabbed while waitressing by the truck driver who always stopped in for coffee during her shift.

Maybe they don’t want to think that their daughter could have been coerced into sexual favors by her boss for fear of losing her job when other jobs have become very slim where she lives now.  It’s pretty horrendous to think about and easy to say “no way that happens!” – but you might be surprised.

So we are left to be angry, and rather than tamping it down, trying to to forget about it, or attempting straight-up denial, more and more and finding their voice and expressing their anger.

The question is whether more will listen to them or more will try and squash it down.

(Featured image Frank May/DPA via ZUMA)

Fandom Guest Wifi Signs – the BETTER Newest Trend!

Have you seen one of the Cutest Ideas Ever™?  They are the Guest Wifi Signs of Pinterest. Some can be kind of clever, but for the most part they just aren’t my STYLE.

However, I do see a huge advantage to having a WiFi login just for visitors.  It does allow to partition off your personal devices, not that your friends will intentionally go snooping.  But perhaps someone in the house has work files or access through their desktop to other more sensitive job networks, and with the amount of hacking going on, it’s just an added security measure.

So what does one do when they want to offer their guests the login but want to make it reflect their personality?  GO GEEKY!

HPwifi

This was a super easy, very inexpensive DIY that I was able to do in about 10 minutes once I had all the elements in hand.  Want to do something similar?  Here’s what I did:

The Fandom

So many to choose from, only one guest login!  I will list some other ideas I had at the end of this post (including Lord of the Rings, Supernatural, Star Wars, Doctor Who, Firefly and Game of Thrones), but I decided to go with Harry Potter theme for now.  I thought the Connecto Patronum network name was really great, but I also considered:

  • Hogwarts Express WiFi
  • Professor McGonagall’s Office
  • Hogsmeade
  • Shrieking Shack
  • Ministry of Magic

Because this is such a cheap and easy thing, I can change it whenever I get bored!  So the first thing I did was look for the decals.

The Decals

WARNING: I first ordered what I believed were decals from Amazon, which I thought fit perfectly, however it turned out that they were only stickers (despite the product descriptions) and I was not as happy with the finished project.  So be VERY careful when you purchase decals, make sure the design or letters TRANSFER to whatever you are putting them on.

Because Amazon surprisingly let me down on this one, I found a small online company that just does car decals, and though the decals are perfect for car windows, they are a bit larger than I originally intended and needed to modify them to work with the frame I had purchased along with the first set of stickers.  But these are the decals I got in BLACK MATTE (but they have almost any color you could want!):


I Solemnly Swear I am up to no GoodDecal

 

 

and


Mischief Managed Decal

 

 

I did also see this one which would work too:


The Deathly Hallows Decal

I found they have a lot of great Harry Potter things, but if you have a special request, they can help you so just contact them!

The Frame

I wanted something with a thick mat because I knew I wanted the decals around the network information, and found this picture frame with a 5″ picture and 4″ frame for $13.99.

Amazon didn’t let me down with that one 😉

The Fonts

For the Network and WiFi information, I wanted to stick to the Harry Potter theme and use appropriate fonts, so I found and downloaded the Lumos font and the Caslon Antique font, which I found to be great for this project.

You may also like this Harry P font which is the classic lighting bolt font, I just decided not to use it this time around.

Once your fonts are downloaded, for Windows users go to the font file via Control Panel > Appearance and Personalization > Fonts – they should then be visible in in any word processing program you use.

From there it was just a matter of making sure the printout fit the 5×5 picture opening of the mat – for reference, I used Lumos at font size 36 and Caslon Antique at size 32, but I did adjust the line spacing to make it what I wanted.

The Assembly

Here is how the decals arrived, with a white backing, the decal and a clear top transfer sticker:

decals

  1. Trimming – The wand and the very low-swooping “p” pushed the overall decal outside the visible mat area of the picture frame, so I decided to CAREFULLY trim off the wand and use that as a separate element.  Additionally, the Mischief Managed decal was quite large, so I EVEN MORE CAREFULLY cut that so the words were separated.
  2. Cleaning – I took the frame apart and cleaned the glass (pro tip: use glass cleaner and newspaper to clean, it will leave it streak-free!).  Then, on a flat surface, I placed the mat, then the glass, then the frame itself.  I did this so I could visually see where the decals would best be positioned.
  3. Application – I then peeled the backing off the decals and gently laid them onto the clean glass, being sure to only touch the clear transfer sticker – I find it’s best to get the positioning right about a half inch from the glass, then bend the transfer slightly so it starts sticking in the middle and work your way out.  This will cut down on any air bubbles.
  4. Pressing – Once the decals were down, I removed the frame just to get it out of the way, and used a credit card to gently but firmly press the decals onto the glass to get them to stick better.
  5. Peeling – I then picked up the corner of a transfer sticker and gently peeled it off.  If you’ve pressed firmly enough, the decal should remain on the glass.  You may find, as I did, that one or two places sticks to the transfer rather than the glass, just put it back down and try re-pressing, or coming at the peel-off from the opposite direction.
  6. Add your network info – Tape your printed network name and password to the mat, making sure it’s fairly centered.
  7. Reassemble – Put all the pieces of the picture frame back together and you’re done!

Other Fandom Ideas

Maybe Harry Potter isn’t your thing?  No worries!  There’s SO MUCH to choose from, so here’s a short list of ideas:

The Hobbit/Lord of the Rings

One of my other favorites is anything Tolkien! The decal place has this AWESOME decal I will definitely use if I decide to go towards this next:

Again, be super-sure it’s a car decal, not a sticker.

Network name ideas:

  • The Shire
  • Bag End
  • Mount Doom
  • Rivendell
  • Minas Tirith

Recommended Fonts: Ringbearer, Party Business, Aniron

Supernatural

Decal idea:

Network name ideas:

  • Baby’s Hotspot
  • Men Of Letters Bunker
  • Singer Auto Salvage Yard

Recommended font: Supernatural Knight,

Star Wars

OH THE POSSIBILITIES.  Here is just ONE decal idea:

Star Wars Rebel Alliance Emblem Car or Truck Window Decal Sticker

Network name ideas:

  • Rebel Alliance Base
  • Order 66
  • Death Star
  • Yavin 4
  • Millenium Falcon

Recommended fonts: Star Jedi, Aurebesh (for design elements)

Doctor Who

One decal idea:

Doctor Who Sonic Screwdriver Car or Truck Window Decal Sticker

Network name idea:

  • TARDIS (obviously)
  • Gallifrey

Recommended fonts: Doctor Who, WS Simple Gallifreyan (for design elements), Dalek

Firefly

One decal idea:

Network name ideas:

  • Serenity
  • Kaylee’s Room
  • Persephone
  • Companion’s Quarters

Recommended fonts: Nuptial, Voluta Script, Joanna and of course Papyrus (which are likely already installed as a basic available font in your system)

Game of Thrones

One decal idea:

Network name ideas:

  • Westeros
  • AGirlHasNoWifi
  • Winterfell
  • House Targaryan

Recommended fonts: Game of Thrones, Trajan Pro, Mason

Hope you enjoyed! I’d love to see other people’s geeky wifi signs so link ’em up!

Stranger Things: Season 2 is Here – Have a Last Minute Binge Party!

ST2pic

WOO HOO!

Anyone who loved the first season of Stranger Things knows that Season Two was released on Netflix today!  I’ve been reminded of this about 3 times a week for several weeks now by my son, who watched the first season at least 10 times.  So what is the only rational thing to do on an occasion such as this?  Throw a last minute binge party!

Being last minute means not a lot of time to prepare, create, sew, draw, etc.  And the point is that you are watching the actual SHOW, not spending hours preparing for a typical social event.  So for this, let’s stick with the bare bones ideas: snacks, drinks and a comfy place to watch the show for several hours.

SNACKS:

Ok folks let’s get real.  This is no time learn how to make – or hire a professional cookie maker to create – wonderful treats like these no matter how awesome they are:

STcookies

These are great, but mine would look like a hot mess or cost me $400 to have made. MOVING ON! (PS: Will happily give credit to whoever created these but I can’t find original source)

So what will you serve your fellow Stranger Things Fanatics?  A quick trip to the store can net plenty of great snacks that were available back in the last 1970s-early 1980s, so stick with those!  Starting with:

eggo

EGGOS, of course!  Create a waffle bar, where people can toast up some Eggos and create their own fun treats!  Topping could include:

  • chocolate chips
  • berries
  • whipped cream/Cool Whip
  • peanut butter
  • caramel syrup
  • ice cream
  • sprinkles

But check it out, even Eggo is getting into the Stranger Things action, go to their website and download a 1984 label you can put on a modern box!

Of course one cannot live on Eggos alone, so you could also grab some:

  • Pop Rocks
  • Twinkies
  • Devil Dogs
  • Jello Pudding Pops
  • pretzels
  • Doritos!

DRINKS:

Of course you have to have drinks you can get today that were around in the early 80s, but if you can grab a couple of pitchers (Tupperware pitchers get bonus points!), then fill them with Hi-C fruit drinks (add vodka or rum to make them even better!) – if you’re feeling creative, do something like this:

STdrinks

Love this! Also can’t find who to credit for this idea either, but they rock!

If you want some sodas, pick up some:

  • TAB (classic!)
  • 7-Up
  • Coke
  • Pepsi… if you can find any “Crystal” versions, I bow to you!
  • (add vodka or rum to make your sodas even better!)

DECORATIONS:

Now is not the time for overly fancy decorations, but if you want a quick and easy project that shouldn’t take too long, just do this:

  • From the store: grab a huge black Sharpie marker, a plain white shower curtain or plastic table cloth and a set of Christmas lights (if you don’t already have some at home, you KNOW the stores are already putting that stuff out)
  • At home: Tape the curtain to your wall and string up the lights in 3 rows.  Then under each light, draw out each letter, like so:
STlights

Bonus points for finding a shower curtain that matches her wallpaper!

 

THAT’S IT!  That’s all you need to make a great party with minimal effort and maximum fun while you watch the new season with your best mates.  Now… RUN!

Tesla Turns Gets Power Going At Children’s Hospital In Puerto Rico

I’m so thrilled for them!  After all the hardships they have been enduring, it’s wonderful to see some good news from there.  Read the original article here at NPR.

TeslaPR

Weeks after Tesla founder Elon Musk and Gov. Ricardo Rossello spoke about the tech company aiding Puerto Rico, Tesla says it has restored electricity to a children’s hospital, using solar energy and batteries.- Tesla

I am a Tesla fanatic, I won’t lie. When I had the chance to pick up a handful of stock, I got a total of 7 for a decent price and have been sitting on them for years. I am not sure if or when I will ever sell them.

Is Elon Musk the second coming? Of course not, he’s a human with good traits and character flaws. But I do appreciate his innovations during a time of stunted growth in the US. We used to invent things, we used to build things, and he is one of a dying breed who actually still do.

In addition to the Tesla Powerwall, I am really excited to see the long term reliability of their Solar Roof.  I would love to disconnect from the electric grid and just use solar energy, and to have a roof that looks just like any other so it blends in?  What a bonus!  Look how gorgeous these tiles are:

TeslaRoof

Digging that slate look!

Where are all my fellow Tesla fans!?!

How To Save $1500 or More Per Year!

save1500

I’m all about saving money, I’ve written before about couponing and budgeting.  For a while now I’ve been intrigued by the idea so foreign to those of my Generation X and older: cutting the cord.  A lot of people have already, and know how easy and money-saving it can be, but for a lot of others, it’s a whole different world.

We take our entertainment seriously in this household, which means we are willing to pay for certain entertainment luxuries.  Multiple TVs in the house, multiple boxes so people could record shows, fast internet connection for gaming and mobile device usage.  About the only thing we never sprung for was all the pay channels like Showtime and Skine…I mean Cinemax.

Of COURSE we had HBO.  We had to have our Game of Thrones.

But I was already feeling the wallet pinch with our regular $180/mo bill when our 2 year contract with Verizon FIOS was about to end and they informed us it was going up to $230+.

OH HELLS NO.  A girl has no patience.

giphy (3)
So I finally talk my husband into researching how to cut the cord.  I’d already heard that Optimum was introducing 400 Mbps, with talk of service being available up to 1000 Mbps (Gigabit).  For reference, our FIOS service was sitting at 150 Mbps and we were already stretching the limits with all the devices in our house in use.  But my husband made the argument that he much preferred to stay with Verizon and liked the FIOS stability much better.

Calling Verizon FIOS

So we called them up and asked about their highest level of internet speed – they offer straight up Gigabit for about $90/mo!  We were already sold right there, but here’s where we had to compare the shows we watched with our availability to access them on streaming services alone.

rebels

Priorities, yo.

When we looked at things honestly, we realized we spent the majority of our time watching Netflix or Amazon Prime which we would still be maintaining, so no change there.  However, the biggest concern was looking for a streaming service that offered our regular shows from places like DisneyHD (hey we need our Star Wars Rebels!), Syfy and DiscoveryID.

Calling Verizon Wireless

For this we turned back to Verizon, only we spoke with Verizon Wireless, which is the cell provider for my husband’s plans.  They were advertising a very nice deal with DirecTV.  After adjusting to a new plan (4 phones on unlimited data), they offered to add the basic DirecTV streaming bundle for a change in his bill of… $1/mo.  That’s right, for a single dollar extra per month, we could stream all the channels we always watched, AND we also gained BBC America, which we hadn’t had access to before!  And we should have no trouble streaming on any device, whether it’s the TV, desktop, laptop or smartphone!

Streaming Gadgets

Ok, so now we had to look for products that would help us stream all these shows (like a cable box) – the most obvious choice we went with was the Amazon Fire Stick.  As it simply plugs into our TVs and you can load up whatever app you subscribe to, it’s the easiest and most straightforward flat purchase to make.  Not to mention they worth with Amazon Alexa, which makes it SUPER easy to find what you want.

facehuggerrouter

I’m PRETTY sure it’s not an alien facehugger. But don’t quote me on that.

The next thing was looking for a powerful wireless router.  While Verizon does provide a wireless router calibrated specifically for their Gigabit service, they do charge $10/mo for it and the model is mid-range residential.  We’re pretty hardcore when it comes to gaming and streaming already, and we wanted to be sure our house was set up with the best we could.  Ultimately we decided that purchasing this Netgear Nighthawk would be the best for our needs.  We were super lucky to get it on sale and with some rewards cash we had saved up, we sprung for the 3 year warranty and still saved at least $100 over what we would have spent renting.

The Transition

giphy (4)So at this point we place our orders for the gear we need, which is definitely an outlay of funds in the beginning.  But since our new month was JUUUST about to roll over, we wanted to take care of things right away.  We made the changes, we installed the gear, and started testing things out.  Without boring you even more to tears, everything works great, with some small bugs with DirecTV, but nothing that makes us think twice about going back to the old ways!

Now, THE BILL

We just got our bill, and though I trash previously paid bills to avoid paper clutter, I was able to bring up my bill payment history online.  Here is what we paid from January through October:

Verizonhistory

 

And this is our current bill:

Vcurrent2

Breakdown of costs over the next 3 years:

What they wanted to charge us for 150 Mpbs, cable service and a landline we done even know the number to because we haven’t had a landline in 7 years – $8,280!

What we will pay for 1000 Mpbs speed, streaming all the same channels we want plus some we didn’t have before, no more landline, and straight purchases of streaming gear and equipment – $3,600!

Total savings over the 3 years – $4,680!

Excuse me while I book a vacation to Europe….

5 Easy Harry Potter Drinks

HPheader

We are in the midst of two of my favorite topics – Halloween and Harry Potter celebrations!  There has been a surge of town-wide Harry Potter Days where businesses will specialize in all things HP (like this one for 10/28/17 🙂 ), and it’s the perfect time of year to do it.  Hopefully all you fellow PottHeads have one nearby?

Even if you don’t, you can still join the fun! I’ve compiled a short list of my favorite Harry Potter inspired drinks you can toast your favorite characters with.

But here was the challenge… finding recipes that not only tasted good and reminded me of specific HP characters or places, but also didn’t call for hard-to-find or bizarre ingredients (I found this drink, which uses squid ink – bless that mixologist, but…NO.) – there is nothing more frustrating than buying a bottle of liquor I’ve never heard of, to create a drink using only 1oz of it, only to realize I hate the taste and will never use it again.

Oh, and if you’re looking for a cool Harry Potter glass or mug to hold your concoction, I’ve posted a few at the bottom you may want to check out!

That said, let’s move on to the drinks!

VERY Low Calorie Butterbeer!

Glasses_of_ButterbeerI’ve been to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter in Florida, and I was lucky enough to get to the Harry Potter Studio Tour in London.  The Butterbeer served is DELICIOUS, but will give you sugar shock! I needed to find a way to make it lower in sugar and calories, but also simple enough that I won’t blow too much money.

First, the non-alcoholic recipe (keep the kids happy!):

  • 12 oz of Diet Cream Soda
  • 1 T of Imitation Butterscotch Extract
  • Cool Whip
  • Drizzle of Walden Farms Calorie Free Caramel Syrup (usually found near the ice cream toppings)

Start with the Butterscotch Extract and then add the Cream Soda to mix, top with some Cool Whip and let it get a little “relaxed” to look like beer froth.  Drizzle a bit of the Caramel Syrup on top and you’re good to go!

Now for the ADULT version:

  • 12 oz of Diet Cream Soda
  • 1-2oz of Butterscotch Schnapps (to taste)
  • Cool Whip
  • Drizzle of Walden Farms Calorie Free Caramel Syrup (usually found near the ice cream toppings)

Start with the Butterscotch Schnapps and then add the Cream Soda to mix, top with some Cool Whip and let it get a little “relaxed” to look like beer froth.  Drizzle a bit of the Caramel Syrup on top and you’re on your way to a lower-calorie drink.  Accio Butterbeer!!!

Photo credit to harrypotter.wikia.com

The Half-Blood Prince Potion

By now you should know that our favorite potions master was also a master of manipulation and lies – for the good!  In honor of Severus Snape’s ability to hide the light within the dark, I present one of the most gorgeous drinks I’ve ever seen!  With it’s lime flavoring (green for Slytherin!), black color and silvery sparkles when you swirl it, you will look more than ready to take your NEWT level Potions exams!

  • 2.5 ounces Black Vodka
  • 3/4 ounce Freshly Squeezed Lime Juice (2/3 – 1 Small Lime)
  • 1/2 ounce Simple Syrup
  • Ice
  • Wilton Edible Pearl Dust in White (Find at craft store in baking aisle or HERE on Amazon)

Instructions:

Into a cocktail shaker add in your simple syrup, lime juice, and black vodka. Fill with ice until the liquid line. Give it a hard shake for 30 seconds. Add a dash of pearl dust to the bottom of a martini or coupe glass. Pour cocktail into your glass and serve. Add more pearl dust if it’s not shimmery enough and stir it with a bar spoon to combine it.

Photo and drink recipe credit to elletalk.com!

The Order of the Phoenix

OrderofPhoenixIn searching for a recipe to honor the many fierce and determined witches and wizards – many of whom perished fighting You-Know-Who and the Death Eaters, I found this drink to pack the right punch!  Don’t consume too many of these, or it’s a trip straight to St. Mungo’s Hospital for Magical Maladies and Injuries!

  • 1 oz Vodka
  • 1 oz Triple Sec
  • 1 oz. Blue Curacao
  • Lime juice to taste
  • Black Sanding Sugar for coating the glass
Instructions:
Pour equal portions of the alcohol into a shaker over cracked ice. Shake, then strain into a chilled martini glass that has been rimmed with black sugar.
Photo and basic recipe from RecipesJust4U.com, tweaked by me.

The Goblet of Fire!

GobletofFireThis one is a FUN one to make AND to look at!  I found several recipes out there with similar ingredients and think this one is the best. Astound your friends with your potion skills with this one and sip while reminiscing on the past Tri-Wizard Tournament Champions!
  • 1 1/2 ounce blue curaçao
  • 1 ounce orange-flavored vodka
  • 1/2 cup orange-flavored sparkling water
  • 1/2 ounce 151 proof rum
  • Cinnamon

Instructions:

 

In a goblet, pour the blue curaçao, vodka, and sparkling water.Carefully spoon a layer of rum over the drink. You can also pour the rum over the back of the spoon. Using your wand, cast the fire-making spell to light the drink. If Ollivander’s was closed when you went to buy your wand, you can just use a long-stemmed lighter. If it doesn’t light right away, pour a little more rum on top and try again. Sprinkle with cinnamon to create those sparks. Put out the flame by blowing on it or covering the drink with a plate before drinking.
Photo and recipe from Spoon University.

The Hogsmeade Special!

Organic Apple Cider with CinnamonWhen strolling down the street in Hogsmeade during the height of snow season, despite the warmth of your Hogwarts cloak, the only thing you want is something toasty to sip next to the fire.  This super-simple recipe is great when ice-cold in the summer, but OUTSTANDING in the winter!

Instead of cursing the snow and using your wand to try melt it away, embrace it gratefully with this drink in hand. Honestly, I don’t think I could have made this recipe any easier unless it was literally already bottled at the Hog’s Head ready for pickup!

  • Apple Cider
  • Honey Mead
  • Cinnamon stick (or a few sprinkles of ground cinnamon)

Instructions:

Mix one part each in your favorite mug, heat to preferred temperature in the microwave or in a small pot on the stove, add cinnamon stick (or ground cinnamon) and ENJOY!

Need a special drinking cup for your favorite recipe?  Check these out!



lovemagic

5 Ways to Make Quick Cash IMMEDIATELY

I know, there’s a ton of these kinds of posts out there with BOATLOADS of ideas, but so often they are ideas you need to have skills for. I’m always down for a few ideas on how to grab a few extra bucks, so here are 5 of my favorite and PROVEN ways I’ve pocketed some money without needing a special talent or experience at.

These Boba Fett stools are guaranteed to get some interest!

1. Join a Facebook Swap and Sell!
Look for a local group, like a town or county group.  Not only have I found some spectacular deals for things I really needed, but I’ve made some cash by putting some of my unused household stuff up for sale.  In my neighborhood, it’s popular to also advertise “easy porch pickup” which means they will leave the item on their porch and you can tuck the cash under a mat or plant pot – makes swinging by and taking care of things much faster!  Sales tip: unusual décor, collectibles and upcycled furniture sells! Things people can buy at Walmart new for the same price does not.

2. Join UserTesting.com!
I did this for quite a while and made a few hundred dollars at it.  If you qualify, you are tasked to review a website, often with specific objectives (Find a red sweater in the menswear section, or pretend to check out using this checkout information), and you record yourself as you go through the site, noting any stumbling blocks or positive things about the site as you use it.  Most tests take about 15 minutes and pay $10, with quicker tests paying a little less, longer/more involved tests paying more.

3. Sell Your Old Cell Phone to Gazelle.com!
While you may not get the BIG bucks, your unused cell phone isn’t making you any money sitting in your top dresser drawer.  With the cost of cell phones now, we can ALL use a few extra dollars for our next upgrade.  Check the website for pricing, you can get a check to cash or a little more in store credit if you think you may like to turn around any buy something from them.

4. Return Unused Purchases!
Did you go shopping 2 weeks ago and realize you haven’t even pulled out that sweater you bought?  Apparently you don’t love it as much as you thought you did in the store, so RETURN IT!  Most stores have decent refund policies, some will even give you cash for the return (but of course credit back on your checking account or credit card is still awesome!).

5. Classic Yard Sale!
I would be silly not to mention the good ol’ fashioned garage sale.  There is a house on my street that seems to have a yard sale every Friday-Sunday, and more power to them!  Don’t feel like uploading pics and setting prices on each individual item for a Facebook group?  Just announce that you’re having a garage sale on it with a couple of sample items people will see and wait for people to show up!

BONUS IDEA: Find Your Hidden Cash!
We’ve all had it happen, you put on that jacket or pair of jeans, stick your hand in the pocket and VOILA, you find a bill you forgot all about!  Check between/under seat cushions, check those winter coats, clean out the purse or backpack and look in the bottom for fallen currency.  A short sweep once netted me $27 – woo hoo!  PIZZA!

Silicone Sponges – YAY or NAY??

siliconespongesTHave you seen the movie Inside Out?  The character Disgust is usually wearing the face I make when I see a gross, old dish sponge.

NASTY.  Excuse me while I nope out of here!!!

I’m not huge germaphobe, but this is one thing that I just can’t stand.  I go through sponges so fast that I am spending a lot of money on them (yeah only about $2-3 for a 3 pack, but when I go through them so fast it adds up).  So when I started seeing ads for silicone sponges, I thought it might just help me with my problem.

I ordered these three pictured here on Amazon for about $12.50 and immediately trashed the sponge I had…

siliconesponges

If you decide to try out these kinds of sponges for yourself, I recommend this pack of silicone sponges instead of what I purchased.  You get SIX of them for only $12.99, a much better deal!

Ok, so here is my list of Pros:

  • Can be used for more than just cleaning dishes (I’ll list some ideas below)!
  • Durable – have been using for over a month and zero damage, despite using it along sharp edges
  • Can be put in the dishwasher to clean/sterilize
  • Holds suds really well – some people did not find this to be true but for me it was no different than a regular sponge.  Perhaps it’s the brand of dish soap, but Palmolive and Seventh Generation has worked just fine
  • The ones you’re not using yet can be squished together to save space – remember the old Bristle Blocks?  Can’t save that space with regular sponges.

The different ways you can use these – I love multi-use items!

  1. Dish scrubber (obviously)!
  2. Pot holder – because it’s silicone, it can handle the heat!
  3. Open those tight lids – these have great grip on those jars that are sealed tight!
  4. Body loofah – NO KIDDING, people use these in place of their loofahs because they can be tossed in the dishwasher to get cleaned, no more buying and throwing out those wasteful loofahs, more money saved!
  5. Clean foods with them – because they are easily sterilized in the dishwasher (or a pot of boiling water if you want it faster), use them to wash fruits and veggies from the store of any pesticides or dirt!

Now for the Con:

Admittedly, I found it is not 100% in replacing the classic sponge.  Due to it’s nature, it cleans countertops well, but won’t soak up the water, just pushes it around.  Here is where I would grab a paper towel or a kitchen towel and finish the job.  HOWEVER, I was already doing that because I don’t want to use a nasty old sponge to “clean” a countertop!

TL;DR version:

Totally worth it.  Buy them today!  They could make awesome inexpensive gifts for the holidays 🙂

Breaker Breaker! How to Safely Check for Electrical Current and a Quick Tip to Save Time

New homeowners sometimes walk in only to realize they might not have picked up the simple skills to fix or upgrade things and end up wasting money hiring a professional. Here’s a quick tip that will help you out!

Do you want to change out a light switch or electrical outlet?

The first step is to figure out which breaker to flip to turn off electricity to that switch/outlet or you risk getting an electric shock or worse!

breakerbox

This is our breaker box – if you’re lucky, a lot of the switches have already been labeled, however, you’ll obviously want to double-check before fiddling with any wires directly.

Method One to test for current:  this is the easiest way to make sure you flipped off the power to an outlet or light switch – TRY IT.  Plug in a lamp if it’s an empty outlet.

Method Two is even more pro: use a Volt Meter to test it.  Volt Meters will tell you if the same set of switches are on different breaker switches.  While it’s not common, it does happen.  For our most recent project, the very first set of rocker switches we worked with were on at least 2 different breakers.  Had we only checked the one switch, we could have been in for a nasty surprise!  Volt Meters can be simple or very complex (and expensive!), no need to break the bank though.  My husband strongly recommends that you pick up one from the brand Fluke, he finds they are high quality.  When you get it, simply follow the directions.

Once you’re sure there’s no electricity a-flowin’, replace the piece you need to, but before you put the cover back on, do this one thing to save yourself some time the next time you need to do some maintenance – get yourself a single roll of white electrical tape to keep with your tools, snip a piece off, and put it on the underside of the cover.  Write which breaker goes with that switch/outlet, and you’ll never have to wonder again!

Hope this has been a helpful household hint!

Budgeting 101

One of the most important things that so many people have never learned is BUDGETING.

I know, budgeting sounds scary, overwhelming, and restrictive.  For some it can make them look like deer in headlights, but trust me, once you get the hang of it, you can find it becomes easy, fast, and even enjoyable!

What is a Budget?

A budget is your estimated income and expenditures for a certain period of time.  Essentially: what you get paid and what you have to pay for with that money.

Why do I Need a Budget?

Without a budget, you are more apt to living paycheck-to-paycheck, make late payments, get assessed interest or late fees, and live beyond your means.  For many, this means living in a state of anxiety – who wants to live feeling anxious about money all the time???

How do I Make a Budget?

There are MANY ways to make a budget.  One of the simplest ways is by gathering bills and paystubs you’ve received in the last month or two, taking a piece of paper and hand-writing in 2 columns what each was.  For example:

SampleBudget
This is a very simplistic budget that covers a lot of the basic expenses a young adult might see.  Obviously individual situations will vary.  In this instance, this person is living within their means, with $400 left over at the end of the month.  This helps them to cover unexpected expenses, or just get a jump on the next month’s bills.

But I Live in the 21st Century!

Then guess what?  I have the perfect system for you!  It’s called You Need A Budget 🙂

There are a lot of budgeting programs out there, and I have tried quite a few, including the Dave Ramsey method (which I liked, but at some point felt got too preachy and judgmental) and Mint (which I found a little too simplistic for what I wanted), but until I found YNAB I just didn’t feel very successful.

YNAB allows you to budget not only from your desktop/laptop, but also lets you do it right from your smartphone!  Out at a restaurant?  Easily log your cost before you even leave the table.  With direct importing from banks there’s no need to go hunting for wayward charges, either!

What is You Need A Budget?

What I found with other programs was that you did a lot more “forecasting” – making estimates of what you will get coming in and going out in the future.  This can be nerve-wracking and problematic, especially if you get variable incomes and bills, or you have kids or elderly pets that may need emergency doctor visits, or you get sick and can’t work as many hours if you’re an hourly employee.

YNAB starts by focusing only on what is most important to you and making sure you give your money a job so you can plan ahead.  Confused?  Here is a quick video that explains the basics:

Are you going to make mistakes?  SURE!  We all do, but YNAB offers a variety of ways to get the help you need, especially when you’re just starting out – with a free online classes, a vibrant forum and an active Facebook group, you’ll only be a few clicks away from getting the answers or directions you need.

So what are you waiting for?  Go use their free, 34-day trial to give it a test run and see how you like it, and let me know if I can help you myself!

Note: this is not a paid post, I use this program myself and love it so much!  The annual fee is $50 for this program, which I have saved MANY times over and find it worth every penny, however if you choose to sign up for the program, both you and I will get a free month added to our subscription!

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