Monday, November 28, 2011

Picture of the Day - November 28, 2011

Cat toy for the kid holding cat toy for the cat.
Wondering if this should be a daily thing - maybe every day in December? - or a weekly thing or a "until I get bored" thing.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Pictures pictures pictures - November 27, 2011

Many years ago, I set up a livejournal (or was it just a feed...I can't even remember now) for pictures from my dinky little camera phone. And now, here we are, and I think I may start posting pictures here again in a similar manner. Perhaps one a day or just...whenever I remember. This is one of the reasons I made this blog a catch-all place...

Phone: LG Optimus V. Filters: Added through FxCamera app. Drink: Skinny peppermint mocha. Fingerless gloves: Knit by me with yarn dyed by me with Kool Aid. Hand: In need of a manicure.

I also can be found on PicPlz though I haven't actually started using it. I wish Instagram was available for the Android system, but it's not. I wish I could post pictures directly from my phone to my blog, but what I've found is that while I sort of can, I sort of can't. We'll see - the novelty will probably wear off quickly...

Saturday, November 26, 2011

New phone, Black Friday musings, and more - November 26, 2011

It's time for another rambly post that isn't an endorsement or a contest or anything of that sort. (Note - while I never intended for this blog to be a review/contest blog, I do enjoy doing those things and some more are in the pipeline. I still think it's funny which pages on my blog are the most popular....)

So here's a story.

I got my first cell phone in about 2000, which is later than a lot of people. I hemmed and hawed and picked a plain black phone, and it did what it needed to do for years. I then upgraded to a camera phone (I think it was either free or ridiculously cheap) and paid the extra fee to be able to send pictures - mostly to another friend with a similar phone, occasionally to various online forums/blogs.

I jumped ship from that provider (no, I won't name names - ahem, the synonym for running quickly for a short distance - after it pissed me off royally, but in doing so I gave up on the data plan and the camera phone. For six years I've had a phone that did little more than make calls - I even paid per text (did I only text on rare occasion because I had to pay or because I genuinely didn't care about texting? we shall see.) It sounds funny to even lament that by the way. The provider was fine, but service was spotty and I was sick of dropped calls - ahem, a letter and a word that means something can move.

I bought myself an iPod Touch a few years ago (using Swagbucks-earned Amazon credit and birthday money) and that mostly scratched the want-a-smartphone itch. Mostly. I still use my Touch daily but it doesn't have a camera and, of course, it requires WiFi to do most things. But it can make calls, I've been using it for free texting for almost as long as I have had it, and it has LOTS of music on it.

But my phone was crapping out after all these years (it was the freebie, after all). And my husband's had already died a painful death in the ocean, and his replacement phone was also crappy. When a fancy smartphone was on sale at Target a few weeks ago, we got all excited and went to see it. Yeah, except that the monthly plans for the phone were exorbitant. I checked other providers - same thing. I asked around - same thing. $150-ish on average for two people to have smart phones. I couldn't swing that. I couldn't justify that. Nope. When I looked into pay-as-you-go plans, I saw that I could either get a REALLY crappy cheap phone or have to pay for a decent phone so that the monthly plan + the cost of the phone averaged out was...pretty much the same thing. It was a kick in the gut. I wasn't sure what would happen, since our phones really were about to die and our provider was having merger drama with an uncertain future.

Then I saw a leaked Black Friday deal for a smartphone that was $70-ish less than it usually sold for - I couldn't find a price close to the BF price anywhere - with a pay-as-you-go service. I couldn't stop thinking about it. The phone had the basic features I wanted (Droid, camera, ability to run apps, not a crappy flip phone) and the plan included unlimited texting and data (and an option for unlimited talk but a slightly less expensive option for a reasonable amount of minutes). If we canceled our landline, we could totally swing this deal.

And so on Friday we ventured a nearly empty store (we went at around 11am). The shelves were stocked with the phone, the phone was exactly as promised, and we bought. HOORAY. The switch from the old provider (we were off contract already) to the new one was seamless. And now I have a phone that I can use to take stupid pictures and cute videos and that I can text with.

One thing that was eerie and sad was that as I transferred over the numbers (not done yet), I didn't transfer over my grandmother's number. She passed away two years ago. I kept her number on my old phone. This phone doesn't have it on there. I had to let that go. I also let go a few numbers for people I no longer speak with for various reasons. New phone, new life. Some choices hurt my heart, some just made it lighter.

The phone is definitely on the lower end of the smartphone spectrum, but I figure that for the small investment we made in these phones plus a month-to-month plan with no contract, there is plenty of room to, at any time, jump ship again, buy the high-end deliciously wonderful phones and pay that high monthly premium. I don't really see that happening any time soon, but it's nice to know we didn't lock into anything right now. This is a good stopgap, I think. Do I want the phone fairy to grant me an iPhone or a high-end Droid with many long years of paid monthly fees? I sure do. Feel free to leap in at any time and offer to do that for me, by the way...

I would normally end a post like this with "what's your favorite app?" but...the phone seriously has a VERY limited amount of internal memory. Micro SD cards happened to also be on sale, so I have 8 gigs of expanded memory, but if you have a Droid you may know that you can't put just anything on the card, appwise. space is limited and I have to make some choices. Happily I still have my darling iPod, so most of my apps and all of my music will live on it. Sure, it's a bit clumsy dragging around TWO tabletty tiny things, but I still see it as the best of both worlds.

The apps I have so far are mostly practical - Google Docs, Google Voice, Scoutmob, Groupon - with a few fun ones thrown in like FxCamera (love it!). I don't even have a Facebook app at the moment (accessing it via browser seems just as fine and doesn't eat space) and the Twitter app the phone came with is...well, it's fine. (Frustratingly, the phone came with several social-based apps that are both redundant to one another and not useful to me - and that can't be deleted. I hate that bit.) I had to remove the Weight Watchers app because it was just SO HUGE (no jokes, please!) - I'll continue to use the Touch for that one.

[I've lost about 17 pounds now since starting WW by the way. My jeans no longer fit. I have cheekbones. I can wear cute shirts again. My goal is on the horizon. I still was able to eat things I liked on Thanksgiving. I *LOVE* WEIGHT WATCHERS!]

This concludes my rambly post. *curtsey*

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Monthly Thrifting Updatey Post - November 17, 2011

It seems like lately I've been able to go thrifting about once a month. I also just donated a GIANT PILE of clothes, books, and baby gear to Goodwill, so I'm trying to get better about things going out as things come in. Also, as I've noted, I've been losing weight, so I actually needed new clothes.

The pictures in this entry are craptastic. I knew when I was taking them that they were bad, but when I uploaded them I could tell they were worse. I'm sorry. This is really just for my own inventory purposes anyway...but enjoy?

We made it to four stores on this trip. The best thing I got was at the fourth store and I don't have a picture so I shall describe it. It is an old-style Little Tikes yellow plastic shopping cart. Old style is critical because it can hold weights inside it so that my daughter can use it to practice walking. Her PT has one and we've been looking around for one for a while - I was borrowing a friend's temporarily, but I seriously squealed when I spied this one across the store. And for the record, the store supported a charity I am not down with. At all. But that's a political issue and this is a lighthearted post, so I will just say I paid $3 for it and was happy.

Now for pictures. First was the BESTEST STORE EVER aka the Humane Society Thrift Store. Wonderful people, puppies, amazing clothing, and the cheapest prices around. It's good I don't live close to this one or I'd shop hourly. And my friend paid for everything I got as a surprise birthday present...
Look, it's me. Pasty pasty pasty me. I'm not usually this pasty. But now you get to see the person behind the blog. The trench coat is a size smaller than I've been wearing and it makes me look delightfully thin. It is London Fog and it was a mere $3. That tiny tag on the belt is a dry cleaning tag. I'm guessing the store gets great stuff in part from one or more dry cleaners sharing unclaimed goodness. (Most of my images are click-for-larger types, but I disabled that on this one.

Cute flowery top. $1. Cat tail, free.

I don't usually like turtlenecks, but this one kind of gave me a hipster vibe and I did like the color scheme. $1.
See what I mean about crappy pictures? Cat tails and bad lighting and...sorry. This shirt is a lovely teal and is a tiny bit big on me, but I haven't worn button-down shirts in a while so I got it. $1.
The culprit.
Another cute button down that I photographed poorly. This one fits better than the other. $1.
Dockers - because until I bought these, I owned no other pants but blue jeans. $1.
Ladies and Gentlemen, these Levi's 505s are a full size SMALLER than what I have been wearing. Hooray! $1.

Three tops for the kid - this last one is a very cute sweater/dress/top. They were 50 cents each.

I just love the breastfeeding-centric comics in this series. 50 cents.

Then we went to another little out of the way store. I didn't get much...

I'm not particularly a football fan, but this was cute and fit nicely. $3.
Basic Gap thermal shirt. $3.
And then we went to Goodwill, where I got the most random things of all...

I stopped buying mugs long ago but this one was just so fabulous for so many reasons. It's in perfect, pristine shape. The design is adorable. The size is perfect for coffee. My kid's name is on it. And I've been to Chattanooga so many times without going to the Falls that I just had to get this. 99 cents.
I've wanted to read this for a while - read and then rethrift, I'm sure. $1.50.
Another age-inappropriate shirt for me - I think it will fit. $2.92.
Amazing find although you can't really tell from the picture. It's a glass jar that is sort of penny-candy-ish. I plan to use it to display my wares at my next craft show. $2.92.
Quality over quantity this time. I just have to get everything into the washing machine tomorrow so I can start wearing it...

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Happy Birthday to Me - November 13, 2011

I've always explained why I get so excited about my birthday as follows - my mom and I share the same birthday. My brother's birthday is within a week. Hanukkah always falls somewhere around now. So my entire year was quiet, quiet, quiet and then BAM BIRTHDAY AND PRESENTS AND HOLIDAYS AND EVERYTHING ALL AT ONCE.

So today is my birthday. I feel like I have been making little positive changes for the past few months and that this year has potential. Big potential. I'm hoping for more freelance work, more crafty opportunities, more writing in general. I'm hoping for big progress from my girl. I'm looking forward to starting my next year on this planet a lot healthier - my BMI now firmly in the healthy zone, my jeans starting to be too big (I have now lost 15 pounds on Weight Watchers and can see my goal twinkling on the horizon).

I simply wanted to make a blog post to mark today so that next year, which will be rather close to a milestone (but not quite), I can look back and see where my mind was and try to keep this going.

Here's my birthday post from last year, which included a list of birthday freebies.

Awww, I got a freebie from Borders last year. Sniff. This year I've gotten the free Starbucks drink, the free Moe's burrito, the 50 Swagbuck bonus, and a free $25 gift from Aveda that I still have to pick up. I think I saw a discount deal from Jason's Deli again, though I don't get there very often. Not much else this year. It's a quiet one.

Happy birthday to me!

PS My husband asked my daughter to write her name the other night. She can barely SAY her name, but we've been pretty sure she's known how to read for some time. And she wrote her name - four distinct letters, three of them VERY clear and one approximation. All on her own. The kid who can barely hold a crayon. Never underestimate anyone. Never assume anything. I plan on showing the picture we took of this feat to every therapist and teacher that works with her. I'm so proud I could burst.

Monday, November 7, 2011

We - Yes, You and I - could win $500 in Chronicle Books! - November 7, 2011

Chronicle is one of my favorite book publishers. Seriously. When I'm out thrifting I do a dance of joy when I see the little glasses on the spine. When I'm in a bookstore, I gravitate toward Chronicle's books. Why? They're gorgeous. Whether a cookbook or a how-to book or even, on occasion, a work of fiction, these books are always SO beautifully designed.

And now Chronicle is having a contest. A CONTEST. First, they want bloggers to list $500 worth of Chronicle books that they would like. Well, I can give that a shot...
That was both difficult and really really fun. You can see from this list that I'm a fan of cookbooks, how-to books, craft books, kits, and randomness., you can see that I'm random. 

Now here's the super fun part. If you leave a comment on this post, and if I win, you might win all of the above too! (I'll do a random drawing if/when.) AND I get to also choose a charity to receive all these books - and I choose to have all of these books donated to the City of Decatur (Georgia) high school's library. I suspect they would be very much appreciated and I like to support my local school system.

So go on, leave a comment. Tell me if you love Chronicle as much as I do. Tell me about your favorite book publisher. Tell me which book I should've chosen for my list (I don't think there's a rule against swapping before the deadline!). But please do say something!