Wednesday, July 30, 2008

I like funny things...

...and this one made me laugh out loud.   Genious!

I can't bring myself to spend 75 dollars on an earpiece! So until then, I will be sneaking, ducking and hanging up on you mid-conversation to avoid a ticket.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

The Secret...

The moment all two of you have been waiting for....drumroll please.

We've been traveling to nearby destinations for the past 3 years using (and abusing) this system. All it requires of you is a little bit of moolah and a 90-minute presentation. But look at your options....

You could go here - Newport Beach Villas (AWESOME place for a staycation)

OR...Kauai's Beach Club (if you can afford a ticket to fly)
OR....Lake Tahoe's Timber Lodge Arizona golf resort

Plus, most of them have at least one bedroom and a kitchen. Some have two bedrooms. We packed 9 adults and 3 kids into the Newport Beach Villas and, you know, it wasn't that bad! A little W.T., but not uncomfortable. They are great places to go when you have kids!

So, how much would you pay for a two bedroom + kitchen place that sleeps 8? An arm and a leg right? Probably around 400-600 a night!

Well, with this offer you'll pay much, much less. (okay, somebody from Marriott really needs to hire me!)

Here's what you do:

Call 1.800.416.1705

Tell them you are interested in one of their preview packages. Ask them to give you all their options as far as locations go. I don't know them all, just the four I listed above. These are all West Coast destinations, by the way. BUT, you could call and see if they have East Coast preview packages available too. Then choose a location and sign up!

Just to give you an idea pricewise, since that's all we really care about right?

We stayed in Tahoe in a one bedroom for 3 nights, 4 days for.....$198

We stayed in Newport Beach in a two bedroom for 3 nights, 4 days for ....$298 (I think the price has gone up?)

We signed up for 6 nights, 7 days in Kauai for.....$1200ish (later canceled when flights skyrocketed)

I think the deal is unbeatable for the quality of the accommodations. Their packages are for set amounts of time and make sure you ask about the number of bedrooms. In Tahoe they tried to put us in a studio, but I asked about a one bedroom and they arranged it. In Newport Beach, you have to be careful because they will sometimes try to arrange your accommodations at a nearby Marriott hotel. Just be specific and tell them you want to stay in a two-bedroom at the Newport Beach VILLAS!

The best part about this is even if you don't buy into their timeshare, you can continue to "preview" a different property each year. You can visit the same property every three years. So, we decided to get on a three year rotation between Newport, Tahoe and Hawaii. Seriously...we have this system down! (are you embarrassed for us? cause I am.)

Give it a try. If you have a question, ask me in the comment section and I will reply with an answer in the comment section.

Thank you and good day. It's been a pleasure serving you as your blogging travel agent.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

I lied...

...all that talk of staycations, and we went and snuck away for a real family vacation to Sacramento & Lake Tahoe.

Sorry in advance for yet another travelogue, but this is for our distant relatives who like to see zillions of photos!

1st Stop - Sacramento

You know ANY vacation is off to a great start when your first stop is Leatherby's - Home to the world's most delicious and destructive ice cream sundaes!

We did some serious damage here. Troy got his favorite...I think it's called something like Daddy Dave's Delicious Die-before-you're-sixty Diet Destroyer sundae.
He dreams of it in his sleep.

Jack's no dummy. He knows a good thing when he sees one!

and Troy's brother, Todd, is no dummy either. He knows the way to any two year old's heart is through a spoonful of ice cream. He has favorite uncle status now!

Things got a little sloppy.

Then it was off to the Great Grandparents' house for more sweets in the form of hugs and kisses!

2nd Stop - Lake Tahoe

Up the hill we went with my family to take advantage of the best deal in accomodations, EVER!
So good, that I am dedicating an entire post below this one that will reveal all the secrets to this deal!

We stayed at the Marriott Timber Lodge. It was gorgeous!

There we enjoyed the company of Papa and Grammy Sessions and my brother Garrett and his cute family.

Two days were spent at the beautiful Sand Point beach.

We jumped off rocks. Pictures are not yet available of my double back aerial twist, but here is Troy mid swan dive.

and my bro...

Grandparents rock! They watched the kids while we played like kids. Thank you!

We kayaked sans lifejackets. Again...please don't call CPS on us irresponsible parents.

Just a cute picture with not- so-cute sandy snot running out of his nose and onto his cookie.

At the end of the day we strolled back into our luxurious hotel looking like this...W.T. (or T.W. as the photo shows) Jack in only a diaper and lucy smooshed under piles of beach gear. Honestly, this pile is NOTHING compared to the amount of stuff we piled up on other days.

Look closely. There she is...the poor neglected child. Disclaimer: No limbs were lost in this transport.

I took some VERY, very romantic pictures of Garrett and Mindy on the dock.

Then I noticed my brother was revealing a little surprise for me. Way to ruin the moment with some crack!

To top off the trip, we took a gondola ride to the top of Heavenly Ski mountain. Beautiful and steep. Very steep.

We returned to a garden full of tomatoes! Do you want any?

*** Afore mentioned travel secret coming soon. I can only do so much in one day, people. ***

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

strangely addicting

I pretty much HATE grocery shopping.

Planning and preparing meals is not my favorite past time. If it were up to me I would eat cereal or baked goods all day, every day.

Usually when I go to the grocery store I run in, grab the same familiar items for my 3 main staple recipes, and run out before a child meltdown occurs. Then there's the whole coming-home-loading-in-the-bags-cleaning-
routine that has to occur. To me, it's just not fun!

Which leads me to ask this question.
Why would I go and make this whole ordeal even more complicated?

A while back my friend Kelly told me about The Grocery Game. Sound like a gimmic? Well, it did to me too. But listening to her brag (well, share) the amounts of money she was saving each week made me want to give it a try. and now...I'm addicted!

Basically, it is an online service you can sign up for where they match a grocery store's weekly sales ad with corresponding coupons so that you can maximize your savings.

Coupons, you say? We're not 80!
I know, I know. So before you go out and buy yourself a coupon organizing system, just listen. I thought I would hate it too.

**If you're already convinced you're not interested, then at least skip ahead to the pictures where I brag about how much money I saved.**

If you are interested, then here is what I do as a Grocery Game player (mind you, I am still new at this. For expert advice, call Kelly):

1. Sign up for the service. 10 bucks for 8 weeks. (There are other similar services online for FREE, but I like this one)

2. Sign up for a major Sunday paper like the LA times.

3. Every Sunday night, pull out the coupons from the sunday paper and print off your new Grocery Game list.

4. Spend about an hour cutting coupons and looking at the list for the best buys.

5. Go shopping and get ready to save.

Here is a picture of my receipt from last week! Look at my savings! Yowzers! spent 50, saved 90....

Here's the loot....diapers, paper plates/cups, shampoo, deodorant, cleaning products, tri-tip, snacks, brownies, watermelon, mangoes, batteries, etc.

Are you sold yet?
(no, I'm not getting paid commission for giving this advertisement...although I should be)

I understand if you're hesitant, and rightfully so. There are some downsides to consider. Here they are:

1. It is time-consuming...especially at first.

2. It can be frusterating until you really learn the system and build up your coupon supply.

3. You can only shop on Sunday, Monday, Tuesday. And since Sunday is out for us Mormons, then Monday morning is your next best option because they run out of the goods if you go any later.

4. Be careful not to buy things you wouldn't normally need.

5. I choose to do "grocery game" shopping at Vons for only the sale items from the list, then I go to Winco or Super Walmart for my other grocery needs. Vons or Ralphs is SERIOUSLY overpriced, but going to two stores can prove to be a pain. You decide.

6. It can be tricky at first, but I would be happy to answer any questions that will help you on your way to saving! (or I'll direct your questions to kelly)

and just for kicks and giggles...
(and to see if you got to the end of this seriously long and boring post)

What does your weekly grocery bill run you?
(or is that a personal question? sorry.)

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

take me out to the ballgame...

Everybody loves a baseball game, right? Of course. Myself included.

It's the all-American sport.

The only problem is that I love everything about baseball except for the game itself. (gasp!)
Perhaps I can blame it on some form of ADD (which I swear I have), or maybe my upbringing lacked in frequenting athletic events. who knows? All I know is that I'm good for about 1 1/2 innings and then you've lost me. I mean 9 innings? seriously? Once I went to a baseball game that lasted 14 innings!

The saddest part is that Troy LOVES baseball....meaning the actual sport. He goes to watch, cheer, yell at the referee (is that what it's even called?), predict the plays, analyze the statistics and averages of each player, and discuss afterwards.

As his matrimonial partner, I have always felt I've fallen short in supporting his love of the game. But at last Monday night's Angels game, I realized that we can both go and have an enjoyable time together even if we're enjoying entirely different things.

The things I love about baseball:

1. The old men that come out between innings and sing "Take Me Out to the Ballgame."

2. The vendors that walk up and down the aisles yelling things like, "hot dogs, candy, soda" in their sing-songy voices.

3. Watching a father and son begin a tradition of ball games together. (that will later take the pressure off me. ha.)

4. Watching a bat break into two pieces and fly across the field.

5. Eating peanuts and hot dogs and cotton candy. Even if they do cost 50 dollars.

6. Watching the guys "rake" the dirt on the diamond. dumb I know, but fascinating still the same!

7. Watching Jack stomp peanut shells for 30 minutes.

8. Enjoying fireworks after each home run. (jack's favorite part, too)

9. Seeing families dressed in the team colors enjoying what you know has been their tradition for years.

10. Being with my family enjoying time together!

...and what does Troy love?

all these things + the actual sport