How to Lower Your Monthly Bills

Living frugally was not an easy thing for me to do at first, but now I think it is the best decision that I have every made. I am always trying to think of new ways to save money. So this time I decided to see if I could get my monthly bills lowered such as cable, cell phone, alarm system, and energy bill.

So, I started with my cell phone company to see if there was anyway that I could get my rate lowered or get some extra bonus minutes. This took several hours and repeat phone calls, but in the end it worked out in my favor. I told the customer service representative that I could no longer afford to pay over $65.00 a month for my service (mind you that my contract is set to expire next month) and in order to continue with the service I needed a discount because the prepaid plans are so much cheaper with the same features. After haggling back and forth and threatening to cancel my service she finally gave me a 20% discount with extra minutes. Keep Reading

Have A Headache? I May Have A Way To Help

If you have been following my medical mystery tour in Behind The Cape, you know I have had a headache everyday ALL day since June 2009. I know a thing or two about getting some type of relief…If you suffer from a stress-type of headache, this idea may help.

In India they use ginger to heal almost everything, including a painful headache. Packed with gingerols, plant compounds that amp up the production of pain-numbing endorphins that dampening inflammation and relax scalp muscles to prevent a painful spasms.  To prevent head pain try two to three slices of candied ginger.

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Growing Up In A Small Town

I’ve been in small towns my whole life and along the way, I’ve decided there are things I hate about it. Everyone knows your business and sometimes they make up things about you, you have to drive over 30 miles to get to anything resembling stores (department stores, big grocery stores, movies etc), and many other things. My oldest son, Brandon, had to travel far to attend GED classes, but fortunately we discovered a great website, GED Easy, that provides free GED prep classes. They also have a huge number of free GED practice tests, so he’ll be fine I guess. What I’ve forgotten over the years, though, is what is so great about a small town.

When Emily was here, she reminded me that it is nice to go into the store and see people you know and they ask how you are etc. or you can drive around the town and basically know where everyone lives, for example. However, I was reminded of another reason why I actually do love living the country life.

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Honeymoon at the Oregon coast

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Will and I got married on the 21st of September in a little clearing in the forest near our home. We had a beautiful, intimate ceremony with no pictures and no guests. Exactly the way we wanted it. Eccentric as it may be, we have never considered throwing a huge party, and so for the reception we only invited a handful of people over: close friends of Will’s family. In all honesty, the only thing that could have made this day more beautiful would have been my parents and brothers attending. However, due to the timing and the immense distance that was unfortunately not possible.

The day after we got married, Will and I packed our stuff (two bags full of clothing, a cooler and half a dozen other bags with first aid stuff, groceries, snacks, a tabletop burner, silverware, a pot and a pan and some other things I cannot remember and which we probably ended up not needing) for our honeymoon and we left. We spent our week long honeymoon at the Oregon coast in Florence and Newport – the same two cities that we visited last year during my first stay in the United States with him. During this trip, I realized a number of things:

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Tiny Prints! For You!

I adore stationery.  I write thank-you notes like it’s my business.  I have a huge stash of stationery at the ready.  Thank you cards, blank cards, bridal shower cards (yep, those exist), cards of a somber nature, cards of a cheery nature, postcards, baby cards, plain cards, fancy cards.  I love them all.  Sometimes I actually hesitate to use my stationery because it’s so pretty.  The more worthy the recipient, the nicer the card.

So when I am shopping for cards of a specifically personalized nature, like invitations, I take my time and shop around.  Lately, I haven’t had to search too long before finding a card or invitation I love and can afford.  Thank you,Tiny Prints!

I think I have mentioned my love of Tiny Prints before.  Like when I ordered ourChristmas cards from Shutterfly, but really wanted to get them from Tiny Prints, but just couldn’t find something Nate liked well enough (he likes goofier cards).  Or like the gorgeous cards I ordered for Laura’s baptism, except, oh wait – I was still cagey back in July and didn’t share those invitations (trust me, they were beautiful). Or like Like yesterday, when I suddenly realized that I was a few weeks behind in planning Laura’s 1st birthday.

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How sweet is this card?!

Imagine how pleased I was this morning when I received an email and phone call from my personal Tiny Prints designer with a suggestion on a better way to word the invitations I had ordered.  Bryan sent me two proofs to review: one proof of what I had originally ordered, and a second with his suggestions.  Of course I went with the revised proof, and was just so impressed with the personal service!  So I emailed Bryan back to let him know how much I appreciated the time he had put into my order and asked if I could share my appreciation with my loyal readers.

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I Hate Funerals, But I Go

I hate funerals.  Granted, I think I have been to three in my life, and two of those were for Nate’s family.  So I am not very experienced in the ways of the funeral.  But I hate them.  I hate thinking of death.  I am terrified to think of what’s next.

Heaven?  Hell?  Reincarnation?  Nothing??

Nothing is the scariest of all.  Scarier than hell, to me, is the thought that there is nothing past this life.  If this is it, then what is the point?  What happens to the life force energy that flows within each of us?  Does it just *poof!* disappear into the atmosphere?  I’d like to think not.

I don’t know that I believe in heaven, or that I’ll be reunited with my great-grandmother or Nate’s aunts and uncles.  I don’t know that I’ll see my childhood dog running toward me with his big ears flopping in the sun.  These things sound sort of nice, but it still doesn’t tell me what happens to that energy.

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Consignment Sale Time for the Fall

Well it is that time of year again and it is time to declutter and get rid of some of your unwanted items and make a little extra money. Kids Carousel, Children Clothing Exchange, and Women Clothing Exchange are holding their annual Fall consignment sales.

Consignment shops help consignors make hundreds of dollars reselling their children’s clothes and toys while providing families an excellent opportunity to meet their clothing needs at very affordable prices.

Here are some general pricing guidelines: 

  • Clothing items: 30 – 50% of retail value, depending on condition and label.
  • Price infant clothes LOW. We get so many baby clothes that shoppers can afford to be picky. Bring only your best & price them competitively.
  • Shoes should be priced 10 – 20% of retail value. Only bring your very best shoes. No scuffed toes or worn soles.
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A Window into Addiction

I’m sure you have heard the news about Amy Winehouse.  If you haven’t, well, she died of a drug overdose this weekend.  It’s truly sad, but not surprising.  Which might be the saddest part of it all.  She died from addiction, and no one is surprised because we all saw that one coming just around the bend.

I wasn’t overly phased by the news on Saturday.  I’m not a huge fan of her music, and I’m certainly not a fan of the public persona she had adopted.  But more importantly, I was preoccupied on Saturday with more important, better things.  My husband’s cousin was getting married.  I was adding another in-law to my little club of outsiders, of which I was the sole member for the longest time (four years on Thursday!!).  My club added it’s second member a mere eight weeks ago, and now here we are a club of three!  I love my cousin-in-law, and am so excited for his new wife – a wonderful young woman, who obviously adores her new husband and puts up with all the rest of us.

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Romaine-Apple salad with home made salad dressing

One of my favourite dishes to make is the salad. It’s a fairly simple concept consisting of a number of usually raw ingredients and a sauce. The greens by itself are pretty healthy, but if you want to go a little more overboard, you could put your daily dose of protein, iron, minerals and vitamins in this kind of meal!

Even when summer is long over, I can still enjoy a good salad when I can. Because Wil and I had had a pretty hectic day yesterday, I didn’t feel like cooking, and so I decided to tumble a salad together instead with my normal everyday ingredients when I figured that “Hey, apples would taste pretty darn good with a salad!”. That’s how I ended up discarding my normal ingredients of choice, and went with something a little more unconventional instead.

The combination of the sweet and savoury tastes in this salad is absolutely delicious (in my estimation), and I strongly suggest you try making the home-made dressing too, because it’ll blow your mind. Especially if your lactose-intolerant (like my husband), finding a salad dressing can be super difficult, and putting plain vegan mayonaise isn’t really all that either.

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Indonesian-Dutch Peanut Sauce

There’s many things that are different here in the United States than they are in my home country, The Netherlands. Food is one of the many things that are different. Being Dutch, we have a very strong cultural connection with Indonesia, one of our former colonies, and that rings through – especially in our kitchen. The Indonesian cuisine has had a huge influence on ours, and the one thing that is eaten to some degree in pretty much every Dutch household is the Satay sauce.

Satay sauce is a creamy, right and slightly sweet peanut sauce that goes perfectly with any rice dish and is absolutely delicious over chicken, shrimps and other kinds of meat or fish. Our Satay sauce (which is different from Chinese and Thai satay sauce) is a blend of Dutch and Indonesian ingredients. Some of which are hard to find in the USA. That’s why I set out to make my own Satay sauce. I had three goals: I wanted it to be organic, I wanted it to be lactose free, because my fiance is lactose-intolerant and I wanted it to be delicious.

I ended up being successful: I came up with this recipe for a delicious, creamy Satay sauce. It is entirely organic, lactose- and gluten free and it can even be vegan if you pick the right ingredients (mine was). Please don’t mind the bad quality pictures, I only had my iPhone on me, and the lighting in our kitchen is very weak.

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