Friday, December 17, 2010

Green Tip

Laptops use 50% less energy than desktops. Yet another excuse to work from bed. Want to be even greener? You can avoid unused energy by unplugging your laptop when not in use.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Travel Estimator

Living over 1,300 miles from home automatically necessitates that I become a frequent traveler. Between all of the different aspects associated with cross-country travel, from packing to making sure flights are on time to getting to the airport, it's bound to be a stressful process. Lately I've been mentioning my desire to win the lottery so that I can fly private, eliminating most of these headaches. Traveling privately would be my only big change in lifestyle after winning the lottery. Can you imagine how amazing it would be to show up at your closest airport, no matter how small, ten minutes before you want to take off, travel with as many bags as you need, not have to go through any security lines and have exclusive use of all of the commodities offered by a luxury private jet?

Alas, I've won no such lottery and will have to stick to my normal flying routines -until I hit it big of course. Lately I've been trying to see how stress free I can make my travels based on what I can control. Right now I'm trying to put together a suitcase of clothes and personal items that I can leave at my mom's house, allowing me to travel with only a large carry on purse. I've always envied the women that travel so light, now I plan on becoming one of them.

Recently, I've discovered the website TravelMath is able to calculate almost any travel question. It'll tell you travel distance, times, and prices, local time zones, latitudes and longitudes and their corresponding locations, and hotels near your destination. For those of you eco-conscious travelers, you can even find out which type of travel will emit the least amount of carbon into the atmosphere!

Whether you're someone who loves to travel or just has to, you will find TravelMath to be a useful tool for exhausting all of your search possibilities.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

My Hopes For Our New Chest Freezer

The hubby and I just took advantage of a sale on chest freezers at our nearby Home Depot. I've been telling him for months that the limited space provided by our current fridge really hinders us from saving money. The added incentive of this recent sale helped me push him over the edge.

With increase freezer space comes so many opportunities for saving money:
  • Frozen pizzas will cut our take out bills in half, from $15-$18 for delivery to $3-5 for frozen. Plus, no need to agonize over the 45 minute wait.
  • Finally, I can take advantage of "Smart One's" 5 for $10 sales.
  • We go through one loaf of bread a month. Halfway through it goes bad, and quicker if it's organic. Now we'll always have bread on hand.
  • Leftover soups and meals can be enjoyed months later. Who doesn't get sick of having lasagna five nights in a row just to avoid it spoiling. Now we can enjoy it one night and not even have to think about it for weeks.
  • Our homemade ice cream machine requires placing the interior of the machine in the freezer for at least six hours prior to using it. If it wasn't the size of a one gallon tub I might be able to fit it in our regular freezer. Now I can male home made ice cream at any time, which probably will be like three times a year...but that's not the point.
  • Eventually, when the time is right, I have an ambitious plan of making all of our children's baby food. And again, not even a baby wants to eat the same mushed sweet potatoes for five nights in a row. With this freezer I'll be able to make a large quantity of sweet potatoes, bananas, zucchini, etc. and freeze them in little ice cube trays for meal-sized portions. Here's the breakdown of savings when making your own baby food, (thanks to
Oh the possibilities are endless, hopefully.

Monday, December 6, 2010

2nd Annual Christmas Tree Decorating Party

Traditions are a huge part of my family, many that stem from religious holidays.

Every year since I can remember my family has decorated a real Christmas tree. Always getting the largest one that the room will allow. With a vaulted ceiling we had a few 15 footers! At least, as my six year old self can recall. But I can verify those numbers for you because of another great tradition my Dad started. Each year he had the tree salesman cut off and save the stump. This was not only for the more obvious purpose of allowing for better water intake. On these stumps he would write the date, height and width of the tree, and who was in attendance. Beginning with just my parents and, as the years go on, the additions of my sister, myself, and my brother were made. A unique scrapbook of sorts.

My husband and I now have three stumps of our own and I can't wait to begin adding the names of our children when applicable. For now, we choose to invite our friends over to help us decorate. Being in Cleveland, his hometown, most of our friends happen to be Jewish.

While it has been a struggle so far, and I know it will unfortunately be a struggle forever, it is very important for me to celebrate all of the holidays. So my strategy is to embrace Christmas and Hanukkah in our household. It is my hope that doing so will open the doors for acceptance from his Jewish family and friends. If they see that I openly celebrate their holidays with as much excitement as my own, they may just be okay with the fact that I require a Christmas tree as part of my holiday celebrations. However, I know I'll need to hold my ground to avoid a "give them an inch they take a mile" situation. In the past I've noticed that asserting my interest in the Jewish faith has implied to them a lack of interest in my own. Which is absolutely not the case.

And so explains our 2nd Annual Christmas Tree Decorating Party. We first decided to invite friends after a few of our Jewish friends with "Tree Envy" pretty much invited themselves. I purchased a bunch of inexpensive ornaments from Target as well as a few personal/decorative ones. Each year I plan on adding a few more so we'll eventually have a collection as unique as my parent's. And every year a few guests inevitably bring their own as presents. And while they are often Jewish themed or holiday neutral (stuffed dradel, silver ornament with blue Stars of David, snowmen, snowflakes, and my personal fave, a Chinese fortune cookie for all those Jews who go out for Chinese on Christmas), it is my firm belief that however involved and accepting they'll be, I'll take it. If they can't bring themselves to say Merry Christmas, but participate enthusiastically in the decorating, I get their intentions.

We began the night with a perfectly fitting lighting of the Menorah, since it was the fourth night of Hanukkah, and ended with some raucous Rock Band. In between we filled the night with tree decorating, it almost fell twice!, and tons of eating. All in all a great night and a step in the right direction.

Breck even made an appearance as Santa Clause!

Friday, December 3, 2010

Comfort Is Key

Photo courtesy of Angelina.
If you learn one thing about me, it’s that comfort is key. I’m probably the only person who thinks jeans are just about the most uncomfortable thing on the planet. Fashionable fitness clothing is my preferred everyday gear. My husband hates that I wear my “yoga pants” everywhere, not just for lounging around or working out. But I don't care. Although I don’t always use it for the original purpose of working out, I feel that, just by wearing them, I am more likely to get a little spontaneous exercise in. Wishful thinking probably, but the fact that they show off your figure is incentive enough to try and eat healthy and stay fit. It's an added bonus that they're cute.

Photo courtesy of Angelina.
My problem now is that, not only does the hubby think all I wear are these pants, but that I have the same five pants in an ongoing rotation. More importantly, he’s right. So lately I’ve been trying to find new gear, still in the fitness realm, but this time I'm looking for more upscale clothing. Something that will look a little more acceptable when, not if, it’s worn out of the house. I’ve recently come across this great website,, featuring exactly what I’ve been searching for. While it’s not at the same price point as my original sportswear, my search inevitably will require a larger investment. I think it’s worth it for high-quality pieces that I can both lounge around the house and run around the city in.

Started by avid sports and fashion enthusiasts Angelina and Sharon Pacaldo, Angelina, is based in San Francisco and offers sportswear ranging from tanks and sports bras to shorts and pants. For your girlier side you'll find necklaces, dresses and sandals! Frugal shoppers should check out their sale section and $5.95 shipping.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Green Tip

Here's a quick green tip that anyone can do...
Because 90% of the energy used when washing clothes goes towards heating the water, using a colder setting will save you a good chunk of energy and money over the course of a year. For example, the Warm-Cold water setting will use 80-85% less energy than the Hot-Cold water setting. Easy enough. Better yet, go with Cold-Cold and pocket up to $250 a year in savings!