Archives for July 2008

Money. Priorities. Decisions. 30 Days.

(Update below)

I’m going to be savoring these last few weeks of summer, but I did want to mention something I’m planning for September. I’ve been looking at the budget lately, and between rising food prices and recent medical bills, frankly, it would be really nice to find a little extra cash somewhere.

Two years ago my family, along with some others, did an experiment called 30 Days of Nothing.

For one month we drastically cut back on our spending, to see just how much we could live without. Different families played along to different degrees. But for our family that meant no new clothes, no books, no eating out, and only the absolute essentials when it came to groceries. We’re not talking starvation here, people. After all, September is a great month to eat out of the garden. When we ran out of something we really needed, I bought it. No one lost weight that month. But we did skip chips, coke, fish sticks, and a passel of other non-essential conveniences.

I was shocked at just how many times I had to resist the urge to buy. And I was gratified to see how the experiment got my whole family thinking. What could we do with money instead of squandering it?

We are fortunate to have so many choices. But just because we CAN buy almost anything our heart desires, doesn’t mean we SHOULD. In September we’re doing the experiment again and I’ll share my family’s experience with you.

I hope that some of you might decide to try this experiment for yourselves.

30 Days of Nothing.

Who’s in?

I’ll talk more about it later. But in the meantime, think about it.

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Updated to add:

Just to clarify the ‘rules’, this is an extremely personal project. I’m not going to say you must do ‘xyz’ to be involved. The purpose of the month is to look at each and every decision and say, ‘Must I spend money for this? Can I live without it? Is there a cheaper option?”

Grappling with your own personal set of ‘rules’ IS the project.

When you scrutinize every penny coming out of your pocket it can get really complicated really quick. Is coffee creamer an essential? Sounds ridiculous, but I missed it dreadfully when we ran out last time.

School pictures? If buying is required by your child’s school, then it’s a no brainer. But the number of pictures you buy…that’s another thing…

Some people might decide to curtail all new clothes. Others might take a foray into thrift store shopping and be thrilled at the savings.

Last time around I opted to buy canning supplies when I ran out because that would benefit my family for the entire year. But I opted not to stock up when the grocery store ran some good sales that month. Fuzzy line? You bet. It made my head hurt a little.

But I also came away from the month with….well, I’ll have a whole month to talk about it. For now I’ll just encourage you to try it for yourself. Then you can tell me your impressions. I’ll put a Mr. Linky on my blog so we can all keep up with the people who decide to participate. This should be really interesting!

In which I wax rhapsodic about my camera

I shared my Canon calamity with you the other day. Allie mentioned in comments that Canon has a customer loyalty program that might give me an upgrade for a hundred bucks or so. I called the number today and sure enough, there are several upgrade options, including this Canon Powershot (8 megapixels, 10x zoom) for $125. Sweet, huh?

While doing some reading about the specs, I got to wondering about the specs on my broken camera. And then I dug out the notes I took at the photography session taught by the awesome MeRa Koh. If you like taking pictures, be sure to check out her recap of her BlogHer lecture. Even if all you do is sigh over the gorgeous photos, it’s worth it, I promise.

I spent much of the lecture wishing I had a camera that would allow me to tweak all the things she was explaining: things like shutter speed and ISO. As far as I knew, my camera was pretty much just an automatic, with some extra presets for closeups, etc. Well, this evening when I was reading up on cameras, I was inspired to take a closer look at my own.

Turns out the only thing broken on the camera is the flash. Also turns out it possesses manual settings that will allow me to tweak the shutter speed, ISO, AND the aperture. [[slapping head]] How silly am I? Here’s one instance where my aversion to reading the directions really made me miss out.

People. This camera, even without the flash, is way better than I thought it was. Certainly it is not an SLR. And, yes, it’s a little inconvenient that I’ll have to pull out my smaller camera when I want to take a flash picture. But I never really like the harsh light my flash throws on people anyway. And now that I can adjust my shutter speed….well, it opens up a whole new world.

Check out this picture of Eldest at the computer. She’s next to a tall window, but the picture was taken just before sunset and there were no lights on yet in the house. Plus I shot this at a shutter speed of 1/320, which is fairly standard for an outdoor photo on a bright day. Not much of a picture is it? And that’s even AFTER I lightened it a couple clicks with my photo editor. No way around it, this shot needed a lot more light.

So I set my shutter speed much, much slower- moved it all the way to 1/10 of a second– and took the picture again. Isn’t the difference incredible? That shutter speed allowed the natural light enough time to pour into the camera, letting her face be illuminated by a lovely light. She says her expression is not the best, but I think she looks wonderful. And I am just tickled to realize that even while broken, my camera is full of possibility. In fact, this lack of a flash might help me get really good at making the most of the natural light.

Of course, in really low light taking pictures of my kids who wiggle more, I’ll have to think of some ways to keep them still so they won’t blur every shot. Maybe coffee cans and cement?

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Because she makes me smile

Backpack winner!!

My 10 year old son has decreed that the winner of the Land’s End backpack is commenter #3, Elizabeth M. She mentioned the contest to several friends via email since she doesn’t have a blog. Thanks to everyone for playing along. And thanks to Land’s End for sponsoring such a great giveaway!

Backpack giveaway

I promised one of my 10 year olds that he could pick the winner of the backpack giveaway, then sent him to bed before asking him his pick. Sorry! I’ll announce the winner in the morning!

Are you worn out today? Maybe even feeling a touch crazy?

Here’s something that encouraged me today. Thanks, Ann!

Me and my honey

We met in precalculus class during our senior year of high school, were engaged by second semester of our freshman year of college, and got married that summer at the ripe old age of 19.

Almost twenty-two years ago.

Love ya, sweetie!

Still.

That giveaway was fun!

Wow, that giveaway went fast, didn’t it? Thanks for playing, everyone! The winners are:

#1- LenaDianeJennings
#11-Stacy
#21-Amblin
#31-HeidiV
#41-Alise
#51- Kelli
#61- Fiona
#71- Brenda on the S OR Coast.

If y’all will email me your snail mail addresses, I’ll get your goodies in the mail ASAP. And just a reminder, the Land’s End backpack giveaway is still going until tomorrow. So feel free to enter that if you missed out on the lightning round.

Bloggy Giveaway Carnival

Edited to add: I’m all out of goodies to give away so this contest is over. Thanks to everyone for playing along! The backpack giveaway is still going til 10 PM Tuesday (scroll down on the main page to find it) And visitors, please come back again. I love hearing from people!!

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Bloggy Giveaways Quarterly Carnival Button

This week I am participating in the Bloggy Giveaway Carnival. I am giving away multiple items, thanks to many generous vendors who have given me some interesting goodies in the last few weeks.

What will you win? Well, this is an envelope giveaway, which means all the items are small enough to fit in a flat envelope. (That keeps postage affordable for me, and means that international readers are welcome to play along too.) The more comments I get, the more prizes I’ll give. But here’s the catch. Your comment number has to end in a ‘1’ for you to win a prize.

You may win more than one prize if you’re lucky, but you are only allowed to comment twice every 24 hours. I have no idea how slowly or quickly this will go, or how many people will play along with this game. So all I can say is keep an eye out if there is something you really want.

(((And dont forget my Land’s End giveaway!! It concludes on Tuesday!!)))
1st commenter wins a coupon for a free box of Cocoa Puff Combos cereal

11th commenter wins a coupon for a free year of Picnik Premium, a photo editing website

21st commenter wins a TNT DVD of The Closer(Season 4, Episode 1) and Saving Grace (season 2, Episode 1)

31st commenter wins a coupon for a free box of Cocoa Puff Combos cereal

41st commenter wins a 2 hour TripFlix DVD

51st commenterwins a coupon for a free box of Cocoa Puff Combos cereal

61st commenter wins a 1 hour Go, Diego, Go DVD titled “Diego’s Moonlight Rescue

71st commenter wins a 7-day T-Mobile Hot Spot card

This contest ends Thursday evening. So comment fast, and comment as often as twice a day. You just may be a winner!

Sunday

Proverbs 3:23-24

Then you will go on your way in safety,and your foot will not stumble;
when you lie down, you will not be afraid; when you lie down, your sleep will be sweet.