A year ago…

Kate at One More Thing is doing a weekly carnival of sorts, choosing a topic for other bloggers to write about.  This week’s topic is “A Year Ago”.

A year ago I was cleaning crap out of my Dad’s house.  This year I’m moving crap into my Dad’s house.

A year ago Son was in school.  This year he is not.

A year ago I was writing 1-2 posts per day.  This year I am writing 1-2 posts per week.

A year ago I had a colonoscopy.   This year I don’t have to.  Next year,  either.  Or the year after that.  Or the year after THAT.  We won’t talk about the year AFTER that.

A year ago we were worried because someone had just gotten laid off from Husband’s agency.  This year we are worried because someone has just gotten laid off from Husband’s agency.

A year ago Son napped daily and I napped occassionally. This year no one naps but Husband’s grandmother.

A year ago I was getting curtains hung.  This year I’m taking curtains down.

It’s been a fairly good year for us.  We’re all alive, Husband is employed and we are moving to a house more than twice as big as this one.

Here’s hoping this year is better.  And that next year I won’t have to consult my blogs to remember what happened this year.

I’ve heard of sharpies disappearing, but …

Just wanted to give a shout out to someone who recently visited my blog.

To whomever typed “sharpie in ass” in the search engine and found my blog, thanks for giving me a laugh.  And seriously, dude, just pull it out.

And since you were clever enough to get it up there in the first place, I think I also need to give you explicit directions to immediately toss it in the garbage.

And then go take a shower.

And watch where you sit.  Especially when naked.

See?  I’m giving you the benefit of the doubt.  This was an accident, right?

D & A, remind you of something?

Posted in Funny. Tags: . 4 Comments »

Yes, Virginia, you can paint over paneling!

We have been hard at work at the new house, making changes so that the  house will work for us.

One of the things I wanted to do was turn the library into a playroom for Son.   This is what we started with:

31009-dads-house-035

The darkest room in the house.  Seventies dark wood paneling.  Dark wood shelving.  Did I mention that it was dark?  Still, I knew all those shelves would be terrific in a playroom,  and since it’s on one side of the family room and the kitchen is on the other, I knew it would be a great place for Dan to play uninhibitedly while I could still keep an eye on him.  And, I could close the door so I don’t have to see the clutter.  A win-win!

It wasn’t easy.  To save time and energy, Husband first caulked all of the paneling seams.  Then he began to primer.  It took  2 coats (3 gallons) of one of the best primers, and the oil from years of  polishing paneling was still seeping through in areas.

Big fans of Behr’s paint, we decided to try their new Premium Plus Ultra paint which is primer and paint in one.  It’s more expensive than the standard Behr’s, but it was so worth it for this project.   It only took one coat, and it dries really quickly.  I doubt we could have used just one coat if we hadn’t primered first, but I’m positive it saved us at least one coat of paint.  And it only took a half gallon to paint the entire room – the same room that sucked up a gallon and a half for each coat of primer!

Once the shelves were painted it was easy to see gaps between the shelving and the paneling – something you didn’t notice when they were dark brown.  Husband used L-brackets to lessen the large gaps, then took out his handy caulk gun and filled in all of the gaps.  What a difference!

Here is what we ended up with:

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I am so very thrilled with the results!  It’s just as I pictured it!

And, um, perhaps Husband will get me a wide angle lens for Mother’s Day…

Dogswell offers a bailout I can support!

dogswell

Here’s some help for unemployed dog owners.

If you are currently unemployed and own or care for a dog, you can sign up here to receive a free bag of dog food from Dogswell in their Bow Wow Bailout. Offer is good through May 15, 2009 to the first 10,000 eligible people who sign up. More details and a sign-up form are here.

Want Ice Cream?

Today is a rainy, icky day.   I love rainy, icky days!

We’re  going to celebrate it by going to Ben and Jerrys for  free ice cream  today – sometime  between 12pm and 8pm (4/21).

I think we’re  going to need to find something else to celebrate on April 29th, when Baskin Robbins is giving out cones for 31 only 31 cents. Not quite free, but a good deal.

And then on April 3oth Carvel is in celebrating their 75th anniversary by hosting a freebie ice cream event  from 3-7pm, where you can get a free Iceberg ice cream beverage (your favorite soda flavor blended with soft serve ice cream) .  I’ve never  personally been a fan of ice cream  sodas, but perhaps they’ll give is the  soda on the side. 😉

And then we need to find a local  Haagen Dazs so we can grab a free scoop on May 12th from 4-8pm.

I hope there are some offers all summer.  Particlarly at Carvel – my favorite.  Did I mention that our new home is only two minutes from Carvel?  Oy.

Where are all the renters?

We are about 30 days from moving and we don’t yet have a renter.

That makes me very, very nervous.

But how does one really advertise for a renter today?  I’m loathe to pay 10% of the rent to a realtor.  Craigslist is great, but there are over 1500 rental listings per day in our county!  Fifteen HUNDRED!

Does anyone read the classifieds anymore, or would  that $81 five-day listing be a complete waste of money?

We’ve put up a sign, but we are in a gated  community, so the only people who will see that are other residents, guests and service persons.

I live in a community that allows dogs up to 40 lbs, when most communities limit the weight to twenty.  That would be a great selling point, except that the only insurance I can find specifically excludes animal liability, meaning if that dog bit someone I’d be liable and have no coverage.  So, no dogs.

I wasn’t going to allow cats, either.  Not so much for the liability issue, but because I am horrifyingly allergic to the cute little critters and we may have to move back in after two years.    I decided tonight to allow cats, since a good friend advised me that I could get the carpets cleaned and I should be fine.

Nervous.  Soooooo nervous.

What about you?  Wouldn’t you like to relocate here to sunny Florida?  I can get you a great deal on a terrific place!!!

It’s not time to panic yet.  Not near time.

But there may come a time when I’ll take cats, dogs, snakes, or ferrets, as long as they have first, last and security.

Tax Day Deals

Chick-fil-A

Visit a participating restaurant today and hang onto your receipt. The “Tax Relief Day Special” lets you return before April 30 to receive the same order for free!

Cinnabon
Stop by Cinnabon from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. April 15 for free cinnamon-roll bites (regularly $2.49 for four).  Yum!

PF Chang ’s China Bistro
Dine at one of P.F. Chang’s 130-plus restaurant locations, and save 15% on the total bill.

T.G.I. Friday’s

On April 15, diners receive a $5 gift card when they spend $15 to $25. They earn a $10 card for a purchase of more than $25.

I love free stuff!

Pricing Hocus Pocus Drives Me Insane

brownies
There was a post on one of the blogs I read regularly that spurred me to comment.  And like many of my blog comments they get so long they turn into posts.  Whoops.

Carrie over at Money Saving Methods bought something that rang up for a different price than the rack sign indicated, which she did not notice until she was reading the receipt on her way out of the store.  After being somewhat rudely dismissed by the manager she politely insisted that if the incorrect items were on the sale price rack then the incorrect items should be moved.  She didn’t insist that they sell it to her for an incorrect price, but she felt that they should immediately remedy the situation to prevent others from paying twice what they expected.  She wondered if she was out of line.

I don’t think so.  I agree with her, and I would have done the same thing (I know, you’re all surprised).

The thing is, mistakes happen.  I don’t think large companies like this are systematically trying to scam us by putting the wrong sign on a rack.  Employees make mistakes.  Customers move things.  It happens.

But when it happens management should respond with professional, polite service and quickly correct the problem. What bothers me most about her experience was the manager’s lack of concern.  Not fixing a known problem IS dishonest.

Carrie got a refund.  Like Carrie, I would not expect the store to give me a $30 item for $15 because of an error like this.  If they offer that – terrific!   I’ll gladly accept.   But I’m not going to expect or argue for it when something was placed in the wrong spot.

However.

If something has a price tag with the wrong price I would expect to pay the price marked.  What’s the difference, you say?   Well, I admit it’s splitting hairs.  A wrong price tag (and I’m not talking about a price that’s been peeled off and switched –  I don’t expect a retailer to sell me a 36″ flat screen TV for $1.99 because some idiot switched tags) is  just different.  I will always expect to pay the lower of the tagged price or price the register rings.  If I choose an item that is $14.99 and it rings up $16.99 because they’ve had a price increase I’d expect to pay $14.99 or I would likely not buy the item.

Hey, we all have our own ethical peccadilloes, don’t we?

I remember several years ago I complained about a price ringing up wrong at a Winn Dixie and was promised it would be fixed.  The next three times I went in and bought the same product and every time it still rang up incorrectly.

Tangent Alert!  Really, I hate Winn Dixie.  Hate it.  Dirty, icky meat and produce, rude staff.  Why is Publix so much cleaner???

Another  thing that really peeves me are situations like the one I faced today.  I was in Publix and their Duncan Hines Brownies were on sale B1G1.   I like to keep Brownies in the house as a quick dessert when we have company, or are invited over to someone else’s at the last minute.   Fast and easy and relatively inexpensive.  Here’s what the  ad said:

Duncan Hines Brownie Mix
Buy 1 Get 1 FREE

Assorted Varieties, Chocolate Lover’s or Candy Shop, 16.76 to 18-oz box Quantity rights reserved.
SAVE UP TO $2.59

I got to the register and they didn’t ring up the sale price.  Upon further review it turns out that of all of the Duncan Hines Brownies offered, the one I chose was the only ones not on sale.  The sale was only on 16.76 to 18 oz boxes – the one I chose was 19 ounces.  All of the items were in the same size  box, and it never occurred  to me they’d be different sizes.

Come on…

And this illustrates another Publix-ism that drives me insane.  If you’re saving $2.59 by getting a box of brownies free that means the “regular price” of the brownies is $2.59.

The ones I had selected – with more product – were $1.99.

Don’t even try to tell me that you don’t raise prices for a sale, Publix.

Don’t. Even.

But you’re still better than Winn Dixie.

AmTrust says, “We love you! Really! But will you please cancel your HELOC? We’ll give you fifty dolla!”

I just got a really weird phone call.  But first a little background…

AmTrust Bank is one of the banks with which we do business.  It’s the bank where I purchased my mortgage, and a week later took out a $10,000 Home Equity Line of Credit to pay off my car loan.   The HELOC is actually a second mortgage of sorts.  I don’t recall right now if it was a ten or fifteen year agreement, but I do recall that they gave me a $100 Home Depot gift card for opening it, and they charge me a $25 fee to keep it, with no penalty if I close it as long as I keep it open for at least three years.

I took out the HELOC so I could deduct the interest, and made the car payment to my HELOC instead of a bank until I paid it off six  months later.  I’ve not used it since, but that $10,000 is available if I need it.

I may not use that credit line, but I like knowing it’s there if I need it.  Despite having a five-figure emergency fund, one never knows when one will have a really big emergency, does one?  That’s why we decided it was worth $2 a month to keep it open.

Since the most recent financial crisis began I’ve been reading and hearing stories about some of the things banks are doing to reduce their exposure to debt – good and bad.  Credit card interest rates are being hiked while credit limits are being slashed.  HELOCs are being canceled and/or closed, whether people are carrying a balance or not.

I’d hear things like that and wonder if any of the companies with which I do business would take these actions.  I’ve not really worried about it since we pay our balances off every month, and we don’t need the credit to survive.  We have excellent credit, so I understand that if a company makes one of these decisions that affects me that it isn’t about me at all – it’s about them.  I have my financial house in order – they’re scurrying to do the same.

So today I get a phone call from said bank, asking me if I’d yet received the letter about my HELOC.  No, I had not.  But already I’m thinking that they’re closing it, and calling to lessen the blow.  I’m already composing my reply in my head when what she is staying starts filtering through.  I heard a few phrases – “we’ll pay you $50” and “if you want to” and “no penalty” and “just stop by to fill out the paperwork“.

Whoa.  “Let me get this  straight,” I say.  “AmTrust is willing to pay me $50 if I close my HELOC?”

Yes, and there’s no penalty.”   Well, there’d be no penalty anyway, chica.  But I held my tongue.

“But I don’t have to if  I don’t wanna?”

No.  You may keep it open if you wish.

Uh huh.

I end the conversation and hang up, thinking that AmTrust really, really, really wants to close the HELOCs but really, really, really doesn’t want to piss off their customers.

Huh.

Well, I’d like to keep my HELOC.  But I have to figure out AmTrust’s next move.  What will they do if not enough people voluntarily surrender their  HELOCs?  Are cancellations next?

Am I better off taking the $50 now, or waiting, hopeing they don’t cancel it?  Waiting and getting nothing.

I’m feeling the love!

4/9/09 9:52 pm Edited to add:

I just ran across this article which describes a classs action lawsuit against AmTrust accusing them of illegally suspending these types of accounts.  No wonder they are looking for a kinder, gentler way of getting rid of that risk!

Important Document Organization Can Save Time, Money and Grief

Consumer Reports’ blog had a great article today about having your documents  organized in case of emergency.  I’m reproducing their included table here and linking to them.  I figure if maybe I link enough times they won’t ask me to remove it.

The  good news is that I already do most of this.  Spending so many y ears as an insurance agent I saw the value in these preparations.   Something I also recommended that I don’t see here is a written and video inventory of your possessions, including as much detail as possible (where bought, how  much paid) expecially for the big ticket items.

TYPE OF STORAGE DOCUMENT(S) KEEP A COPY? WHERE TO STORE DUPLICATE?
SAFE-DEPOSIT BOX Birth and death certificates; marriage license; adoption, citizenship, divorce papers Yes Home file
Inventory and photos of household property Yes Home file
Deeds, titles, bills of sale, car title, mortgage Yes Home file
List of location of important papers Yes Home file
HOME FILE CABINET Tax returns; supporting documents for past 3 to 7 years No
Passport No
Bank-account information Yes Friend’s or relative’s home or at your office
Insurance policies No
List of all assets, including brokerage and mutual-fund accounts, stocks, bonds, bank accounts, real property, and employee-benefit accounts Yes Friend’s or relative’s home or at your office
ATTORNEY’S OFFICE Will, durable power of attorney Yes Home file and executor or personal representative
Funeral instructions Yes Friend or relative
Living will, health-care power of attorney Yes Home file, physician, personal representative
Location of safe-deposit box Yes Joint owner, friend, or relative
WALLET Driver’s license or other photo I.D. yes Home file
Auto insurance card Yes In car
Emergency contacts No
Blood type, list of allergies, medications No

I don’t know about you, but I know it would help calm me in the time of an emergency to know that much of the information I need is safe and sound, organized and easily accessible.  And when we lose someone we love our grief is tempered slightly by the knowledge that they cared enough to prepare and make the logistics of dealing with the aftermath as easy as possible.

Go forth and organize!

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