How to Build a Feral Cat Outdoor Shelter Box



If you're on Pintrest as much as I am, then you've probably seen tutorials on how to build an outdoor survival shelter box for cold weather for stray cats/feral cats. Being an animal lover, I've always wanted to do this but never got around to it.

Until last night.

Starting tonight here in Wisconsin, the temperature will be dropping down below zero with the windchill (talks of -25 degrees was on the news this morning). I've seen a couple of stay cats around our apartment complex over the past year, so I figured now would be the time to build an outdoor cat shelter.

I bought most of the materials from our local goodwill and the insulation (Styrofoam) from Home Depot.

Materials bought at Goodwill:
*straw (which is better) or fleece blanket as an alternative approx $3
*1 large plastic bin with lid $4
*1 small plastic bin (no lid) $3
*2 small bowls (25 cents)

Materials bought at Home Depot:
*styrofoam $6 (came in a package, had plenty left over)

Already had:
*duct tape to secure lid

Total Cost: $16.25 

**Tip: You can cut cost if you have any/all of these items already on hand.

I had the boyfriend "eyeball it" and just let him do his thing. It was a pretty simple job. His only complaint was that the styrofoam was a bit messy, so we had to vacuum afterwards. When making the door for the cat, remember to make it big enough for a cat, but small enough that something bigger (racoons, etc) can't get in.

Basic Instructions:
*draw a box on the one side of the large bin (for the cat door), cut out with a razor blade/x-acto knife.
*place the smaller bin inside, use a marker to trace the already cut-out doorway, then cut out the square.
*measure & cut styrofoam, place in between the 2 bins for insulation, including on the bottom.
*place 2 sheets of styrofoam inside the smaller bin, place fleece blanket over it
*put lid on, duct tape on all 4 corners (so that the lid doesn't blow off)
*place bowl with cat food inside
*place the cat shelter box in an area where stray cats are known to roam

That's it!

It was a very easy and cheap project to do and knowing that we're helping stray kitties stay warm, makes us happy! :) Frostbite & hypothermia can happen to cats just like with humans. If you see a cat that could have frostbite or is injured, call your local humane society for help.

Don't forget to share this on Facebook, Twitter & Pintrest to spread the word!


How to Deal With a Noisy Neighbor

Ahh yes, apartment living. The world of sharing your space with others. Sometimes you can luck out and have neighbors that are so quiet, you wonder if they're ever home. Other times, you wish you were somewhere else due to excessive noises your neighbor makes.

My boyfriend & I moved into a nice apartment 2 years ago and since Day 1, we've had issues with our neighbors below. They pretty much violated everything they could in their lease: excessive dog barking for hours, slamming doors & kitchen cabinet doors, pounding on the wall and even the ceiling (*I still don't know what the hell they were pounding into their ceiling, our floor, for an hour), leaving their dog outside unattended (it would jump all over our dog, try to come into our apartment, bark at other dogs passing by, etc). It's been pretty much a nightmare since we moved in.

Luckily, I documented everything. And I mean everything! I have more videos than I can count of her lease violations (just the ones that directly affected us), audio of 2 hours of non-stop barking thanks to my handy dandy digital recorder, and a recent police report documenting the barking for hours the other day. I put all of these in separate folders (eg: Barking, Slamming Door, Dog Unattended, etc) and uploaded it to a USB drive. I then called my leasing office and asked to schedule a meeting with the property manager at her earliest convenience, which was yesterday afternoon.

I walked in cool, calm, collected and stated that my only goal was to be able to enjoy a "peaceful living environment", which every tenant is entitled to. (It's stated in every lease.) Once I told her the history of the noisy neighbor, I then presented a mountain of evidence on the USB drive, along with a "Letter to Management" which documented what lease violations she violating, the duration of each violation, and everything that I did in order to achieve peace & quiet (such as calling the manager, talking to my neighbor directly, etc.)

After about 20 minutes of talking and showing audio/videos, my landlord was 100% on our side and I could tell that she was frustrated at the neighbor for so blatantly ignoring all of the warnings her staff has given her, including a "5 Day Quit or Evict" notice a couple of weeks ago.

By the end of my meeting with my landlord, I was informed that the neighbor will be issued a 2nd "5 Day Quit or Evict" notice. If the problem persists after 5 days, she will be contacting her boss to see if they can somehow force an eviction based on how many warnings they gave her and the evidence I presented as proof of her being a nuisance neighbor. The most logical statement the property manager stated yesterday was "If you move out, I'll just have the same problems with a new tenant anyways." Bingo! Get rid of the problem, not quiet tenants that have no lease violations and always pay rent on time.

I must say, since the neighbor was given another "5 Day Quit or Evict" notice yesterday, I haven't heard a peep! Until I saw her walking her dog this morning, I honestly thought she was gone overnight. Needless to say, the boyfriend & I are so happy & are finally living in peace & quiet! We just hope it lasts.

So for those of you dealing with a noisy neighbor, there is hope! Just make sure to document everything. If the leasing office staff (aka not the manager) are doing very little to help, bypass them and ask to speak directly to the manager who has authority to do a lot more.

If that doesn't work, you can always ask for your security deposit back and for your lease to end, since they (the leasing company) are in breach of their contract with you for not providing you with a "peaceful living environment" & move elsewhere.

Good luck & keep fighting the good fight!

Crock Pot Cooking: Fast, Cheap & Oh So Good


One of the best gifts I have ever received in my life, was my Hamilton Beach Set 'n Forget Crock Pot. I have used this thing a gazillion times and it is just the best thing ever! I can put in a few ingredients, put the lid on and walk out the door. When I come home hours later, I have a savory and complete dinner ready for me for pennies on the dollar. I love it!!

As y'all know, I am a self proclaimed budget queen and I always try to get more bang for my buck & make every dollar stretch. My crock pot allows me to be able to feed myself & my boyfriends seemingly bottomless pit of a stomach for only a couple of bucks per meal.

I try to keep all meals around $2/per person & no more than $5/per person.

Those of you who eat fast food and think you're getting a good deal for $1 McChicken sandwich (*is it even chicken??) or a $5 combo meal, guess what? You can eat steak, potatoes and veggies for that price with little effort & still have left overs for lunch. Doesn't seem like a "value meal" now, does it. ;)

Last night, I made a chicken, rice and green bean meal for just over $5 for the two of us:
The Cost Breakdown:
*$3 for the chicken
*$1 Cream of Mushroom Soup
*$1 bag of boil-in-bag rice
*$0.50 cents for green beans
-----------------------------------
$5.50 for the whole meal, or $2.75 per person

"Chicken & Rice" Crock Pot Recipe:
*put 4 boneless skinless chicken cutlets in the crock pot
*pour in 1 can of Cream of Mushroom Soup & 1 can of milk
*1 bag of rice
*1 can of drained green beans 

Stir & let it cook on LOW for 4-5 hours.
That's it!

The chicken came out tasting sooo good! It was so tender and juicy. Highly recommend this recipe.
For dessert, I had "Crock Pot Dump Cake", which is so easy and addicting I might add. ;)

Crock Pot "Dump Cake":
*put (2) cans of pie filling on bottom of crock pot (blueberries, apples, whatever you like)
*combine 1/2 cup of melted butter & 1 package dry cake mix together, mix until crumbly
*sprinkle dry cake/butter mix over the fruit

Cook on LOW for 4 hours (or HIGH for 2 hours).
Optional: Serve with a scoop of vanilla custard ice cream & whipped cream

The cost depends on what kind of fruit you buy, but it's about $6 for the cans of pie filling (@$3/each), $1 for the dry cake mix, and a few bucks for the ice cream...so around $10 total if you don't have any coupons to chip away at the cost. It feeds at least 4-6 people, if not more.

**If you want to make the dump cake in the oven, which is even better, just put it in the oven @ 350 for 45-60 mins. Comes out looking & tasting like cobbler. So good!!

There are a ton of crock pot recipes out there for just about everything you can possibly imagine and Crock Pot Cookbooks that range from beginners to advanced. So no matter what your cooking skills are, you can rock a crock & make amazing tasting meals!

So if you have a crock pot but you just don't use it, go dust it off & put that baby to work!! If you don't have a crock pot..GET ONE!!! Worth the investment for sure. :)



Cabela's Doorbusters At 2am: Was it Worth It?


This past Saturday (December 14th, 2013), our local Cabela's store was having a doorbusters sale, where they awarded the first 250 people in line with the possibility of winning some pretty big prizes that included:

*1 rifle ($329 value)
*1 tent & 2 sleeping bags ($159 value)
*1 fishing rod ($89 value)
*1 archery set ($184 value)
*1 commercial vacuum sealer ($329 value)
*250 Cabela's Gift Cards (worth up to $100)

When my friend & I had arrived, there were already 7 sets of people in line.

We were under the (false) impression that it was on a 1st come, 1st served basis with the bigger prizes. The assumption was based on a convo that I had with the female manager the day prior to the sale. She had mentioned that there were 2 people in line already and that if "I wanted the fishing pole, they already have dibs on it." (**For the record, I still have no clue why she would tell me that.)

The time was 2:40am on Saturday when we arrived and we started to unpack the car...a lot of blankets, a couple of chairs, a laptop to watch movies on, and a Coleman thermos full of hot water so that we could make hot cocoa and/or tea to help us keep warm, and some snacks to munch on.

We sat outside...


...watching "A Christmas Story" on the laptop...

...eating our peanut butter pop tarts (*yes, you read that right, peanut butter pop tarts. I'll wait while you dash to the store to go pick some up.) 

So there we sat, from nearly 3am until 8am. My toes were so frozen that I seriously started to wonder if I was in the beginning stages of getting frostbite. The 2 pairs of socks & waterproof winter boots I had on simply couldn't hold up in near-zero degree weather with wind chills for that many hours. I was really starting regret my decision of no sleep and freezing my butt off for a chance at prizes.

The best of waiting for the store to open was talking to our 'neighbors' in the line. There was 1 single guy next to us and an older couple on our other side. We all became short term friends, sharing stories and laughs throughout the long hours.

My friend & I had to make a pee run to the truck stop about 1/8 of a mile up the road around 6am. The single guy in line sat in my chair & warmed up under our blankets per my invitation for him to do so while we were gone. I also offered to buy him a cup of coffee, as he was clearly cold and shaking for hours. He politely accepted my offer.

We came back from our pee run (which was also a breakfast & beef jerky run apparently) and waited the last 2 hours until the store opened.

Employees from Cabela's came out around 7:30am and gave the first 20 people in line a bag of gifts. We were #17 & #18 of the 20 people, so luckily we received the bag of goodies that included the following:
*a Cabela's hat ($30 value)
*thermos ($11 value)
*beef jerky ($6 value)

The employees then came back outside & passed out 250 gift cards. We ripped ours open to see what we won:

*I won a $20 gift card
*my friend won a $5 gift card
*the guy that I bought a coffee won the $329 commercial vacuum sealer

Since the expiration date on the cards was Dec. 26th, we decided to just go inside & use them before heading back home. I bought a $20 Yankee Candle, my friend bought $5 worth of candy.

So...that's my story. My exciting Saturday morning adventure at Cabela's.

Would I do it again? I don't know, maybe. I definitely wouldn't go at 2am again, especially now that I know that I could go 2 hours before the store opens and still have the same chances as the guy that camped out for 2 days.

Ya live, ya learn. :P

Ebates Review (Part 2)


A couple of a months ago, I signed up for Ebates and started to do my online shopping through them. I am happy to tell y'all that I just received my first big fat check in the mail this week! w00t w00t!!

While this check was just $20.00, I still have $55.95 coming to me in on Feb. 15th, 2014, making it a grand total of $75.95 just for shopping online like I normally do.
Not too shabby!! :D

So yes, Ebates does work & yes it's easy to accumulate cash back by simply shopping online like you normally do & no, there are no hidden gimmicks.

All ya gotta do is....

1) Sign up for Ebates 
2) shop online via their website
3) wait for your big fat check to arrive a couple months later!

That's it! Pretty simple.
I gotta say, it's so nice to get some cash back in the mail, especially to help ease the holiday shopping expenses.

So enjoy & Happy shopping!!!




Review: Mushers Secret Paw Wax for Dogs


If you're a pet parent like myself & you live in a state that snows and/or gets bitterly cold during the Winter, then you've probably had your fur kid do the 'my paws are frozen!' dance when taking them outside to go potty.

I tried making homemade doggy boots, and failed. I bought paw boots from Petco to protect her paws from the ice and snow, she hated them (plus they kept slipping off). It wasn't until a friend of mine told me her secret for keeping her dogs paws comfy...Musher's Secret!

Musher's Secret Pet Paw Protector Wax is a paw wax that you put on your dogs paws before you take them outside. Not only does it protect the paws from sidewalk salt in the Winter & the hot cement during the Summer, but it also acts like a shield from the snow, ice and extreme weather in general. (Make sure to wipe the paws off after walking on sidewalk salt with a towel when you get back inside.)

I bought mine from Amazon and about a week later, it was at my doorstep. I couldn't wait to try it! Finally the snow hit here in Wisconsin and I put this stuff to the test. After a few trial & errors, I figured out that you should take a good amount of the paw wax (about 2 finger swipes worth) for the front paws & then again for the back paws. Get a nice thick coating on the paws.

It's 100% natural, non-toxic, non-staining! :) 

It also acts as a moisturizer, soothing cracked paws. (My dogs paws are soooo soft now, thanks to this stuff!) I've also noticed that the snow & cold does not phase her nearly as much when she has her paw wax on. Before, she'd want to come inside after a few minutes. With the paw wax on, I have a hard time getting her back inside now! ;)

There are 2 different sizes you can order, the small (2 ounces) and the large (7 ounces). After reading the reviews on Amazon from customers who wished they had ordered the larger size because how much they love this stuff, I decided for the extra few bucks more, it'd be worth it to just get the larger size. And I was right!

I can't say enough good things about this product! It's reasonably priced, the large container will surely last a long time, it soothes & protects my dogs paws from all kinds of weather & elements. They should probably rename the product from Mushers Secret to Mushers Miracle! Good stuff!! :)

Cyber Monday Deals & Coupon Codes


UPDATED: Restaurant.com is having an ahh-mazing sale right now!! $3 for $25 gift certficates (they never expire!!) They make great gifts, you can use them on the go via their mobile app, or stock up & print them out for last minute gifts. As y'all know, I use these all the time and love'em!! Great deal, so snag'em up while ya can!!! COUPON CODE: "CYBER"

While Cyber Monday starts tomorrow (Monday, Dec. 2nd), some online stores have begun pushing their Cyber Monday or "Extended Black Friday" sales.

Amazon.com has already started their Cyber Monday deals and there's a ton of great deals to snag up! Check out today's Amazon's Limited Time Deals at the top of the page. Some are selling out quickly or just about sold out, so ya better hurry!

Coupon Codes:
*Kohls: 20% off + Free Shipping (+ get $15 Kohls Cash for every $50) Coupon Code: CYBERWEEK 
*AE.com: 40% off sitewide + Free Shipping, Coupon Code: 50F13311 
*Game Stop: free shipping on orders +$25 (no code required)
*Gap.com: free shipping on orders +$50 (no code required)
*Lane Bryant: 50% off sitewide, coupon code THANKSLB
*Timberland.com: free shipping on +$100 orders, coupon code SHIP100 
*Shutterfly.com: free shipping on +$30 orders, coupon code: SHIP30 
*Old Navy.com: free shipping on orders +$50, no coupon code required 

If you need wedding invitations, business cards, holiday invites, address labels, or flyers, head on over to 123print.com. They have everything 29% off + $5 off orders $25+. 

If you're looking for a tablet, laptop or TV, head over to TigerDirect. They have some amazing deals right now! They have tablets starting at $79, a wireless mouse for $5, and all of their TV's are on sale at huge prices. 


They also have free shipping on orders over $100.


Groupon also has some great sales right now as well. From bedding sets & diamond jewelry, to vacuums and kitchen gadgets. Here are a couple of the best deals I found...
No matter what you're looking for, you're bound to find the perfect gifts for gift giving!

Happy bargain hunting!

Small Business Saturday & Cyber Monday

With the holiday shopping season in full swing, I wanted to mention the most important one of them all..

Small Business Saturday!!

This Saturday, November 30th, shop at your local small businesses to support them. From local town shops, to shops on Etsy.com. Since I'm busy tomorrow, I went shopping today at a local cat shop (Purr Tosa in Wauwatosa, WI) and bought a few toys for our cat. The shop had toys that I've never seen before & prices were great, plus they have a 20% off sale going on right now. There was a cute, lovey dovey cat that greeted us in the shop that we just fell in love with & are now in the process of trying to adopt! :)  She is up for adoption through a rescue, the cat shop owner fosters 1 cat at a time. Always adopt from a rescue or shelter!

So get out there & support your local shops this Saturday, or any other day of the year. Help keep the small businesses alive! :) 

Cyber Monday is just right around the corner, which means online retailers are having some of their best sales of the season. I'm not sure what deals are going on for Cyber Monday (I haven't really looked), but ladies, I just ordered something from LaneBryant.com via Ebates with coupon code "THANKSLB" to get 50% off anything on the site (including clearance items!!) and because I shopped through Ebates, I got 5% cash back. So I got a $40 item for $20 with Free Shipping-to-store, and then an extra $1 back. Pretty darn good deal!

Between Small Business Saturday sales, Cyber Monday deals and ordering through Ebates, you're bound to get amazing deals!

Have a great weekend, guys & gals!! Hope it's a good one! :)

Happy Thanksgiving, Black Friday, Cyber Monday..whatever.

Happy Thanksgiving, lil ramblers! And happy Black Friday shopping to ya, as well as Cyber Monday...basically whatever you're doing this week(end), I hope you do it happily. Or something.

Tomorrow, I have to brave going to the grocery store for a few things that I forgot to get such as the much-needed cool whip for the pumpkin pie & buttermilk to make my homemade banana bread. Sweet fancy Moses, it's gonna be a nightmare.

This is what I hate about this time of the year: people are everywhere & they're grouchy. Mix that with constant ringing bells of the Salvation Army people and an overdose of holly jolly Christmas songs, and this makes me one unhappy gal. I never used to be this way, I swear. I think the older I get, the more I dislike this time of the year. I'm hoping to find my Christmas spirit one of these years (that I apparently shoved up somebody's a** one year, I'm guessing). This year, this year..it's just not happening.

If you're gonna bypass the Black Friday crowds and do it the right way...in your pj's & slippers at home with a cup of a coffee by your side...then let me remind ya that you get actual cash back if you do your shopping via Ebates. (I'm up to $30 in cash back from this past month, that'll be nice to put back in my pocket.)

The next few days are gonna be crazy busy, but I'll do a post sometime over this weekend. In the meantime, Happy Thanksgiving & good luck to all of you who are braving the crowds of craziness on Black Friday. ;)

Rant: Black Friday is Now Called Thanksgiving


There was once a time that I used to look forward to Black Friday. Now, not so much.

Every Thanksgiving morning, I would buy the local newspaper, grab out all the ads, and there I would sit for the next several hours scouting the best deals that I wanted to snag up. I had a system: I would go through each ad twice (just to make sure I didn't miss anything good), circle the deals I wanted with a sharpie, then I would coordinate my Black Friday madness schedule according to opening times, doorbusters, and distance between each destination.

It was an art form, I tell you. You should've seen me. I was the best.

Over the past few years, my love for Black Friday has dwindled down to nothing. Zero. Zilch. Nada. In fact, I am starting to despise Christmas/Holiday time all together now. And it sucks! It sucks because it used to be my favorite time of the year. . And now, I can't stand it.

Why?
Because of corporate greed.

Now, don't get me wrong, I've always been well aware of corporate greed. But somehow, this particular year, they have sunk to an all time low.

A lot of stores are opening up earlier than ever on Thanksgiving:

*Kmart @ 6am (yes...that is AM, not PM)
*Old Navy @ 9am
*Walmart @ 6pm
*Best Buy @ 6pm
*Target @ 8pm

Really, Kmart?? 6am? REALLY!?!!

A day when we are supposed to be with our families to share thanks & be thankful for what we have, is now being trampled on like a lost shoe at a concert. What has happened to giving people the day off to see their families?

I understand that not everyone has family, or lives near family, so this isn't that big of a deal to them. I can relate, all of my family are half-way across the country. I get it. But it's about the principle of the matter. It's the corporations that are laughing...at you, by the way...all the way to the bank. I take it as a huge insult, and I know I'm not alone.

*Gets up on her soapbox*...

I would love to see our nation rally against those stores that don't give a flying %$#! about your family time, your Thanksgiving meal that was prepared with love, or simply, just a day off! Stand up to those that stores that are forcing their employees to work on Thanksgiving, so that you can save a few bucks on a t shirt. It's time to say...Enough is Enough!

Speak with your wallets on Thanksgiving by not going to the mentioned stores above. Instead, go to stores that are CLOSED on Thanksgiving and actually open on Black Friday! Need a list? Here ya go...

Stores That Open On Black Friday..not on Thanksgiving:
*Aeropostle
*Ace Hardware
*Bed Bath Beyond
*Bass Pro Shops
*Costco
*GameStop
*Home Depot
*JoAnn Fabrics
*Lowes
*Menards
*Nordstrom
*PetCo
*PetSmart
*Radio Shack
*RiteAid
*Sams Club
*Steinmart

So go out & shop your little Black Friday lovin' hearts out on Black Friday, not Thanksgiving Thursday. If not, don't be surprised to see "Pre-Black Friday Sales" starting on the Wednesday before T-Day next year. The more you buy this year & make it worth the companies while to open that early, the more they'll keep opening up earlier & earlier. It's time we push back.

*Gets off of soapbox*

Freebies: How to Get Them

I love freebies!! I LOVE THEM!! And the best part? They're everywhere! In this post, I'll share my knowledge of how I get freebies. Though I'm not an expert on freebies (*I'm far from being one of those people on that Extreme Couponing show), I do know a secret or two on how to get them.

Birthday Freebies:
The best time of the year for me is the week of my birthday, not only because it's my birthday, but because I also get freebies galore in my inbox! Lots of free food from local restaurants that send me e-coupons for a free entree or dessert simply because I signed up via their website for their email alerts.  

Here's my list of birthday freebies:
*Applebees: free sundae (walk-in/ask) ($4 value)
*free meal @ iHop ($9 value)
*Buy 1, Get 1 for $2 @ Old Country Buffet ($10 value)
*Local casino for birthday comps (see post below for details)
*Local Frozen Yogurt (I recieved a free small fro-yo)
*Noodles & Co: free bowl of noodles ($8 value)
*Chilli's: free dessert w/ entree purchase
*Moes Burritos (local Milwaukee eatery): free burrito ($8 value)

Note: Most coupons were good for 2 weeks, so print them out & go to a different place each day! :)

I'm sure there's more freebies from other restaurants (check local & national chains), these are just the ones that I'm currently signed up for.

Casino Freebies: 
Here in Milwaukee, we have a casino that gives you $25 on your players card that can be redeemed at any of their restaurants and gift shops, or towards bingo play. So every year on my birthday, I go to the casino to get a free meal ($10+ tip usually) and then spend the rest towards free bingo play. This year was even better: I received a $5 off bingo coupon in the mail plus a $10 off at any restaurant coupon, so I was able to eat for free ($10 value), play bingo for free ($20 value) and still have enough left over on my players card to play bingo for free at a later date! Total score!! Every casino is different, of course. If you live near a casino, even if you don't play, go & sign up for their players card. You'll get coupons and hopefully some awesome birthday comps, too! If you're lucky, you'll get both on your birthday and have a great night out--for FREE!!

Online Freebies:
I'm just going to lightly touch on this subject since I could write a book about online freebies, but my 2 favorite sites for freebies are Spoofee.com & Walmart.com has freebie section to get samples in the mail. After a few weeks of ordering samples, I started to collect a nice pile of useable stuff--for free!

Tips:
No matter what you use/buy/shop at, make sure to sign up on their website for the email list. Sometimes I luck out and get freebies through doing that. For example, I signed up a year ago on BlueBuffalo.com (dog/cat products) and I just received a freebie coupon for a bag of kitty litter that is valued at $9. Being a cat owner, I'll take free litter any day! (If you're not a cat owner, you can always donate it to your local animal shelter. They'll love you for it!)

Cash Back:
I already did a post on this, but definitely check out Ebates!! They give you actual cash back for online shopping. (*Reminder: Black Friday & Cyber Monday are coming up soon! Might as well get cash back on stuff you're buying online anyways!) I use them when I shop online and I'm already up to $25. Hey, $25 bucks is $25 bucks..I'll take it!

There's all kinds of freebies out there and if you love to save money like I do, then hopefully you enjoyed this post. Yay for freebies!!!


Buying a Used Car: Get Ready for Stress

 

This post is more of a rant, but one that I think many of us can relate to.

A year ago, I had to sell my Chevy Blazer due to it being an older car & things kept breaking on it. With over 180,000 miles on it and it being nearly 20 years old, it was time that I sell my money pit and just share a car with my better half. The past year has not been fun, to say the least. One car between 3 jobs = not fun.

After saving up for a year for a used car (I didn't want a loan), the time has finally come to start car shopping for a decent used car. The experience has been stressful and overwhelming. From cruising the lot of used cars after-hours so that we wouldn't be harassed by salesmen, to looking online at cars, it's become a part time job.

I first started looking online to gauge the prices of cars. Then I started reading reviews of local dealers to see how their past customers rate them, which most of them were downright scary! People being sold cars that were totaled out on the title, or rusted out frames, to plain old lying & using the bait/switch tactic when signing the papers. Scary, scary, scary.

After hours of research, I found that there are 2 things to consider when buying a used car, when it comes time for negotiating: the Kelly Blue Book Value & the True Market Value. Somewhere in between those numbers, you'll find a good negotiating point. Also, don't forget to get the CarFax& an inspection for the car you're looking at. (A good dealer will have the carfax online for free to look at and/or in person upon request). This will tell you if the car has been in any accidents, been totaled, flooded, etc. Getting a car inspected can not only save you from buying a piece of junk, but it can also help in negotiating if you buy from a private seller on Craigslist.

I didn't want to go through Craigslist, for the fear of being ripped off. I'm not saying that all people selling cars on Craigslist are dishonest sellers, but there are handful of dishonest people that are trying to con someone into buying their car for any number of reasons. 

It's been a month of looking for the perfect-for-me used car, and my search still continues. Hopefully I'll get a get reliable car and not a lemon. So if you're in the market for a used car, I wish you luck, strength and patience.
 

Bow Wow Bistro: Dog Treat Maker (Review)

With all the news stories about dog treats making dogs sick (or worse) recently, I figured now would be a good time to start making my own treats for my Golden Retriever, Bella.

This is Bella:
For my birthday, my amazing boyfriend (and pet-daddy to Bella), bought me a Dog Treat Maker! I was so thrilled that I could now start making homemade doggy treats for my fur daughter! :) The treat maker didn't come with any dog treat mixes, but he bought me 2 of the mixes that are sold separately. He picked the peanut butter flavor mix.

Right off the bat, I ran into a problem: the mix required a rolling pin to roll out the dough. I had thrown out my old one months ago & never replaced it. Doh! After a speedy trip to the nearest Target, I grabbed a $20 rolling pin and was on my way to baking up some delicious doggy treats.

With my trusty rolling pin now by my side, I started making the mix, which only required some vegetable oil, an egg, and some water. Oh, and a lighly floured counter-top to roll the dough out onto.
*Note: The dog shaped cutter in the pic came with the dog treat maker.

After I wiped down the dog treat maker with a damp paper towel (to get the dust off from the factory/boxing), I plugged it in to pre-heat it, as I made the dog treat mix. I then placed them on the treat maker and waited 5 minutes for them to be done.


They looked great! The mix also came with icing (you just add water, then put on top of the treats).


After letting them cool off for about 10 minutes, I gave one to Bella to see if she liked it..and she loved it!!! Since they're so small and thin, I gave her a few more to see how much she liked them, and yep..she loved them all!

At this point, I was so happy because it was easy to make and Bella loved them!! ...but then I ran into a problem the next morning. When I went over to Bella's dog treat container where I had put the baked goods the night before, I could feel that the treats were no longer hard/crunchy feeling. They now felt rubbery, soft, almost like uncooked dough (though I know they were cooked thoroughly). I gave Bella one to see if maybe they still tasted okay and she wasn't too thrilled with it. At that point, I threw them all out. They were crunchy the night before & even left a few crumbs on the carpet. This left me puzzled.

I'm not sure where I went wrong...did the icing making them soggy? Should I have put them in an air tight container? Or perhaps I didn't let them cool off enough before putting them in her dog treat container? I'm not sure.

So while at first I would have enthusiastically gave this product a 5 out of 5 stars, I'm going to have to say the maker itself is great (even if you use your own homemade recipes, which are included in the booklet that came with the maker) and I give that 5 stars, but as for the mixes, the jury is still out on this one. I have a 2nd box of mix that I'm going to try and when I do, I'll update this post (give me about a week).

Conclusion:
Dog Treat Maker: 5 out of 5 Stars
Dog Treat Mixes: (to be updated)

UPDATED:
I decided to just return the treat maker because I want to make homemade dog treats in the oven. So instead, I'll be ordering a dog treat cutter to cut the dough into dog bone shapes. 

If you're interested in a dog treat maker, or perhaps silicone baking bone pans, check out the stuff I found on Amazon. I think for Christmas, I'm going to ask for a silicone baking bone pan so that I can make large treat bones, which are Bella's favorite! ;)

Free Homemade Dog Treats Recipe: (per the booklet from the dog treat maker)

*2 cups whole wheat (or gluten free) flour
*1 cup rolled oats
*1/2 cup low-sodium peanut butter
*1 cup hot water

Whisk flour & oats together, then add peanut butter and water. Mix until dough begins to form. Place dough on lightly floured surface & knead by hand 2-3 times. Roll dough to 1/4 inch thick & cut dough into bone shapes. (The maker then says to put bake them for 5-6 minutes, but you can bake them in the oven at 325 degrees for a few minutes. Just make sure to keep an eye on them so they don't burn.)

Want more? Here is another homemade dog treat recipe that I found.
Enjoy!!! :D


Poo Pourri Review: The 'Before You Go' Spray

If you have not yet seen the hysterical YouTube commercial for Poo Pourri, then I highly suggest you stop what you're doing & go watch it. It's hilarious! And yes, it's a real product!

Poo Pourri is a 'before you go' spray. You simply spray it in your toliet (4-6 sprays) before you go, and just like that..no smell during or after! No more spraying your bathroom with huge amounts of your favorite odor masking spray or, if you're old school, lighting a match to get rid of the not-so-pleasant smell.

Once I saw the commercial for it, I just had to try it! It got amazing reviews on Amazon (4.7 out of 5 stars), and that's the best reviews I've ever seen for any product on there. With reviews like that, I just had to buy a bottle for myself & see what all the rave was about.

There are a variety of scents, with creative & funny names, to pick from. I picked the "Party Pooper" scent.
It has essential oil scents of mandarin, tangerine, and lily. It has a very pleasant citrus (like a lemon) smell to it. I bought the 2 oz bottle (pictured above), but I wish I had bought the bigger bottle (though I'll just use this bottle as a travel bottle & stick it in my purse once I get the bigger bottle).

Both the boyfriend & I tested this out and let me tell you, it really works!! I am officially a fan of Poo Pourri and as long as it's being sold, I'll continue to buy it. I bought my "Party Pooper" bottle a week ago and I still have about 99% of the spray left, so it should last for a long time.

With Christmas coming up, this would be a great stocking stuffer, or a gag gift that actually works!

They have other scents such as:

*Sh*ttin Pretty
*Deja Poo
*Christmas Santa Poo
*Original
*Secret Santa
*Trap-a-Crap
*Royal Flush
*Heavy Doody
*Party Pooper

Check out all the scents on Amazon& pick up a few for those on your holiday shopping list and don't forget to get one for yourself! Trust me, you'll love it!!

Tis The Season for the Flu

I've been sick all week so far with a gnarly cold/flu. Runny nose (then stuffy, off and on), body aches, fever of 101.2, and a box of kleenex constantly by my side. Every Fall season, I get sick. I've been off work for 2 days now, but going back tomorrow, with my handy dandy kleenex box in tow.

Being sick & laying around blowing my nose for days, got me thinking: is the myth of the "You get the flu with the flu shot" true? I don't get them anymore because every time I did, I would come down with the flu a week later. I just found it too coincidental. Plus, there are different stains of the flu and getting a flu shot doesn't protect you for all of them, so you could just as easily get sick anyway.

Do you get the flu shot every year? If you do, do you find that you get sick shortly afterwards? 

Well, that's all the rambling I can muster up with the amount of (more like lack of) energy I have at the moment. Stay healthy & stock up on that vitamin C. Tis the season!

"Carrie" (Remake): Movie Review

("Carrie" The Movie, a remake of the 1976 film.)

I've seen the trailers for the remake of the classic 1976 film, "Carrie", and I just couldn't wait to see it. I was anxious to see a new & updated version of the original, with one of my all time favorite actresses (Julianne Moore) playing a big role in it.

Chloe Grace Moretz ("Carrie") is hardly new to Hollywood, as she's been acting since 2004 and she's only 16 years old. You might (or might not) remember her from the TV series "The Guardian" and "Dirty Sexy Money" or perhaps in the movie "Big Momma's House 2" or "500 Days of Summer". Personally, I never heard of her but after seeing her in the remake of "Carrie" last night, I'll never forget her. 

The Short Conclusion:
It was borderline okay/good. It wasn't "Oh my gosh, ya gotta see it!" good, so don't be sad if you have to wait until it's out on DVD or Netflix. 

The Long Conclusion:
The movie is an updated version of the classic, so there was a lot of modern day stuff like texting, YouTube, taking pictures/videos of with cell phones, etc. The movie had ups & downs for me. Whenever Chloe & Julianne (Carrie & Carrie's mom) were acting a scene together, there were amazing moments of brilliant acting. Then in the next scene, I felt like I was watching an after school special for anti-bullying. It was up & down. Didn't have a consistent feeling or flow for me.

The one thing I did like about the film was that it was fast-moving. It seemed like we only watched 20-30 mins of the movie, when in reality, it was probably over an hour. (The move is 92 minutes long.) 

The original is much scarier and just..well...a classic. 
This remake is an okay upgrade of the film.

I'm looking forward to seeing more acting from Chloe Grace Moretz in the future, as I believe her acting was great in the film, as well as Julianne Moore's as usual. It was the high school scenes that made me feel like I was watching "Mean Girls" all over again and brought down the overall feel of it for me. 

I saw on IMDB.com that it got rated 6.6 out of 10 stars...that's pretty spot-on accurate. More than a 6, less than a 7. Yea, I'm gonna have to agree with that score.

Cheap Vegas Vacation: A Guide for First Timers

 (Pic of the Vegas Strip)
I'm back!! :D I originally wanted to do this post on Saturday, but I was completely jet lagged and exhausted, so sorry for the delay.

Okay, let's dive right on in!!

One thing I wasn't expecting, was that I actually loved Old Vegas (Fremont St, a mile or so away from the strip) way more than the Vegas Strip!!! The differences between the the Vegas Strip & Fremont St in Old Vegas, are night and day.

Old Vegas VS New Vegas:
If you don't mind crowds of people that walk into you constantly, slots that seemingly never pay out, loads of tourists, and walking a mile from 1 hotel to the next, then you might like the Vegas strip. If you're more of a laid back, chill person who likes their slot machines loose and blackjack tables to offer $3 or $5/hand with fairly quick (and free) alcoholic drinks being offered to you as you gamble, then Old Vegas/Fremont St. is for you.
(Pic of Freemont St in Old Vegas)
We stayed at The Golden Nugget on Freemont St and loved it! It was right in the heart of everything on Fremont St. We walked out of the hotel and boom..everything was there. Right across the street is Binions, a Casino & Hotel. It was small and had a good vibe to it. We played blackjack there for $3/hand or $5/hand, played slots, took a pic with $1 million dollars (which they give to you free), ate a buy 1/get 1 free burger and fries meal, and they also had poker tournaments there (we didn't play, but I plan on it next year when we go back). This was our go-to spot on Fremont St.

Every night, there was live entertainment on different stages on the street, and every hour they had a light show which was amazing to see! I recorded 2 of the light shows, one is "Monster Mash" and the other one is a tribute to the band "Heart".

"Heart Tribute"

"Monster Mash"
It's hard to capture the true vibe of Fremont St, but it's just...magical. It's like your own little world and down to earth party zone.

The Spirit of Fremont St:

We went to the Vegas Strip twice. We tried to see as many casinos as possible, but my feet were so sore and tired from walking, that I was a bit irritated and just wanted to get back to Old Vegas as soon as we could.

My Favorite Memory of the Strip:
We were in a casino (I forget which one, there's so many of them there) and it was daylight outside when we walked in, but when we walked out, it was nighttime and all the signs were lit up. It was breath taking!!!

Most Surprising Thing About the Vegas Strip:
It's nothing like you see in movies, TV shows, or pictures. Yea, those shots of people riding in a limo with their head out the window as they look at the lit up casino signs?...doesn't happen. It can't! Traffic is too backed up and such a clusterf**k, they would have to shut down part of the strip just to get that shot. Plus, there was a lot of construction at various hotels, which was disruptive to the views at times. The most eye appealing hotel & casino for me was New York, New York. Amazing!

Transportation:
There's 1 bus, called the "Deuce" (double decker bus) that runs from Fremont St the whole way up & down to the last casino on the strip, and back. This is the only form of transportation you will need down there. It's $8 for a 24 hour pass and so worth it! (You can also buy a 3 day pass for $20, which saves you some money.) The buses came pretty quickly. I'd say 90% of the time, we only waited 1 minute before the bus came. Another time, we waited about 5 mins. They run all the time. You can buy your ticket either from the bus driver, or more conveniently, from one of the many TVM's (Ticket Vending Machines).

Airport to Hotel Transportation:
We used a shuttle for $9/each way, per person. This is, by far, the cheapest option and it wasn't bad at all! It took us about 20 minutes to get to our hotel from the airport. When you pick up your bags in baggage claim at the Vegas Airport, there are ticket counters you can go up to if you wanna purchase a shuttle ticket. (If you don't see any, just ask anyone that works there.) On the day of your flight back home, make sure to call the shuttle service at least 2 hrs prior to your pick up time. (Eg: call at 10am if you want to be picked up at 12pm).

Hidden Costs:
Most, if not all hotels, will try to nickel & dime you to death. Well, that's pretty much the moto of Vegas, too. ;) If you want to use wifi, you have to pay $13/per day. (We had 4G service & never had to use it.) If you want that bottle of Fiji Water in your hotel room, that'll be $7. But our biggest shocker came from the baggage fees of Frontier Airlines (which I will never use again, but it's for a different reason other than the hidden baggage fees). We had to pay $170 more for our carry-on luggage. Yes, carry on luggage. (I'm surprised they didn't try to charge me for having my purse on the plane. Geez.)  So when you're looking on Travelocity for a cheap Vegas package, call that airline directly and ask them what their luggage fees are for both check-in bags and carry-on bags as well. Don't get fooled like we did. Luckily, this was our only costly "mistake" we made the entire trip.

Coupons, Coupons, Coupons!:
We didn't have any coupons prior to going to Vegas, but that's okay because they are all over the place down there! We had 3 buy 1, get 1 free meal coupons, drinks are free (as long as you're playing slots or a table game), and if you want to walk around the strip or Fremont St drinking, just stop into a liquor store and buy a huge can of beer for $4.

We ate at the Buffet in the Golden Nugget for breakfast & dinner and it was great food at a great price!

(Pic of the Golden Nugget Buffet)

I think breakfast was $10/each and dinner was $15/each during the week. That's the other thing, go to Vegas during the week because (1) everything goes up in price starting on Fridays and (2) the crowds get horrible for the weekend travelers coming into town.

Each time you go into a casino, sign up for their casino card. You will get a ton of free coupons doing this, plus comps in the future for gambling at their hotel. (We never racked up enough points in any casino to get comps this trip.) We got free slot play and free meals by doing this. Definitely worth your time.

Tix 4 Tonight:
These booths are everywhere! You can't miss them. And they will save you money on shows & dinners, usually good for 2 days. We bought tickets for the Mob Attraction (not the Mob Museum, which is in Old Vegas...the Mob Attraction is on the strip) and we bought tickets for Madame Tussauds Wax Museum, too. All at discounted prices. Both attractions were really good! Here's a video I took at the Wax Museum:


Walking Shoes:
I really can't stress this enough, BRING A GOOD PAIR OF WALKING SHOES!!!! This was my biggest mistake of the whole trip. I thought my Converse shoes would be good enough, and nope..I was so wrong. I literally had bruises on the soles of my feet from walking around so much in a pair of shoes that weren't made for walking that much. Next time, I will buy a good pair of walking shoes and break them in a month in advance. 

Vegas On a Budget:
We went to Vegas on a budget of $100/day ($300 total for the 3 days were were there) and we were successful at it! We were able to eat, drink, and gamble for hours on $100 or less every day. (One day, I only spent $60 thanks to getting lucky on slot machines & playing blackjack). You just have to know when to walk away from the slot machines or table games. So if you're on a budget, you can still have a blast for cheap!!

What Everyone Will Tell You:
When you tell people "I'm going to Vegas!", they will tell you 'do this' and 'do that', and it's overwhelming. And it's not because they're wrong, it's because they're right! There is so much to do & see in Vegas, and it would take a lifetime to do it all. So go at your own pace, do the things you want to do/see. Miss something this trip? Just see it the next time you go! (And trust me, you'll want to go back. ;) )

In Conclusion:
This was our first time in Vegas and we barely knew anything before going, but still figured out things along the way pretty easily. So don't be afraid to go, not knowing what to do. You'll catch on & fairly quickly! We didn't win big, but we also didn't lose big. (I think I lost $30 the whole trip to gambling, I won on slots most of the time and a few times at blackjack.)

What I Would Do Differently:
I can't believe I didn't do this in the first place. If you're signed up on Ebates.com and plan on using Travelocity (like I did) to book your trip (search in Vacation Packages), you get 2.50% cash back on Vacation Packages. I could have had $19.50 cash back (via a check in the mail) if I would have done that. Hey, $19 bucks is $19 bucks!

Total Budget Cost Breakdown:
Hotel, Airfare, Taxes: $390/each
Baggage Fees: $85/each
Food/Gambling/Drinks: $100/day budget x 3 days
Transportation Fees (Shuttle & Bus): $32

Total: $807/each for Tues-Fri Stay (3 nights/4 days)

If you've been to Vegas and you have some tips for anyone going, leave them in the comment section below! I'd love to hear them! :D

Going to Vegas, Baby!!

On Tuesday (Oct 8th), the boyfriend and I will be boarding our plane to go to Vegas for our Vegas Vacation! We're both excited & nervous, as this is our first time going to Vegas. We come back on Friday, so expect a post-Vegas Vacation blog on Saturday. I'll let y'all know what we did, how we saved money, and probably some first timers mistakes as well.

We used Travelocity to book our Vegas Vacation. We snagged up a killer deal!! It was $390/each (that includes hotel, airfare & taxes) for 4 days. Super duper cheap!! We booked a Tues-Fri trip.

While we have an idea of the stuff we wanna do while we're there, I'm sure plans will change off & on while we're actually there. Here are some of the things we're planning on doing:

*Madame Tussauds Wax Museum
*Mob Museum
*Fountains at the Bellagio (Free)
*Siegfried and Roy's Secret Garden and Dolphin Habitat at the Mirage
*"Sirens of TI" Pirate Show at Treasure Island (Free)
*Volcano at the Mirage (Free)
*Taking a free limo to the OG Strip Club (Free Admission, too!)
*Enjoy free drinks while playing slots at various hotels
*Catching some kind of Vegas show while we're there

Since we're going to Vegas on a budget (I do everything on a budget lol), we're going to see what discounted show tickets are being offered at (up to) 50% off at any of the Tix 4 Tonight booths around town. They change shows every morning, so that will be a 'whatever we can get' kind of thing. They sell tickets for non-sold out shows for that evening. I'm hoping we can score a Cirque du Soleil show, as they seem to be the best.

The $20 Trick:
Ever since we booked our Vegas Vacation, I've been looking up Vegas secrets, tips, deals, etc. The one hot tip that I kept finding over & over again, was "The $20 Trick". So what is it? Well, if you want to upgrade your hotel room, you just slip a folded up $20 bill in between your drivers license & credit card and hand it to the hotel desk clerk. Most of the time, they'll upgrade your room for you. If they can't (due to rooms being booked up, or their manager nearby), they'll simply give you your money back. We're going to try this trick, so make sure to come back on Saturday to see if it worked!

According to TheTwentyDollarTrick.com, it seems that most hotel guests are successful at the $20 trick, except at a few hotels such as MGM Grand & Harrah's. (Those hotels have about a 50% success rate, while most others are around 80-90%.)

Airport to Hotel:
We were told by friends that the best way to get from the airport to the hotel, is to take a hotel shuttle for $9/each. While it might take 45 mins to get to the hotel because of the shuttle stopping to drop off guests are various hotels, it's the cheapest option. We were told that a cab ride would be around $40+ with tip and could take 20-30 minutes (depending on what hotel you're staying at & traffic). We'll take the shuttle.

Getting Around Town:
We were informed that if we want to get around Vegas (on the strip), then do not take a cab; take the bus. From what we've been told, it's $5/each for a 24 bus pass. 

Free Limo Rides:
Even if you're not a big fan of strip clubs, still take them up on their Free Limo ride! Most of them offer a free limo ride & free admission as well. You just call them up, tell them to pick you up, they take you to the club, and you get free admission as well. (Don't forget to tip your driver about $10-$20.) I think everyone should see Vegas from a limo, so we'll be taking them up on that offer. After doing the research, it seems that the OG Strip Club is the best bet, simply because of the location; it's on the strip. This means, once we're done, we can just go outside and walk the strip or take a bus. (Sapphires Strip Club is off-strip, meaning that you'd have to get a ride back to the hotel via cab. They also have the most expensive drinks from what I've read and a huge ATM fee if you need to use it.)

Sign Up for Deals via Email:
After I booked our Vegas package, I signed up for email alerts on our hotels website for special email savings, and boy am I glad I did! I just received an email about a week ago saying that if we booked by a certain date, then we'd get a Coupon Book at check-in with $250 worth of coupons. Well, since we technically already booked by that date, I wanted that coupon book! ;) I called them up, told them about the email I just received & that I'd like a coupon book as well. They said okay, and we will receive it upon check-in. Because I signed up for email specials on their website and was able to score the coupon book, we will be saving more money on things like:

*Buy 1, Get 1 Free Breakfast Buffet
*Buy 1, Get 1 Free Lunch Buffet
*Two Free Casino Cocktails
*$10 in match-play for slots


Just with those coupons alone, we're going to be saving around $80+ on stuff we were planning on doing anyways! Cha-ching! :D

Savings on the Go:
Since I'm already signed up with Groupon & Restaurant.com, I added the apps to my phone so that I can buy discounted food certificates for places near us whenever we get hungry. (You can buy & use the certificates right on your phone!)

That's it for this post! Tomorrow will be a busy day for us as we prepare for our early morning flight on Tuesday, so check back on Saturday for a new post, and make sure to follow me on Twitter, as I'll be tweeting pics from the trip all week long.

Vegas, here we come!! :D

Winter: Friend or Foe

Yes, it's only October, but if you've been to a your local mall or favorite store recently, then you've probably already seen Christmas decorations being put up; a painful reminder of what's to come.

Personally, I hate Winter! I hate the cold-to-the-bone temperatures, the idiot drivers who either drive too fast or too slow for weather conditions, the holiday shopping season (with the exception of Black Friday, which I love!) But I have to wonder, is Winter a friend or foe?

Like everything else in life, there are pros and cons.

Pros: 
*Pretty scenery of the snow, especially on trees.
*Sled riding, skiing, snowboarding..let's face it, it can't happen without snow!
*Hoodies & sweatpants weather..ahhhh tis the season to look like you just rolled out of bed.
*Snowball fights
*Christmas festivities (or is this a con? Hmm.)
*Nothing like snuggling up with a blanket & a cup of hot cocoa on a couch during a snowfall.
*It's okay to be a couch potato because everyone else is during Winter.
*Drinking with buddies around a toasty campfire.

Cons:
*It's too freakin' COLD!!
*Not that I need to mention it again, but...idiotic drivers.
*Christmas festivities (again, not sure which category to put this in lol)
*Putting on 3 layers of everything just to go outside to walk your dog.
*Getting your car snowed in by a plow truck.
*Boredom sets in from lack of Winter-friendly activities to do.
*Can't drink with buddies around a campfire for more than 30 mins w/o freezing your a** off.
*Why is it only super windy during Winter & not during summer days when we want it to be?

Every year before Winter hits, I tell myself to look forward to Winter and all the stuff that you can only do during Winter time. By January, I'm usually so irritated with all the cold and snow that I start looking online for other states that I can move to that don't have Winters. The only thing that prevents me from making the move is that (1) snow & Christmas go hand in hand for me (I couldn't imagine a Christmas without snow) (2) I love sled riding!! I'm such a kid at heart. ;)

I guess it's up to you to figure out if Winter is your friend or foe. For me, it's a love/hate relationship, one that I will never leave. And I'm okay with that.



Halloween: My Favorite Time of the Year

It is now October, and that means my favorite time of the year is here!! I love Halloween, LOVE IT!!!! I wait all year for it. The haunted houses, ghost hunting, corn mazes, costumes, parties, decorations...ahhh...it's all so awesome!

Every weekend in October, you can find me at various Haunted Houses for the most part, or local cemeteries on a foggy night for the pure scare factor that oddly seems to never go away no matter how old I am. That's what Halloween is all about..bringing up childhood-like fears, whether it be scary clowns (*by the way, I freakin' hate clowns!), or an actor in a haunted house jumping at you from out of nowhere to scare you. It makes you feel like a kid again, and you're never too old to go to a haunted house! As long as I'm alive and I can walk, I will be forever be going to haunted houses.

There was a haunted house I went to last year here in Wisconsin (Burial Chamber Haunted Complex), where they had a Burial Simulator. After purchasing your ticket, you go into a coffin, they close the casket, and you begin to hear your own funeral, including the ride to the cemetery and being buried. The coffin moves around in realistic motions, to give you the sense of traveling on a gravel road, or shaking back and forth as you're 'being lowered into the ground'. It was really something else! Freaky? Yes. Worth the money? Yes. Would I do it again? ...I'm not sure. lol It was mentally disturbing because even though you know it's not real, it just starts to get to you. The thought of being alone in a closed casket, hearing your own funeral, not being able to move, then you start thinking about your own death..it's a mind-f*%# for sure! If you're lucky enough to have one in your area, I highly suggest you go & try it. It's definitely worth the experience.

While I certainly have my favorite haunted houses, my all-time favorite haunted attraction is called Haunted Woods in Waterford, WI. You buy your ticket (*I usually buy a hot cocoa while I'm at it), stand in line outside in a big field with steel drums that have fire in them, and wait for your hearse to pull up. Once the hearse pulls up, you get in with about 8 other people in the back (where the coffins once were during transportation), then they drop you off in the woods where you will have the best scares of your life! Things fly down from trees, actors come out from seemingly nowhere with real chainsaws revving , mystery sheds you are forced to walk through, which sometimes could be pitch-black inside...just thinking about it gets me excited to go back this year! I go every year and it's usually the 1st stop on my To-Do list for the Halloween season.

Tip: If you're planning to go to a haunted house, look on their website to purchase tickets. You can often get them cheaper than at the ticket counter.

If you're looking for fun Halloween stuff to do on a budget, check out deals on Groupon! You can often get Halloween deals for 50% off (or more) per attraction! I just bought a Groupon for 2 tickets for a Corn Maze for 50% off (so basically, buy 1 get 1 free).

It was only $6/person, instead of $12/person. You can download the app on your phone and you can redeem it by showing the person at the ticket booth.

I hope y'all have a wonderful Halloween season of haunted houses, scares, and screams! ;)

Ebates Review (Part 1)

I have heard about Ebates.com a few years back & ever since, I simply kept forgetting to signup for them. (I'm signed up now, though! Took literally less than 1 minute. Easy peasy!) For those of you who shop online anyways, especially during the holidays (like Cyber Monday), you can get cash back via a check in the mail for doing what you're doing online anyways..shopping!

I have yet to use them myself, but that time will be coming this Fall for Cyber Monday. I will do a Part 2 Review after that to let y'all know how much I spent VS how much money I got back from my online shopping for Christmas gifts. I had found out from a friend of mine years ago who used them and swore by them, but I just simply kept forgetting to signup for it! I can only imagine how much cash back I would've got back, had I signed up then.

How it works:
*Sign up for Ebates.com
*Look for the store(s) you want to shop at
*Start shopping!
*Rewards post to your account within 48 hrs

When Will I Get Paid? 
What are options to receive my payments?
*Check or Paypal

What's the Payout Minimum?
*$5.01 (not including bonuses)

Here's a sample of how much cash back you can get at different stores:
*Target: up to 2.5%
*Kohls: 6%
*Walmart: 1%
*Sears: 7%
*Lane Bryant: 2.5%
*Kmart: 7%
*ToysRus: 1%
*JcPenny: 4%
*Old Navy: 2%

They have nearly every online store on their website, so odds are, you'll find the store(s) you're looking for.

Bonus: 
When you signup, you can pick from an option of gift cards as a bonus! I chose the $10 Target gift card since I shop there more often than any other store.

Addition Bonus:
If you have a Target Red Card (the debit card, not their credit card one), you get 5% off of your online purchases plus free shipping! Add that with the 'up to' 2.5% cash back, and you have some serious savings! Keep that in mind for Cyber Monday this year! ;)

Like I said, I have yet to use them, but do know that it works via a friend. I will do a Part 2 Review, including pics of my 1st cash back check & $10 Target gift card as soon as it comes in. (That'll be in a few months, as they only pay out quarterly). In the meantime, start getting some money back while doing your online shopping! Don't be like me and forget for 3 yrs. lol :P

Happy shopping!!

Just Being Cheap or Budgeting? You Be the Judge

Call it whatever you want, I'll call it being smart! I proudly call myself a "Budget Queen". I'm that girl that will do most of her grocery shopping at Aldi's and the rest at the Dollar Store. I don't buy Windex, I use rubbing alcohol mixed with water in a spray bottle. I don't buy dishwasher detergent or laundry soap; I simple make my own for pennies per load.

It's not a matter of how much money is in the bank, it's the point of keeping whatever is in there, there! No matter what my bank account says (and at times, I'm surprised I don't get fined for having less than $X amount in it lol), I always live like I'm on a budget.

I'm on a strict $XXX/per month budget, despite how much moola I have in the bank. Here are just a few things that I do to cut costs:

*I shop at Goodwill for most things, except furniture. (I always buy furniture brand new!)
*I buy meats, divide them up, and then put them in the freezer.
*I have a free hobby, called Geocaching. (it's basically treasure hunting w/ a GPS unit)
*We don't have cable, but get free cable. (I'll post on how we do that in a minute).
*We go to $1 nights at the Budget Cinema & bring our own goodies.
*I make my own laundry soap & dishwashing detergent.

TIP: If you live near a lot of Goodwills, go to the one in the best community; one that is more of a fancy-schmancy kind of town where rich folks donate stuff like Polo, Hollister, etc. You can get nice, new-looking for clothes for about $4/shirt & $6/jeans.

The more money you save, the more awesome things you can do with your saved money later on..like a nice vacation! The goal is to save money, but don't forget to treat yourself once in awhile with your saved cash!

If you love to read books, then I'm about to blow your mind (unless you're already aware of this wonderful website). There's a website called PaperbackSwap.com where you can send/receive books for free. I've been a member for about 7-8 yrs now and I swear by them. I list the books that I already have and don't want, someone requests a book, I send it out, then I get 1 book credit to shop around for a new book. Love it!

"Free" Cable Trick:
This only works if you have cable internet. Using a cable splitter ($1 on ebay), hook up a cable lines between your TV-Modem-Cable Splitter. You get all the channels that are free over the air (same channels as you get with rabbit ear antenna's) but a strong solid signal. I get 19 channels, including TBS, CBS, FOX, ABC, NBC, which is perfect for me since I don't really watch TV that much.

The HDMI Cord Trick:
This only works if you have a laptop. Make sure your laptop & TV both have an HDMI input. Buy a HDMI cable ($20 @ Target), hook up between your laptop & TV and that's it! You can now watch free shows from your favorites websites (ex: Hulu, A & E, Discovery.com, etc) on your tv! Add a wireless mouse as a "remote" and you're all set. ;)

Homemade Laundry Soap:
2 Cups of Borax
2 Cups of Super Washing Soda
2 Bars of Fels-Naptha Laundry Bar Soap (shredded up in a bowl)
1 box of Baking Soda

Shred up the bars of soap using a cheese grater/shredder.
Mix everything together, put in a container, use 3 TSP per load.

Optional: Dryer sheets @ the dollar store

Homemade Dishwashing Detergent:
1 cup of Baking Soda
1 cup of Borax

2 TBLS/per load

Alright, I rambled off enough for one day. ;) I hope some of y'all enjoyed the tips!!

Ghost Hunting: It's Not Just for TV Shows Anymore

(Pic of me, on left, ghost hunting back in 2006.)

Ahh..ghost hunting. One of my favorite topics of all time!! You might be seeing a lot of posts about ghost hunting on this blog because it's not only a hobby of mine, it's a big part of who I am...well, not the hunting part, but the interests in afterlife/ghosts.

I think those that don't believe in ghosts, are people that just haven't had any personal experiences...yet. ;) Most people have had encounters with the afterlife but either brush it off & dismiss them, or they're not profound enough for them to question the what/why/how. If there's one thing I'm sure of, it's that ghosts do very much exist. And they're everywhere. 

By definition, I am what they call "a sensitive". Just like any other skill, it's one that takes practice as mastering. Though I've come a long way, I will always be fine tuning my senses. I've always been a "sensitive" ever since I was a kid, or at least that's when I first noticed it. I think anyone can be a sensitive, it's just fine tuning your intuition, which everyone has naturally. Ever walk into a room and you just felt a "vibe"? Or walk into someones house and there was just an overwhelming feeling of sadness or anxiousness? It's the same thing, just heightened when you're a sensitive.

So, what is a sensitive? It's someone that can sense the presence of a spirit. For the most part, I can now turn it on/off, unless there's a heavy presence near me that I can't just shake. Anybody can see ghosts/spirits, they don't discriminate. ;) lol Personally, I've seen 3 in my lifetime, which is my least favorite thing in life..I think I age about 7 yrs every time I see one. Not fun. The 1st one, was my late-great grandma. The 2nd, an angelic-like "ghost" at my grandma's house when I was 21 yrs old, and the 3rd was at a cemetery, walking right next to me. 

Alright kids, gather around, it's ghost story time! 

1) My great grandmother appeared as a full apparition to me when I was 18 yrs old. She appeared to me in my apartment out of nowhere, with my grandparents dog (Bubba)..which was confusing at the time, because Bubba was still alive, though he was fading in & out beside my deceased great gram during her visit. A week or two later, I found out that Bubba had dog cancer and a few months later, he passed. I believe that this was my great grams way of saying 'He's coming with me.' 

2) I was living with my grandparents at the time (I was 21 yrs old) and the bed frame that my bed was on, was very old. It was so bouncy, to the point where if you sneezed while on the bed, it became a trampoline. lol So one morning, I felt the bed on the right side dip down, as if someone was on it. Knowing that my bedroom was locked, I quickly woke up & found an angelic-like ghost in the most beautiful pastel multi-layered dress looking over me with a "who are you?" kind of confused look on her face. I screamed so loud that I was sure I woke everyone in the house up. She quickly disappeared, never saw her again. 

3) This was during a ghost hunt in 2006 with my ghost hunting team. Now this was different type of experience and I'm not sure I would call it a "ghost", as I now believe it could've been demonic. Let's put it this way, you couldn't pay me enough money to step foot inside that cemetery again. As our group entered the cemetery, I was pulling out my gear (voice recorder, camera, extra batteries) and I was talking to one of the ghost hunters (Chrissy) as we walked side-by-side. She was on my left. I had asked her a question and when I didn't hear a response, I looked up from fumbling with my gear, only to realize that Chrissy wasn't there anymore. I called out her name and she responded...from the front of the group, about 5 people away from me. I asked her how she got up to the front so quickly, when she told me she's been in the front the entire time since walking into the cemetery. Then who the heck was I having a back-and-forth conversation with? Who/what was I seeing walk next to me? The reason why I think this might be demonic, is because they can manipulate/mock voices and morph into anything they want. From that night, something attached to me and followed me home. The next 3 days were pure hell...I couldn't sleep (heard growling in my ear as I tried to sleep), glass candle jars would explode without being touched, and I had the worst sense of being closely watched. I finally had to call an expert up in Burlington, WI for help on how to get rid of it. (*I did a prayer + sage cleanse, that worked.) 

Back to the point of this post...

Ghost hunting just isn't for TV shows anymore. Anyone can do it, and while it's fun and interesting, it can cause some havoc if you're not careful.

I just came across WVpenTours.com the other day, which I found fascinating. They let the public go into West Virginia Penitentiary to do their own ghost hunting..daytime, twilight hours, or overnight (depending on how much you're looking to spend). Not only would I go & do a ghost hunt there, I'm actually planning to go there in Spring 2014. Thanks to TV shows such as Ghost Hunters and Ghost Adventures, ghost hunting can now be done by anyone with a voice recorder and a camera.

Like I said at the beginning of this post, this is one of my favorite topics, so I'll be posting about this topic from time to time. 

Before I end this post, I figured I'd share this audio clip of an EVP that I captured on Nov. 17th, 2012 in my current apartment. I had just got home from work, sat in my recliner, when I felt an overwhelming presence in front of me. (Ever feel the weight of someones stare? It was that feeling..but I felt like it was right in my face.) So I busted out my voice recorder, asked 2 questions, got a response from 1 of them. Here it is:

(Turn your volume up or wear headphones to hear it better.)