Monday, August 30, 2010

Camping Trip #2

Once Dan got home from work on Friday, we headed out to Half Moon Bay's state park/beach for another camping trip. It was quite windy but the fire kept us warm and toasty. Dan set up the tent while I held Camille in the van since I didn't want her to get too cold. Russell was dancing around the whole time because he was just so excited to be at the beach. We met up with Dan's cousins who were visiting (a sweet coincidence) HMB for their daughter's sixth birthday. We ate hotdogs and chips for supper and s'mores for dessert. I headed home about 7:30pm since Camille was tired and fussy but Russell and Dan stayed for the night and came home the next morning about 11am. Sweet memories for them!

Can you tell these two are cousins? Dan's dad and Jon's mom were siblings.

We'll do one more camping evening/night in early October and that will be it for this season:-)

Friday, August 27, 2010

One more reason I love

We've had an HP inkject printer that we purchased soon after we got married- the fall of 2002. About two months ago, Dan started encouraging me to get a new printer as soon as the cartridges had emptied. I veto'ed his idea since the printer was just purring along. Soon, the cartridges had emptied and I purchased a double pack of black HP ink from

Then, NO kidding- I installed the cartridges and the printer jammed up about five days later. Upon Dan's Google research, it was a known problem and a documented flaw with the inkjet model. I called HP (okay, India...) and was told that our 'lifetime' warrenty had ended six months previous. The best HP could do was to offer me a $50 deduction on one of two models they offered me- neither of which I wanted. I didn't really care about the price of the printer since it was less than $100 originally but I was upset about the $55 worth of ink I was out.

Dan called and they told us to return the two cartridges- one opened and used, the other still packaged... who does that? Then today, I find a refund in my account for $45 for the ink.

Yes, I love

PS- we did purchase another HP printer because if I can get another eight years out of their product, that's a good deal:-)

MegaBucks Day:-)

Just a reminder to those that have signed up at each Friday is 'Megabucks Day.' The bucks earned are in higher denominations... which means you're closer to that iPod or giftcard, etc. Don't forget this is open to Canadians as well! There aren't too many online sites that are Canadian-user friendly:-(

Here's a few other ways to earn bucks...

Searching- Use Swagbucks as your search engine (1 buck per day)

Referring – Refer your friends, you’ll earn every buck they earn up to 1,000 Swagbucks.

Shopping – Shop and earn. You earn $2 Swagbucks for every $1 spent through the Swagbucks site. (To be honest, I don't usually do this since there are better ways of earning cash back like using or

Trade-Ins – Have any old electronics lying around? See how many Swagbucks it’s worth.

Swag Codes - Every now and then a new code will be posted by the Swag Guy on Twitter, the Swagbucks Blog, or in the tool bar – follow closely to earn even more with these.

Daily Polls – Swagbucks has a Daily Poll, by answering the poll each you can win more Swagbucks. If you SUBMIT a poll and it is used, you’ll be paid 100 Swagbucks!

Trusted Surverys- I have never qualified for one, but you are rewarded 1 buck each day for checking:-) Filling out your Profile will also earn you bucks. I filled them all out with exception of the financial one because that data just isn't worth sharing online.


In more important news, Dan and Russell are off for a night of camping tonight!! The coast will be cool but after this week's 95F+ weather, it will be welcomed. I've stocked up on hot-dogs and buns, chips and potato salad, and marshmellows /chocolate /graham crackers for s'mores. Yum. I'll return home with Camille to enjoy a quiet night at home. That's my style of camping;-)

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Happy 10 months, Sis!

Only two more months until her first birthday. She's not crawling yet but her loud opposition to any position but the standing position tells us that her mind is ready but her body isn't! We're hoping she starts crawling soon because we don't like listening to her complaints from the floor;-) We love you, Sis!!

Keeping Busy

From my obvious lack of posts, life has kept us busy this summer year. We only get 24 hrs per day to play, and I've been using my time a little differently this season... planning ahead so that playing can be a little more cost-effective...

While speaking with a friend at church, I was convicted by our discussion of finances and spending. As in many homes, the spouse that manages the home usually manages the finances as well. In this case, that's me. I'm responsible for buying our clothing, food, household and toiletry items and managing any monthly bills (car, rent, cable, etc.). We live in an extremely high-cost-of-living area (half-decent house would be $800k+) and in order to allow for more savings, we have to pinch expenses a little tighter than we would if we lived elsewhere.

My new hobby has been to follow websites like TotallyTarget and Hip2Save to learn how to save on items like toiletries and dry goods and online sales since there just aren't coupons for other necessities such as freshly grown produce. This summer I've learned how to stack coupons and TotallyTarget lists when items are on sale. So, say toothpaste is usually $2.99/tube. It's on sale for $2.49 but you have a manufacturer's coupon for $1 and a Target coupon for $1 (which you can stack together) so now instead of paying $2.99, I'm paying $0.49. It doesn't seem like a lot but for someone who can easily spent over $100 at Target per trip, but our household expenses have dropped by about 40% this summer.  Yes, it does take time and effort, but it's easy to do when you're watching TV on a Sunday night:-)

I've also fallen in love with and Both sites allow you to convert points/bucks into free merchandise. I found out about while searching for a way to use Dan's mileage points before they expired in a few weeks. Now, we finally can redeem random hotel points, etc. for useful things like and Starbucks gift-cards. It is easy to feel guilty spending hard-earned money on non-essentials so it certainly helps to have a few gift-cards to redeem:-)

I enjoy signing myself up for sites such as these, to follow and learn from, or just to enjoy their rewards. I know this isn't for everyone but being more conscientious of where our money is being spent has been a huge lesson for me this summer. I don't mind spending money but I'd just rather spend it on our upcoming vacation in San Diego than on household items at Target:-)

My parents' visit

My parents came into town last Saturday, the 14th. We spent a few days north of San Fran near Santa Rosa and had an opportunity to visit the Charles M. Shultz museum. It was a fun trip but I didn't get much of a chance to read the displays due to the kiddos- but outside on the patio was a cute display of characters:-)

Later in the week, we did "A Day on the Bay" and took a boat tour of the Bay. It's been a few years since I did the trip but it doesn't get old. The Golden Gate is as magestic as it ever was and when the sky was as blue and warm as it was, it was a delightful day.

We ended our morning with lunch at the Boudin Cafe (famous for their sourdough bread). The kiddos fell asleep on the car-ride home so I knew they had a great day, too!

It was great to have extra hands to help with Camille, and Russell enjoyed having his grandparents around, too. He's old enough now to anticipate their arrival even though it takes him 48hrs to get used to them again but that will change as he ages. My parents left yesterday for the drive back to B.C. I'm so glad they take an interest in the kids and make the effort to see them:-)

Thursday, August 12, 2010

FREE Money? Sure, why not?? Otherwise known as "Swagbucks"...

Yes, finally, a company that caters to my lovely American and Canadian friends and family!!

I signed up at four months ago. It seemed simple... download their tool bar and use their search engine for everyday searches. Random 'swag bucks' are rewarded on occasion for searches... I've been rewarded for addresses, misspelled words, and sites like Facebook.

Fridays are considered MegaBuck Days. Instead of the usual smaller bucks (5- 30), larger bucks are rewarded (10-100+). In the four months I've been collecting Swagbucks, I've earned 2245 (and counting). To give you an idea, $5 gift cards (or for my Canadians) are 450 pts. This means, I have at least $25 in FREE money coming to me. My goal is to save until the Christmas season and redeem my Amazon gift cards at that time:-) There are also Apple items, Target gift cards, and endless other items to earn.

At this time, if you SIGN UP HERE you will not only will you get 30 Swagbucks just for joining, but when you enter the code BackToSchool, you will receive an extra 40 Swag Bucks! This will give you 70 Swagbucks to start.
One of these cool promotions is their new Back-To-School themed Swag Buck bills in varying amounts. If you collect them all throughout the week, you’ll earn yourself a 50 Swag Buck bonus!

Yes, I'm shamelessly plugging this company and I hope you join! If you refer on a friend (or hopefully more!) then you are rewarded with matching points up to their first 100.

Happy searching!!

PS- I'll probably repost this post on occasion to update you of other ways to win bucks (like daily polls and surveys)

Just in case...

... you didn't know these two kids were related, here is each of them at 9 months...

They still seem to have their differences but they are a lot alike in many ways;

-both love detailed things like wheels on Matchbox cars, random marks on my kitchen floor and my tiny earrings
-both are a little slow in the crawling/cruising category;-)
-they both love bread and don't like to touch sticky or slimy foods (like pears or jam)

How quickly this year is passing. Russell asks if he's going to be invited to Camille's 1st birthday and I reassure him that he'll probably get an invitation in the mail. I love these kids:-)