Archive for May, 2010

This little piggy went to the bank

…and this little piggy got a 2.15%APY at smartypig.com! I don’t know about the rest of you, but it’s hard to think about savings when there are so many competing expenses in our lives. However, every time I turn around, someone is talking about stashing away 3-6 months in an emergency fund -and I keep putting it off. If you can pick up anything from my site yet (besides that fact that I was boy crazy in 1983), it’s that it has to be a good deal for me to get interested.

Smartypig.com is a free online piggybank for people saving for specific financial goals – like an emergency fund, or something more fun like a vacation or an iPad. Currently, the APY is 2.15% (for less than $50,000), which is one of the most competitive rates in the the country (it’s also FDIC insured).  I set up an account for our emegency fund in under 10 minutes and you can link it to any checking or savings account. What’s even better is that you can share your goals with friends and family members through social networking sites like Facebook, which could be really helpful if you are saving for a wedding, education, or if a child is trying to save up for a big ticket item.

Also, don’t foget to check with your local banks as they are offering some competitive incentives to get people saving. Currently USBank is offering the free S.T.A.R.T. savings plan that gifts you a $50VISA gift card Read the rest of this entry

Worst Case Scenario

I’m not the person who has canned goods, water and an emergency kit stashed in my basement in case of disaster. Nor do I have a city evacuation plan like my sister who lives outside of NYC and I’m lucky if I can find a candle or flashlight when our electricity goes out. However, I stumbled across this site called Know Your Stuff that allows you to inventory your home & belongings that makes it really easy to plan for a worst case scenario…for free!

There’s a great “Guided Tour” and info about “Taking Inventory”that I suggest you skim before you get started. Once I was ready to go, it was easy to maneuver through the site and start putting it all together. A good digital camera is pretty essential to document possessions and it was the 100th reminder that I should keep more of my receipts so I could have accurate purchasing info to include with photos.

As with most services, there is an upgrade option for $5.95 a month for unlimited online storage, Know Your Stuff Safe and Free Online Computer Backup but I found the free standard option more than met my needs. Of course you can do your own photo inventory and store it on a USB in a lockbox but I found that Know Your Stuff made sure that this typically unprepared gal didn’t miss any steps.

6/12/83

Sorry I haven’t written in so long but I’ve been so busy. The first swim meet is tomorrow and we may have a chance to win. Lately I’ve been doing well. Sometimes I even finish right behind Susie. Nancy gets so mad when I beat her. Noelle and I are getting mad at her. It’s always David, David, David. Speaking of mad, Amy and Michelle are at me. Amy thinks I said some things but I didn’t.  I’ll just have her to spend the night and we’ll work everything out. Kim said that she wanted to talk her family into joining the Club so she could see Sammy more. Well last week at Sally’s party I decided who I like? He’s going to be a 9th grader, taller than me and has a funny voice that I love…Bob Downs. I see him all the time at the Club and he’s on swim team. My big bro Billy is having girl troubles. He called last night and we talked about 20 min.

Pappa Don’t Preach!

If you’ve been stuck in the grilling and tie rut for the past few Father’s Day, here are some suggestions for this upcoming June 20th.

For the man in your life who enjoys his spirits, try these Eisch Vino Nobile Breathable Multi-Purpose Red or White Wine Glasses. A wine poured into a breathable glass for just 2 to 4 minutes will show signs of aeration equivalent to the same wine that has been decanted and aerated for 1 to 2 hours. For hard liquor, specifically bourbon or whiskey, try these fantastic whiskey stones that keep your drink cold and neat without ever getting watery.  “Have drinks with a cool story to tell” with these great recycled windshield beer or wine glasses. I’m also a huge fan of the book Barguments: a debate with no right or wrong answer that must be uncomplicated enough to discuss after three beers.

Got a sport’s enthusiast? Gift him 4 crazy golf balls that each do something ludicrous when you hit them; one blows up into a spectacular cloud of billowing white dust, one basically vanishes on impact into a watery mist, one ejects 15 feet of spiralling streaming ribbon when thwacked, and the last one simply won’t go in a straight line on the green. If he loves hoops then get him a picture frame, mirror or wall shelf all made from reclaimed gym floor decor. The cyclist? Check out this modern bike chain business card holder or if his sport is more mental, check out this LED light up chess set.

Have a funny fella in your life? Read the rest of this entry

Happy Birthday to You!

As you may have read on my previous post entitled Birthday Buddy, I’m a big fan of doing something altruistic or cause related in lieu of gifts. However, for those wonderful people in my life who insist that I give them an idea of what I’d like or some kind of wish list at Christmas time, I’ve discovered the ultimate Universal Wish List  from amazon.

Universal Wish List allows you to add products from any website to your Amazon Wish List with one simple click, making it easier than ever to keep track of all the gifts you wish for, all in one place. It’s easy! Simply add the Universal Wish List button to your browser, and start shopping. When you see something you’d like on any website, just click the Add to Universal Wish List button, and the item will appear on your Amazon Wish List.

So I can be in uncommon goods, I Want One of Those, Amazing Clubs or any one of my favorite sites and link a much loved item to my amazon account. Then, if your list is public or open to certain folks, they can know what you are diggin’ at any time. Of course this is fabulous for organizing favorites for others as well.

My Secret Garden

The Secret Garden is actually one of my favorite plays & books, but I don’t really have a secret garden. What I have are some gardening secrets and suggestions that get me through the season and make me look better than I really am.

EasyBloom is one of my favorite sites for all things garden. They have great Plant Doctor Advice but their shining star is the EasyBloom Plant Sensor Plus. As their site states, “Put the EasyBloom Plant Sensor Plus anywhere, inside or outside, where you want to grow a plant or have a plant you want advice on. The Plant Sensor will measure sunlight, temperature, water drainage and fertilizer (with subscription). Plug the EasyBloom Plant Sensor  into the USB port of your PC or Mac and from our 6,000+ plant library, they’ll recommend what plants are best for your spot and how to care for them.” It’s amazing! I’ve got flowers finally growing in areas that I thought were unsalvageable, and the best part is that you can use it again and again indoors or outdoors.

Now Amber’s Garden is supposedly geared towards helping kids in the garden, but if it makes my life easier, I’ll act like a child … no problem. Amber’s Garden sells garden mats with seeds already perfectly spaced and ready to plant. Simply lay the mat, cover with soil, water and watch them grow. Read the rest of this entry

Summer Reading

As I’m daydreaming about summer and pretending that I’ll have more time to read, I thought I’d send out some of my all time favorite books in case others are looking forward to catching up on some reading as well.

In no particular order and a little something for everyone:

* The Sparrow by Mary Doria Russell  51OxKDdApYL__SL75_ * Labor Day by Joyce Maynard     *The Miracle by Irving Wallace      *The Middle of the Night: Stories by Daniel Stolar (set largely in St. Louis)   *The Stand by Stephen King     *The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon     *Master of the Game by Sidney Sheldon                      *The Unthinkable Thoughts of Jacob Green by Joshua Braff   *Peter and the Starcatchers by Dave Barry & Ridley Pearson (kid’s book but a great read)             *The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand

Many libraries will permit you a “summer loan” on books which is great if you are doing any travelling. Also, check out my previous blog entitled A Novel Idea for great ideas on how to get books for free. Please send me some of your favorites for my summer reading as well.

5/15/83

Friday was my slumber bday party and we played Truth or Dare while the boys were there. I kissed Joe, Robbie, Doug and Jerry. I kissed Jerry 4 times. I’m in love. Robbie said he was going to ask me to go with him but he didn’t.

Categorizing Your Cuisine

Okay, I admit it. I have an insecurity about cooking that I’m slowly working through but it’s so much easier to grab one of those Groupons and head out to dinner. However,  I’ve taken a few steps recently that have helped me work through all my “saved recipes” and has actually led to a few successful meals. I wouldn’t say that I love cooking yet but I don’t hate it either. Enough to possibly publish my own cookbook? Keep reading.

For ripped out recipes, I had a friend come over and she discarded any that looked too complicated for me (no offense taken), were too similar to another recipe and kept no more than 5 in each category. She directed me to try these recipes (that seemed so great that I had to rip out of a magazine or print offline) over the next few months and either toss or save. To save these, I’ve found that the best way is to use photo album pages in a binder. It protects them and is relatively easy to organize.

To save online, I really like recipezaar and allrecipes. Both allow you to join for free, search recipes and save your favorites in an online cookbook or recipe box. Members can rate and comment on recipes and for me, learning about the level of difficulty and time needed is key. However, my most recent favorite site is Tastebook. Read the rest of this entry

If You Love GROUPON …

… then you need to sign up for these other sites that offer amazing daily deals as well. I’ll admit that I still get most of my great deals from Groupon but these other sites are catching on quickly.

Adility Daily Deal works much in the same way as Groupon in that Adility brings you a fantastic deal in your city each day and then the deal is on if enough people join the deal that day. What is different is that instead of printing the certificate yourself, Adility will mail you your certificate ($1.50 shipping) within 24 hours and they arrive within 3-5 business days. While it’s a little inconveinent if you want to go somewhere that day, it more that makes up for it with a recent deal I got for $39.99 for 30 min facial, 30 min massage, plus haircut & style!

Currently only in St. Louis right now, but intending to expand soon is City StealCity Steal is a collective platform designed to allow you the ability to experience the best that your community has to offer at incredible savings. Each day they offer a new Steal for a great restaurant, service, activity, or event in your community. Read the rest of this entry