Friday, April 29, 2011

Patio Planning

The weather is supposed to be really nice here this weekend, so I'm looking forward to spending a lot of time in my backyard and working on my garden. One of the things that I want to do this year is get some new yard furniture and kinda rearrange the layout of my yard a little.

So I've been looking online and shopping around for some new patio furniture and other decorations for my yard...or site furnishings, as they'd be called if my yard was a park, and I like to think that my yard is totally that important. I need a new table for my yard, so I've been looking at picnic tables. I really like this Octagon Table because it's cute and it offers a lot of seating without taking up a huge amount of space.

I also like the look of Park Benches in a garden, both for seating and also to put planters on.

And for even more seating, I'm thinking Adirondack chairs - benches and picnic tables are great, but I also need a place to lounge with some lemonade and a book. I found these really cool Adirondack chairs that are made from recycled plastic, so they're both durable and eco-friendly. (And no splinters!) I'm loving this sunny yellow color:

What are your plans for your yard or garden this summer?

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Prom Shopping

The other day I talked to a friend of mine who had just taken her little sister prom dress shopping, which of course led us to talking about our own proms and all of the crazy styles and fashion disasters that have come and gone over the years.

Of course there will always be looks that are questionable style-wise, but these days I feel like it's easier to find lots of cute (and affordable) options for prom dresses, especially since there are so many more options as far as online shopping. There are even sites where you have the option of getting a custom dress by choosing your own colors and things like that.

Those of us who are too old for the prom can still recapture some of that dress shopping magic by buying evening dresses from the same sites.

Maybe we should just start getting together and throwing our own grown up prom parties. All of the fun of dancing and dressing up but without all of that teenage angst and drama? Sounds good to me!

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Major Marble

A friend of mine went to Florida to spend Easter with her boyfriend's family, and she was telling me about the amazing house that his parents have. Beautiful pool, big chandeliers, and marble floors that she said she was paranoid about spilling something on all weekend. And when she complimented the floors and joked about her fears, she learned more about stone floor restoration than she bargained for.

I say it's all just useful info for when she has a huge house of her own to take care of. (You've got to think positively, right?) For example, did you know that diamonds are sometimes involved somehow in the marble polishing process? And that you can sometimes have marble surfaces color enhanced? And that you should never use vinegar or other acidic cleaners on marble because it can "poison" the stone? See, the more you know.

Of course, this set us off on a tangent of fantasy house decorating. (Kinda like those people who play The Sims just so they can build and design houses.) I look forward to the day that I need to hire a marble polishing team of my very own.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Getting Inked

I just did my semi-annual stock up on printer ink. It seems like I always run out at the most inconvenient times possible, so I've learned to always have at least one backup set of printer ink on hand.

I used to just go to an office supply store to buy my ink, or try to order it from Target or some other random store. But this time I decided to shop around a little and I found a site called Ink Grabber that's a great resource for cheap ink. I seriously think that they have ink available for every single printer on the market today, and really good prices too. I never have to worry about going into a store and not being able to find the inkjet cartridges that I need again. They even have a "green" carbon neutral shipping program. Love it.

They have a bunch of active coupons right now, including a spring promotion where you can get 10% off with the coupon code SUNSHINE10. You can also get free shipping on orders over $55, or 10% off of any size order if you like them on facebook. Happy inking!

Find Your Education

Lately I've been thinking about continuing my education by taking some online courses. I'm not ready to commit to a full graduate school program right now. And affording it would be a challenge too! I'm still not fully recovered from my days of FAFSAs and student loans. (I'm sure many of us remember all of those fun house spent on

But online classes seem like they could be a good fit for my life and schedule right now. So I've been doing a little research, and I found a site called Find Your Education that has a ton of information about online courses and degree programs. It's great because you can search by subject and find listing of all of the different online programs that are out there.

I've been looking at the online degree programs in graphic design because that's a subject that has always interested me and I feel like it would help me in the future if I want to give this blog an overhaul and make it all fancy and pretty. I haven't made any final decisions about the future of my education, but now I definitely feel a lot more "educated" about my options.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Going Nonprofit

These days it seems like almost everyone I know is either looking for a job or looking to upgrade to a better job. I was hanging out with some friends the other night and we were comparing job seeking stories. One of the topics that came up was looking for nonprofit jobs. Obviously nonprofits have been hard hit by the economy just like other businesses, but in a way it's not a bad sector to look at because, as we joked, nonprofits are used to operating with hardly any money.

One friend mentioned a nonprofit career search site that he really likes, so I checked it out. It's got the basic stuff - a place for employers to post jobs and for job seekers to post resumes and search the posted jobs - as well as a great resources section with info about the best nonprofits to work for, career tips and strategies for non profit jobs, and information about salaries and benefits. They even have an eNewsletter that you can sign up with even more helpful stuff.

I've already found a couple of promising leads using this site, so hopefully my personal profit margin will be improving very soon.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Moving to Texas?

My cousin is planning on moving sometime later this year. The only catch is that she hasn't decided on where to move yet. There are a few different parts of the country on her life, from Arizona to North Carolina, and she's been weighing the pros and cons of each.

I've been helping her with her research a little bit because it's interesting to me to check out so many different communities across the country. For example, she's considering a few places in Texas, including the Dallas area. I've only been on one brief trip to Texas in my life and it's not an area of the country that I'm super familiar with, so it's kinda fun to look at Dallas homes for sale and see what's out there.

Of course, since there are so many real estate websites out there these days, I was able to find a site that focuses on Dallas Real Estate. I've been going through all of the listings and sending my favorites to my cousin. (I'm sure she really appreciates my "help", but you know how it is when you start window shopping.) In some ways the Dallas homes for sale aren't that different from many of the homes that are available in the area where I live, but of course then there are all of the ways that things differ, from the prices to the schools to the weather. And with all of the real estate listings that I've looked at so far, I think I'll be very prepared if and when I ever decide to move myself.

Moving Cars

My cousin is moving later this year, and recently we were talking about all of the random things that pop up during a move that need to be taken care of, as well as all of the random things that can't exactly be moved in the traditional way. You can't really put your pet goldfish, or your car, into a regular moving truck.

I have no idea what you do with the goldfish (tupperware? coffee pot full of water?), but for cars obviously there is such a thing as car shipping. Something about that term makes me laugh - I'm picturing the UPS guy delivering your car in a giant box full of foam peanuts. Of course that's not remotely how auto transport actually works (but it would be cool if it did).

It is pretty cool that you can arrange door to door car transport services and have your car moved across the country in a matter of days if you need to. Apparently you can even pack some stuff in the trunk if you need to. Just don't try to put the goldfish in there.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Back to the Garden

Spring is finally here! We've definitely had our share of April showers where I live, but we're also starting to have some of those beautiful sunny spring days. One of the things that I look forward to when the weather warms up is working in the garden. I haven't done too much yet because the weather hasn't fully started cooperating, but I've started planning and thinking about what flowers, plants, veggies, and herbs I want to plant this year.

I also have to admit that I have a weakness for garden accessories, so I'm always on the lookout for new planters, garden statues, wind chimes, and things like that. One thing that I definitely want to add to my yard this year is a garden trellis. I've always liked the way that they look, especially when they're covered with climbing vines.

So I found a site that sells nothing but trellises (I love the internet) and I've been checking out my options. I love this combination trellis and wind chime:

This vinyl trellis is really pretty, and the white really helps the colors of the climbing flowers to stand out.

And this wrought iron trellis is really beautiful. This style just might be my favorite.

Happy spring and happy gardening!

Monday, April 11, 2011

Camera Shopping

So I've been shopping around for a new digital camera. I'm not an expert photographer or anything - in fact pretty much the only thing I'm "expert" at is taking photos that are out of focus or cut the tops of people's heads off. But I've been trying to learn and improve, and I think I'm ready to graduate from the basic camera that I have now. But I want to make sure I get the camera that's right for me, so I'm doing a lot of research on compact digital cameras.

I want something that's good quality without being crazy expensive, and relatively user-friendly since like I said I'm not exactly a professional photographer. I've got a list of different options and I'm weighing the pros and cons of each one, because I want to be sure that I make the right investment.

One of the cameras that's probably too "advanced" for me right now, but is definitely at the top of my list for the future, is the Nikon D90. It's a DSLR camera with a big LCD monitor that can also shoot video. I've read a lot of reviews and almost all of them highly recommend the D90, so I think it's going to be my choice when I'm ready to take my photography to the next level.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Smart Shapewear

It's officially spring, which means it's time for spring cleaning, spring clothing shopping, pedicures...and the first freakouts about the upcoming swimsuits and tank tops weather.

One thing that I find helpful when I'm wearing spring staples like light jackets and thin tees is having the right undergarments. (Sounds kinda retro, I know, but it's not like I'm talking slips and garters here.) In warm weather nobody wants to be wearing an overly tight body shaper or any other uncomfy (and sweaty!) underthings, but if you can find the right comfortable and seamless shape wear and the best bra for your body type, it can really help you to put a look together.

I've been doing some shopping around for new spring stuff and I think has the best body shaper that I've found so far. (As well as the coolest name.) It's a bra, body shaper, and lace cami all in one, which is great because it saves you from having to put a million layers on, which is a big plus in warm weather. And since it has the lace on the top and the bottom, you don't have to worry about it sticking out from under whatever top or jacket you're wearing and announcing to the world that you're wearing a body shaper. Love that. It's also great to wear under those tops that we all have that are just a tiny bit too low-cut to wear in certain situations or without adjusting yourself every five minutes. It's a little bit on the expensive side, but I feel like a piece like this is worth it because it can work with so many different outfits and help you wear more of the clothes that you already have. I think I just might be ready for spring fashion.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Medical Knowledge

My cousin is a nurse and I was talking to her the other day about how the economy has affected job prospects in the medical field. She was saying that one of the things that doctors and other medical professionals do to stay prepared and competitive is take various career and skills development courses.

It's funny that you sometimes forget that doctors are "businesspeople" too, meaning that they have to interview for jobs or run offices just like people in any other job, even if they're not working in a "regular" office. So it makes total sense that a doctor or nurse looking for a job might want to take a medical interview course (or consultant interview courses) to improve their chances of impressing a potential boss. They might not be the same interviews that us regular people might go on for various office jobs, but they are still job interviews after all.

Out of curiosity I looked it up and there are a bunch of these courses out there - lots of medical management courses including courses on things like time management and presentation skills - because doctors do often have to function as managers and deal with business stuff like meetings and Powerpoint presenations rather than just saving lives all the time. There's even a teach the teacher course for doctors who have to deal with students. It's almost as if doctors are regular people or something. Crazy talk, I know.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

NYC Summer Fun

I just found out that a couple of my cousins are going to be visiting from Chicago this summer. Whenever we visit each other we always like to try to see a lot of shows, concerts, and whatever other events we can find. (This is why I sometimes find myself doing very unlike me things like buying Avril Lavigne tickets.) So now that I know when they're coming, the cheap ticket search has begun.

I usually start with the obvious - going to a Madison Square Garden tickets site to see what's going on there. But they're doing some renovations this summer so there aren't as many options as usual, which means going a little farther afield. There's always stuff like the Central Park SummerStage, and there's also a new Cirque du Soleil show called Zarkana hitting the city this spring, so some Radio City Music Hall tickets might be in order. And of course, there's always Broadway.

I'm checking out Nassau Coliseum tickets too - they've got everyone from New Kids On The Block to Motley Crue to Britney Spears this summer, so it might be worth the trip. And baseball is always an option too, so we might check out the Yankees, the Mets, or both.

It does take a lot of time to figure out what to do and then find the best deals on tickets, but it's totally worth it. And I know that the next time I head out to Chicago for a visit, there will be some United Center tickets waiting for me. Can't wait for summer!

Car Repair Made Easy

I don't know if this is true everywhere, but where I live I feel like the conditions of many of the roads are just getting worse and worse. There seem to be more potholes than ever and they're being fixed more slowly than ever. (I guess we have lots of broke local governments to thank for that.) It's pretty annoying.

So as a result, it seems like I'm doing more maintenance on my car than ever before. I've replaced more tires in the past year than in all the previous years I've owned my car put together. In general I think there's just more wear and tear going on. Luckily, I've found this site called Repair Pal that I've found to be really helpful. You can get an estimate for any repair or maintenance that you need done on your car, as well as general info about your make and model of car, an auto shop directory, and advice from mechanics.

The RepairPal Blog also has a lot of great information about all things auto - car recalls, fuel economy info, advice for doing basic maintenance stuff yourself, and even parallel parking tips (which I admit that I could probably use). They recently had a post about five questions that you should ask to try to make sure that you find a repair shop that will provide good customer service and not rip you off. Since I know from experience that there are still many mechanics out there who believe that all women are totally clueless when it comes to cars, I find stuff like this to be especially helpful.

I drive a Toyota Corolla, and Repair Pal has a whole page just for Corolla info. There are even pages for each model year with specific info and customer reviews. You can see the most common problems that drivers have reported, recent repair estimates, listings of dealers near you, and you can even ask a question about any problems you may be having. It's a really great resource, and I know I'll be checking it out next time I have a car issue and when I decide to start shopping for a new car.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Music Monday: Katy Perry's E.T.