If You Can’t Duct It. . .

When shopping for dorm room supplies for my freshman year of college, I convinced my mom to get me the biggest roll of duct tape Target carried. She was incredulous that I needed a roll that big, but I was insistent that I would use it all.

It took 9 years, but I did use the entire roll of duct tape. So there.

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How to Save Money on Christmas Cards

I enjoy sending Christmas cards.  I’ve mentioned this before, but I find it a nice way to show people that while I’m not consistently in contact with them, I still think about them.  However, there can be no denying that mailing Christmas cards can add additional costs to the already expensive holiday season.

Over the last couple of years I’ve started to develop a system to decrease the cost of sending Christmas cards.  Keep in mind that I’m talking about mailing hard copies, not using an electronic version.  I know some people prefer to save money this way.  However, I know how much I like getting real mail (you know, something besides bills and credit card offers), so I try to continue to send out physical copies of Christmas cards.  If you don’t like getting personal letters in the mail, please let me know and I’ll cross you off my list.  :p

getting Christmas cards

Anyway, here is how I try to cut costs during Christmas card season:

Buy cards 11 months early:  Have you noticed how cheap Christmas supplies are after Christmas?  The weeks following December 25 is a great time to stock up on Christmas trimmings that aren’t perishable.  Either you can buy your cards for next Christmas or you can procrastinate and send your annual card after Christmas.  Either way, you can easily cut the cost of cards in half!  The cost of an individual card can be as low as $0.16.

Christmas shopping

Order basic prints for photos:  I got this idea from my mother.  Every year my mom would line my brother, sister, and me up around Thanksgiving, took our picture several times, and ordered multiples of the best one.  This has only become more cost effective with digital cameras.  For my Christmas card, I simply find a decent picture of my husband and me from the past year and order my prints.  Since prints typically cost $0.09-$0.15 apiece, this helps keep costs down.  This year I found a coupon for 50 free prints off from Shutterfly.com, so my cost for prints came out to be $0.12 apiece–most of that cost was for shipping.

prints

Keep the newsletter simple:  One of my favorite parts about receiving Christmas cards are the newsletters–I love catching up on what people have been doing over the past year!  However, I care more about the content than how the newsletter looks.  Consequently, I print our 1 page, black and white newsletter on plain paper at home.  I’m not sure how much this adds to the total cost, but I figure if my husband is starting to print entire books with our printer (long story), I can print 60 copies of our newsletter.  I estimate it costs about $0.10 apiece.

Plan ahead and save up for stamps:  Whenever we get an ad from USPS, I secretly hope that it’s a coupon for discounted stamps.  Since this has yet to happen, I try to spread out the cost of buying stamps over a couple of months.  This way spending $30 on stamps doesn’t seem like an unexpected blow to our budget.  Still, stamps are the most expensive aspect of Christmas cards, costing about $0.50 apiece.

With these techniques, I’ve found that I’m able to send out Christmas cards for about $0.88 apiece.  That’s not too shabby considering the number of things you can get for less than $1.00!

candy or card

Admittedly, sometimes the candy bar wins.

How do you save money on Christmas cards?  


Some Things Don’t Change

As I grow older, I realize that my reaction to tastes change.  Things that used to be unpalatable are now tolerable:

okay now

Other foods that used to seem delicious just aren’t as tasty as they used to be:

not okay now

However, I think I will always have the same reaction to cough syrup:

cough syrup

Seriously, cough syrup is disgusting!


And From Cross Bearer I Get. . .

On Sunday, one of my husband’s friends from seminary is getting ordained.  He asked my husband to help with his ordination and installation service.  Generally a good job to give a seminarian helping out with a service like this is crucifer (the guy who carries in the crucifix in the procession).  However, my husband’s friend’s new church doesn’t have a crucifix, they have a cross.  Consequently, my husband isn’t the crucifer, he’s the cross bearer.  But whenever I hear “cross bearer,” I think of this:

cross bear

It’s a cross bear. Get it? A bear who is cross!


Marauding Squirrels

Up here in the north, squirrels are a constant presence.  For the most part, I enjoy watching them scamper on the ground and scrambling up trees.  It gives me something to watch when I stare out the window.

Untitled

My husband isn’t particularly fond of squirrels; he thinks they are filthy rodents with crazed eyes.  I always tease him about his judgement on squirrels and insist he is being over dramatic.  Or, I did until we came across some insane squirrels when hiking at a state park the other day.

It started innocently enough:  we were following the trail when we came to a narrow stretch about 50 meters long.  I could hear four squirrels scrambling down a tree at the end of the path.  Suddenly, the squirrels started squeaking loudly.  Next thing I know, they are barreling down the tree trunk and charging down the path. . . Right. . . towards. . . us!

squirel attack

Clearly these squirrels were deranged and were going to attack us and possibly plunder our bodies (plundering us for what, I don’t know.  I mean, they’re squirrels–I couldn’t exactly ask them).  As they continued charging down the path, I frantically tried thinking of an exit plan.  The path was too narrow to just let them pass.  We couldn’t possibly climb the bluffs without risking breaking our necks.  The squirrels were still coming closer, closer, closer and I started turning around to run away.

Suddenly, the four squirrels veered off the path and scrambled up another tree as they chased one another, still squeaking.  As we passed the tree that they had climbed, it became apparent to me that they weren’t marauding squirrels, they were mating squirrels.


And This Is What We Consider "Exciting" When It’s Too Cold To Go Outside

Today my husband and I were sitting on opposite ends of the couch eating Jelly Bellies when I opened my mouth and indicated that he should try to toss a bean in.  We play this game sometimes, but it usually ends with food falling into the couch cushions.  Not today!  He tossed a Jelly Belly into the air and it landed perfectly inside my mouth.  Surprised at my success, I tossed my arms into the air to form the victory “V” and exclaimed, “Yaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay!”

And that, ladies and gentlemen, is what we consider exciting when it’s February in the North.


Running Music

In high school I was a fairly decent runner.  However, the extra activities and pressures of college life (not to mention my running buddy graduating and moving, *sniff*) eventually led me to discontinue running.  Occasionally over the last two years I would get myself motivated to start running again, would go for one run, and would then feel so sore the next several days that I wouldn’t go for a second run.

However, with this more recent move I’ve once again found myself determined to lace up my running shoes and start consistently running again.  Admittedly, I haven’t quite gotten the “consistent” aspect down, but I have already run more since we moved here than I did in all of the last school year.

Something I realized helps me feel a little more motivated to run is listening to music, which I never did during high school.  It helps me find a rhythm and gives me a little bit of company (or at least quiets my thoughts of, “Ahhh, the pain!  I’m going to diiiiiiiiiiiiiiie, just let me stoooooooooop!”).  Even better, I’ve discovered my best running music:  Doctor Who soundtracks.  It makes sense, in the show the characters are constantly running and the soundtrack conveys that action.  What better motivation to keep running when the music was created for running?


Writer’s Block

I’ve always imagined my writer’s block as a giant toy wooden block.  The block is a pale wood and the painted letters and numbers are raised out of the smooth sides.  The color changes–sometimes it’s blue, sometimes it’s red–but it’s always on a hill.  It’s so enormous that there is no way that I can avoid it.  It’s like the Lion Hunt song, “Can’t go over it, can’t go under it, gotta go through it!”  I can’t tell you how I ever get through it, mostly because by the time I’m past my writer’s block I’m actually writing, not imagining how I got through that stupid wooden block.  But now that block is back and looming over me.  I wish I had thought more about how I got through it.  Drill?  Ax?  Fire?  I can’t figure it out!  

You suck, you stupid block.

Conversation With My Husband

Husband (while watching leaves fall off trees):  We have a verb for water falling from the sky.  You know, raining.  Why don’t we have a verb for leaves falling off the trees?

Me:  I dunno.
Husband:  I think we should make one.
Me:  How about “leaving?”
Husband:  No, no, that’s already a verb with a defined meaning.  Something different.
Me:  I know, “falling!”  Get it?  As in the season?
Husband sighs.

Is Punctuation Still Relevant?

Today I shall take a break from my usual ramblings about children, seminary life, and Lutheranism and talk about a topic that is often forgotten but truly meaningful:  punctuation.  Yes, I am one of those obnoxious people who believe that good punctuation should be attempted in every writing situation.  From text messaging to blogging, punctuation just makes things clearer.  Now I don’t claim to be perfect in my own writings (so please don’t go back through my postings to point out every punctuation error) and I have been known to be a little comma happy at times (they’re just so versatile!).  However, some of the punctuation and sentence structures I’ve found via texting, Facebook updates, and so on simply don’t make sense.

I understand when it comes to texting that it does take a little more time to use proper punctuation.  I don’t even try to add every capitalization and quotation mark anymore, but to throw out every punctuation mark completely?  It makes it harder to understand.  Facebook is what really gets me.  Some folks think that the extra half second it takes to add a period or toss in a capitalization is too long.  I have had people tell me that others can figure out what they are trying to say so they don’t bother with the punctuation.  Well, I pose this question as a rebuttal:  why let others figure out what you are trying to say when you can just use punctuation and make it perfectly clear.

when i start typing like this it is harder for other peoples brain to translate what i am typing  therefore messages are more likely to become garbled and misunderstood  were talking about people accidentally taking offense here folks!

mY pERsoNaL FaVorIte Is WhEn PeoPLe TyPe LiKe ThIs.  HoW Is ThIs AnY FAstEr oR EaSiEr to uNdErStAnD ThAn ReGuLaR TyPiNg????  Plus, spell check was completely freaking out so I have no idea whether I spelled things correctly or not.

Finally, even simple sentences that omit punctuation can change meaning completely.  Almost six years ago I walked into my senior writing class to find this written on the board:

a woman without her man is nothing

Our teacher asked us to add the punctuation to the sentence.  Many of us did this:

A woman without her man is nothing.

Our teacher smiled and asked if there was another way to punctuate the sentence.  Finally someone went to the board and did this:

A woman:  without her, man is nothing.
Punctuation clearly can make a difference.  So the next time you’re tempted to omit an apostrophe or skip a comma, just use it anyway.  The means of communication will thank you.