Wednesday, February 26, 2014

In Love with a Shark

Sorry I’ve been slacking with the blog posts.  I’ve been busy VACUUMING!!!  We bought our new Shark Navigator Lift-Away Pro on Sunday.  I shopped around, and we ended up going to Wal-Mart (not my favorite place, but they did have the best buy this time).  

This is really the first time I’ve looked for the best price.  Usually I’m all about the convenience factor.  If I’m at Target, and what I want is at Target, I get it at Target.  I checked online retailers as well as brick-and-mortar stores.  Wal-Mart was the lucky winner.
Since Turner was a little fussy, the Shark even got to ride shotgun home (I ride in the back when she decides to fuss, so our car ride home is more pleasant).   For ease of assembly, I give Shark 5 stars!  My stubborn nature usually doesn’t include following directions, and I didn’t need them!  Everything snapped right together.  Before I knew it, Shark was practically pulling me across the living room.  The brushes are strong, so hardly any pushing is necessary.  It also has some handy tools:
  • Pet hair attachment.  We don’t have a pet, but it’s great on the couch.  
  • Crevice Tool.  I have every intention to use this… I did notice it has some vents toward the top, so it won’t suction to EVERYTHING.  I hate the sound the vacuum makes when that happens.  I’m afraid it will explode.
  • Hard floor attachment.  Oh man, this is amazing.  It’s a brush-free vacuum head with a washable, “Swiffer Duster”-like cloth that attaches behind it.  What the vacuum doesn’t suck up, the cloth catches.  Simply wonderful.  You actually detach the regular carpet vacuum head and attach the hard floor head to the wand.  Blew my mind. has some other attachments (hello vacuum-under-appliances tool!), but we’re good with these for the moment.  
The “Lift-Away” part happens when you lift the canister and motor off, so you can just carry that where you need to go.  If you need to get something up by the ceiling, you can lift it right up there.  My biggest beef (should I say tofu since I’m vegetarian?) with my old vacuums was that the wand was a nightmare to get more than two feet from the vacuum.  I’m glad to say it is no longer an issue.  I think I’ll vacuum tonight!
P.S. Zach just vacuumed with the old vacuum last Tuesday, and I picked up so much just 5 days later with Shark!  The dirt and dust reached the fill line.  I’m so glad we got this before Turner’s crawling days!

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

I Work Out

I *will* work out.  You are in for a treat:  a post about working out from someone that doesn’t do it!  This is really Zach's territory (he works out at least 5 days a week), but I figure most of us are beginners, not seasoned vets. 

Next month marks the beginning of training for the Peoria Steamboat Classic.  I have tried running a few times, but to no avail.  I’ll do it maybe two or three days.  Last year, Mama and her friend Kathy did the 4 mile race together, and I saw how good they felt crossing that finish line (and how quickly Mama’s legs slimmed down).  That day I decided I would do it the following year with my (still in the oven at the time) daughter.  I even got a fancy jogging stroller.  Zach and I blew our Christmas budget getting my running shoes (holla Running Central!).  I’ll feel really silly if this running thing doesn’t work out.

This will change our budget.  Registration is $80.00 (!), and I still need some things.  I have little ears, so headphones that actually stay in are a must.  I’m thinking these.  Any ones I find, I’ll have to see in real life before purchase.  Be thankful, normal-sized-ear people!  I also need contacts.  I only go to the eye doctor so I can get more contacts.  This past visit, I also got glasses to save some money on contacts (I’ve worn contacts almost exclusively since 7th grade).  Not wearing them every day stretches out their life a little longer, so I don’t have to purchase them so often.    Those suckers are expensive!  I’ve been wearing my glasses ever day for the past 4 months, and I’m done.  I am a contacts girl.  It’s time to get back to it. 

Alright, so I need headphones and contacts.  Not bad, right?  What do you need to prepare to start a workout routine?  Do you need the new gear to amp you up?

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Show It, Don’t Spend It

Ah, love is in the air.  I think Valentine’s Day is dreaded and loved by an equal number of people.  A very clever friend (shout out Lisa G!) always called it “Singles’ Awareness Day” because no other day makes you more aware that you’re single.  It seems mean to make such a big deal out of something so many people are excluded from.  I spent a majority of my V Days with my mama as my Valentine.  Since I have a husband now (who absolutely loves Valentine’s Day), it’s time to celebrate! (Well, it’s time to celebrate him.)

I wanted to do something special for Zach this year, since I haven’t celebrated in the past.  I’ve been anti-Valentine’s for so long, it seems hypocritical to suddenly be all about it.  I know he would want nothing more than to shower me with gifts and candy, but that isn’t in the budget (story of our lives).  We aren’t able to be together on the actual day (dang sectional wrestling tournament), but we will be Saturday evening and Sunday.  Sunday lunch is DATE TIME!!!  We’re actually going out to eat*!  I can hardly wait!!!   I’ve decided that Saturday is Pamper Zach Day.  I’m going to clean the whole house (or as much as Tutu will allow me to do), do the laundry (usually a Zach job), and decorate for my Valentine!  I had some down time, and I cut some hearts out of red, pink, and purple paper.  I was going to leave them unadorned and scatter them through the house.  Then I thought they needed something extra.  I didn’t have access to many crafty supplies, so writing was the winner.  Each heart says “I love you” in a different language.  I knew the three languages I had to use were Korean (Zach is ¼ Korean), German (that pretty much makes up the rest), and French (he took French through most of school).  I had some fun with the others.  Russian came to mind because of the Olympics.  I did Spanish, Italian, and Latin just to round out the romance languages.  I also did a Farsi heart (shout out Sadaf), and it was definitely the most tricky of the bunch.  

I’m also toying with the idea of giving him a “spa-like” experience by having a nice, hot bath drawn for him when he gets home.  He’s not a wine drinker, so maybe I’ll pour him a glass of beer to sip while he soaks.  He’s been working really hard lately (lots of early mornings and late nights with school and wrestling), so I think a relaxation day might just do the trick.  Oh!  And I don’t have to buy any candles, because we bought 100 tea lights when our power was out a few months ago.  Winwin!

What are you doing/did you do for your lover boy/girl?  Did you break the bank this year?

*We’ve been saving up our once a month restaurant trip for Valentine’s Day.  It’s nice that it falls right in the middle of the month!

Thursday, February 13, 2014

All in the Name of Research

Let me just push my glasses up on my nose here… Alright.  
A couple months back, the vacuum crapped out on Zach and me.  I’m not even sure what brand it is.  All I know is after two and a half years it’s dunzo.  Luckily, Tutu is not mobile just yet, but that day is approaching quickly.  We decided to use part of our tax return to buy a new one.  Zach set a limit of $200.  It’s a good thing I have him around, because I was all set to blow a huge chunk of money on a Dyson.  I wanted to find concrete evidence (via customer reviews) that a Dyson was not the best.  So, to the Google I went.  I found a website that ranked the best vacuums of 2013 (the models that are currently out), and Dyson was not top dog!  I couldn’t believe it.  
Shark is now top…fish?  My mama got a Shark Rocket (it is a stick vacuum with a small canister at the top) and loves it.  I’m not sure it would suit our needs, though.  1) She is much better about regularly vacuuming than Zach and me, and 2) she has mostly hardwood to vacuum.  Our house has three rooms on the main floor and an entire second floor with new carpet.  New carpet=lots ‘o fuzzies.  I’m afraid I would be emptying that little canister after each room.  No bueno.  I’m already reluctant to clean, so I don’t need extra obstacles.  On Amazon, you can sort your search results by highest average customer rating, and Shark Navigator Lift-Away Professional Upright was number one.  This matched the results of the website I saw before.  Oh, and did I mention it is only $199?!  Winner!

Since I decided the Shark and I could be very happy together, it was time to comparison shop.  I looked at Amazon (since I was already there), Target (some great sales on vacuums right now!), Bed Bath & Beyond (since they almost always have a 20% off coupon), and Walmart (I don’t like to shop there unless I have to, but I do make exceptions).  It pains me to say it, but Walmart had the lowest price.  They have it listed for $178, and it’s in stock at my local store.  They had an interesting offer as well.  If you got the Shark, you could choose a hand-vac or steam mop for just $30 more.  Guess which girl’s mama needs a steam mop!  This one’s mama!  That steam mop is usually $60.  So, even though a BB&B coupon would make it $160ish there, the $30 steam mop is too good of a deal.  
I promise to report back once we’ve used the new bad boy a few times.  I’m hoping to be so excited that I can’t help but write a post all about it! Keep your fingers crossed!
Duh na…..duh na….. duh na duh na DUHNADUHNADUHNA!!!! (Jaws theme…)

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Tapping Your Talents

A good friend of mine (shout-out to Liz!) is getting married in a few short months.  Weddings are an insane time of gift giving.  I love giving presents as much as the next girl, but a shower gift and a wedding gift?  Not in our budget this year.  Liz was asking me about shower ideas when it dawned on me:  I have to get her a shower gift, too!  I’ve had her wedding gift in mind for awhile (no worries, I’ll do a post about it after the wedding), but I had no clue what else I could give her on our budget.  She is definitely one that likes personal, handmade gifts.  I would much rather go out and buy a gift, and if gift wrapping is included I’m game! 

The last time I had to do something big on a budget was our wedding.  Luckily, Zach and I have A LOT of super talented, artistic friends.  We tapped them out for as much as we could.  Photographer friend: check.  Bossy friend to deal with vendors and do hair: check.  Pastor friend: check.  We managed to have a beautiful wedding and reception for 100 people on about $5,000.  Well, this girl over here isn’t without some talent!  I have my cosmetology license, so I could have offered to do her wedding hair as her wedding gift, but I wanted her to have something tangible (post in June!).  So, I thought and thought about what to give her as a shower gift that would cost time and work, not money.  She has always complimented my handwriting, so I offered to hand address all her invites.  Having a professional address them would cost about $1.50 per envelope (or so I found when I Googled it)!  She is estimating 88 envelopes, so $132!  I know I’m not a professional, but my grandma thought I hired someone to do mine.  Yeah right.  Those bad boys were addressed at my parents’ dining room table by yours truly.  Addressing invitations is also one more thing to check off her To Do list.  Right now, that is the one thing she wants the most!

So, evaluate your talents.  Play an instrument?  Offer to play while guests are arriving to the ceremony or even during the ceremony!  (Please only do this if you’re really, really good and play a pretty sounding instrument.  It’s hard to turn someone down, and no one wants to walk down the aisle to Canon on the trumpet.)  Planning a big event?  Ask your friends to help!  A lot of people underestimate their talent and wouldn’t think to offer it.  You might have a cousin that’s really good at hair, or a brother that is just starting out in photography.  Use ‘em and abuse ‘em.  Well, don’t abuse them, and only use them if they’re truly willing.