Everyday Reading

November 28, 2014

My Kind of Black Friday

A couple of years ago, Ella and I walked from our apartment to our local Texas library (it was about a mile and I'm embarrassed to say we only ever walked it about five times in three years. Driving was just easier).

As we passed the other buildings on the main square, I noticed an enormous line of cars queued up for the water building's drive-through window.

After a few seconds of feeling utterly perplexed, I realized it was the day that water bills were due and these people were coming to pay in person.

I had actually never considered for one moment paying my water bill, or any other bill for that matter, in person. I'm not sure I even realized it was a possibility until I saw a dozen cars lined up to do just that.

At this point, we pay every single one of our bills on-line. I love that I can do it at any time of day, that I never need a stamp, and that I know exactly when it's going to arrive (plus I get an email confirmation that it's been sent so if for some reason it didn't go through, which has never happened, I'd have PROOF that I'd paid it, rather than a lame "well, I promise I mailed it - maybe the postman lost it?" response).

We have as many of our bills as possible get paid automatically through our credit card so we can get points for them (our cell phone bills, Internet service, etc), and then the rest I pay through our checking account on Capital One 360 (which we've been using for the last eight or so years, since it was ING Direct).

It's kind of sad how delighted I am on a monthly basis that I can just log into my account, go to the Bill Pay center and enter in all the totals for my water bill or our rent check, and push send. No checks to sign, no account numbers to look up and write at the top of a check, and now rummaging around for a stamp and having to walk it out to the mailbox (you probably now understand why I am very bad at thank-you notes).

Plus, it means we don't end up paying late fees (and on the very rare occasion that I let something fall through the cracks and we do get charged a late fee? I always call and get it reversed. I've never had a late fee charge not get canceled if I call about it. Ten minutes on the phone while I look at Pinterest and then get my $25 back? Not a bad way to start the morning).

Of course, now that we're in London, it's even more vital that all our bills can be paid online since I don't have the slightest clue how to use the mail system here. I don't even know where a mail box is.

Pretty much the only good thing about a late fee would be that it's charged in dollars and not pounds.

The irony of writing about saving money (one of my top-five favorite topics of all time) on Black Friday when the Internet is going nuts with sales and "must-buys" doesn't escape me.

But spending wads of cash makes me uncomfortable even at the best of times (and right after four months of living abroad and also having a husband in school is not exactly the best of times financially). Pretty much the only sale that has appealed at all to me is Capital One 360's Black Friday deals where you get $100 for opening a free savings or checking account. It's not like those sales where you're "saving" money by spending more. It's just getting a bonus $100 that you don't even have to stand in line at midnight to get.

Of course, since I've had an account there for nearly a decade, I'm not even eligible (although you're always eligible for a referral bonus if a friend signs up for a new account and they've doubled the amount you get this weekend) so. . . . no Black Friday shopping for me.

Also, we didn't have any pie last night after our tiny Thanksgiving meal at home, so I'm not sure you're even allowed to do Black Friday shopping if you haven't eaten at least one slice of pie. I think that's written in the Mayflower Compact.

I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.

November 26, 2014

The 2014 Winter Reading (or Gift!) Guide

I hesitate to even call this a gift guide because if there is one thing the Internet does not need right now, it's one more gift guide.

Plus, if you aren't looking for a gift idea, you can just go ahead and just use this list to request titles from your library for the whopping price of nothing or read on your own in all that spare time you're certain to have with the holidays coming up. No pressure from me to buy anything. Just think of it as the Winter version of the Summer Reading Guide.

Tons of great recommendations for any age, from children to teens to hard-to-buy-for dads and grandpas!

(And, in the interest of full disclosure, here is fair warning that I will still be doing my annual $5 Gift Guide next week. Because I will never stop loving inexpensive things that manage to also be absolutely awesome. Other than that my gift guides this year would basically be "maternity clothing with coupon codes" and "tiny things you can pack with you when you drive all the way from Las Vegas to North Carolina").

Anyway, here are 36 books I hope you'll enjoy this season, no matter what your interests or why you're picking them up:

Foodie Books

And if you do read one or some of these books, let me know what you think! I'd love to know. 

November 25, 2014

All Ella

Janssen: [to Bart] I'm so glad we came to London in the fall semester instead of in January. That'd be such a long, cold slog.
Ella: What's a long, cold snog?

Out of nowhere
Ella: Aren't you so glad you aren't a bad guy?

On discovering that there were no audio copies of The Boxcar Children series available to listen to during quiet time
Ella: [tears]
Janssen: It's okay - I'll find you some other mysteries to listen to.
Ella: But it's the characters I love!

After discovering that Ani had unrolled half the roll of toilet paper while trying to tear off a square to remove her nail polish
Ella: That was NOT very clever.

When I told Ella that she asks a lot of questions
Ella: I am very bizarre, aren't I? Do you think I'll be a bizarre mom when I grow up? [pause] That was a ridiculous question.

At the airport while waiting for our flight back to London from Barcelona
Janssen: How's that chocolate doughnut?
Ella: Look at my face. Can you see the joy spreading over it?

Both girls are trying to snuggle me on my bed
Janssen: I'm feeling pretty claustrophobic over here.
Ella: Does that mean 'very loved'?

When Ella complains that she's hungry
Bart: Didn't you have breakfast?
Ella: Well, some, but I don't like to eat at dawn.

From the bottom seat of the stroller:
Ella: How do you spell "bears?"
Janssen: B-E-A-R-S.
Ella: Why did you say that so suspiciously?

P.S. More Ella hilarity here.


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