Tuesday, December 31, 2013

End of Year 2013 List Meme Thing!

I am not entirely sure how it is the end of 2013. I blinked and it was gone. It was a really interesting year - and the last month has been very, very hard. But I did this in 2012, 2011, and 2010, so here we go!

1. What did you do in 2013 that you'd never done before?

Stayed in the apartment of someone very famous. Had a child who met the President of the United States. Ate Big Gay Ice Cream. Faced some health issues that I'd never faced before. Turned 40.

2. Did you keep your new years' resolutions, and will you make more for next year?

It doesn't appear I made any - and I don't think I'll make any going forward. So there.

3. Did anyone close to you give birth?

My cousin is pregnant!

4. Did anyone close to you die?

My great-uncle Karl passed away. He was an amazing person and he is deeply missed.

5. What countries did you visit?

I didn't leave the US this year, but I got back to my beloved NYC for the first time in far too long.

6. What would you like to have in 2014 that you lacked in 2013?

Good health. Healthy kitties. No medical bills. Maybe some sort of travel that doesn't involve a family visit but is just purely for fun.

7. What date from 2013 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?

February 14, when my kid met Obama. December 30, for reasons that I don't care to explain in my public blog.

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?

That I was able to continue a steady freelance writing/editing career - the beginning of the year held a very solid client, and when that contract ended I had other clients to pick up the slack. I even did some writing for which I was paid. Very pleased about that.

9. What was your biggest failure?

I didn't drive more like I wanted to. I'm still stuck at "little old lady who goes 2 miles to the grocery store once a week." I need to fix that.

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?


11. What was the best thing you bought?

My new phone for sure. The upgraded Tivo. My new boots (both the brown pair I wrote about here and the black pair I haven't had a chance to write about). My Silhouette (it's so much fun). My kid's summer camp tuition. The ActiveLink. Also I didn't buy the Keurig Vue, I received it from House Party, but it's pretty awesome.

12. Whose behaviour merited celebration?

Always my baby girl. Always and forever.

13. Whose behaviour made you appalled and depressed?

A lot of politicians, as always.

14. Where did most of your money go?

My medical bills…and my cat's as well. My cat needed an EKG because of a worsening heart murmur. Thankfully they didn't find anything serious enough to require medication. I'm just loving on him (and sharing reiki with him) every day because our animals are with us so briefly no matter what we do.

15. What did you get really, really, really excited about?

Obama's visit. Our trip to New York. Meeting my literary heroine. Our mini-vacation over Thanksgivukkah.

16. What song will always remind you of 2013?

The theme to Rachel and the Treeschoolers.

17. Compared to this time last year, are you happier or sadder?


II. Thinner or fatter?

The same! Proud of that one.

III. Richer or poorer?

It's hard to explain - both? Having budgets in place and working with them made all the difference, and the last three months of 2013 were actually fantastic for my family. Had I not had the sudden avalanche of medical bills, we would've been in such good shape - but isn't that always the way?

18. What do you wish you'd done more of?

Travel. Running. Reading. I read 18 books this year according to my Goodreads page. That's ridiculous. I want to read at least 25 in 2014 and that's setting the bar really low.

19. What do you wish you'd done less of?

Being at the doctor's office. Worrying.

20. How will you be spending Christmas?

We spent Christmas at Super H-Mart! We bought noodles and sauces and tortillas and delicious treats.

21. What, if any, insight did you gain about yourself in 2013?

That I can handle things better than I thought I could. That Reiki and meditation are valuable tools in my toolbox. That I am strong and fucking amazing sometimes.

22. Did you fall in love in 2013?

I had my 10th wedding anniversary!

23. How many one night stands?

Yeah no.

24. What was your favourite TV program?

Sleepy Hollow turned out to be a contender for new favorite. And AHS:Coven, surprisingly (I couldn't make it through Asylum at all). I think I was watching True Blood this year and not last year. When I do these memes I always forget whatever it was I liked in the beginning of the year though. I watched a lot of TV shows...because I was curious or because I'd already gotten in so deep, even though they were disappointing. (Note that I "watch" a lot of TV via Tivo in the morning while I do my work - it's often just background noise.)

25. Do you hate anyone now that you didn't hate this time last year?

Kind of?

26. What was the best book you read?

So as I noted earlier, I didn't read enough AT ALL this year. However, I really liked Pandora's Lunchbox. Wild was better than I thought it would be.We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves was BRILLIANT. Salt Sugar Fat changed my life. And Shine Shine Shine was lovely. Right now I have One and Only out from the library and need to finish it.

27. What was your greatest musical discovery?

I didn't listen to enough new music this year, but I think my greatest musical discovery was Google Music - I now have 7,000 songs in the cloud and I pulled out many of my old CDs (including a lot of 90s grrrrrrl music) that I happily rediscovered while doing so. Oh! And I had a "Why haven't I been listening to Vienna Teng for years?" moment when I got to go see her live.

28. What did you want and get?

Boots. The Silhouette. A new phone. A trip. A visit with family. A healthy cat.

29. What did you want and not get?

A healthy end to the year.

30. What was your favorite film of this year?

At the beginning of the year I started a list of movies I watched so I could remember and then…I stopped and misplaced the whole list, which I'd been writing in this cute little Hello Kitty notebook. (This is why I prefer to keep my lists digitally!) I was surprised at how much I loved Cabin In the Woods and on the complete opposite end of the spectrum I really liked Arietty. I also thought Pitch Perfect was adorable. If I turn up that list, I may add to this - so that I can remember in 2014!

31. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?

40! I went out with friends. I went out with my husband. I had a nice time and ate tres leches cake and drank fancy drinks and all around had a lovely time.

32. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?

Not having this end of the year health drama? More work?

33. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2013?

More skirts, more thrifted clothing, and boots boots boots.

34. What kept you sane?

Not much.

35. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?

Alexander Skaarsgaaaaaard. Definitely. Swoon!

36. What political issue stirred you the most?


37. Who did you miss?

A lot of people.

38. Who was the best new person you met?

A tie between the Kellys (that whole family) and Francesca Lia Block, I think.

39. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2013.

Early screening is important.

40. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year.

I'm OK when everything is not OK.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

All Sorts of Shopping (and a tip on a great deal on a new phone) - December 3, 2013

Between my birthday, Hanukkah, Black Friday, and Cyber Monday, I've had a lot of opportunities to go shopping and get great deals while doing so. Yes, I buy clothing for myself pretty often as the thrifting tag on this here blog can attest, but...thrifting is thrifting. I spend less than $3 per item in most cases and it's used. And I LOVE IT - but this was different.

First, I'd been saving the Amazon gift cards I earn from Swagbucks (that's a referral link) (and sometimes from Bing - another referral link! - and sometimes from other sources, including this blog) because I wanted to upgrade my phone.

I use Virgin Mobile because I like paying only $35 per month for unlimited text and data and 300 talk minutes that I rarely come close to using. (If I could afford more per month, I might consider another plan/carrier/even better phone, but I can't, and this works just fine for me.) I'd bought myself an HTC One V a little over a year ago using the same save-gift-cards technique, but it stopped working properly about six months in - as in, it wouldn't make nor answer phone calls half the time and often wouldn't load my contact list or send text messages. I said it many times - it's all well and good to be able to have a few apps on there or a good camera (and I do think the camera is good), but if I can't make phone calls, then the phone isn't really that great.

The phone for which I was saving was the flagship Samsung Galaxy S3 - once I saw that VM was offering it, I wanted it, but I was patient and I waited. And during Black Friday Week, Amazon finally dropped the price from a high of around $400 and an average of around $315 to $260 AND it included a free case! So I pounced. And after factoring in all the credit I'd slowly, carefully saved, I paid about $35 including tax for this fancy phone.

Imagine my surprise and annoyance when a week later, right before I went to bed, I received an alert from CamelCamelCamel (I'd forgotten to cancel it) telling me that at 10pm on Monday night my phone's price dropped down to $250 - which is a GREAT DEAL for this high-end phone, just...less than what I paid.

Happily, a friend of mine had clued me in that Amazon has a 30-day price guarantee. I simply emailed and asked for a refund and when I woke up in the morning it had been processed, bringing my out-of-pocket cost down to about $25!

I love this phone. Love love love it. Here's a link (a referral link) to this great deal on the Samsung Galaxy S3 for Virgin Mobile (be aware: you can only use the version of the phone to which I'm linking on VM in the United States). Once you get it, it's so easy to activate, and then you can pick the right plan for you!

Update 12/4/13: The price went back up but this phone is still AMAZING. Get it!

Next, boots. I have been wanting some knee-high boots for a while, and I set aside some birthday money specifically to buy some for myself. First I thought I would get these - Prize from Donald J. Pliner - but they were a bit more than I felt comfortable spending (though they are still on my wish list and if the ones I wound up buying - you'll see in a minute - don't fit, I suppose I could go back and get these instead).

Again, Amazon and Black Friday Week came through to save the day. I found these:

and when I bought them, they were marked down and there was a coupon code for 25% more off. They should arrive today and I will take pictures of them with my new phone! (Again, that's a referral link.)

Update 12/4/13: Sadly, these boots just didn't fit me the way I wanted. They were an amazing price and they're adorable, but they're going back to Amazon and I'm back on a quest for black boots.

Next, I had been drooling over one particular crafting tool for a long, long time - the Silhouette Cameo. I cannot tell you how many contests I'd entered to try and win one. This time around, after Googling "Silhouette giveaway" and entering the contests that came up in the search, I paid attention to what all the craftsy bloggers were saying - that a big Black Friday sale was coming up. I put up an alert on Amazon for the Silhouette Cameo starter kit, but on Black Friday when the deals were announced I found that - for a change - Amazon couldn't beat the deal being offered directly from Silhouette. You can find all the Silhouette America holiday deals here (though let me add that I'm a bit annoyed - I thought these deals were Friday only, and they're still available as I write this on the following Tuesday - I hate feeling pressured to buy something to get a deal and I could've waited - it hasn't even shipped yet! Oh well.). I am SO SO SO SO excited about this - I have some projects planned that I will share! (Look at me - first I'm pretending to be a fashion blogger, then I'm pretending to be a craft blogger, ha!)

Finally, I did some in-person Black Friday shopping with friends. I found a great deal on brown boots (to go with the black ones I ordered! the price in the link is likely more than what I paid - frustratingly, I didn't have the magic coupons with me, but they still were a great price and while they're synthetic, they are super duper comfy and cute!) and black clogs (to replace the Dansko clogs that I wear every day, although the reviews on these are making me worried and I'm debating returning them - the ones I bought are similar to but not the same as those in the link).

Look, here's an actual picture of my new brown boots on me:

Bonus: I'm wearing one of the tops from my most recent thrifting post - I loooove it!
And one more picture for fun:

Finally, Cuppow had a Cyber Monday sale. Cuppow? Oh, you need one of these. I got my first one from my friend Marissa as the best birthday present ever.

A Cuppow is a little plastic doohickey (made in the USA, BPA and phthalate free) that turns a glass mason jar into a travel mug. It's eco-friendly and made by a small, independent business. I loooove it. So I bought a bunch more - the one Marissa gave me is for wide-mouthed jars (and if you squint, you  can see that my jar is etched with a picture of Massachusetts - the jar is from opal & ollie on Etsy) so I bought myself one that's for regular-mouthed jars too, and then I bought a handful to give as gifts to friends and teachers and therapists (because it's that time of year and my kid has a cast of thousands!). I may also use my new Silhouette to create stencils to etch mason jars myself or to add vinyl decorations to the jars (to add to the Cuppows as gifts).

NOTE! Cuppow has extended its Cyber Monday sale through Tuesday, December 3, 2013! Use the code CYBERCUPPOW for 25% off your order. If you buy four things, you get free shipping, so that's like buying 3 and getting 1 totally free! Also here's my referral link for a bonus $2 off your order (that link is valid until December 5 - please use it!).

I think that's all for now - watch this space for new pictures and new crafts! Happy Hanukkah and happy festive holiday season!