Monday, December 31, 2007

Party 'Til Midnight

I'm currently at my Mom's house celebrating the New Year. I brought my laptop in case I got bored.

Since I'm posting this, I think you can probably put two and two together.

If I get REALLY bored, I might post pictures from Christmas.

As it is, I just wanted to take this opportunity to wish you all a happy new year.

See you in 2008!

Friday, December 28, 2007

Light Up The Night

The King has informed me that he wants to switch all of our Christmas lights to LED lights. He loves them that much! It’s got me thinking – what else could I use LED lights for? Something other than holiday decorating or wedding décor?
What about using LED lights for landscaping? It’s obvious that outdoor lighting can add an element of safety in addition to an element of beauty to your outdoor space. And, as an added bonus, if the landscape lighting is something you are inclined to do, using LED lights can save you a lot of money in the long run. Some of the LED lights that I’ve been reading about can last for as long as 50,000 hours, which sounds like a heck of a lot, am I right? But how long is that really? If you used LED lights for your landscaping, and had them running 12-hours a day, 365 days a year, those LED lights will still be working OVER TEN YEARS later. Crazy, huh? And, don’t forget that a 5w or less LED light consumes 25% less power than a traditional 20w MR-16 halogen landscape light. In the long run, that can save you a substantial amount of money.
The use of LED lights have also allowed for better performing landscape lighting solar systems. These types of systems use small solar panels to charge internal batteries that power the LED fixtures during the nighttime. Think of the money you can be saving by going this route!
I will definitely be doing some more research to figure out how I can get the best deals on purchasing LED lights. While I like the cost-saving benefits that LED lights offer, I’m such a bargain hunter, I’ve got to find a really good price on these kind of lights FIRST. That way I’ll be saving money ALL the way around!

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Christmas Eve Recap

Wow, the last few days have been really, really busy! Time flies when you're... having fun? I suppose so! I am tired tonight, and I still have another blog entry to get out tonight, so how about I just give you a recap of Christmas Eve, and then we can catch up with Christmas tomorrow?

First off, The Dragon is feeling much better. After puking on the evening of the 23rd, she woke up on Christmas Eve in high spirits. I took her to the doctor anyway. All tests and evaluations came back negative for anything, including the rapid strep test. However, the doctor told me that she would've brought her child in too with a fever that high, and that she too would've thought it likely to be strep. But, for now all we can say is that it's a virus - or several viruses - because there's nothing that can be documented as anything else.

So, we went home and I continued with my last minute Christmas preparations such as wrapping presents, making cookies for Santa, making chocolate covered peanuts for a family party, and making "sweet meatballs" for the same family party. It was a busy afternoon.

That evening, we loaded everyone into the car and headed for Grandma's house. The party was very simple, but enjoyable, but towards 7:30, The Dragon was begging to go home. She wasn't feeling well. So we packed everything up, and headed home so that we could get ready for Santa Claus to arrive.

The girls got to open their one present - lo and behold! - pajamas! I think that The Princess is starting to catch on to this tradition. For The Dragon, it's still a big surprise! They loved their new, soft, matching PJs. I thought they looked pretty darn cute.

We made the girls get ready for bed, but then dragged them back downstairs so that they could leave a plate of cookies and a glass of milk for Santa. Of course, we had to set out some oats and sugar sprinkles for the reindeer too. Some people sprinkle their yard with the stuff, but we just leave them on the plate with the cookies. The reindeer seem to get their treat just fine! (We took the pictures before we remembered to set out the oats... oops!)

After that, it was time to read our nightly Christmas story. That's one of my favorite traditions - we read a Christmas story every night starting on December 1st through Christmas Day. And tonight, being Christmas Eve, well, there was no choice but to read "'Twas The Night Before Christmas."

After that, the kids were tucked into bed (while visions of sugarplums danced in their heads), and I continued my VERY last minute preparations for the big day. Like wrapping more presents (sigh!).

Finally, all was ready to go, and The King and I could finally go to bed ourselves! Dreamland has never been so sweet - I was tired!

Merry Christmas, everyone!


Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Here's A Suggestion For Wedding Decor

As I mentioned a couple of weeks ago, my brother recently got engaged. His future mother-in-law, Cheryl, is thrilled to the max about the upcoming nuptials (in October). Apparently, she'll be coming here in January to help her daughter, Kristel, start shopping for wedding dresses. There's a lot of planning to be done during the coming months, so I thought I'd make a suggestion for decor.

So, one of my favorite decor items is lights. Lots of tiny, twinkly, sparkly lights! If you're thinking Christmas lights, then you are right in line with my kind of thinking.

If I could do it over again, I would love to duplicate the wedding scene from "Father of the Bride" where they have hundreds of lights hanging from the top of the tent - they might as well have been stars in the sky - gorgeous!

LED string lights could definitely help me create my fantasy. The LED lights come in all kinds of shapes and colors, and they consume 80% less energy than standard incandescent lights. This is a huge plus if you are going to be hosting the wedding at your own house where you're going to be footing the electric bill, rather than a reception center where the electrical cost may be included with your rental fee.

Another huge benefit of LED lights is that you can connect up to 125 strings end-to-end with just one plug! That is amazing to me. LED lights are also known to last and last and last - up to 100,000 hours or more! - so you can use the lights for holiday decorations and other events for years to come.

So Kristel, there's my vote. Go for LED lights to help you with your wedding decor!

Monday, December 24, 2007

Life's Not Fair!

I'm laughing so hard, I just had to stop my frantic last minute preparations to tell you about an incident I had with The Princess.

I had asked the girls to go upstairs and get their sippy cups from their rooms so that I could wash them. (They are old enough that they don't need sippy cups on a regular basis, but we use the ones with straws at nighttime, so that we don't have to deal with the endless requests for "one more cup of water.") With the puking incident yesterday evening, I want as many germs killed as possible, hence the request for them to go and get their cups.

Well, today The Dragon was faster than The Princess and managed to grab both cups, and The Princess was upset. A wise person might say "Thank-you!" and be relieved that it's one less job that they didn't have to do. The Princess proceeded to throw a temper tantrum because "It's not fair!"

I started to send her to her room, but then had my brilliant parenting moment. I put her to work! After she had completed three random jobs (all fairly easy, but all things that her sister could not help her with), I asked her if it was "fair" yet.

She finally agreed that it was fair... and I think I got some kind of point across. And if I didn't, my house is a wee bit cleaner for the extra jobs that she did.


What We DON'T Want For Christmas

At approximately 10:45 Sunday night, the sounds of The Dragon vomiting echoed through the house.

She had been complaining that she was cold and that her throat hurt, so we bundled her up and sent her to bed at about 9 pm. We thought all was well.

Apparently not. The Dragon also has a fever of 102.7.

I don't know if our doctors will be in the office tomorrow, but I guess I will give them a try. Normally, I wouldn't call - but she has complained about the sore throat off and on for over a week now. I'm beginning to think it might be strep. If so, I'd like to get her on antibiotics now.

Wish us luck.

The one thing we DON'T want for Christmas is a round of the stomach flu!

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Must Be Santa

A popular children's Christmas song called "Must Be Santa" goes like this:

Who's got a beard that's long and white?
Santa's got a beard that's long and white.

Who comes around on a special night?
Santa comes around on a special night.

Special night, beard that's white,
Must be Santa must be Santa,
Must be Santa, Santa Claus.

Who wears boots and a suit of red?
Santa wears boots and a suit of red.

Who wears a long cap on his head?
Santa wears a long cap on his head.

Cap on head, suit that's red,
Special night, beard that's white,
Must be Santa must be Santa,
Must be Santa, Santa Claus.

Who's got a big red cherry nose?
Santa's got a big red cherry nose.

Who laughs this way:
Santa laughs this way:

HO HO HO, cherry nose,
Cap on head, suit that's red,
Special night, beard that's white,
Must be Santa must be Santa,
Must be Santa, Santa Claus.

Who very soon will come our way?
Santa very soon will come our way.

Eight little reindeer pull his sleigh,
Santa's little reindeer pull his sleigh.

Reindeer sleigh, come our way,
HO HO HO, cherry nose,
Cap on head, suit that's red,
Special night, beard that's white,
Must be Santa, must be Santa,
Must be Santa, Santa Claus.

Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, Vixen,
Comet, Cupid, Donner and Blitzen.

Reindeer sleigh, come our way,
HO HO HO, cherry nose,
Cap on head, suit that's red,
Special night, beard that's white,
Must be Santa, must be Santa,
Must be Santa, Santa Claus!

Well, my kids are well aware of the fact that Santa has many different helpers, and that sometimes, you just don't get to see the REAL Santa Claus.

But this year, The Dragon is convinced that we found the real one. I had to make a trip out to Valley Fair Mall, and while we were there, we noticed that the line to see Santa Claus was non-existant (holy cow!). I let The Dragon say "hello" and many hours after we left she told me that this particular Santa was the REAL ONE because "His face is so realistic!"

We've seen another Santa since then, and according to The Dragon, he just doesn't compare. Guess it goes to show that just because something fits the description, doesn't mean that it's the real thing!

Now, if only I could find a picture of the "real" Santa Claus!

Saturday, December 22, 2007

What Do You Want For Christmas?

How about a hippopotamus?


Friday, December 21, 2007

Let, It Snow, Let It Snow, Let It Snow!

I grew up in Utah, and as a result, have fond memories of lots and lots of snow every winter. Since we've moved back to Utah, we've had some fantastic snow storms, but the weather hasn't been quite as I remember it. I've wondered whether the weather patterns have changed (due to global warming and who knows what else) or whether it is just my memory that is a bit off. I'm guessing it's some of both.

Well, I always gave the state of Virginia a hard time because they had a hard time keeping up with one or two inches of snow. Cities would shut down, schools would close - the news of a snow storm would send hundreds of people running to the store to stock up on bottled water, milk and bread - they would clear the shelves! I had friends who wouldn't go anywhere for 2 or 3 days when those dreaded 2 inches of snow would fall. I just didn't "get it."

When I was in high school, I recall one day where school had been delayed for ONE whole hour. It had been snowing all night, and we had over a foot of new snow. Yet, school was only delayed an hour.

Well, it's been snowing all night. It's a decent amount of snow (8 inches?), enough to make me wonder if school has been canceled or even delayed. But no, the news stations aren't reporting any school closures or delays. Since The Princess has to catch the bus at 7:00 am, we are up and moving.

Let It Snow!

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Call The World From Anywhere In The World

So, you're a world traveler, eh? Well, that's great and all, but how are you managing to talk to your family while you are away from home? Don't you want to tell them about all the wondrous sights you've seen and all the exciting adventures you've been experiencing?

Oh, I get it... you'd love to share the latest with your family, but the cost! OH THE COST! You might not have enough money to get home if you stop to call Mom for just a few minutes.

Well, never fear, MobileTalk is here! Now you can use VoIP with your cell phone, and stay in touch worldwide from the comfort of your own home or the comfort of your hotel room.

The international calling rates are pretty impressive - only .02 a minute to call the U.K. Just 3 cents a minute to call Germany!

MobileTalk is easy to use - there aren't any calling cards or pin numbers, plus you're even spared the connection fees that are typical of other companies.

So, what are you waiting for? Get talking with MobileTalk from Packet8!

P.S. Did you like my video? I could be on television! OK, not really, but I do have the opportunity to win some fantastic prizes! You can vote for me, if you want to. (You know you want too!)

Christmas Survey

I took this little Christmas Survey a couple of weeks ago, fully intending to post this on my blog, but then, well, I didn't. And then Lara posted it on her blog, and I remembered that I hadn't posted MINE. So here it is:

1. Wrapping paper or gift bags? For Christmas, wrapping paper, but will use a gift bag when it is more practical (like really odd-shaped/sized gifts).

2. Real tree or artificial? I prefer real, but ours is artificial. It's quite beautiful for a fake, and it only cost me $15 on clearance six-ish years ago.

3. When do you put up the tree?
As early as the day after Thanksgiving. This year, December 1st.

4. When do you take the tree down? No earlier than January 1st. But we try not to leave it up longer than the first week in January.

5. Do you like eggnog? No, no, no! Gah!

6. Favorite gift received as a child? Oh wow. Probably my Cabbage Patch Kid doll that was made for me by my Grandma. We couldn't afford a real one.

7. Do you have a nativity scene? Yes. The "Little People" one by Fisher Price.

8. Hardest person to buy for? This year it seems to be my 5-year old daughter. Still looking... any ideas?

9. Easiest person to buy for? My 7-year old daughter.

10. Worst Christmas gift you ever received? The scrapbooking gift from my SIL. Really, it wasn't the gift itself that was so horrid - it was more that she really hadn't been paying attention to anything I had been saying for the last 6 months. I just felt really hurt. Long story...

11. Mail or email Christmas cards? Mail, unless I don't have their "real" contact info. A rarity.

12. Favorite Christmas Movie: Oh, I love them all. I'd love to see "It Came Upon A Midnight Clear" with Mickey Rooney however. Haven't seen it since I was a kid... bring it back!

13. When do you start shopping for Christmas? Oh, I stash little things away all year long, but the big kick-off (and usually the big finish) is Black Friday (the Friday after Thanksgiving).

14. Have you ever recycled a Christmas present? I am pretty sure I have, but right now I can't remember what it was.

15. Favorite thing to eat at Christmas? English Toffee.

16. Clear lights or colored on the tree? Both. This year we have two clear strings, and one colored.

17. Favorite Christmas song? Oh, I don't think I can choose. I really love them all. Though I'm getting really tired of the "shoe/mama meets Jesus" song. REALLY tired.

18. Travel for Christmas or stay at home? Stay home, with the exception of Grandma's house which is 12 miles away.

19. Can you name all of Santa's reindeer? Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, Vixen, Comet, Cupid, Donner, Blitzen, Rudolph, and Olive.

20. Angel on the tree top or a star? Star

21. Open the presents Christmas Eve or morning? We usually open one on Christmas Eve... typically pajamas from Mom and Dad.

22. Most annoying thing about this time? That the Christmas season starts before Halloween, and that people forget the reason for the season. Including me, sometimes.

23. What I love most about Christmas? Being with my family. (Edited today to add: The day AFTER. I'm a bit stressed.)


Tuesday, December 18, 2007

New Year, Old Goals...

So, I'm guessing you've been bombarded by signs that say "ONLY 7 MORE SHOPPING DAYS UNTIL CHRISTMAS!" Well, here's a new one for you:


Have you given any thought to what your New Year Resolution's might be?

Guess what will inevitably end up at the top of my list again this year? I'm guessing that me and a few other million people are going to be saying "Lose weight!" Hey, at least I won't be alone.

So how do you go about losing weight? Do you just say that you'll do it with no future plan? Do you join a gym? Do you make strict rules about what you can and can't eat? Maybe you just take steps to exercise a little more and eat a little better each and every day? Or, do you try something new and look into something like weight loss supplements?

In addition to offering muscle milk, offers a wide variety of products designed to help you lose weight. I've never tried them, but if you have, let me know what your experience has been!

Holiday Decor

I braved the cold last night and got a few pictures of the outside of our house. I am becoming more and more convinced that my camera is not quite doing the job. Let's face it - it's easier to BLAME the camera than to BLAME the photographer. :)

So, here is a picture of our beautiful house at night time. The King did a fantastic job with the lights. My photography skills do not do it justice.

Here is a picture of our house last year in the wee early morning hours. Yep, we decorated it almost exactly the same. If it ain't broke, don't fix it. I think our house is bee-you-tee-ful!

Here is a picture of our tree. I've been having too much fun trying to make "twinkly" lights. I need to take a few others, just so you can see more of the ornaments. Someday. (Someday means "probably the day I take the tree down.")

And here is a picture of the girls with their snowman. He has olive eyes, a carrot nose, a celery mouth, and broccoli, YES broccoli, for hair.

Um, the rest of the house is a CATastrophe. If only I could blame the cat. *sigh* Anyway, what that means is NO MORE PICTURES. For now.

Merry Christmas, everyone!


Monday, December 17, 2007

Oh, That Johnny Depp!

OK, I'll admit it. I'm a big fan of Johnny Depp. So many great movies, it's hard to pick a favorite.

One of my favorite movies is "Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse Of The Black Pearl." Johnny Depp, who plays the pirate, "Captain Jack Sparrow" cracks me up with his disorderly drunken conduct throughout the movie. One favorite scene is when Captain Jack and Elizabeth are stranded on an island, and Elizabeth builds a bonfire with the intent of being rescued:

Jack Sparrow: [Wakes up and sees Elizabeth burning the rum] No! Not good! Stop! Not good! What are you doing? You burned all the food, the shade... the rum!

Elizabeth: Yes, the rum is gone.

Jack Sparrow: Why is the rum gone?

Elizabeth: One: because it is a *vile* drink that turns even the most respectable men into complete scoundrels. Two: that signal is over a thousand feet high. The entire royal navy is out looking for me, do you think there is even the slightest chance they wont see it?

Jack Sparrow: But why is the rum gone?

LOL! I just love his single-mindedness and confusion as to how or why someone could possibly use all the rum for a potential rescue.

Another of my favorite movies starring Johnny Depp is "Benny & Joon." In this movie, Depp plays "Sam" a quiet, eccentric young man who seems to emulate the antics of Buster Keaton. Over time, Sam and Joon (a mentally disabled young woman) fall in love. I always get a giggle out of the scene where Sam and Joon discuss the pitiful lives of grapes.

Sam: You don't like raisins?

Joon: Not really.

Sam: Why?

Joon: They used to be fat and juicy and now they're twisted. They had their lives stolen. Well, they taste sweet, but really they're just humiliated grapes. I can't say I am a big supporter of the raisin council.

Sam: Did you see those, those raisins on TV? The ones that sing and dance and stuff?

Joon: They scare me.

Sam: Yeah me too

Joon: It's sick. The commercial people they make them sing and dance so people will eat them.

Sam: It's a shame about raisins.

Joon: Cannibals.

While I love both movies, I guess I would have to pick "Pirates of the Caribbean" because of it's wide-spread appeal. It's a movie that I can watch with my kids right now, where as, while I know they will eventually enjoy the comedy and messages of Benny & Joon, they are simply not ready for it.

In just a few days, Johnny Depp will be adding yet another movie to his resume - "Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street." The movie opens on December 21st, and it's already received 4 Golden Globe nominations. If you'd like to learn more about this movie, visit the official Sweeney Todd movie site. You can also visit Sweeney Todd on MySpace.

My "Budgeting" Tips

So, I thought I'd share a few of the tips that have worked for me when trying to create a budget. Ha, ha, ha! Fooled you, I don't have any budgeting tips - not in the true sense of a budget! But here's how I make the money pay the bills around here. But there is a disclaimer: I am not a budgeting expert, nor am I a financial expert. Read what I have to say, and if it makes sense to you, then by all means, try it. But, as The King will attest, I have a quirky way of doing things, and I don't always do things the easiest way. Keep that in mind. :)

First off, we have a separate bank account that is only used for our mortgage. We looked at our mortgage payment, divided it in half, and then rounded up to the nearest ten dollar amount. We use the automatic deposit program to deposit that amount into our checking account each and every paycheck. When the mortgage payment is due, the money is there for the payment. I will admit it freely, I do not always do a good job of making ends meet, so having a separate bank account just for the mortgage gives us a lot of peace of mind. If you can afford to do so, consider boosting that amount by a little each month so that you are half a month ahead of the game.

For example:
November 19th: Bank Account balance equals $1000
November 20th: Payday! $500 deposited, new account balance is $1500
December 1st: Mortgage due ($1000), new account balance is $500
December 5th: Payday! $500 deposited, new account balance is $1000
December 20th: Payday! $500 deposited, new account balance is $1500
January 1st: Mortgage due ($1000), new account balance is $500

I experience true peace of mind when this is working correctly.

By the way, there are many banks out there that offer free checking accounts, so this venture should not be costing you anything, other than perhaps the cost of checks, but many banks will give you your first box of checks for free. Since you are only using this account for your mortgage, those checks will last you for a VERY long time. And, if you are one of those people who would like to pay off their mortgage early, well, then the one box of checks may work really well for you.

Other bills can also be split into two payments - primarily if you have the option to pay them online or over the phone for free. With the cost of stamps these days, you don't necessarily want to double the amount of postage you have to purchase every month. If you aren't already paying these types of bills online, take a close look at your next billing statement and see if the company offers this type of service. Or, consider looking into your online bill pay that your bank likely offers. Be sure to ask about any fees associated with such an account. We have had some banks that charge a monthly fee (I never used this service), and others that have offered it for free. You might find CheckFree to be useful - while I am not currently using it, it was one of my favorites for a very long time. They were very easy to use and very reliable. And, like the name implies, it's FREE!

So, why would you want to split your payment into two payments? Well, for me it is because I work better at remembering to pay everything if I know I have to pay the EXACT same things every single paycheck. I'm a perfectionist, and I found that when I would sit down to pay bills, I would have to check (and sometimes double-check) every bill, EVERY time, to see whether or not I had paid it this month or not. I realized it would be easier just to plan on paying each bill every paycheck. Less headache for me. The only other reason I can think of is that it may help you to even out the cash flow over the month. Some businesses will allow you to change your billing cycle, and if this is the case, you can take advantage of this to balance out your bills but only make one payment a month on each of them. You need to decide which method will work best for you.

The easiest way to start paying bills twice a month is simply starting with the next bill that arrives at your house. Divide it in half, or close to it, and pay the first half. On your next paycheck, pay the remainder. My filing system has folders set up for each bill that we pay. I also have a folder set up for "in process" bills. The bills are "in process" until both payments have been made on the account. It takes a month or two to have the process flowing smoothly, but what should eventually happen is that within 48-hours or so of each paycheck, you should find time to sit down and pay all the bills.

Now, if you are good at budgeting (which I am not), you should be able to designate this money on paper, and be able to pay your bills once a month without a problem.

Hope this provides some insight for you into my crazy money world.

Web Hosting Choices

Last week, our family received our bill from our web hosting company. We pay our bill every 6 months, and apparently, it's time to pay up again.

We're pretty happy with the service we have received from this company, and feel that the price is pretty reasonable for everything we are getting.

But, it's not always so easy to find a web hosting company that meets your needs and your budget. Here's where comes in handy.

On the home page of their website, the easy-to-use database is front and center. Just enter your requirements (my favorite is the monthly cost catagory), and in a few seconds you will have a list of web hosting companies that meet your requirements. How easy is that?

Some of us (like my husband) need more information. By clicking on the "Advanced Search" option from the menu on the left, you can get really picky. That would've come in handy when we were trying to find companies who offered dedicated IP addresses with SQL Server!

If you are in the market for a new web hosting company, be sure to give Web Hosting Choice a try.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Money, Money, Money, MOOOOONEY!

So, for the past few months it has seemed that the paycheck The King receives on the 5th is always gone a full week before his next paycheck.

I've never quite figured out why it seems it's "feast" on the 20th, and "famine" on the 5th.

I took some advice from Money Dummy and made a budget "her" way. I feel like this is stuff I should have known a long time ago, but I guess it has never been explained to me as simply as she put it.

So I started creating a budget this morning in anticipation of the upcoming pay day on the 20th.

I've had a system of splitting most of our bills into two payments to kind-of even out everything all month long. It works rather well. But, here's what I discovered... I have four bills that can't be divided as nicely as the other ones. And guess what else - they all get paid out of the SAME paycheck.


No wonder we've been having such a hard time.

I've got it all evened out for the next paycheck, and while it might take a month or two for us to adjust to this new way of thinking, I think our wallets will be much happier in the long run.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Predicting the Future?

Apparently, I'm pregnant.

I must be, considering the sudden influx of of "New Mommy" mailers filled with all kinds of advertisements representing everything from formula to diapers.

Are the "baby" companies predicting the future?

Because, the little pink line hasn't been a part of our lives for almost 6 years.

(To clarify: there is currently NO EVIDENCE that I am pregnant! Just so ya know... )

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Customer Service

Let's talk Customer Service.

Here are some examples of BAD customer service:

Telling a customer that you will be there at 5:30 so that the customer can pick up the furniture that they ordered and then NOT SHOWING UP is BAD customer service.

When the customer calls and asks why nobody is there, being told that "We're closed on Wednesdays" even though you previously told the customer that you would be there at 5:30 for pick-up is BAD customer service.

When the customer calls the phone number that showed up on the customers Caller ID when the store called to tell the customer to be there at 5:30, and talks to a person at their home who obviously is the person that called to set-up the appointment, and the person DENIES ever being the one to call said customer - you've got yet another example of BAD customer service.

When this company tells you to STAY AT THE STORE in the DARK and FREEZING COLD because the owner will be calling you RIGHT BACK - and over 12-hours later you HAVE YET to get the promised phone call - you are providing, yet again, BAD customer service. (Fortunately, The King is intelligent enough to realize that after 20-minutes no one is going to call and chooses NOT to stay there all night.)

Somebody should have called us back last night. Barring that, somebody should have called us FIRST THING this morning, if only to apologize for the error, and if needed, made arrangements to call back and set-up other appointments, etc, when they were finally in the office.

At this point, we are still waiting for a phone call. And a simple apology.

The finger pointing and the "tough luck" come again tomorrow, has GOT to stop. Not once, in the series of phone calls that took place last night (none of which were the promised "The Owner will call you" call), did ANY employee say the two little words "I'm sorry."


Note to companies out there - especially SMALL LOCAL COMPANIES who would like to get a bite of the "Big Box Pie" - you really, really OUGHT to focus on the customer. We're treated like crap by the "Big Box" but their prices are generally less expensive. So, if you want our business, but expect us to pay more, the one thing you can offer us is GOOD customer service.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007


I love scrapbooking. I am really beginning to enjoy digital scrapbooking. This can only mean one thing: I love fonts.

Of course, my love of fonts came long before scrapbooking. I was always excited to install new word processing software because I could not wait to see what new fonts were going to come with it. I soon discovered that a new software program was not the only way to gain new fonts – I could also purchase hundreds and thousands of them on a CD.

Today, CDEarthhas a special offer where you can get 1001 off the “greatest fonts” on CD – for FREE! How cool is that? The collection includes fonts in the following styles: calligraphy, gothic, graffiti, fancy, dingbats, script, handwriting, Old English, Chinese, Japanese, True Type fonts, Mac fonts, retro, cursive and western fonts.

The CD also includes a font manager program which allows you to view and install the fonts you like. I really think that the font manager program is beneficial because it will allow you to choose which fonts you would like to install – rather than cluttering your computer with over one thousand fonts.

If you love fonts (like me), check out CDEarth today. I’m sure this font collection will allow all of us to find a font that allows us to truly express ourselves.

Sunday, December 09, 2007

DEFINITELY Something To Blog About

My brother is finally getting married! He's been dating a really nice girl for several years. For all intents and purposes, she is one of the family.

Now they are making it official!

Wedding will probably be in October of 2008.


Go Cows!

The Cowboys won! The Cowboys won! The Cowboys won!

Their defense wasn't playing well at all (according to The King - you don't think I know stuff like that, do you?), but they still won!


Who cares!?! The Cowboys won! The Cowboys won! The Cowboys won!


Something To Blog About

I slept rather well last night.

The only reason I woke up when I did this morning, was because The King was very busy nudging me awake.

When I finally opened my eyes, he waved at me. I waved back.

As my eyes were closing again, I heard him comment.

"We're old farts."

And good morning to you, too!

Saturday, December 08, 2007

Mile High Medical Care

The internet is like a box of chocolates… you never know what you’re going to get.

Today I stumbled into a website for air ambulance services. It’s not something I think about much – I mean, I know there is such a thing as “air transport” but I guess I never realized the need for such a service.

Obviously, if someone is experiencing a major emergency, an ambulance or a helicopter will be called in to transport the patient. In some cases, an airplane will be used – but these instances are rare.

However, air ambulance services are available to patients who need basic medical care, or patience who are bedridden. Air ambulances are equipped to care for patients who require the needs of an ICU (Intensive Care Unit) or a CCU (Coronary Care Unit).

Of course, in addition to having the equipment needed to care for the patients who choose to use air ambulance services, the medical flight teams can also include flight physicians, registered nurses, flight paramedics, certified respiratory therapists, and EMTs (Emergency Medical Technicians).

Air ambulance services can be somewhat costly, and not always necessary. In some cases, a Caring Flight Escort Service is available that can save customers up to 40% off the cost of private air ambulance service.

I am grateful that no one in my family requires this type of service at this point in our lives, but I think it is amazing that technology now allows for this kind of care outside of a typical hospital setting.


Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Experiments In Photography

Lara of Overstuffed is an excellent photographer. She was kind enough to give me some photo tips in my attempt to get some great shots of my Christmas tree.

I need a lot more practice. But I'm getting better.

Here's a shot of "twinkly" lights.

I love me some twinkly lights. :)


Grandpa's Favorite Gift To Give

My Grandpa Joe always sent my family gift baskets for Christmas. My Mom said it was because he didn't know what to get us. I don't think so, though. I really, truly, believe that he thought we loved them. And I did. I loved the pretty shiny boxes, beautiful ribbons tied into bows, and of course, the bevy of treats that could be found inside.

Every time one of those packages would arrive, there was always an argument about who would get to open it. My Mom never understood the excitement, but for us kids, the excitement was tangible. Maybe it was all the little packages that came in these wonderful boxes and baskets. Maybe it was because the baskets would be filled with things that we never got at any other time during the year. Maybe it was simply because it was a present from our Grandpa who we never got to see more than once every one or two years.

Usually, after the gift basket was opened, my mother would place it in the refrigerator so that it could be saved for Christmas Eve or New Years Eve. Maybe she thought it would make those days more special by having extra-special treats, or perhaps she thought it was the only way to keep us kids from eating the contents on the spot! Needless to say, once that special day arrived, the first thing we went for was the goodies from that gift.

My Grandpa Joe passed away almost 7 years ago. There haven't been many gift baskets showing up at our house since then. Of course, his real legacy was far more than an elegant gift basket, but those gift baskets are an integral part of my memory of him. So, Grandpa (hello, Universe!), if you’re listening, we sure would appreciate this spiral sliced honey glazed boneless ham from

    Press Release: Recognized as Hot 100 Retail Website

    Internet Retailer Ranks Website Among Best in Nation for 2008

    NEW YORK--(BUSINESS WIRE), the premiere Internet Gift Retailer and America’s #1 Gift Basket Website, today announced it has been named one of The Hot 100 Retail Websites for 2008 by leading industry magazine, Internet Retailer. The Hot 100 list represents the best of what retailers are doing online, highlighting innovation and setting the standards in online for what the rest of the industry should be doing., a privately-held company, with one of the largest and most unique selections of gourmet gifts, ranked alongside larger sites such as Dell, Nike and, by building its award-winning site on selection, functionality, speed and the complete customer experience. A recent re-design has improved the customer’s shopping experience to make holiday gift-giving easy and enjoyable, including rating and reviews, behavioral recommendations and free shipping offers.

    “We are extremely honored to be recognized as a pacesetter in online retailing,” said Eric Lituchy, Founder and CEO of “We pride ourselves on using the latest technology to make gift-giving fun and easy. Being named among the best in the nation validates we are succeeding in our efforts to deliver the best possible customer experience.”

    In addition to making Internet Retailer’s The Hot 100 list for 2008, was recently recognized by Inc. Magazine as part of its Inc. 5000, which highlights the fastest growing private companies. offers over 2000 unique and delicious gifts from America’s best brands to the finest boutique shops. Consumers can easily shop the site by gift or food category, occasion, type and best-seller. Corporate gift-givers can choose from hundreds of customized gourmet treats.

    For additional information, and to see a complete selection of gifts available, visit

    About Delightful Deliveries is an award-winning website that began in 1998 and quickly established itself as one of the premier Internet gift retailers. Its mission is to bring great products to gift-givers, while providing world-class service. The company selects its offerings from a broad variety of fine food gift products for consumers and for corporate gifts, and gathers them in one place to make the selection process quick and simple.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

How Sick Am I?

Sick enough to eat soup. And I don't like soup.

Moving on...

Grandma and Grandpa bought a chocolate advent calendar for the girls. I'm sure you know the kind... it has cute little windows sealed shut, and when you open the one marked with the appropriate day, you find a small piece of chocolate inside.

When Grandma handed them to me, I happened to notice the expiration date. 3/31/07. As in 9 months ago. I pointed it out to Grandma and she panicked, but then said, "Well, chocolate never goes bad."

I restrained myself from saying "Cheap chocolate does!" and took the calendars home.

The girls were excited to see their calendars. We opened the first door to discover...

Bad chocolate.

Good thing they still have pounds of Halloween candy left. We might survive Christmas after all.

O My Aching Head

I am sick. Again.

Headache, runny nose, sore throat... I am not a happy camper.

I just hope that I can beat this thing quickly - lots of Vitamin C, rest, Airborne, water, sleep - one of these things ought to work.

I really, really, really, don't want to be sick this holiday season. I was just starting to make headway on the trail of destruction I left from my last illness.

I am using every last ounce of restraint I have to keep from screaming "It's just NOT fair!" and running to my room to whine and cry.

But really. It's just not fair!


What I Love About Digital Photography

I got my first digital camera for Christmas in 2004. I was very excited about this gift because I knew it was going to save me a ton of money on film. Finally, I could take all of the pictures that I wanted! And take pictures I did - three short years later, I now have approximately 7000 pictures documenting my family's life.

I love to scrapbook. Having this many pictures to choose from gives me endless choices of memories to scrapbook. Also, because I'm not limited on how many pictures I can take (ie. before the roll of film runs out), I have plenty of "good" pictures to choose from. That is a huge bonus when you are trying to get your kids to sit still for the annual family photo!

One of my favorite memories is our family trip to California last December. We spent a few hours at the beach in Santa Barbara where my daughters experienced the ocean for the first time. The Dragon, our youngest daughter, was a little afraid of the ocean and was pretty adamant about not getting wet. The sand was good enough for her! At one point during the afternoon, we managed to convince her to get her toes wet, and I used my camera to capture this shot:

To me, it's priceless.

Do you have a digital camera yet? I realize that a decent digital camera can be costly, but the money you will save on film will pay off in the long run, guaranteed! As extra savings, keep in mind that you only have to print the photos that you love, rather than an entire roll of film that you haven't even seen yet!

If you are looking to get a digital camera for Christmas, Ritz Camera has a great selection available including this Nikon D40x.

Monday, December 03, 2007

Let's Go For Five...

... posts in one day, shall we?

I just wanted to show you my very cool badge that I got for completing NaBloPoMo.

I think it's very fitting.


Online Shopping Deals!

If you know anything about me at all, it's that I LOVE a good deal. I am the queen of the coupons, and it's gonna take more than free shipping to rock my online shopping world.

So what's not to love about's deals? All of their DVD's are up to 50% off, so I was thinking about getting "Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End" for The King because he (OK, me too!) is a big fan of the Pirate movies. For the girls (yep, that includes me too) I am thinking about buying "Tarzan" because we love Disney movies. And besides, "You'll Be In My Heart" always makes me cry.

I have been searching for a portable external hard drive. I found some Office Depot coupon codes which makes the 160 GB Western Digital portable hard drive I've been eying, downright affordable.

And, last but not least, I am hoping to find some great Wal-Mart deals because The Princess is hoping that Santa will bring her "The Biggest Littlest Pet Shop" this year.

Have you found any great deals this year? Share them with me!

Sharing The Love

'Tis the season of giving, so I have a gift for you! This is another opportunity for you (and me!) to earn money through PayPerPost.

All you have to do is review MY posts on YOUR blog. You'll get paid for it, I'll get paid for it - we both win! Is it OK for me to ask you to be kind? I'm kidding - if you choose to do this, I'd expect you to be honest... nothing more, nothing less.

Just use the link below, follow the instructions, and before you know it, you'll be ready to go!

May we all have a happy, profitable, new year!


We Have Snow!

The timing couldn't have been better. We woke up on Saturday morning (that would be December 1st) to a winter wonderland. Even better, the snow was still softly falling. I'm telling you, two of my favorite things in life are snow storms and the ocean. (Yes, I'm aware that they aren't exactly compatible!) Since I can't have the ocean, I'll take my snow storm any day!

Let me clarify, this does not exactly mean that I want snow on the ground all the time. Nor do I necessarily love going out in it. But to be inside my warm house and watch the snow slowly drift down from the sky? I'm in heaven. I wouldn't mind, however, to be sitting outside in the gently falling snow - sitting in a HOT TUB that is. Have you done that before? It's great because the snow NEVER lands on you. It gets close, but the heat from the hot tub melts it before it can give you freezer burn. Awesome.

But anyway, as I was saying, we woke up on Saturday to this snow storm. Unfortunately, I HAD to go out in it. It was the day for my Creative Memories Open House. The roads were slightly treacherous, but I was really more concerned about the morons who were flying along the highway at 70 miles per hour. Seriously. I'm not saying that people ought to creep along at 5 miles per hour (like the moron I had to follow down the on-ramp), but at least use a little bit of common sense and SLOW DOWN! It only takes a small pile of slush or a tiny patch of ice to send a vehicle spinning down the road, something that I witnessed plenty of that morning. My brother even told my Mom, "The roads weren't that bad - well, except for the time that I had to slow from 65 to 30 really fast." AGH!

The snow is not all bad, however. The Princess and The Dragon had a great time playing in the snow. The King was kind enough to snap a few pictures for me, so I thought I'd share their happiness with you. By the way, every picture that The King took showed The Princess looking very eskimo-ish as you can hardly see her face, while The Dragon had a huge grin with her tongue hanging out. Every. Single. One. I find it rather amusing.

Labels: , ,

I'm A Workin' Girl

The month of November has been challenging for us in the financial world. As you may recall, car and furnace repairs took an entire paycheck away from us. Ouch. We were never doing that well financially, which was another reason that I chose to become a Creative Memories consultant a few months ago.

While I would love to be filthy rich, I just don't see it happening anytime in the near future. Maybe I ought to just "put it out there" and let the Universe meet my needs. Surely, the Universe is already doing just that - and I am so very grateful - but we're in need of another vacation.

You see, The King's family resides in Chicago and they are begging asking for us to come and visit them. It has been over 2 years since we last saw them. It's a long overdue visit - and we do want to see them - but it requires a rather large sum of money to make it so.

I am taking efforts to save for this trip by budgeting - which I am terrible at - and have therefore decided that I need to DO MORE.

Enter the blog network, PayPerPost.

I signed up, actually, several months ago. But, like many things in my life, it became an unfinished project. Well, I'm back! I really think this is going to be a lot of fun. I've never reviewed products before, but I do enjoy giving my opinion on things. Why not get paid for it?

I love the fact that they use PayPal to pay me - it's so easy to transfer money from one account to another, and I will never, ever, ever, have to make a trip to the bank to deposit my paychecks, nor worry about checks getting lost in the mail.

I've been looking at the opportunities they have available, just to see if there is anything that I would even feel comfortable writing about, and I discovered that I can earn a cool $20 just by writing about PayPerPost, plus there is an opportunity waiting in the wings for me to write about my digital camera! Joy! Something I know about.

So, in return for you continuing to read my blog, I promise that any reviews I give will be honest. I will say what I think - the whole truth, and nothing but the truth - no matter what.

And, if you'd like to earn a little extra cash, I suggest you give PayPerPost a try. I'll keep reading your blog too, I promise. Besides, it would be fun if we reviewed the same things and got to read each others opinions!


Saturday, December 01, 2007

Disclosure Policy

This blog (SunnyDaze) is a personal blog written and edited by me. For questions about this blog, please contact Karana ( Karana At Mikasare Dot Com ).

This blog accepts forms of cash advertising, sponsorship, paid insertions or other forms of compensation.

The compensation received may influence the topics or posts made in this blog. That is to say, I may choose to write about topics that I would not normally discuss on my blog. This content, advertising space or post may not always be identified as paid or sponsored content.

The owner of this blog is compensated to provide opinion on products, services, websites and various other topics. Even though the owner of this blog receives compensation for our posts or advertisements, we always give our honest opinions, findings, beliefs, or experiences on those topics or products. The views and opinions expressed on this blog are purely the bloggers' own. Any product claim, statistic, quote or other representation about a product or service should be verified with the manufacturer, provider or party in question.

If it matters to anyone, I would like to disclose the following relationship: I am a Creative Memories Consultant.

This policy is valid from December 1, 2007.

To get your own policy, go to


  Graphics by and Copyright © 2001 Point of Focus