Monday, September 15, 2014

Watching TV with no cable bill!

When my mother passed away, one of the first things I did was get rid of the cable TV service.   I'm still finding ways to watch some of my favorite shows and have a routine with others.  One of these ways is using my Apple iPhone 5s to watch shows, and of course you can also watch them on Samsung Galaxy S5..   I have a data plan through U.S. Cellular, and their reliable 4G network means I have access to my favorite shows when I want to watch them without cable TV.

For starters, I have downloaded the apps for some of the larger networks.  Just today I watched a reality show that was aired on Thursday.  It was one of the shows I hated giving up when I got rid of cable.

Photo courtesy of

If your favorite shows aren't accessible through an app, Google Play and iTunes sell a number of shows at $1.99 to $2.99 each with a season pass that gives you a discount.  (I might have to do this to watch Jill Duggar's wedding.  With me planning my own wedding, I have been really wanting to see that episode!)

Other options are Hulu Plus and Netflix.  For $7.99 a month, you can watch HD shows on all your devices including your computer, tablet, and phone!

If you are already a subscriber to one of these services, then maybe you would be interested in a Roku, Apple TV, or Amazon Fire TV to stream these services to your television.  They allow access to thousands of channels and low cost rentals, even the ability to play games.

Being able to stream shows is great for people on the go.  That way you can watch them at your convenience.  I watched one of my favorite shows today while I was exercising.  Maybe combining the treadmill or spinning could help you lose weight in addition to catching up with your favorite shows.  I know I'm trying it!

Of course if you watch a large variety of shows, it might be better to keep your cable service so that you can see everything you want to watch, but I will say that I haven't missed cable TV very much.    Even when my mother and I had cable TV, I didn't have a TV in my room, and her lift chair was in the living room, so I found myself streaming shows even when we had cable.  I even regularly watched a channel that we couldn't receive on our local cable line up, but it was accessible to me because of an app on my phone!  How neat is that?

I haven't had cable television since February, and I love the accessibility of shows on my mobile device.  Just this past week I introduced my fiance to a new series I discovered on my tablet.  How cool is it to be that in the know about television without cable?   Personally I think it's pretty great.

One last thing, with back to school, it's a great time to talk to your children about phone safety and responsibility.  You can download a FREE Parent / Child agreement to help you talk to your teens about some things that might be otherwise difficult to bring up with them.    Get your free agreement by Clicking Here.

FTC Disclaimer:  I am part of the U.S. Cellular Blogger Brigade and this is a sponsored post.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

The Very Worst Blog Post. Ever. #theveryworstdietbet

So yesterday I was minding my own business reading my blogs.  Instead of bookmarking blogs I read, I have them on my blog roll.  I saw Jamie The Very Worst Missionary had a fun looking blog post called A Sad Farewell to French Fries with Cheese and Bacon.  I made the mistake of clicking on it.  On impulse I joined her Diet Bet. 

I've never done a Diet bet, but the concept is this, everyone puts money in the pot.  In 28 days you need to lose 4% of your body weight to be a winner.   Everyone who is a winner splits the pot.  (Which means if there are participants who don't lose 4% you can actually profit from losing weight.)

So now I'm committed.  It cost $30 to join and I joined on impulse.  I don't want to lose my $30.  And I DO want to lose enough I can fit into my wedding dress.  (It was a little tight and for it being on clearance for $150 I figured I would get it and lose the weight.)

So anyone want to Diet Bet with us?    Just click here.   I expect there will be a number of Bloggers and Jamie said to use the hashtag online of #theveryworstdietbet

This should be fun.  I hope.  I will lose weight.  I hope.  I will get my $30 back.  I hope.  I will fit into my wedding dress.   I hope.

And I learned something important.  Don't click on a blog post and do something impulsive.

Seriously though.  I am looking forward to it.

Let's do this!

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

The $10 item that cost $186 in medical bills.

I was looking through "my notes" on Facebook and found this story.  I thought it was funny and that I would share.

From August 2008.

The day started early, early, early.  I headed out to one of my favorite garage sales -- a community sale that is held indoors. It was packed. I could barely get through the crowd. There was a woman who kept shouting "Pay me on your way out. Shop often. Don't be afraid to shop a lot." (Imagine this as a running commentary.)

I found some interesting stuff -- cookie cutters, craft booklets, puzzles, etc. So, anyway, I started looking at the pictures. I've found some fascinating pictures at garage sales. I once found a beautiful antique painting of a lady, and recently I found a reverse painting with mother of pearl inlay. But I digress. At this sale today I found a print that was signed by the artist. I debated getting it for $3 but thought I'd go ahead.

As I was back at this area, I heard someone start mocking the "Shop often" woman who was still continuing. I wished I had brought earplugs! :)

By this time I had a stack of books, the print, and a couple puzzles. When I was able to say something to "Shop often" I asked if I could set the stuff down somewhere while I continued looking. Most years they allow you to put it in the kitchen. She said "Shove it under the table" "SHOP A LOT!" Then turned to me and said she couldn't guarantee that no one would take it (at which point I was thinking she could be put to better use watching purchases rather than being a cheerleader to encouraging shopping.) "PAY ME ON YOUR WAY OUT! SHOP OFTEN!" Then she turned back to me and said, "Just pay for it and take it to your car and come back". *sigh* I've gained some weight and I thought "Why did she make me try to get it out of the way under a table and now telling me not to leave it there". So I slid the stuff out as best I could on the carpet and slipped my fingers under the print, which was the largest thing I had, which I had put on the bottom. I was going to gather the items and after having my hands in the middle of the print, pick the whole stack of items up. The next thing i knew I was in excruciating pain. I didn't know this but the print was broken on the underside. I rammed some of the broken wood through my finger, slicing it about a quarter inch below my right index fingernail. I pulled my hand out from under it and I was dripping blood. "SHOP OFTEN"

I said to Shop Often that I needed a band-aid. My blood is starting to drip at this point onto the carpet. It's already on my shirt. She asked someone if they had a band-aid and they said yes. She said "Loretta has one in her purse." I have NO idea who Loretta is, so I think that Shop Often might be able to get it for me. "DON'T BE AFRAID TO SHOP A LOT. PAY ME ON YOUR WAY OUT. SHOP OFTEN. COME AGAIN. SHOP A LOT" This woman is really grating on my nerves. I figured the best thing to do to keep myself and the carpet clean is to put my finger in my mouth. At this point someone is starting to look at my stuff. I said muffled with my finger in my mouth "That's mine". Shop Often turned to me and said, "That's why you need to pay for it and take it to your car." Again, muffled I told her that's what I was doing when I got hurt, and please, could I have a band-aid. "SHOP A LOT" She turned back to me and told me to see Loretta. Again, I still have not had the pleasure of making Loretta's acquaintance, but someone overheard me asking for a band-aid and got out a first aid kit from the building. I was still in a lot of pain, feeling a little woozy as well. I reached for a fingertip band-aid and was told I couldn't have that one. WHAT THE HECK? All this time "Shop Often" is still continuing her monologue in the next room. 

I'm forbidden from a fingertip bandage which I think would be best but am given one. I go to pay for my stuff and "Shop often" decides to charge me $5 instead of counting everything up. I count it up later, and had it all been counted up it would have been $4.85, but I'm just happy to be getting out of there although I would still like to look, I just am feeling a little light headed and think I best either plan on going back later or not at all. The woman sees I'm looking a little woozy and asks if I need to go to the hospital. I said I don't have insurance, so I wouldn't be going. Little do I know, although I go to the doctor instead of the hospital.

By the time I get to the car, my finger is throbbing and I'm in a lot of pain. Mom comments that if a little thing like that could hurt so much, how could I ever stand surgery. When Mom can, I like her to drive when I go to yardsales because she can let me off, I can look and I don't have to take the time to park -- it saves me a lot of time. So Mom says we're going home so I can get some Tylenol. I'm feeling a bit sick to my stomach at this point. Blood doesn't bother me, but this was really hurting.

I was able to clean my finger off a bit at the house and saw something in it. Great. That's why it was hurting so bad. It was deep enough I couldn't get it out. I called my doctor, and she wasn't in today, but someone she works with was. The first appt. I could get was at 1, and this was hurting so badly.

So Mom says just stopping in at the doctors might get more results. Bingo. I get in less than 15 minutes later although I have over a 2 hour wait. The doctor comes in and sees my finger. He agreed that, yes, part of the picture was left in my finger. He asks about the picture. Old or new? New. What was it of? Did I get a good deal on it? Was there anything else interesting at the sale? What else did I buy? :) 

So the next thing I see is a tray with surgical instruments on it, and a big light. I think "I'm not having a baby, that's just fat." Which I tell the doctor when he stops in again and he says he's only going to deliver a metal splinter. (At this point we thought it was metal.)

I also mention I wasn't sure when my last tetanus was, it was either before I went to China in 1997 or before I went to Europe in 2002. He looked at me and said, "You get a technical shot." (I think he thought this was funny because he kept saying it. Of course I have an odd sense of humor, too, and can make jokes in some of the worst of situations.)

Finally, he comes in, and has me get up on the chair. He asks me to put my finger up, and puts a sheet around it. I said, "We're number one". :) So he numbs it (and why does it hurt so much to numb something? Isn't that an oxymoron?)

I can feel him digging around in my finger, but it doesn't hurt. I can tell it went pretty deep. He said I needed to see him today, that this shouldn't have been left on its own. Afterwards he tells me I did really well through the procedure and said that men are the worst, they can't handle pain. I told him I had a professor in college say it is because women have two X chromosomes and men have an X and a Y. He said, "That's probably true, but I don't know Y." 

So I am told to wait for my technical shot. I started feeling really nauseated, and let's just say there was a good thing there was a trash can in the room. Yuck.

The nurse comes in with my technical shot. I wait a couple minutes after she gives it to me for my stomach to settle, which it did. 

Itemized cost of everything:
base doctor visit $50
technical shot: $50
removing the splinter$75
antibiotics that were prescribed $11.99 

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Plain Faith: A True Story of Tragedy, Loss, and Leaving the Amish
by Tricia Goyer
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

It’s the way things are done.  Tradition.   Looking good to others to allow them to see your quiet, simple faith.  Being peaceful.

But what happens when things are no longer quiet and simple, let alone peaceful?   How do you live these things when your world has been turned upside down?  When your faith is tested and you find it lacking?   This is one couple’s story.

Ora Jay and Irene Eash were coming home from visiting friends.  It had been a long day, and when driving an Amish horse and buggy, unlike a car, it’s okay to doze off except for intersections.  But when Ora Jay dozed off, he was awakened to the sound of a semi truck, his buggy being shattered into pieces, and screams.  He found his two daughters dead, and the peaceful life was no longer peaceful.

He and Irene joined a “circle letter” for those who had lost children.  With eternity so close, yet so far away, they began questioning their faith.  This is the story of loss, both of daughters, and the faith they had once so willingly embraced.   In its place, they found faith that gave them hope and peace.  Ironically, the peaceful life didn’t give them peace on the inside.

Leaving the Amish community is difficult.  You lose your family, friends, and basically everything you have ever known.  Their journey is a fascinating one that spans many years.

I very much enjoyed this book.   I would have liked for there to have been a bit more about losing their daughters and that painful time — how they coped and got through each day.  But I realize that was the tragedy that happened which changed the course of their lives from Amish to “English”, so while it is a heartbreaking event, the focus on the book was more the journey away from the Amish community.

This book was co-written with author Tricia Goyer, and her books are always a delight.   They are well written, and something you can feel good about reading.

I highly recommend Plain faith to anyone who enjoys Amish fiction (although this is a true story) as well as to anyone who has lost a child.

You can purchase Plain Faith here:

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookLook Bloggers <> book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 <> : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Monday, September 8, 2014

Happy Day, Sad emotions

I just wanted to write.  To someone.  To no one.  Blogging is a way of writing publicly, yet sometimes feels as if I write to no one.

Yesterday was hard.  I had another day of thinking about how there will be only two family members of mine at the wedding.  I have eight more months to ponder this.

I'm hoping there will be a lot of friends there.  We are doing an open church wedding.  Right now, eight months away, it looks like we'll have nearly 50 guests, and I'm sure more will confirm closer to the time.  I want to celebrate with those who love me, those who like me somewhat, and those who are coming just to eat fried chicken.  I want to celebrate life.  I want to laugh, enjoy, and smile with those who have stuck by me the last year.

I want those who are there to know that I'm still grieving the loss of my parents.  I'm not sure I'll ever get over that.  But I want something there to remember my parents.  Instead of a bouquet, I'll carry the Bible my mother carried at her wedding.  Aside from her engagement ring (which is now mine) and her wedding rings, that is the only item I have from my parents' wedding.  I may pin Dad's high school class ring inside my dress.

It seems like since my dad is no longer here, I will have to have someone else walk me down the aisle.  The more I think about it, the more it may be two someones.  Why?   Because it feels like if just one man walks me down the aisle, he is a replacement for my dad.  Having two close friends walk me down the aisle seems to say that no ONE can ever replace my dad.  I know it means different things to different people, but it feels that way to me, and all that matters at my wedding is the symbolism I want to give things.   I haven't decided for certain, but both men I have considered asking to walk me down the aisle will be there.

It's amazing to me how such a happy day can also bring up sad emotions.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

My first party since Mom died

The first year after death is a year of firsts.  This Saturday is the first annual party I have hosted without Mom.  Nine years ago, I won an ice cream party from Edy's.  The next year, I won again, and year three everyone asked if I was going to have a party that year, so my annual party was born.  At it, I take stuff that I have gotten free over the year and wrap it up and we play the "Dirty Santa" game.  I put names in a bucket, and first name drawn gets to pick from any of the wrapped gifts, person two can steal from person one, or pick any of the wrapped gifts, and so on.  Sometimes the funniest items are the weirdest.  Last year everyone got the biggest laugh out of the person who won a "Potty Training Diploma".

There's been so much drama in my life this year I wonder how many people will be at the party.  But the ones who are, they are true friends.  There's been so many lies that have been spread about me this year, but I know the truth, and I'm hoping that I have more true friends than I think I do.

It was a hard decision to have the party this year, but because of the wedding next year, we won't be having an annual party in the park. I love hosting parties, and I consider my wedding reception the ultimate party I get to host.

But having the party this year, it's also a way that life goes on without Mom.  I thought my whole world ended on February 18, but little by little life is coming back -- this time to a new normal.  I went to college, and during those years I didn't live with my mother, but otherwise I lived with her my whole life, in the end taking care of her as she was in renal failure and on dialysis.  Losing someone you lived with for 36 years is extremely difficult.

It's been hard planning this year's party.  Usually by now I have all the shopping done and everything ready to go.  I still need to buy the food.  I do have the door prizes wrapped and the party supplies packed up to go to the park.  I am hoping that I'll be more into the party when the time comes.  I'm sure I will be, but right now I keep thinking "I wish I wouldn't have planned one this year."  Yet I think it will be good for me.  It may be hard, but it will hopefully be a time of healing as well.

Friday, August 29, 2014

Whatever happened to Customer Service 7 Quick Takes Friday

I'm getting fed up with bad customer service.  I expect to get what I pay for and be treated politely.  I have put up with hair in food and other things without complaining.  But here are seven bad customer service experiences I have received this year.  Would any of them bother you?   I am considering going into more detail online and trying to get companies to do something in these situations?  Has anyone tried this with any success?   In order of the most recent:

1.   Twitter Contest (August 2014 - May 2014)

This one I'm trying to get go viral.  I won a twitter contest of two season passes to a local water park -- won on May 28.  In July I hadn't received them, so I called.  After a couple weeks no water park passes.  I asked for season passes for next year or the same amount of the value in beer for my wedding (from a beer company.)  What I received on Aug 28 in the mail was two season passes for a water park that expire on Sept 1.

Contacted company?   At least four times before I took to social media, and took to social media I did with multiple Facebook postings and almost almost three dozen twitter posts.
Their resolution?   Sending me another prize in the prize structure.  Yeah!  :)

2.  Restaurant, West Virginia, August 2014

The salad bar was skimpy, salad was brown and wilted.  Asked for new salad.   Had to confirm to server that yes, we really wanted salad and she really should do her job.  The rest of the evening she never checked up on us for refills or anything.  Had to go to the counter for a take home box.  When I asked if I could have one, she said no and laughed.  (I felt it was an attempt at covering up her true feelings.  If she had more interaction and had been pleasant with us, I would have laughed, but it wasn't funny to me.)   When asked by manager how we enjoyed the meal, I said the salad bar was skimpy.  She never responded.

Contacted company?   I have a letter to go out today.

3.  Pharmacy, Louisiana  July 2014

I had a couple coupons.  Cashier kept arguing with me I couldn't use them.  I asked her to call the manager.  I explained what I was doing with the coupons and he said that was absolutely fine and for the cashier to ring me up.  The whole time she did she kept telling the manager and me we both were wrong!  (Really?  Who argues with their boss?)  I did tell the boss in front of her they should do a refresher on decent customer service, to which she replied I was still wrong.

Contacted company?  Via letter
Response:  Ignored.

4.  Motel, Alabama  July 2014

Checking in at midnight, we found our room wasn't up to code electrically, but since we had no small children didn't worry about it.  At 8 in the morning the floor was being stripped above us.  We called the front desk multiple times, even went up and asked them to move to another room because our room was vibrating.  We were told it was fine because our room was unoccupied (uh, yeah it was at that moment because we were complaining).  Also, it was "fine" because they weren't making noise at midnight when we checked in.   We would have been happy with another night's stay with the promise they would not be working above us the next morning.  What we got was a very, very rude front desk clerk and little sleep.

Contacted corporate?  Via letter and twitter
Response:  Ignored

5.  Restaurant, Alabama  July 2014

I went to the lady's room.   There was a big wad of paper towels in the toilet.  Told a worker.  She asked if I flushed it.  I said no because I didn't want to overflow the toilet.  She told me to use the men's room.   Honestly, this one just barely annoyed me but really bothered my fiance.  So I did write to corporate about it.

Contacted corporate?  Via letter
Response:   Gift card for two free meals
Happy?  YES!

6.   Hotel, West Virginia December 2013

Noise was so bad we called the front desk about six times and even the corporate number once -- all after midnight.  People were slamming each other against wall the room next to us.  (We should have called the police for them disturbing the peace!)  Finally at three in the morning when it was still continuing we were DOWNGRADED rooms on another wing of the hotel and were still woke up an hour later by the same people.  When I complained at the front desk that next morning four others in the lobby said they couldn't sleep for the people who were in the room next to us.  Manager promised to give enough points in my rewards club for a free stay.   I'm still waiting on them six months later.  The next week after this stay I saw on the news that there was a meth lab operating in this hotel.  I don't know if it was the same people or not.

Contacted corporate?  Six times via letter, three times to individual hotel.
Received:  A signed letter from the manager saying enough points will be added to my rewards club that I can receive a free night at any hotel of their chain.
In reality:  I received an empty promise, except for the signed letter from the manager, all correspondence was ignored. And what good is a signed letter when they aren't good on their word?


I have spent over a month of the last year in motels due to family emergencies.    There were some hotels that really went out of their way for us -- allowing us to grab breakfast food late and more.  Great customer service isn't lost on me.  I sell on eBay full time, and I want happy customers.  Even one time someone said a litho on a coffee mug was so crooked she couldn't use the coffee mug.  That was ludicrous because I saw the mug before I shipped it, and I loved it.  Still, I refunded her (and that hurt me on eBay because it counted as a "defect")  I try to do whatever I can to make my customers happy.  A happy customer is a repeat customer!  I can't help but wonder if some companies have gotten so big they just don't care if some customers are unhappy.

For more Quick Takes Friday (and more positive ones) you can visit Conversion Diary