A blog about "nothing"!

Monday, May 27, 2013

Cutting the cord................

Before I get to the main theme of this post, I just want to thank everyone for their well wishes and positive thoughts last week.  Hubby found another job already, thank heavens for small blessings.  He finishes out this week with his current company and next Monday starts with the new one.  There are going to be some changes, but I think they are good ones.  He is still in the same field and I think the new job will offer him lots of opportunities as it is with a much larger company.  Plus we get to stay put where we are!

Back to the main idea--have you ever thought about getting rid of cable/satellite television?  More and more is being written about the way television is changing and how cable and satellite companies are going to have to step up and become more competitive.  I started researching this last summer, I was sick to death of paying the ridiculous price just to watch the telly, especially now that there are so many other options.  I just have to say that the powers that be in the television industry had better start paying attention, or they are going to find themselves way behind.

Growing up where I did, cable was not an option.  We had rabbit ears or a big antenna on the roof.  We were out in the country, miles from town, so lots of static.  A couple of years ago when I met one of the big-wigs with the local cable company for something work related,  I asked what the chances were that they would ever put cable television out that way, his response literally was "not a snowball's chance in hell".  The houses are too far apart once you get to a certain point.   So I was stuck with satellite television.  Not a bad way to watch TV, but not cheap either.  When we moved, we took the satellite TV with us to our new home.  The price still bugged me though, and I set out on a mission to come up with something else.  The last straw was a couple of months ago when they sent a notification that they were raising the price yet again--$90 a month to watch the "boob tube" (as my dad referred to it) was really starting to bug me.  Time to up the ante!

I knew I could stream a lot of things via the internet, and due to the fact that I upload a lot of very large photography files I had already spent the money on a faster internet connection through Verizon, no problem there.  I also didn't want to be stuck in a contract with anyone.  I just wasn't sure what to do about local programming and the big 5 networks.  Thanks to a post on a bulletin board I frequent, I found out about a wonderful invention--the Mohu Leaf antenna.  Highly rated, I decided to order one.  The box arrived and when I got it out, I was kind of stunned--it looked like a mouse pad!  I thought "how in the world is this going to work?!?!?!"   Well let me just say that it works very well!  $38 and I was able to get the local television channels clearly as well as a PBS channel just out of the range.  The best part is this antenna stays inside the house, no mounting something on the roof, and it's non-directional for the most part, so none of that having to adjust it constantly.  I was impressed.

On to ways to stream other programming--we purchased an HDMI cable so that we could connect one of the laptops to the television, and it worked well enough, but no remote control.  Not the worst problem in the world, but I knew there had to be a better way.  Then I remembered that the Wii (and several other game systems as well) had the ability to stream certain things--so I set it up to download Hulu, YouTube and Netflix.  Worked like a charm!  The game controllers can be used as remotes too, so another hurdle cleared.  The last issue--getting the TV in the bedroom connected to something.  Unfortunately where it sits has very little extra space, so connecting the laptop wasn't a viable option.  And the location of the room prevented the Mohu Leaf from working very well.  Hmmmmm.........

Enter the Roku--a streaming box that gets a large number of different streaming channels.  Some are free, some involve a nominal monthly fee, and some are pay-per view--perfect!  It's small too, so it won't be hard to find someplace to set it in the bedroom.  Because it is small, it will also be convenient to move it to the basement television when we have reason to watch something down there.  Eventually I may spring for the cost of another, but in the meantime I'm content to move it to where it needs to be.  I will note here that all of the TV's in our house are digital ready HDTV's.

Here's the cost breakdown--satellite, $90 per month--works out to $1080 per year.  Eeek!  Mohu Leaf Antenna--$38 (one time cost), Roku--$58 (one time cost), Netflix-$8 per month, HuluPlus $8 per month--total cost for one year (initially) $288, $192 for each year thereafter with the current set up.  I can think of a lot of things I can use that $792/$888 saved per year for instead of television!  PLUS--I can watch what I want, WHEN I want, I am not at the mercy of a programming schedule.  No contracts either, so if I find that Netflix or HuluPlus aren't working for our needs, easy to cancel (and I have done that with Netflix twice in the past, it really does work as easily as it sounds).  We already had the Wii, so I'm not figuring that in my amounts since there are better/cheaper options for streaming.  These changes also eliminate the need for the television to be tethered to only one place, making room arranging much easier!

The Directv receivers are boxed up and ready to go back in tomorrow's mail--to quote Helen Chappel from one of my favorite TV shows, "Wings"--BITE ME!  I'm the one laughing all the way to the bank now :) (and now you know why my husband calls me "The cheapest woman in America"--a nickname I wear with honor.)  Clark Howard would be so proud.

Friday, May 24, 2013

Thrifting.....with a purpose!

Shopping at thrift stores can be a lot of fun, especially when you come across a treasure you didn't expect to find.  I can only think of one thing better than that--finding a great deal on something you've been looking for!  Yesterday I went with my friend Paris to the two Red White and Blue stores in Pittsburgh.  I got her hooked on thrift store shopping last year and she's been wanting to check these stores out.  She did quite well, getting items for her, hubby and her two (soon to be three) grandbabies. 

I did very well too, I spent all of $32 and not only found a couple of great deals, but also a couple of things I'd been hoping to find.  Given the craziness of the past week, I felt I needed to buy the hubby something to cheer him up, and I found this Pittsburgh Pirate cap for a whopping 95 cents:
Did you ever get rid of something, only later to think "why did I do that?"  I've done that a couple of times, and one of the things I got rid of was my Hootie & The Blowfish CD.  I don't know what I was thinking, I at least got some cash for it when I did, but still.  So I was excited to find it for $1.95--and it doesn't have a single scratch on it, whoever had it is as picky about caring for their CD's as I am!  I also found a VHS copy of Monty Python and the Holy Grail for 95 cents--awesome!  Lee has never seen the entire movie, so I will have to plan a night around it. 
I got a couple of very nice clothing items.  I really don't need much for summer so I was keeping my eyes peeled for items for autumn.  One advantage of shopping for off season clothing is it tends to be marked cheaper, and combine that with a 50% day and you can score some major bargains.
First off, a very nice Denim & Company t-shirt, brand new (it still has that "brand new shirt smell").  QVC is still selling these, a set of 2 runs about $34 total by the time you add S&H, so I got a $17 shirt for $2.95--not too shabby.  I loved the color too :)
Two very nice sweaters for fall with the tags still on!  A striped Liz Claiborne Sweater and a tan colored Croft & Barrow short sleeve mock-neck.  The Liz Claiborne Sweater was probably around $50 originally and the Croft & Barrow sweater runs around $14.  Both were marked $5.95, but they were the right color to be 50% off--so I got them each for $2.98.  I will put them away for cooler weather, it will be like finding them all over again when I switch out my wardrobe. 

One of my favorite things about shopping in thrift stores is finding clothing brands that no longer exist.  One of my all time favorites was the JCPenney brand St. John's Bay.  I found this awesome pair of khaki shorts (they look like they were barely worn) for $3.95.  They are a bit on the small side at the moment, but I am working on losing some serious weight and at the rate I am going, I am hopeful that these will fit me sometime before the summer is out.  I also found this lovely sleeveless mockneck, it will go perfectly under a wool blazer I found last year.  It also was only $3.95!

Now on to the "things I was looking for"--someone must have donated a rather large collection of Webkinz, and they had them divided up in to bags of 4 for $2.95.  I found a bag that had one I had been wanting--I'm not a Webkinz collector but this one had special meaning.  First off, Laney talked me out of this goofy frog from the bag, she loved it:
Then this goofy looking cat and dog--not sure what I'm going to do with them, they are a bit too fuzzy for her to play with, I may give them to my niece or re-donate them.  I haven't decided yet. 
And the reason I wanted this particular bag--now it's obvious, isn't it?!?!?!
And now for the "find of the day"--I have a wedding to go to in a couple of weeks and I wanted a pair of sandals in a particular style and color to wear.  I've been looking for several months, so I was thrilled when I came across these lovely sling backs--they are Easy Spirit brand, and when I turned them over to check the size, they appeared to be brand new!  I'm rather picky about buying shoes, I have foot issues to begin with, I couldn't believe my luck.  $7.95 for a pair of shoes that were probably $50 - $75 originally is a great deal, and I figure if I don't like them after wearing, I can take them to the consignment store to unload them afterwards.  YAY!!
Let's review--13 items for $32--that works out to about $2.50 per item.  Ballpark figure had I bought all of these items at full retail--somewhere between $200 and $250.  As Heather says, "Only fools pay full retail!!!" 
Now I am back to "behaving" and cleaning out some more.  I'm getting there, but it is nice to have a day out with a friend AND score some great bargains. 
To all of my American friends, Happy Memorial Day!  Have a great weekend everyone! 

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Just another reason to like her!

One of my all time favorite actresses is Helen Mirren.  I remember the first time I saw her in a movie, it was "White Nights" and I thought she was so good in it, and I've since seen so many things with her in it, read loads of articles, etc.  Today I ran across this lovely story online, and it just made me like her even more!

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Putting things in perspective...............

It's not been the best week here.  We found out that hubby will probably be unemployed before too long.  The timing couldn't be worse since I'm not working.  Fortunately we have been accustomed to the "living on one income" for quite a few years now, and the only real "panic" type thing is health insurance.  I hadn't planned on going back to work at this point, but given the circumstances, I polished up my resume and sent a couple out yesterday and will be sending out some more.  We're both hopeful that it won't take him long to find another job.  I won't lie, we have both been upset, I've cried, but in the back of my mind I know that we will be okay.  Being an over-planner does have it's good points.

As I'm typing this, I'm sitting here watching the footage of the devastation from the tornado in Oklahoma with tears running down my face.  I can't even imagine what these people are dealing with, although I have had some experience with it.  In May of 1995 our home was damaged by a tornado and in May of 1985, the only F5 tornado to ever hit in the state of Pennsylvania occurred just over the hill from where we live right now, destroying homes and business and killing several people.  Debris was thrown all over the county including where we were living at the time.  We spent days finding things, mostly containers from potted plants (I found out later on that a greenhouse in Ohio took a direct hit), home parts, the neighbor kids even found a pair of pants on a hanger.  Months later people were finding items and attempting to reunite them with their owners.  I don't think I will ever forget the story of a teddy bear that traveled a good 50 miles in the storm being returned to the little girl it belonged to. 

They interviewed a woman this morning whose home wasn't completely leveled, but those around her were.  She said she was just thankful that her two sons were okay.  The rest really didn't matter to her.  I remember feeling that way when we had our own home damaged, I was more upset about the plants I'd lost than the fact that my garage was completely totalled.   Insurance and money can replace the "stuff and things", but living things can't be. 

I know we will be okay.  This is a bump in the road, and hopefully it won't be a big bump.  We have options and backups.  As the saying goes--"Life is what happens to you when you start making plans."

Monday, May 13, 2013

I've Been Good :)

At the end of April I posted that I was going to stay away from thrift stores and the like and concentrate on getting things out of here.  I have to say that I have been very, very good and have managed to get this far in to the month without so much as a single purchase.  I've also sold quite a few things on Ebay as well as making another trip to Goodwill with a box of odds and ends and a bag of clothing, and a trip to the consignment store with two bags of clothing.  Getting there!  Far from done, but I feel like I am making progress.   I will be making a trip late next week to Red White & Blue with a friend who has never been there, we've been trying to do this since last fall and finally managed to get our schedules coordinated.  I think I can allow myself a couple of pieces of clothing and maybe (maybe!) a "dust collector" kind of item.  My reward for good behavior ;)

I did realize though that I hadn't shown my last two purchases before I put myself on my self-imposed "exile".  The one was hanging in my laundry room after I washed it and the other I had put away since I am saving it for fall.   The first--a GORGEOUS Smith & Hawken jacket, brand new for a whopping $2.99!!  I was drooling when I saw it, first off Smith & Hawken is no longer in business and I have been wanting one of these floral style barn jackets for an eternity.  I've looked at several of them, but just hadn't felt like parting with the cash.  How could I say no for $2.99?!?!

Please ignore the wrinkles, I haven't gotten around to ironing it yet.  Isn't it pretty?  I didn't realize until I got home that the belted part on the back is removable, so if I want it to have a different fit, super easy.  The other great part is it is so well made, should I decide I don't want it, I don't think I will have any trouble selling it either on consignment or on Ebay.  Major score!  I would be willing to bet that this jacket sold for no less than $100 originally.
My other score was a pair of shoes--specifically a pair of Bass shoes.  I love Bass shoes, I've owned quite a few pair over the years.  We have a Bass outlet not far from here and we are frequent shoppers.  So much so that we regularly get rewards coupons, and I just so happened to have a $10 coupon that needed used soon.  For some reason I was drawn to the clearance racks and found these:
The original price--$99.00.  I matched the color tag with the reduction--85% off!  That brought them to $14.85, quite a bargain, but then take my $10 coupon off--$4.85!!!  How can you beat that?  That's not the first time I've done that, I managed to get a pair of sandals a couple of years ago dirt cheap the same way.  I just loved this pair, they are dressier, well cushioned and have a type of sole that makes them perfect for any serious walking, great shoes for travel.  They are put away in my closet for the time being, waiting for fall.  And they are the perfect replacement for the Clark's shoes that died over the winter! 
Nothing better than a good bargain, especially when the bargain is something you need or something you've been looking for :) 

Friday, May 10, 2013

Tuesday, May 7, 2013


I love azaleas in bloom, to me there is nothing prettier, except maybe a lilac since they have the pretty smell to go with them.  At our old house we had a rosebud azalea, really neat because they look like little roses all over the place.  I never had any luck with a regular azalea there, I don't know if it had to do with where we planted it or the soil, but it died after the first year.  :(  So I was very excited to see that we had an azalea bush here.  Unfortunately whoever planted it put it in as an afterthought because it was crowded in between two shrubs and was very cramped.  Last year the hubby got busy and cut out a couple of the bushes and then trimmed the remaining ones including the azalea.  This spring the work paid off, it is thriving and absolutely gorgeous at the moment:

The cleanout project continues, right now I'm working on the living room, ended up with quite a few things for Ebay and a box for the Goodwill.  I'm getting close to the end, so I guess I'd better be thinking about which room to tackle next!  Feels so good to get things out of here that we no longer have use for and find them a new home as well as organize the things we are keeping.  One thing I have noticed is my tastes have changed a lot over the last 10 years and things that I wouldn't have dreamed of getting rid of are so easy to part with now.  Moving forward.......................

Friday, May 3, 2013

Spring Has Sprung!!!

We've had a major delay of spring here in the northeast thanks to the strange jet stream, but I think it is really finally here to stay!  My poor daffodils were wrecked this year because of it, and I noticed that the magnolia blooms only were good for about a day until the frost got them--grrrr!!!  However, the cherry blossoms and crab apple blossoms seem to have survived, yay!  We have this tree in our front yard and most of the year it is just plug ugly, the leaves are nasty looking, the bark is really super gnarly, but for about 3 - 5 days a year, it looks really good.  I remember when we had our house inspection it was in full bloom and I thought "oh, how pretty"--ha ha.  Today is one of those 3 - 5 days of the year, so I thought I would share:

Notice the chair sitting out by the curb--we have been sitting it out there off and on since we cleaned the garage on Saturday with a "Free" sign on it, and no one wants it, poor little chair.  I'm thinking I need to put it in my car and take it to Goodwill instead.  It would be a great chair for a kids room as it sits low to the ground--which is why I don't want it ;)
When I was growing up my parents always had a garden, a HUGE garden.  My mom canned and froze a lot of it.  While I have no aspirations of anything quite like that, I do have to admit that there is nothing quite as good as a home grown veggie.  Our first year here we tried growing tomatoes in one of those Topsy Turvy things.  Worked great, but everytime we started to see a tomato forming, it "disappeared".  Turns out we have a huge deer population in this neighborhood (who would have thought in town?!) and they are hell on gardens.  The neighbor across the street told us not to even try to plant a garden because they are so bad.  It certainly explained why the only garden in the neighborhood not only has fence around it, but on top as well. 
I wasn't about to give up totally, so this year I decided I would try doing some container gardening.  That way if they start to pester it, I can at least drag them in to the garage at night to protect them.  I had done container gardening in the past with a reasonable amount of success and between things I found on Pinterest and some advice from a friend who does this all the time (thanks Marcy!) I think I am ready to go.
The big blue container is going to have a couple green bean plants in it, the two smaller ones are tomatoes and the built in planter will be onions.  I'm deliberately planting "hot" type items in the built ins since I can't exactly take them in at night, and I'm hoping the hotness will deter any midnight snacks!

This long planter will have some leaf lettuce in it.  I am hoping to get two crops out of it with my packet of seeds. 
My banana pepper plants in our other built in.  I think two plants will be more than enough to keep us supplied for a couple of recipes I want to make.
As much as I hate to admit it, I had to buy tomato and pepper plants.  I bought seeds and tried to start them, but didn't realize until it was too late that my seed starter was no good anymore.  :(  I got absolutely nothing, I've never had THAT happen before, that's what makes me think that it was more of a case of bad seed starter as opposed to bad seeds.  I'll try them again next year and hope for the best, but in a new bag of seed starter!  I've also never tried planting onions from seed before, so this will be an interesting experience.  Wish me luck!  I'm really looking forward to some fresh veggies, according to the planting instructions we should have tomatoes about mid-June.  MMMMMM!
Have a great weekend everyone, I hope the weather is as nice where you are as it is here right now!!!

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Hee Hee Hee..............

I LOVE a good photobomb.  I have several photos of my own that someone photobombed that I need to dig out and post one of these days.  Until then, check this out--enjoy!!!