Wednesday, December 29, 2010

And the cleanout begins. . .

I wrote a blog post last week about how I am quitting selling on eBay.  I contacted someone who sells and he is going to sell some of the stuff I have left.  Much of it will be going in a garage sale as some of it was bought back when stuff sold better.  For instance, I found a cake pan that used to sell for about $15 a few years ago, now it doesn't even get a $3 bid.  So, that's in the garage sale pile.

I am using the stopwatch function on my new iPod to see how long it takes me to get this room cleaned out.  I've worked on it only about 3 1/2 hours so far, and have gotten so much out it's unreal.  There were three bags of trash (each a 30 gallon bag), and a 30 gallon trash bag full of recycled packing materials I'll take to the man who is going to sell for me. 

I've found interesting stuff both to sell and of my own.  I found a winter hat I wondered what happened to it.  I found my handheld GPS for geocaching I've been looking for it for a while. 

I decided I need to get rid of a lot of stuff, and recently we had company and I had to get a bedroom "guest worthy".  Cleaning that room out took a long time because I was emotionally attached to so many of the objects in that room.   But with my eBay room, most everything was brought in for resell, so there is no sentimentality on the objects.

I'll be glad to reclaim this room.  Seems like over the last few years the entire upstairs became a "junk room" and I'm out to change that.  I didn't do an work in this room today because we had to much trash because of my three bags out of that room and Christmas I thought it would be pushing our luck to set out so many trash bags!

Monday, December 27, 2010

Book Review: Divanomics

Normally I don't post book reviews on my blog unless I've been given a book free to read and review.  Another new one came in the mail today, so soon you'll be seeing a review for Walls: Why Everybodys Stuck (and Nobody Has to Be) but today the book I'm going to review is Divanomics: How to Still Be Fabulous When You're Broke because I feel because many of my posts have to do with saving money, it's appropriate to review.

I thought of Divanomics as a "money saving guide for the other half", and I'm certianly not the other half!  I realize that the word DIVA is in the title, and I realize that some people probably have never shopped 'lower end retail', but there was a whole chapter devoted to shopping at Walmart and Target and the bargains that can be found there!  There was also a short bit on how she gets stuff with coupons and rewards points at Neiman Marcus.  Now, I think that's the first time I've ever even WRITTEN Neiman Marcus and I've certainly never been to one!    I will have to say that I was impressed that even though it was a Christian book she didn't seem to think that Dave Ramsey is god of financial advice.  (I've encountered some Christians with that attitude, almost to the point they seems to think if you are not listening to him exclusively you're in sin even if you're debt free!)  She mentions Dave Ramsey, but also mentions Suze Orman.  She did give a nod to but most of the coupon talk was dealing with coupons you can use at higher end department stores.  She also gave some suggestions like instead of going out to dinner you can have a fun night at home with friends playing games.  (Wow!  Who knew?)  Overall I give this three stars.  It kept my interest because of how to "save money" on designer fashions, etc. but for people who didn't already live that kind of lifestyle, I'm not sure how helpful this book would be.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Book Review: LITTLE STAR

Little Star is a children's book which would be perfect for a bedtime story around Christmas. The illustrations are beautiful. It's a charming story about the star that led the shepherds to where Jesus was born. However, I was a bit bothered by the fact that the star shone so brightly he burned out, and with an illustration of a gray, wilted looking star in the book. Some children, including myself as a child, would find this disturbing. I would have rather the star never shine brightly again and remain a “Little Star”. Although the story ends on a happy note, it still was a bit unsettling to see an illustration of a 'worn out' star. Overall this is a wonderful book for young and old. I highly expect it to become a Christmas classic! 

I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

A Good Name is Better than Great Riches

When I was a child I had a bookmark with my name on it.  It also said "A good name is better than great riches."  I spent hours looking at that bookmark thinking how I disliked my name, but over the years I came to realize it didn't mean a good GIVEN name, but the name we earn for ourselves.  That verse in the New Living Translation reads:

Choose a good reputation over great riches; being held in high esteem is better than silver or gold.

I've been an eBay seller for eleven years now.  I quit my job yesterday.  I've had one too many people call me a liar.  It's interesting how I have a good, honest reputation in this area, but on eBay people are quick to call me a cheat when I've done nothing wrong.

In fact, my grandfather's name was so strong in this area that I needed to get gas about 4 years ago and didn't have any cash on me.  Even though my grandfather has been dead since before I was born, I told the elderly man working at the gas station who my grandfather was, and that was as good as any ID I could have shown.

I've been taught you are honest, and being called a theif, liar, cheat, etc. is something I can't tolerate, so I decided to quit eBay.

I was writing in my journal last night musing over the fact of WHO quits their job four days before Christmas without other ideas in mind?

One of my hopes yesterday was to find what eBay calls a "Trading Assistant".  That is someone who sells stuff for you on eBay and takes part of the profit.

I contacted one yesterday, and we talked for about an hour today.  It sounds like not only is he willing to sell the stuff I have collected from yardsales and auction that is in my current possession, but he may be willing to sell stuff that I collect in the future, so I have a new job title as of today.  I'm now a picker.

This feels like the second best Christmas gift I could have received.  (I was baptized earlier this month, and that was by far the best Christmas gift I could have received.)  What being a picker means for me is I will still get to do the part of eBay that I LOVE -- the going out and hunting for stuff to sell.  But it also means I can give up the parts I hate -- the taking photos, writing descriptions, dealing with customers, some of whom are unreasonable, and the packing.

So I will still be using the knowledge I have gleaned from 11 years of eBay selling, but now I will be able to pass the work that I hate on to someone else.

Obviously I haven't taken any items to this man yet, so it's still not set in stone this business relationship will work out but I feel very good about this.  And if this one doesn't work, I'm going to try to find someone else who is interested in doing the same thing.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Annie Chun Dinner Party Win

Recently Annie Chun Asian foods had a contest where 250 people would win everything for a dinner party for ten!  I received an e-mail that I was a finalist, and then had to do a survey about my party hosting habits.  I was a finalist!

I received an e-mail the other day saying a box that weighed 27 pounds was being shipped to me, and I couldn't imagine how stuff for a dinner party for 10 would weigh that much, but here are the contents of the box:

A more detailed list of contents;

5 boxes  Annie Chun's Pad Thai Noodles
3 boxes  Annie Chun's Chow Mein Noodles
6 bowls  Annie Chun's Rice Express Black Pearl Rice
8 bowls Annie Chun's Rice Express Sticky White Rice
1 bottle Annie Chun's Go-Chu-Jang, Korean Sweet Spicy Sauce
1 bottle Annie Chun'S Chinese Stir Fry Sauce
2 bottles Annie Chun's Korean BBQ Sauce
1 bottle Annie Chun's Pad Thai Sauce
2 bottles Annie Chun's Thai Peanut Sauce
11 pairs chopsticks
1 Oxo Good Grips Silicone Flexible Turner
model release forms for people who attend the dinner party to sign
recipe cards
10 coupons for $1 off Annie Chun products
4 coupons good for totally free Annie Chun products so if you want frozen / refridgerated items you can get them for free (such as Wontons, Potstickers, etc.)

I'm really looking forward to my dinner party, but don't know at this point when I will have it!

Account of Savings

Here's my "Account" of savings today.

First, I had won a $10 BookCash certifitcate, so I decided to go to Barnes and Noble to get a new book.  The cashiers had never seen such a thing before, but thankfully even as busy as they were, they were very nice about it.  :)  So I got a new book for $3.35.

Then I went to Giant Eagle to fill the car with gas.  I had 20 cents off on a gallon of gas because of grocery purchases.

Then Mom and I went to CiCi's for lunch.  I had signed up for their e-mail club and had been e-mailed a coupon for "Two can dine for $9.99"  We got two buffets and two drinks.  (One complaint about the drinks, Mom isn't suppossed to have sugar or caffeine, and there's nothing there that fits both of those.  She has to choose between sugar free or caffeine free.)

After that I went to CVS.  I had over $30 in Extra Care Bucks that expired this week.   I also had a 20% off my total coupon.  And I had a buy 2 get 1 free Zhu Zhu pets coupon.  Because those were on sale buy one get one, I could have gotten four for the price of one, but all they had was the ninja ones.  Now I think Zhu Zhu pets are cute, but seriously, ninja hamsters?  Who thought that one up.  

What I did get though:

FOUR caffeine free Diet Coke (they had buy 2 get $1 off coupons on the side of the boxes, so I was able to use two of these coupons)

ONE Revlon nail polish

ONE Thermacare neck wrap

One Revlon lipstick

TWO boxes of Hello Kitty Band-Aids

ONE Physician's Formula blush

I bought the makeup mainly because I could get Extra Care Bucks back and there wasn't much that caught my eye today, so I thought that might be the best way to use my ECBs.

In total I paid $6.97  (and $2.48 of that was sales tax!).  I saved $55.51.   And I received $22.79 in ECBs back. 

And upon returning home I arrived to an e-mail saying I won a $20 iTunes gift card, also in the mail were coupons for totally free Jelly Belly Jellybeans and a totally free 20 oz. Sprite.

I also saw where Barnes and Noble online had a coupon for 25% off one item, free shipping.  I had a Barnes and Noble gift card I had gotten free, so decided to use it, and ordered myself a book.  Between the Barnes and Noble deals I've been getting and the free books I've been getting if I agree to review them on my blog, I should have a lot of good reading for a while!

Not a bad day at all!  :)

Friday, December 17, 2010

Friday Fotos -- Christmas ornaments

Each year, I love putting up the Christmas tree because I have so many ornaments that bring back so many memories.  The one from 1980 that started a tradition of my family being the FIRST to put up our Christmas tree -- the first Saturday in December -- putting it up that early then was unheard of!    There's the wooden block with "Joy, Peace, Hope, Love" written on it that was a gift to everyone who went to church a certain Sunday when I was in college.  I rode to church with a friend that day, and we're still friends 20 years later.

This ornament was given to everyone in 1981 by my 2nd grade teacher.  She only taught a half year because she had a baby.  We had close to 40 DIFFERENT teachers that year, sometimes even one teacher in a morning, one in the afternoon.  I was so happy to find out I got this teacher for 2nd grade, but only had her a few months.  Then the school board finally found someone to fill her spot, and that lady later moved to the jr. high and was my drama club sponsor in high school.  But this ornament was made by my original 2nd grade teacher.  Yes, those are real lifesavers from 29 years ago!

An ornament made by me in school.   This one is only 27 years old.  Plaster ornament we painted with watercolors.  I loved my 4th grade teacher.  I was able to see him again last summer (he moved away about 20 years ago).  It's so weird to hang out with your 4th grade teacher and have him ask you to call him by his first name.  Seems almost disrespectful.  After all, he was almost an icon of my childhood we all loved him so much!  This ornament always reminds me of him.  Some of my best school memories happened in his classroom!

Oh Little Town of Bethlehem. . . . I bought this one in Bethlehem in Israel.  Nothing too exciting about it except that it was bought in Bethlehem.  There was a store there with lots of Christmas stuff, and this is obviously one of the ornaments I bought.

Now tell me, have you ever seen a more frightening angel?  I bought this one in Denmark and thought it was hillarious because it's so scary!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

20 years and three friends

I had a wonderful time last week when two college friends came to town.  One was doing a show near me and we were able to get together for an afternoon.  It was a wonderful time, and I'm thankful for reconnecting through facebook and getting to meet up!

For lunch, I wanted them to try one of my favorite mom and pop type places to eat.  We deicded to get a grilled chocolate sandwich to split between the three of us.  I've never had one before, but as weird as it sounds, it was amazingly good.  It was homemade bread, grilled, with a Hershey's bar in it.  Sounds strange, but very tasty.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

A Sometimes Unrecognizable Church

I recently was able to review the book Mere Churchianity: Finding Your Way Back to Jesus-Shaped Spirituality and the following is my review:

Been to church, sang the songs, got a few dozen t-shirts. Unfortunately, that's what Christianity has been reduced to in much of America. We get up on Sunday morning, dress in our Sunday best, or if we're in a seeker-friendly church, we'll put on our best pair of jeans and polo, and spend two hours looking perfect.
But we're not perfect, and neither is the person sitting behind us, our cell group leader, nor our pastor.
This is a book I wish existed a few years ago. I went to a friend who was a pastor and asked for something to read that cut out all the clutter of church, something that took us right back to the Person of Jesus. What he recommended was a book that pointed out all the flaws in the institutional church.

Michael Spencer has done a fantastic job of shaving away everything that is not of Jesus. Getting us back to what God had in mind. He understands some people have walked away from the church because of the pretenses that are rampant in the church. I loved how he mentioned that it's fine in prayer requests of the gory details of an ingrown toenail, but we mustn't dare mention personal problems such as rebellious children, mental illness, or a shaky marriage. If we can't turn to the church for help and strength, who can we turn to?
He strips away the idea that if we have issues with the way things are in organized Christianity, it might not be the fact that we are deceived sinners, but we might be seeing something that does need changing. In my own church, something that Spencer has discussed that we have also mentioned from time to time is going out to eat. Yes, the waitress knows we are from church. The way we act, even down to the tip we leave leaves an impression on who we are – and Whose we are. One of my friends often leaves a tip equal to or higher than his meal. He says he doesn't want to leave a bad impression of Christians to our server.

Spencer also recognizes the fact that the Vending Machine Jesus is still the Jesus worshiped in many churches. Worship God and He will give you monetary riches. Of course, there's the more popular trend of worship giving you a great sex life with your spouse. Money and Sex. There really is more that God cares about than those two things.

While this book appears to be church-bashing, it is far from it. He admits we NEED the church but also recognizes that the church is sometimes not living up to what God had in mind.

If this book had been available to me a few years ago, I would likely say it would have been one of the most influential books of my life. However, I struggled with these issues on my own and came to much of the same conclusions that Spencer did. It was fantastic to see in print the very issues I wrestled with and eventually had to come to grips with a church that is not always what God had in mind.

I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review.

I would appriciate it if you could CLICK HERE and rank my review.  Thank you so much!

Didn't win, but I think it's cute

I thought I'd share a contest entry for Dean's Dip's "Be Our Avatar" contest.  This didn't win, but I still think it's cute. 

Fuzzbutt loves his veggies, but you better not even come near his Dean's Dip!

Monday, December 13, 2010

85 cents more . . .

Last week I got a $5 Register Rewards at Walgreens for spending over $25.  Well, my order total after coupons came to $3, so I expected to be able to do that again after coupons.  Evidently they changed it because my order after coupons came to $24.15 and I didn't get a $5 Register Rewards.  My favorite cashier offered to void everything and ring it all in and I could by a candy bar, but I didn't want to make her go through all that bother.

There were a number of grocery items this week that were on sale that we eat, so I bought a number of them.   It certainly wasn't anything to write home about.  I spent $24.15 and saved $22.88 and got $7 back in Reigster Rewards.  I haven't added my receipt to my W Card yet, but I should get 70 cents on that from this purchase.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Walgreens this week

No picture this week because I got my mother a number of stocking stuffers, and I know she reads my blog!

Just as I was getting ready to go into Walgreens this week, a friend called.  He was in town to do a magic show.  (I would say I'm the only person I know who is friends with a professional magician, but we have a lot of friends in common!)  He asked me before another friend and I met him for a late lunch to pick up a pair of fingernail clippers for him since I was at Walgreens.  He insisted he'd pay me back.

I had a number of Register Rewards, which were going to expire this week, so I used them all, even though this wasn't a great Walgreens week.

I spent a total of $3.66 and had 60 cents added to my W card, so a final cost of $3.06

What I got

Kraft mayo with olive oil
2 packages of Angel Soft 9 roll toilet paper
1 pair slippers
1 pair black and gold socks for a friend as a stocking stuffer
1 Lifesavers candy box for my aunt for Christmas
2 pairs of aloe moisturizing socks (LOVE these)
Revlon fingernail clippers
4 packages Walgreens paper plates
6 stocking stuffers for Mom

Total before coupons was $47.91.  I didn't realize I was that close to $50.  I received back a $5 Register Reward, but had I bought $2.09 more I would have received another $5 Register Reward.  D'oh!

My favorite cashier was ringing me out.  When she saw I got all that for $3.66 she let out  a yell.  My friend who was with me asked her if she was okay.  She was just amazed at how good I did again this week!

Once we meet my friend for lunch, he asked how much his fingernail clippers were.  I'm bad in math, believe it or not, so I just told him they were free.   He said they couldn't be free, and my other friend started saying that yes, indeed, they were.   Finally I said I got $50 of stuff for $3 after coupons, with $5 to spend on my next order, so if he wanted to figure out the final cost of them, that was fine, but I wasn't going to worry about it.  After I explained my shopping trip, he never again mentioned paying me the $3 for fingernail clippers.  :)  Of course, he bought lunch for my friend and me, but even if he hadn't, I wouldn't have worried about a $3 pair of fingernail clippers.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Friday Fotos

Some photos of my Christmas decorations.  I have a collection of oddball nativities, and I took photos of some of my favorites.

Duck nativity:

From Russia:

African American nativity

Native American nativity:

Fisher Price Nativity:


From South America:

From Sweden:

Another from Russia:

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

A Very Ninja Christmas

My weekend guest left this morning, so I'm back to blogging.

I was accepted for another House Party.  This one was for American Ninja Warrior, and I received buttons, magnets, a t-shirt, and temporary tattoos.  I was suppossed to be able to stream the seasion premier of American Ninja Warrior, but it didn't work with my Wii, and I couldn't burn it to DVD.  House Party was as helpful as possible and even said they would overnight a burned DVD for me, but since Fed Ex and UPS don't deliver overnight where I live on Saturdays that was impossible.

Instead we watched a TV show from 1993 called "Brought to you by Santa" of some of the most amazing and funny Christmas commercials ever made from around the world.  It was a huge hit, and everyone really enjoyed it.  After all, Christmas isn't Christmas until Santa slides in on his rotary shaver.

We made Christmas cards, played other games including moving jingle bells from one bowl to another with chopsticks, a "Right" and "Left" passing a prize game using the Christmas story, ate Mexican food, and had a fun time!

Some photos:

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Happy Chanukkah

Although I'm not Jewish, two menorahs have been added to my holiday decorations.  This is one I bought new in Israel in the most facinating shop I've ever been in!  It was owned by an elderly Jewish merchant and sold everythign from $2 dreidels (which I bought one of them) to menorahs that cost thousands of dollars.  He was a burly guy, and the sign out front said, "We do ear piercing".   Just a facinating shop, and I loved the heart in this menorah.

My other menorah is an antique I believe.  I would guess it's from about 1920.  I found it in a junk shop for $5 a few years ago, and I wish this menorah could tell tales.  I believe it's Eastern European in origin, and I would love to hear the stories of where it's been and how it came to be in the United States.  I think it's just beautiful.  Each year these two pieces come out during the holidays.