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Frugality = sharing Chase Bank codes

Lately I have been on this frugality kick. I’ve gotten into reading Mr. Money Mustache and have been trying to declutter and reduce my overall spending. Additionally, I have been trying to increase my money intake and I hope to help you do the same.

An easy way I’ve made a few bucks is by opening up checking or savings accounts with new banks. One of those banks was Chase. Their bonuses are large and getting them is easy. Since I already have an account, these codes are free for you to use. However, it’s first come, first served, so snatch them up quickly. Please remember to comment if you used a particular code, so someone else doesn’t waste their time.

Happy money making!

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$300 bonus after you open a Chase Total Checking account and set up direct deposit.

$200 bonus after you open a Chase Savings account, deposit $15,000 or more within 10 business days and maintain that balance for 90 days.

Coupon code: XK47222242R2PDL6

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$300 bonus after you open a Chase Total Checking account and set up direct deposit.

$200 bonus after you open a Chase Savings account, deposit $15,000 or more within 10 business days and maintain that balance for 90 days.

Coupon code: WY632924E6D7D3YY

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$300 bonus after you open a Chase Total Checking account and set up direct deposit.

$200 bonus after you open a Chase Savings account, deposit $15,000 or more within 10 business days and maintain that balance for 90 days.

Coupon code: NJ69427242HMZ6VN

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$250 bonus after you open a Chase Total Checking account and set up direct deposit.

$150 bonus after you open a Chase Savings account, deposit $15,000 or more within 10 business days and maintain that balance for 90 days.

If you do both those offers, they will give you an extra $100.

Coupon code KV92722242HN4UDR

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$300 bonus after you open a Chase Total Checking account and set up direct deposit.

$200 bonus after you open a Chase Savings account, deposit $15,000 or more within 10 business days and maintain that balance for 90 days.

Coupon code:HA792226496CW9VM EXP 11/21/16

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$300 bonus after you open a Chase Total Checking account and set up direct deposit.

$200 bonus after you open a Chase Savings account, deposit $15,000 or more within 10 business days and maintain that balance for 90 days.

Coupon code: MC32299242C6TN6A EXP 12/15/16

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$300 bonus after you open a Chase Total Checking account and set up direct deposit.

$200 bonus after you open a Chase Savings account, deposit $15,000 or more within 10 business days and maintain that balance for 90 days.

Coupon code: UJ79243673XGT9WC EXP 2/6/17

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$300 bonus after you open a Chase Total Checking account and set up direct deposit.

$200 bonus after you open a Chase Savings account, deposit $15,000 or more within 10 business days and maintain that balance for 90 days.

Coupon code: uj79243673xgv9d2 EXP 2/6/17

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$300 bonus after you open a Chase Total Checking account and set up direct deposit.

$200 bonus after you open a Chase Savings account, deposit $15,000 or more within 10 business days and maintain that balance for 90 days.

Coupon code: ZG2224246KKA4FWJ EXP 1/12/17

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$300 bonus after you open a Chase Total Checking account and set up direct deposit.

$200 bonus after you open a Chase Savings account, deposit $15,000 or more within 10 business days and maintain that balance for 90 days.

Coupon code: ZG2224246KKA4QWY  EXP 1/12/17

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$300 bonus after you open a Chase Total Checking account and set up direct deposit.

$200 bonus after you open a Chase Savings account, deposit $15,000 or more within 10 business days and maintain that balance for 90 days.

Coupon code: KQ272294AEJ6WD3F EXP 3/4/17

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$300 bonus after you open a Chase Total Checking account and set up direct deposit.

$200 bonus after you open a Chase Savings account, deposit $15,000 or more within 10 business days and maintain that balance for 90 days.

Coupon code: KQ272294AEJ6V97P   EXP 3/4/17

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$300 bonus after you open a Chase Total Checking account and set up direct deposit.

$200 bonus after you open a Chase Savings account, deposit $15,000 or more within 10 business days and maintain that balance for 90 days.

Coupon code: QD92236633RAY3AX   EXP 3/27/17

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Why Stitch Fix is a waste of money.

I heard about Stitch Fix from a coworker after I complimented her on how coordinated her outfit was. She told me how all the clothes and accessories were personally picked out for her by the website Stitchfix.com

I read the so-so reviews, but I decided to sign up anyway to find out if this could work for me as well as I need a little more coordination in my life. I took the time to fill out the questionnaire to the best of my ability, gave them my credit card info and waited for my package to arrive.

Sadly, this is what I got:

stitch1 stitch

I had asked for simple to wear outfits to work – nothing see through or that needed to be layered, easy to put on, so no back zippers. I also wanted to keep prices low on all the items. They sent no items that matched this.

Everything was of cheap quality – yet too expensive for what they were charging. You could get better quality items at H&M or Forever 21 for less money.

The only item that may have worked was the cardigan but it had a diagonal zipper and it was just asking to get snagged on everything.

Stitch Fix claims to get better at picking your outfits every month by listening to the feedback you give them. However, you have to pay $20 per month just to give them that feedback. Since they didn’t listen to my requests the first time around, there was no way I was giving them a second chance.

Stitch Fix – only good if you like gambling…..and losing.

19 Struggles Of Having An Outgoing Personality But Actually Being Introverted

19 Struggles Of Having An Outgoing Personality But Actually Being Introverted.

 

I feel like the person who wrote the blog above went into my head and took the words out – obviously more eloquently than I could have done. So many of the points he lists apply to me. I had an ex who just didn’t get it……. why could I be so outgoing at times, but so shy at others? Thankfully I realized it was his issue and not mine 🙂

Thanks to the author for reading my mind and doing the work of writing a blog about it for me 🙂

Not another canker sore!!!!!!!!

To all the people out there including my hygienist who claim that canker sores are caused by a virus….. I don’t believe you!  There are many conflicting reports on the Internet debating on what causes canker sores. Well, I know what causes them for me. .  Tomato sauce and other acidic foods when eaten in high quantities. If I brush my teeth too hard or slip and scratch my gums when I bite into something, that causes one as well.

Once you know your canker sore triggers, you can start working on ways to prevent them. If prevention fails and you get that very painful ulcer, you may want to try swishing tea tree oil around in your mouth. I have found this actually does help speed up the healing process. There is also a special mouth sore mouthwash by Colgate called Peroxyl – Mouth Sore Rinse. It’s active ingredient is hydrogen peroxide, but it tastes better than swishing straight up hydrogen peroxide – yuck!

Things that cover the sore like Colgate’s Orabase (it’s a gritty paste) are useful for overnight healing. It only really helps when you are sleeping. Otherwise, your saliva quickly washes away the product. I’ve also tried Canker-X by G-U-M which is a gel, but I find it doesn’t last as long as Orabase. When using these types of products, be sure to dry the area first with a clean cloth soi the product can adhere better.

Overall, time is what will heal this suckers but it sure would be nice to avoid them in the first place!

canker sore

Confessions from a former stalker

Have you ever found someone from your past on the Internet? Or, have they ever just randomly popped back into your life? Is it ever a good experience?

For me, there is maybe one person that I’ve reconnected with over the years (thanks, Facebook!) that I feel is a good addition to my life. Mostly, if I read someone’s profile or hear about them through the grapevine, my reaction is not a good one. Lots of times people don’t turn out to be the people that you thought they would be.

When looking up (or stalking) an ex, what do you want to find? Even if you are just curious about a person and don’t want to be with them, the outcome is rarely ideal. If they are with someone new and that person seems great, you wonder how a loser snagged a winner. If they are alone and you wanted them to truly have a nice life, then you feel bad.

If you reunite with someone who wasn’t very nice to you in school and find out that they live a perfect life, are you the bigger person and feel happy for them? Or, are you frustrated at the lack of karma in life? If you are unhappy that they are living a great life, do you then feel upset with yourself that you aren’t the bigger person?

See! There is just no way for you to be happy by stalking people. So stop! Right now! Okay, I’m kidding; go ahead and Google that ex. At the very least you can be happy that you don’t have to deal with any of his/her crap anymore 🙂

ex coffee

What’s your excuse for not donating blood?

blood faqAre you a relatively healthy person who is not completely self absorbed?  Would you like to have your life saved if you were in an accident or developed a terrible disease?  Yes?  Then why aren’t you donating blood on a regular basis? It’s easy and free to do and the life you save may be your own. Do you not like needles? Seriously? Get over it. If you can’t tolerate a small prick in your arm then you should just hang your head in shame.

 

 

blood does it takeBlood donation centers have become high tech. Many of them have individual televisions for your viewing pleasure. Their new equipment also speeds up the donation process dramatically, so it only takes a few minutes of your time.

Did you know that platelet donation is also an option? You can donate platelets every few days, and because the process takes a bit longer than regular blood donation, platelet donation is in high demand.

Check to see if there is a donation center near your office and make an appointment for your lunch break.  Or how about visiting a center on the way home from work?  Is there traffic? What about detouring to a Center. You’d be sitting in traffic anyway so you won’t even be losing any time!

Donating blood is an easy and free way to help another person and make you feel good about yourself. Well…..what are you waiting for? Get up and go!

Donating-Blood-Requirements

Contact Cement and Fake Nails – not friends!

This past weekend I thought I had a great idea – use contact cement to glue on my fake nails. I thought it would speed up the process and last forever! It wouldn’t loosen in water and would stay until my natural nail grew out. WRONG!!!

Contact cement is great for many things – it attached the plank to the platform in my turtle’s tank and has lasted through him climbing on it over and over and it remains submerged in water all the time after all. This is why I had high hopes for it to secure my nails.

I applied the CC to each nail on my left hand with a small watercolor paintbrush. I also applied the CC to the back of each fake nail This was all easy and quick. I waited 5-10 minutes for the CC to dry then stuck on each nail – pausing on each to press the nail to finger for a bit.

I then applied the fake nails to my real nails on my right hand using my regular method of filing the nail, applying nail glue to both finger nail and fake nail then pressing and holding each together one at a time.

By the next morning, the nails on my left hand were loose and one completely fell off. This showed me that my contact cement experiment was a complete failure. I shoved some nail glue around the edges of the nails and hoped for the best.

You can also see that contact cement causes a yellow hue to show through the nails (right side of the page). This is not cute at all and may make others think you have a fungus issue.  Nails

Bottom line: Contact cement is not the genius solution I was hoping for. 😦

I will say the one positive is that when the nails do come off, the cement is easily removed by simply rubbing your finger on it so that it balls up and pulls right off. This removal leaves no damage to your natural nail. So perhaps if you are looking for nails to last only a couple of hours, contact cement is the way to go.

 

NY Pet Fashion Show

A few weeks ago I had the opportunity to help out backstage at the New York Pet Fashion show . If you have never heard of this event, you should check it out. It sounds a bit crazy, but it is all good fun and this year its proceeds went to the Mayor’s Alliance for NYC’s Animals which is a NY-based charity that helps out over 150 non-profit shelters and rescue groups around the city.

Backstage at the Pennsylvania hotel was a show in itself. My main tasks were to help dress the dogs and keep their handlers in line – literally in a line 🙂  The dog were very well-behaved; the people, eh, not so much. The clothes were amazing – long flowing gowns, tiaras and crowns and LED lights galore! The detailed work that went into these pieces of art was truly amazing. I was in awe of these creations – heck, I can’t even sew Eli’s tuxedo so it will fit him properly!

I was so busy that I didn’t get to take many pictures, but here are a few. If amazing gowns on dogs are your thing, please Google the show. There are so many great pictures and articles out there about it that I can’t possibly link to them all! Also, please consider donating to the Mayor’s Alliance for NYC’s Animals to help save the lives of many animals across the city and afar.

 

Even the flowers were dogs!

Even the flowers were dogs!

Press was everywhere!

Press was everywhere!

Bling bling!

Bling bling!

So sweet!

So sweet!

Hand painted dress by Ada Nieves

Hand painted dress by Ada Nieves

How Verizon scammed me yet again

Now perhaps I don’t pay as much attention to my cell phone bill as I should, but I feel taken advantage of and you might too. However, maybe this isn’t so much about getting scammed by Verizon but NY State and its high taxes.

Several years ago I moved from NY to NJ and transferred my Verizon family cell phone plan to my new NJ address. What I didn’t realize was that I was supposed to transfer each line on my plan to that address as well in order to pay the appropriate taxes (not that I realized that I was paying state specific taxes to begin with!). Because I didn’t make that change until I read this siteNY has gotten way more of my money than it should have.

Now a few dollars a month doesn’t seem like it should be that big of a deal, but when you add it up over time, those dollars morph into an amount that could have been spent on a nice vacation or to even make a mortgage payment! I guess this isn’t a scam as much as a “It would have been nice if Verizon would have suggested making the address change for all lines.” or “I feel Verizon isn’t doing its customers any favors.” or “Verizon dropped the ball yet again.” OR “I wish I had the time and patience to scrutinize every little thing that I do or pay, etc. and I hate when it bites me in the ass!” 🙂

So, everyone, do your homework. Make sure you are paying the correct amount on your bills. Read the fine print and tell your friends who don’t. Heck, they may even treat you to a free meal once they realize how much money you’ve saved them!

smiley face

 

Quick rant about my dentist

So earlier this week I had the issue with Cablevision calling me after I repeatedly asked them to stop. Yesterday I had the same issue with my dentist. I have only seen this dentist one time but I really liked him. I intended to continue using him for teeth services; however, I have received at least one call a month from them reminding me to schedule my next cleaning.

I have asked them to remove me from their call list at least twice. At first I didn’t have insurance, so I was unable to bother with my teeth (fortunately, I have pretty good teeth!). I told them that fact and said I would call when I got insurance. But nooooo, that wasn’t good enough for them. The at least once monthly calls started. At first I was polite and said I would call when I was ready, but now they called me again and after my Cablevision issue, that poor boy on the phone got an earful.

I feel slightly bad, but I’m really tempted to not use them as my dentist anymore. GRRRR!

Note to businesses: Don’t piss off your clients if you want to keep them.

BTW all the calls were in addition to the emails I got from them as well. Very frustrating!

Quick rant regarding Cablevision / Optimum Online

Today, I ended up going off on an undeserving customer service rep, but after 3 calls in one day, I had enough.

I recently purchased internet from Optimum – perhaps two months ago. In that 2 months, they have called me repeatedly for no reason. Mostly to ask me how my service is…..if my service wasn’t working, I would call them. Also, they like to tell me that if I plan to move they can offer me great services because of my great credit. Um, if I was moving, I would call them!

I have repeatedly asked them to not call me, to remove my number from all lists (it doesn’t show on their website under my profile). I have tweeted them, reported them to the do not call list, and yet they keep calling.

If you choose to sign up with this harassers, you may want to give them a throw away Google voice number that you can disconnect after initial install.

Volunteering…….Do it!

I love volunteering. If you’ve never done it, I recommend you try it at least once. I usually volunteer with New York Cares and Jersey Cares. Here are some details about various opportunities in the NY/NJ area.

 Jersey Cares

Paterson marketplace – You show up at this shady looking warehouse in a not-so-great neighborhood and meet some really nice people. Next you get a tour and are put to work on an assembly line putting groceries in bags for people who will be able to pick up the bags at another location later in the week. It’s an easy way to feel like you accomplished a lot because you can see all your labor pile up right in front of you.

 Pet Therapy in Morristown – This home has a lot of residents – mostly long-term. They vary from completely cognizant to unable to communicate. The times that I have been here, several dogs and their parents have also been volunteering. It is very rewarding to see someone’s face light up when they see you with your dog. My chihuahua is a good fit for a lot of the people because they can hold and cuddle with her. Big dogs are also great for people who sit in wheelchairs and can easily pet the dogs while they sit next to them. It’s harder for them to pet my 5lb-er that way. The staff here is really nice and welcoming which is also a reason to want to keep coming back.

 Pet Therapy in Hanover – This home doesn’t have that many residents. The first time I went, I visited with a few short-term rehab patients. The last time I went, the home seemed to have more long-term residents with larger problems. It was a little discouraging to not know what I was walking into when I met a patient – however, they do have a staff member that will travel with you if you would like. Sometimes the patients and I were unable to communicate and I couldn’t tell if they wanted to see my dog or not. However, knowing that I tried and possibly brightened their day was reason for me to keep going. There were also residents of all ages that were completely cognizant and were able to have meaningful conversations with me. Knowing that I will always be able to make at least one person happy makes the visit worthwhile. On my last visit I also brought my youngest cat with me. The patients really got a kick out of seeing how Mimi and Milo love each other.

 Jersey Cares Day – My sister and I volunteered for the Martin Luther King day of service 2013. We felt like we didn’t accomplish much; we each painted just one pole in the auditorium. The day is only for a few hours in the morning. Nothing much can get done in such a short amount of time. I feel the day could be used better. People are willing to volunteer; they just need direction.

 

New York Cares

New York Cares Day Fall – I really like to attend these events…..but I also see how they can be managed better. For example, during the Fall 2012 event, I met some really nice people; however, the day was very wasteful. Most of the projects were  painting murals on walls of elementary school, which is great; however, the leaders put way too many people on one mural. This leads to people knocking into each other, waiting for other people to move out of the way, etc. If people were spread out more, the tasks would get completed in a more timely manner and more tasks would get completed in general. There seems to be a lack of organization. This isn’t to say that the days are not great and useful, but it is disappointing to know that day could be so much better.

New York Cares Day Spring – This year I was Site Captain for the day and I saw a lot of the background preparation for it. Unfortunately, that’s where most of the problems lie. My location was Cunningham Park in Queens, which is one of the largest (if not the largest) volunteer sites they have. At one point, I had 215 volunteers signed up for just that one day. Again, I ran into the issue of NY Cares’ lack of organization. When running a group this large, organization and preparation is key. In the week coming up to the event, I kept trying to plan and keep my team leaders informed but was unable to do so because NY Cares kept throwing curveballs at me – extra teams, not enough supplies, etc. Fortunately, my Park Supervisor was very experienced and knew what to expect. He and his team really saved the day. We all had to improvise and come up with quick solutions to keep all the volunteers happy and active. Being uninformed reflected badly on me when it was the lack of organization and follow-through on their part that made the day not flow as well as it should have. Overall, it was a good and productive day but NY Cares really needs to get their act together if they ever want me to even think about running a day like this again (or to recommend the job to someone else).

 Gala Gear: Prom Dresses for Underprivileged GirlsGala Gear is a company that was started by a couple of regular people and has quickly expanded over the past few years into a great organization. I highly recommend them to either donate your gently used or new dresses or your time/money. The session I volunteered at was very organized with sections for dresses/accessories/shoes/makeup and check out like a real store. Volunteers’ tasks were to help the girls find dresses, be excited, straighten up and keep the girls moving to the different areas. Almost all the girls in my session found a dress and seemed really appreciative of the gifts they were given. Last year I donated bridesmaid dresses to Princess Chambers in Brooklyn which is a similar prom dress donation organization so if Gala Gear is not in a convenient location for you, please search for another organization to donate your dresses and accessories.

 Library Book Reshelving – Overall good project – especially if you don’t really want to interact with others. You feel really productive getting all the books back in their correct spot and it’s a quiet (obviously!) environment where you can just do your thing and move on.

Basically, just get out and volunteer. If not with one of these organizations, then with another place that needs your help. It really will make you feel good and help others in the process. I swear I get more out of volunteering than what I give. AND your mileage is tax deductible 🙂

We make a living by what we get, we make a life by what we give – Winston Churchill

FEMA Town Hall after Hurricane Sandy

So there was this weather event that happened late last year. You may have heard about it – Hurricane Sandy……..well, by the time it got to New York, it was reclassified as Superstorm Sandy (SSS) but to-MAY-to / to-MAH-to right! There were many towns in my area of New York and New Jersey that got hit pretty bad due to the water surges. My parents’ house is in the disaster zone, but fortunately, was not hit as hard as many others – meaning their entire first floor was ruined and there are now sinkholes on the property, but they were fortunate enough to not have a basement and are raised slightly above street-level.

While the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) did not handle SSS perfectly, by any means, they certainly did help out a lot of people. What really bugs me is that a lot of people seem to expect FEMA to completely bail them out of this mess. FEMA is there for emergencies, not to cover your ass when you didn’t plan for future emergencies as you should have when you decided to take on the responsibility of being a homeowner. I understand from others that the current Flood Insurance Program (FIP) has not done right by anyone. Homeowners are waiting for payouts and are angry that FEMA handed out money to those who did not previously purchase insurance. However, I see these two things as separate issues. FEMA, the agency that is there for us in emergencies, is one issue and the Flood Insurance Program, the agency that insures homeowners against flood damage, is another issue.

On April 11th, 2013 FEMA held a Town Hall meeting at PS 146 in Howard Beach to discuss the new flood insurance zones and regulations. Unfortunately, the forum became a shitshow five minutes after it started. Between the latecomers banging chairs and climbing over people, phones ringing and then the crowd talking amongst themselves, you couldn’t hear a word FEMA was saying. However, that didn’t stop a select few from trying to rustle up the crowd into a riot. There were several people who kept asking questions without actually hearing the answer. There were also people who asked questions about things that had already been spoken about by FEMA and of course, they instead created their own scenarios in their head. These people are the ones who are loud and insist they are right and because they are louder than others, they are the ones who get attention. After 30 minutes or so, I had to walk out along with lots of other people.

Unluckily for me, I seem to have missed a great show. I was told that a guy named “Connolly” from Broad Channel started calling out about the government conspiracy to force Howard Beach and southern Queens residents to sell their homes to the government so that the state could build condos in their place, thus generating revenue for the city. I found this to be highly unbelievable, but I was intrigued. I turned to one of my closest friends, Google; however, as magnificent as the G-man is, he was unable to show me any information on this conspiracy. What I did find was the Broad Channel Civic Association (BCCA). I thought to myself, “Surely, they must know about this!”.

BCCA has a Facebook page; they have it set up as a person though and not as an organization which I found odd, but I friended them anyway. Right away the chatter about the FEMA Town Hall began. I joined in the chat even though I disagreed with a lot of the beliefs on the page. After several minutes, the moderator blocked me from commenting on the timeline. I guess they are a closed-minded group. As Broad Channel has a reputation for being racist and self-serving, I was disappointed to know that their civic association would not even allow someone to speak on their measly little timeline.This does not help to improve their reputation. You can read the post for yourself here and decide if I should have been blocked.

Anyway, the point of all of this is that we all have to let our anger and resentment go. We need to help each other out – and help ourselves as well. Stop expecting the government or other people to bail us out of situations. Yelling and berating people is not the answer. It only makes you, and us as a group, look like idiots so stop, please! Listen to facts and only facts; then make an informed decision based on what you have learned. Don’t punish spokespeople for doing their jobs. If you want things changed in life, then go about it in the right way. Contact your local politician for starters and see what you can do. Inciting riots is not the answer.
Hopefully, there will never be another disaster but if there is, I hope we all, including the government, have learned from this experience.

Good ways to throw an adult party

Over the years I have been to lots of different types of parties. They have ranged from crazy beer pong keggers to very formal events with caviar-beer pongfilled hors d’oeuvres. Along the way, I feel I’ve learned a thing or two about what works and what doesn’t (for me anyway).

 

Being 35 years old, my tastes in parties has changed. The days of drinking Pabst Blue Ribbon and sitting around on a dirty floor are few and far between. Don’t get me wrong, I still enjoy the grunge, but it’s not an every weekend thing. Those parties can be great as well, but for this post I am going to discuss ways to improve your grown-up party.

 

First, if you are hosting the party, act as though it’s your party. Don’t outright ask people to bring things. I feel as grown-ups, we should know by now that it is rude to show up to a party empty-handed. A good guest will ask if there is something specific that s/he could bring that would add value to your soiree. As a guest, if you don’t want to bring a bottle of wine or something that you’ve already

valentine-flowers

spoken to the host about, flowers in a vase are usually a nice touch (unless the host is allergic!). If you bring flowers without a vase, that’s just more hassle for the host. Sometimes it’s not just the thought; sometimes your thought blows 🙂

 

A lil umbrella never hurt anyone….unless they poked their eye out

While preparing for the party, always make sure that you have enough drinks on hand – beer, wine, soda, punch, water. Hard liquor is optional – you should know your audience. A great thing to have is a specialty drink that either can be easily made with ingredients on hand or that you pre-make and have readily available for guests to enjoy. Also, I think the best thing to do with your drinks is to set up a little bar area that includes your glasses, ice, and all your liquids. If you want to add a bit of class, set up small bowls with cherries, olives and lime or lemon wedges in this area as well.

 

Next, I think appetizers are the best thing for most parties where you want people to mingle. Make sure your menu has a food theme (like Italian, Spanish, etc.) and that the apps are filling enough where people won’t be starving when they leave your home.

Don’t forget the food display matters too!

Try to make your menu flow…..If you are going to have cheese, make sure to have crackers; if you are going to have fancy apps, you might not want to also have pigs in a blanket (even though I love those piggies!).

 

Ideally your food will be able to be eaten as a grab-n-go item. Once you start having to deal with anything more than finger foods that adds another level of complication to the event. If you do choose to have food that needs utensils, pick up a package of those silver throwaway utensils from your local party store. No need to have your good silverware accidentally thrown out! On that note, make sure your paper plates are strong enough to hold the food you are serving. It would not be good if someone walks with a plate and either the juice from your food leaks through or the plate folds and all the food lands on the floor!

 

Assuming that you are throwing this party for people to network and get to know one another, a tip to keep people mingling is to set up the food

table against a wall instead of having it on a table surrounded by chairs. If you randomly set up chairs around the home, this will encourage people to keep on the move and not just to sit in front of the food all night.

 

 

 

Speaking of chairs…being in my 30s, I like to sit down for a bit every now and then. Be kind to your guests – have chairs or stools available for at least 75% of your expected guests – unless, of course, if you want your guests to not stay for very long – having nowhere to rest is a great way to keep the party small. Also, as the host, be sure you help keep the introductions and chatter flowing. As someone enters the party, introduce them to one or two people that they may have something in common with. Add a tidbit about the people you are introducing to each other so they have a way to start a conversation. Also, if you ever see anyone standing alone or if it sounds like a conversation is dying, step in and either introduce a new person to the group, pull someone away and introduce them to someone new or transition into a new topic that may be interesting to everyone involved.

 

Going back to food tips for a moment….it is a good idea to keep extra appetizers ready as back up if you see the food is disappearing fast. If you don’t want to cook or prepare a lot for your event, the warehouse stores or even Walmart or Target have large package appetizers that you can keep in your freezer to serve in a pinch.

 

funny-pictures-cat-is-in-wrapping-paper-bag1Also, it is not something that we always think about but it is a good idea to have trash cans available in at least two spaces in the home for your event. People are more likely to clean up after themselves if they have an easy way to do so.  If this doesn’t appeal to you, make sure to make a sweep of the space every once in a while to collect empty cups, plates, etc. just to keep the place looking neat. This will also save you a lot of clean-up after all the guests leave. It’s a good idea to empty the cans before they are completely full too so people don’t have to smash their garbage down or have things fall out onto the floor.

 

Eventually you will grow tired and want everyone to leave. At this point, you can start putting away most of the drinks and wrap up food for people to take him if you’d like. Giving doggie bags is a great way to hint to people that it’s time to go without looking like you are throwing anyone out. Although, do you ever find that there are guests that just don’t get the hint to leave? At this point, I think it’s time to break out your slippers and start sweeping…..hoping you can sweep them out the door too!


Let me know if you have any other tips in the comments 🙂

To have pretty nails, or not to have pretty nails……..

I bite my nails. There…I admitted it. But, would you know I bite them? Nope! And I’ll tell you why. I found the perfect solution. In the nail care section of your local drug store, there is a display of glue on nails. Now don’t be scared. These aren’t the Lee press on nails of years past. These are perfect looking French tipped nails that you can do yourself in about 20 minutes. I like the real short versions of Broadway and Kiss brands. For $7 or so, you will have two full sets of nails that you glue on yourself. For me, these look perfect for about 2 weeks – the same amount of time most people keep their acrylic tips on for before going to the salon for a fill-in.

kiss nailsbroadway nails

Using these nails allows me to not have nasty, bitten to stubs nails and while, I still tend to bite the tips, because they are so tough, you can’t tell. You also save a ton of money and time. In New York, tips or wraps cost around $40 to start, then you have to pay $20 every two weeks to get your fill-in. The whole process also takes about an hour and that’s not including travel or wait time. So overall, you save at least 40 minutes and $16 every two weeks. Now that’s a great deal!

These are also great to have in your house for a last minute date, job interview or whatever else you want pretty nails for. They also have versions for your toes but I think that’s just creepy.

 

PS …. Please don’t lecture about how gross biting nails is. I understand this and would love to stop, but it hasn’t happened yet and fortunately, I also haven’t died from all the germs that are under nail tips. 🙂

My review of some cell phone companies

funny-phone-vs-computer-keyboard-numbersMost recently, I have signed up for MetroPCS because I was previously on a family plan with Verizon and also had a Blackberry through my job.  Because I realized having two phones was a bit silly (after 4 years of doing so), I gave my Verizon phone to my mom. Upon my departure from my last job, I had to return the Blackberry and that began the process of deciding where to get a new phone.

Below are some of my experiences with phone companies.

Verizon  – Was on a grandfathered shared plan with unlimited data so adding another line wasn’t an option because any time you make a change to the plan or phones on Verizon, you get F*&*^d. While Verizon has great coverage, their corporate policies leave a lot to be desired. My complaints with them deserve their own post. The short version is that they will not stand by you after a natural disaster and will not provide good customer service – their reps are fine, it’s the corporate bastards that are the issue.

Virgin Mobile – I tried out VM for just 3.5 weeks. Fortunately, they have a great return plan. As of November 2012, the policy was that you funny-phone-missed-calls-silentcould use the phone as much as you want within your plan (mine was 300 minutes with unlimited texts and data) and you just need to return the phone within 33 days after purchase for a full refund of the phone. You still pay for the entire month of service but it’s a good way to figure out if VM is the right plan for you. Unfortunately, these are the reasons why I hated VM:

1)      They have horrible customer service. It takes forever to get someone on the phone (all while using your minutes) and then they route you from person to person to attempt to accomplish what you need. For example, one person deals with billing, the next with your plan, the next with issues, etc. etc.

2)      Call quality in my apartment right outside of New York City was pretty bad. I would miss calls and not be able to make any calls from random places all over New York and New Jersey.

3)      You can’t accomplish what you think you normally should be able to on their website.

4)      Even after you cancel the service and return the phone, they keep harassing you via email until you unsubscribe. You would think their computers could take non-customers off their “customer” emails.

A positive about VM is that they did refund the purchase price of the phone very soon after they received it back. Overall, I would not recommend VM because of the stress they caused me in just one month of membership. It may work for some people, but it certainly didn’t for me.

funny-old-mobile-phone-clipartMetroPCS: One of the strong points of MetroPCS is that they have great customer service via Twitter.  The Twitter people really do try to help. The problem is their hands are tied by corporate policies.  Recent issues I have had with them are:

1)      Most of the time when you attempt to call MPCS, you either can’t get through to a person, or it takes a long time to do so. I have figured out that if you blast them on Twitter, you can usually get them to call you within a short amount of time and they are ready to help.

2)      They have an 8 digit password/code that you have to give every time you speak to them. By default it is your full birthday but if you change it, it’s hard to remember. Seems like a silly way to verify your account.

3)      Just recently when I traveled out of the country for a few weeks, I skipped paying my bill after confirming with MPCS that this was the way to be able to put my account on hold while I was away in a place without MPCS coverage. They originally made a mess out of the situation when trying to get the account off “hold”. My sister called to reinstate and pay my account. They charged a lesser amount than should have been paid, charged a fee to change the billing date (which I knew and approved before I left) but then didn’t actually activate my service. Upon my return to the States, my phone didn’t work and I had to call them from a payphone at the airport and blast them on Twitter again in order to get the phone up and working.

4)      An additional fee was charged for paying my bill via the phone (even though it was their fault).

5)      They are unclear where they have service. For example, I was in Houston during my layover and was told that the reason my phone wasn’t working was because I was in an extended area plan and would not have service. This turned out to be a false statement.

6)      Initially, you are stuck with MPCS pop up ads on your phone. You have to disable the MyExtras app in order to get these pop ups to stop. Additionally, MPCS will spam you with their own ads via text message unless you specifically Tweet or call them to ask them to stop.

7)      Service with them is spotty and I miss calls constantly. However, I think their network is getting better so hopefully this will work itself out.

Ultimately, MPCS really did help. The Twitter people called me and did their best to make me happy. They really are nice people. They got the ads to stop and credited me an additional $15 for all my trouble.

For a non-contract provider, I think MPCS is a decent service. I don’t have experience with any other non-contract provider other than Virgin Mobile though so I can’t say if MPCS is better than Walmart’s Straight Talk or T-Mobile. For a single phone with unlimited everything, I think I will stick with MPCS for a while. Overall, they supply what I need at a decent price. Hopefully, one day I’ll get a company-paid phone again. Until then….MetroPCS, here I am.  Every-Phone-should-have-this-feature

All about ways I like to make extra money

I have some favorite ways that I make extra cash that enables me to buy the unnecessary little things I want in life without feeling guilty.

Best online survey site: www.valuedopinions.com

I get around $20 in amazon.com rewards per month with this site. They have tons of other gift cards you can redeem your bank for but my favorites are Amazon and Visa ($30). I find these surveys to be not ridiculously long, usually something halfway interesting and not too repetitive. Also, I can be honest with my stats and answers and still am able to qualify for a lot of surveys.

Best sample testing site: www.bzzagent.com

I joined this site a few years ago and cannot tell you how many great products I’ve gotten to try and review for them. You usually get full-sized samples of the products they want you to test in addition to coupons and mini samples for family and friends. The goal of this site is to try the product, tell them your honest opinion, and talk to others about your thoughts on the product – and also try to get them to try it. Right now, I am trying Garnier Skin Renew Dark Spot Peel, Lipton Spiced Cinnamon Chai Team, Café Escapes, Morningstar Farms, Redbox Video Streaming, Claritin-D and Neutrogena Norwegian Formula Hand Cream. Right now is probably the most products I’ve received at any one time but I get at least one a month. Ultimately, you help the companies by spreading news about their products and you save a bunch of money in the process. You also get points to mypoints.com which I also like………..

Mediocre voucher / money-saver: www.mypoints.com

I have a friend who swears by this site; however, I have had issues with it. You mostly gain points by clicking through their links to purchase items on other sites. My problem is that I have found that sometimes prices are higher when you click through mypoints.com. I don’t use it in that way because I feel I compare prices enough and I can’t be bothered with it. However, I like mypoints because they send you emails with ads that you click on and get 5 points per ad. It’s a quick and easy way to gain points. Also, in conjunction with bzzagent.com, you can rack up points much more quickly because all of your bzzagent activities give you points as well. I just was able to cash in 7500 points for a $50 Amazon.com voucher so overall the site definitely has its perks.

Best click through cash back site: www.shopathome.com

I try to use this site all the time for all of my online purchases (and I shop a lot!). I find the shopathome has a lot of companies listed that offer cash back when you link through shopathome. For example, for my trip to Peru, I used an online booking agent, linked through shopathome and am receiving $100 back from that purchase alone. They cut you a check every 3 months which is very nice. I even got cash back today from buying a Groupon. I mean really – getting cash back while using a discount? What could be better?! They also give 110% cash back if you show them you could get more cash from another site like ebates.com which leads me to the……

Second best click through cash site: http://www.ebates.com

Ebates comes in handy for cash back from Amazon.com which shopathome does not offer. Not all purchases on amazon are eligible but if you are going to purchase on amazon, you may as well click through ebates and hope for the best. I like to see if ebates gives more cash back before turning to shopathome.

For Focus Groups (in-person) I like www.focuspointeglobal.com, www.inspiredopinions.com and www.2020research.com

Survey Runners Up: www.mysurvey.com This site has surveys of a decent length but I don’t acquire points as quickly as on valuedopinions. I like it as an alternative though.

www.e-rewards.com I like this site to cash in about 1,000 miles to various airlines once a year. Seems like an easy way to add a tiny bit to those frequent flier miles.

If you have any suggestions for other great sites, please write them in the comments!

Rules of Car Camping

I need to start off by saying I am not a professional camper. I am merely a city girl who likes the great outdoors. I try to camp once or twice a year. These are just a few tips I think may be helpful for someone who is about to embark on their first camping adventure.

Most important thing is to make sure the tent you buy is actually waterproof. I learned this lesson the hard way while traveling cross-country with my younger sister back in 2002. Neither one of us had camped on our own before so we bought what we thought we needed – a two-person tent. Well it turns out not all tents are created equal. And two-person tent means one-person curled into a ball tent. Our heads and feet touched the sides of the tent and of course the night we camped, there was a thunderstorm. We ended up sleeping in the car! Also, always pack a tarp to put under your tent – inevitably you will place your tent on a sharp rock and will be sleeping on a puddle. On that note, remember to bring duct tape. Fixing a hole in your tent is just one of its many uses!

Next unless you have a super early bird in your group who is going to wake up early and start a big fire, don’t count on anything but cereal or fruit for breakfast. Eggs take way longer to cook than you think in the great outdoors. If you have a few hours to kill in the morning, go for it; otherwise, just stick to the easy things. Another tip about food – you might want to have one person buy all the food and split the cost so you can be sure you will have everything you need. One of the first times I camped, we split the food duties and someone forgot marshmallows. Now, since camping without marshmallows is illegal, we had to leave the campsite to drive 30 minutes to find some – not fun. That year we also chose a campground that didn’t allow alcohol; now we aren’t drunks :::cough cough::: but we also don’t want to have to hide the fact that we like to have a few beers around a campfire. Be sure to check all the rules before you book a site – alcohol, quiet hours, bathroom facilities, pets allowed, how many tents and cars allowed per site, etc. Also when booking a site, take into consideration how far you are from the bathroom. You don’t want to be the site right next to the bathroom, but you probably don’t want to be too far from it either. You also want to make sure your site isn’t the easiest pathway to the bathroom – otherwise, you will have people traipsing through your site all day and night.

Don’t worry if you aren’t an expert camper the first time you try it. The first time I ever camped was with a few coworkers of mine. We used all of their equipment so I just had to bring me! We camped for 5 days in a town called Roscoe in upstate New York. One night it rained so hard and it was so cold that I went to sleep in my car. The problem with that was that I didn’t know how to shut off my alarm and it was very sensitive, so every time I moved or bumped into something, I set the alarm off! As you could imagine, other campers were not very happy with me. I was not cut out for camping back then. I thought the bathrooms were gross so I showered in the river (the bathrooms were actually fine) and I couldn’t poop the entire time because there were always people in the bathroom! (TMI? Lol) Boy how times have changed! Now I feel like I’m a pro – at car camping anyway. As you can see from my Camping Checklist (editable Word *.doc file), I bring way too much stuff with me, but I’m always prepared. I still only camp where there are flush toilets but I can pee in the woods if need be. 🙂  I also can now walk to the bathroom in the middle of the night without company. Aww, I’m so grown up!

I love camping – the quiet, the view of the stars, sitting by the fire, s’mores, under and overcooked food, hiking a new spot, etc. It is so great to be able to get away from it all – even if sometimes I camp in spots where my cell phone doesn’t work and I get a bit antsy. 🙂

I hope to soon post reviews of the campsites I’ve stayed at over the years….stay tuned!

All About Randomness!

This page will be full of random knowledge that I have in my head that does not pertain to pets or travel. Maybe if I figure out that I know a lot about any one topic not already listed, I’ll categorize better. :)