Preparation Makes Perfect

This weekend I got a little cray. Please excuse me using the term “Cray.” It just comes out and I can’t stop myself. Describing my weekend as crazy was half-truth, half-lie. It was true because I tried something I’ve never done with very little research. It was a lie because I laid around like a lazy bum the rest of the time.

Ok, you want me to get to the point. This is what I started with:

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Weird holes all over the walls in my house. We’ve lived with these holes and imperfections for over a year now. So why fix them now? Painting next month! All the roommates agreed so I thought I would get a jump on the prep.

I used Dap spackle that changes from pink when wet to white when dry. Exhibit A:

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Then some light sanding with a sanding block and we were ship shape. It was very easy to do as a beginner so I would say don’t be afraid to tackle (or repair tackle marks) the walls of your home. I still need to go through the house and see what might still need patching, but the bulk of it is done.

This is going to be totally worth it when we get paint up on the walls, and new white paint on the trim. I get the feeling it’s going to be a huge transformation.

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I$lands of Adventure

In just 6 anxious days, my boyfriend and I will be embarking on a vacation! While I’m sure you want to hear all about the silly girl giddiness I feel about it, I’ll spare you. Being the poor 2o somethings we are, we had to be very budget conscious.  I bet you want to know some sweet money-saving tips we used to book this wondrous vacation though. I’m happy to share.

We are traveling to the wondrous city of Orlando, Florida.  This is how we do:

Hotel – The Fountains Orlando. Yeah, it’s part of the bluegreen timeshares. The boy is a part owner thanks to his thoughtful parents so we get to stay there for free. Ok, so not everyone has parents who are part of something like this, but I bet you know someone who is. Or maybe they have a cabin near a lake, or a campsite, or a hookup. Trust me, if you look you will find something.

Transportation – We booked our flights as early as possible. The closer to your departure, the higher the cost. We are saving ourselves from having to park at O’Hare (which is practically theft) by parking his car at my office and taking the bus. It’s pretty convenient, but not everyone works within spitting distance of a major international airport. Do the fun thing and beg someone to drop you off. We also saved money on a rental car for Orlando by finding a company that doesn’t charge the renter for being under 25, and they will pick us up from the airport. Shout out to Carl’s Van Rentals! I called to double-check about the fee and the gentleman on the phone was very friendly. A+!

Dining – The Fountains only has 2 room villas with kitchens. You won’t hear me complaining. We plan on taking our lovely van to a local grocery store to pick up some way-cheaper-than-eating-out essentials like milk, cereal, lunch meats, etc. It is still vacation, but we plan on keeping the costs down by eating groceries and eating out with local deals groupon style. Your hotel room doesn’t have a kitchen or fridge? Buy some non-perishable snacks and pick up lunch from a local supermarket. Most have prepared foods for a fraction of the cost of even fast food.

Entertainment – The Fountains (like many other hotels) include DVD players in their rooms so we’ll be bringing along a few of our faves (forecast is showing rain for the entire length of our trip, hence the DVD precaution). We will also be (hopefully) hitting up a few theme parks. I got reduced price tickets through a perks program at work, but our hotel also offers more wallet friendly deals on the local parks and I bet yours would too. Google it, and they will come. We will also be bringing along a book or two and an ipod just to keep us occupied constantly.

Here are a few extras I picked up:

  1. Bring your own empty, refillable water bottle to the airport. You can’t bring more than 3 oz of liquid through security, but you can bring an empty water bottle to refill after you get through. Save yourself the $5.
  2. Bring your own snacks to the airport. It is suggested that we arrive 2 hours before our midday flight. This girl gets crabby when she is hungry. Save yourself the stress and the money and bring yourself some snackage.
  3. A vacation is an exciting thing, but you don’t need an entire new wardrobe. My closet is packed with clothes and I won’t be buying any new vacation clothes. If you really need to feel fresh and new for your vacation get a mani/pedi or a haircut. $30 well spent.
  4. Set a budget for your spending. We know that a nice picture frame with a picture of us on vacation will be more sentimental and long-lasting that 2 $40 hoodies, or any other wildly overpriced souvenir. If you see something you like and immediately have a place for it in your home that people will see and appreciate it, then fine. If not, pass it up. 
  5. If your family is anything like mine, they will be expecting you to bring them back some souvenirs. I started a little tradition of sending my younger siblings postcards from my various excursions and they always seem to love them. Less than $1 per person. I might grab another small something, but I don’t feel obligated to spend $20 on each of them (there are a lot of us).
  6. Book your vacation off season! Everyone is going to be traveling during the holidays, summer, and spring break. We booked our vacation during the fall when everyone else has run out of vacation days (it just so happens to fall on my birthday also). Orlando will still be sunny and exciting in September and maybe even less hellishly hot and humid than it would be when it’s also packed with people.

Independent Pork

Sundays are football day in my house. This means the living room is taken over by my roommates, boyfriend and his dad for what seems like forever, but is something like 6 1/2 hours.  Sitting around and staring at fantasy scores seems to take a lot out of them (including manners). So, in all of my womanly kindness I decided to make them something every man loves. Pork.

Of the pulled variety.

The night before I drove out to my local grocery store and picked up a nice 5 lb pork shoulder and DEBONED IT MYSELF because the butcher had left the store. I rubbed it with a recipe I found online. I let it soak into the pork overnight and popped it in the oven to slowly roast for 6 hours.

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By the time it was done and we had let it rest, people (my sister) were chomping at the bit to get some. The rub itself had bite to it, but just in case someone wanted more flavor and spice, we grabbed some all natural BBQ sauce.

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Everyone loved it. The pork fell apart and was extremely flavorful. I felt like a real grown up who doesn’t need to but premade pulled pork from the grocery store.   I’m just saying that learning to do these things was not as hard as I had envisioned.  Cooking, at least from a recipe, is no different than following the instructions for a homework assignment.  The cooking is not that hard for me, but the home improvement is definitely a struggle. It’s completely outside my comfort zone but I’m still trying! Updates to come.

Lemme Upgrade You Part 2

In the continuous effort to bring my 1970’s townhome into the 20th century, I started to change the electrical outlets and lightswitches.

Here is a pretty shotty photo to compare what we had to what we will soon have.

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I can’t tell if that bottom color was intentional or nicotine induced. Either way it has to go. Electrical work is far outside my field of expertise, but with some online and some offline advice and instruction I installed a working lightswitch! I’m feeling pretty great right now despite the fact I know this isn’t really all that hard. To me, it is an accomplishment.

Lemme Upgrade You Part 1

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Look at that raspberry beaut! I recently acquired two of these Lifefactory water bottles for beverage pleasure. Why? Well first, it’s made of glass (no BPA, no chemicals of any kind leeching into my water all day). Second, check out that silicone sleeve. Great for grippin and sippin and will prevent breakage partially. Plus they are adorbs. I also got the turquoise.

So far, I have really enjoyed them. The wide mouth makes it easy to add ice and the cap is comfortable to use for carrying. The variety of colors means anyone can find one they like. Also, maybe someone who has a hard time gripping bottles would find this handy. And guess what! Lifefactory makes little baby bottles too, that you can convert to sippys with a change of cap (I think).

All in all, very versatile. Definitely an upgrade.