Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Cutting the Cord on Cable

img from via shutterstock

For a while now we have been seriously toying with the idea of canceling our cable TV. I know, crazy right?

Off and on my husband would mention canceling cable when things got tight and I would go into freak out mode. You know ladies, when you and your husband have the dreaded "budget meeting." Gawd I hate budget meetings.

Eventually my tears and whining would win out and we would drop the subject.

About a year ago though when Netflix started getting better and better about their streaming library, I started to give it some more serious thought.

Still though I thought I couldn't live life without a DVR, and also CBS shows were not on Netflix or Hulu.

So, we started toying with the idea of how we could cut the cord, and started working in that direction.

Our first step was to get an old tower and hooked it up to our upstairs TV. We have been streaming up there for more than six months. We tried out Boxee, which comes with an app for the iPhone which gave us a remote (which was nice not having to get up and click the mouse for each new episode or to search Netflix). However we noticed some glitches. Boxee doesn't show EVERYTHING in our Netflix queue. We didn't like that. Also it doesn't list the episodes in order.

Seriously folks my OCD was kicking into overdrive without the episodes in chronological order. I thought I'd pull my hair out.

Boxee did allow us to subscribe to shows like BBT through CBS, however it was really slow streaming, and we were not thrilled with the quality of it. Much better to exit the Boxee system and just go to the actual site through the browser.

We kind of gave up on cutting the cord for a bit, the Holidays came around and life just got too busy to work on the TV stuff.

However each month when that Cox bill would come in the mail, I would ask myself WHY? Why do I keep paying them $80 a month for something that we could easily get for next to nothing?

So, two weeks ago we got serious about this.

I ordered a free trial of Hulu plus and would you know the VERY day I did this Hulu Plus got an app for the Wii?  Our timing couldn't have been better.

I don't like their interface as much as the Netflix interface for the Wii, but they JUST came out with it.  I'm sure it will take some time to get the glitches out of it.

Next, I called Cox and found out how low our bill would go and they talked about "data caps".  A word I had not yet heard.

Data caps?  Are you FREAKING serious?  We have a 200GB a month data limit on our internet.  My heart sank.  We could increase that limit by upping to premier or ultimate package, but what was the point?  We were trying to SAVE money, not spend more.

I thought at that point again our journey to cancel cable was over, however after some research it seems that 200GB will give you about 32 HD movies a month or 500 SD shows.  That's like a LOT of TV people, about 5 or more hours a day if not more, and yes, that is how long the TV blares in our house at times on our bad days.

So, I started looking at our data usage and we stopped using cable over the weekend.  We streamed LITERALLY all day yesterday on both TV's and ended up using under 5GB.  That keeps us well under our allowance monthly.

This past weekend my husband made an HD antenna this weekend. It is very similar to THIS antenna. It's up in our attic and you can't even see it. Our picture quality is just as good if not better than cable.  We are getting all our local channels on both TV's just fine.

There are still some more issues to work out but we will do that along the way.

1.  I don't like having a huge tower in my bedroom hooked to my TV, so eventually what I think we will do is move it to a closet one day. My husband plans to get a video capture card (I think that's what it is...he is the techie on this). With that we can record our HD shows like HIMYM, BBT and CSI etc...all off the air in HD.

Our next step is to get a ROKU box.  It will be much better looking than the tower in our room, and it will give us a remote that we can use.

Img from

Roku seems to perform better than Boxee does as far as an interface according to reviews.  It will take a bit of money to sink into getting our system where we want it, but it the long run it should pay off.

2.  We can't watch CBS through Hulu Plus or Netflix.  ALL my favorite shows seem to be on that channel, so for now I have to watch them on the iMac or else up in our bedroom with the tower (because I can do that through the browser).  They stream a bit slower through CBS than they do on Hulu or Netflix.  Seriously CBS, get with the program!  However I think when we get the capture card, hopefully we can just record these to the hard drive and Roku will let us pull them up.  Again, we are still working on it.

Still, when i made that call to Cox today I was a little paniced and scared.  Cable has been our crutch for YEARS now.  In fact funny thing was my job BEFORE I was a stay at home mom was working in retention for Cox.  Yeah, I was the gal who would try to convince you to KEEP your cable and I got paid WELL to do it.

However the deed is done.  The cable is GONE.

I mean, what will I do if I can't watch mindless hours of House Hunters International on HGTV when I'm sick in bed?  Or what about that evening on the sofa watching VH1's top 100 one hit wonders of the nineties?  And yes, I'll miss my hours upon hours of Nick at Night reruns of Friends.  Who knows, maybe I'll read a book or something or actually GET SOME SLEEP?  Go figure.

Anyhow, if you are thinking about cutting the cord ask me any questions and I'll be happy to fill you in on what we do.  Also I'll keep you posted on our updates to our system!

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Monday, February 27, 2012

The Bench

The bench is finished! 

The bench is completely painted.

Oh poo, the bench is in the house....

Ok, so FINALLY this weekend I called the bench "done" enough to bring it in the house and start using it. 

I started this project back in January.  

I went out and purchased the lumber.  It sat there.  For WEEKS.

Then, one free weekend my husband gave me a crash course on the table saw and we got a LOT of it done.

It actually seemed to be coming together!

Then I primed it.

Then I went out and got the black paint and I got sick.

Time seemed to stand still on this project.  I couldn't bring myself to clean the house, much less go into the garage and paint this bench.

But, I kept plugging on at it and finally I'm done.

Well kind of.

I still have to sand the plywood backing, paint it, poly it and nail it on.

I have to get the foam and sew the cushion cover on the top.

But really, it's nearly there.

Oh, and I still need baskets.  

 I've gone to about a hundred stores looking for baskets to fit the holes and my budget and it's been no luck.  My husband warned me I should have got baskets first, then modified the plan to fit the baskets.  I laughed at him.  Silly man.  Ross has about a million baskets I told him.
Yeah, Ross has been OUT of baskets the past month.  Like there is some sort of basket shortage there or something.  I found some at Target that will work, but I don't feel like forking over $15 per basket.  UGH!

Have I said before he is a smart man and I should listen to him more?

I guess I'll never learn.

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Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Pinterest Wednesday

I skipped last weeks Pinterest Wednesday for several reasons.

1. I've been completely and totally exhausted lately. Like no motivation to do a single thing.

2. I'm fairly certain nobody actually reads these posts. (mainly because I fear they are too boring to actually post to my Twitter and FB feeds so I never post them....)

3. I don't know if it's just me, but Pinterest has been a bit slow for me the past few weeks. I've only pinned a couple really great things per week. Frankly I don't have a whole lot to share right now.

So, why do I do it? Boredom I suppose. Also it forces me to write when I have nothing to actually write about.

Oh, I could rant on and on about this weeks potty training woes, or staying up till almost 11:00 last night to put together my girls bunk beds, or how I've completely and totally procrastinated on my entryway bench, but actually those things were so exhausting on their own, the mere thought of writing about them makes my head hurt.

Sigh. So let's just look at pretty things together on Pinterest shall we?

When I look at the next photo all I can hear is Jack from Will and Grace saying "It's SINFULLY delicious."  I don't want to even know how many calories are in them.  Probably ALL of them.

Img from Williams

This next post really got me thinking about the scale, how I eat and how I work out.  I know some changes are coming in my future....Seriously read this gals story at Nerd Fitness.  It's pretty awesome how she stopped being a slave to her scale, and how she looked better at 140 pounds than she ever did at 117.

img from Nerd Fitness

Oh please oh please can summer get here all ready?  As much as I love my boots I'm so over big bulky sweaters and jackets this season.

pinned by Lagu on Polyvore.

I don't want the kitchen desk, but I'm wanting to build a desk in my den with white on the bottom and a reclaimed wood look on the top.  This gave me some inspiration.

Pinned by SuddenlySara via

And now for some funny:

Pinned by Marianne Thompson here

This next one had me giggling for a while:

Pinned by Marianne Thompson here

And for the Harry Potter fans out there.  This one is great:

Pinned here by Cortoooo

Once again this week I'm linking up with The Vintage Apple "Oh How Pinteresting Wednesday".


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Friday, February 17, 2012


I feel like I haven't posted in forever, because well I really haven't.

It's been a crazy few weeks here on the home front.  We all came down with some kind of cold and mine is still lingering on.  I just can't shake this sinus stuff. Problem is when I have all this pressure in my head I just can't make myself work out.  It's been THREE weeks since I've been to the gym and the more the time passes the more I begin to stress and stress that I haven't been going.

I've GOT to get back into it next week.

Last week also why we were all sick, my oldest played Little Red Riding Hood in her school musical "Into The Woods."  SUPER proud of that girl.  She is such a sweetheart and has so much talent, and she is absolutely gorgeous.  Her inside matches her outside though, she is wonderful through and through.

One of my dear friends asked me if I was wearing flannel pajamas.  NOPE just my big long thick jacket. (though as sick as I was and as cold as it was in there that may have been a better solution.  I think if you look close I have icicles hanging from my nose.)

Last week I also ordered my girls bunk bed.  We are anxiously awaiting the arrival of it.  If you missed my post I rationalized not building a bunk bed because we are just SO busy right now.

It's probably a good thing.  Remember my entryway bench?  Yup, still working on that.  I have ONE more coat of paint then poly to put on it and I'm done.  This project has been slow going for me but really I'm hoping to finish it this weekend.

Back onto bunk beds.  Yesterday I went out to buy the girls comforters and everything is CRAZY expensive for the cute stuff.  I found one at Kohls 65% off.  It's SUPER cute but has not ONE bit of purple in it, but the colors seem to blend.  My girls walls are a purple/lavender color.  I went ahead and bought them but I'm freaking out that they won't look well in the room.

It seems like it may blend ok.  I don't think Lucy is gonna let me take them back.  She seems to REALLY love her new comforter.

Also I've been in the middle of a pretty great parenting bible study by Andy Stanley.

It never ceases to amaze me that God puts me exactly where he wants me.  This is SO completely relevant to areas of our parenting life right now it is great.  It's so simple, yet so wonderful.  I'm learning SO much about the importance of relationships in my kids lives.  It talks a LOT about how this generation tends to be experience rich but relationally poor, and how to fine tune/dial in and out certain relationships in the kids lives.  I'm loving it.

The ONLY hiccups is the memory verse memorization that comes along with the bible study.  Arrgh that has me sweating bullets come Monday morning group time ;)

As if we were not busy enough last week my husband had drill (for those of you who don't know he is in the National Guard) AND we had our cub scouts blue and gold banquet.  Blue and Gold is like our BIG event of the year, and I was the chairman in charge of getting the banquet put together.

Thankfully it went off pretty well.  I'm so proud of my son he earned his Webelos badge!

My husband pinning on his badge

Sorry for the blurry photo, that's the best I got.  (as you can see my husband was still in uniform...came straight from drill to the banquet).

Isn't he just the most handsome boy scout ever?

Ok, him and Bear Grylls.  Behr Grylls may be the most handsome boy scout ever, but my son is right up there ;)

img from the scouting

I kid, I kid.  (My husband can't get jealous because I'm pretty certain he has a man crush on Bear Grylls).

Also we have been strongly thinking about cutting the cord on our cable.  I'm still in the research phase to see if I can actually do this, but it's looking promising!  The only hiccup right now is the stupid data caps that Cox has placed on their internet service.  I could write a whole blog post rant on that but I'll spare you the agony of me on my soapbox.

So, needless to say we have been pretty busy.  I don't ever see it slowing down anytime soon, but hopefully I'll start feeling better and get my train back on the track.

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Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Why I'm NOT making a bunk bed

So, if you've been around our family or this blog for any amount of time,  you know we like to be frugal around here.  We also like to make things ourselves.  We kinda pride ourselves in it, being able to create and take something for little and make it into something kinda awesome.

That is why it pains me a bit to be PURCHASING bunk beds.

I had all intentions to make this bed:

img from Ana courtesy of Ever Heard of Eueless

This is Ana's bunk bed plan, made by Ever Heard of Eueless.  Beautiful.  LOVE LOVE LOVE it.  Problem is when I started pricing out the cost of the materials, plus mattresses, plus paint, plus my time, I was only saving about $50 bucks.  $100 if I was lucky.  Let's be honest people.  I'd pay someone $50-$100 bucks to sand for me.  As much as I love to build, can you imagine all the SANDING on this bed.  (no sanding makes me happy).

There are times in your life when time is more precious than money.  This is one of those moments.

Right now our family is smack dab in the middle of military stuff, boy scout banquets, a lead role in a school musical, workout and weight loss plans, tumbling practice and training for 10K's.

Oh also my youngest has learned to climb in and out of her crib, so a new bed is really needed ASAP.

Taking 2-3 weekend to build a bed, actually just FINDING two to three free weekends to build a bed is just not feasible right now.

So, I bite the bullet, throw in the towel.  I'm buying the bed.  I'm sure someday sometime down the road I may regret this decision.  (trust me I've gone back and forth over this for the past several weeks), but for now its the best decision to be made.

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Pinteresting Wednesday

I kinda am starting to like this Pinteresting Wednesday thing. Just when I feel that I have no creative juices or anything to write about hump day comes along and this gives me a little post to share.

No theme today, just going back to my favorite pins from the last week. Here they are in all their glory.

My first "Social Media Explained." SO True. So TRUE.

Pinned here

Here we have Cream Cheese Stuffed Lemon French toast.  Yum.  Filed under my Recipes pin board.  Instead I should file it under "recipes I will probably never make but will pin anyway."

Recipe from Our Best Bites found HERE

I found a really awesome sandbox plan from Ana this week.  Just add it to the very LONG list of items I want to make.

Img found at AnaWhite.Com here

Oh, and this should be filed under "complete and total awesomeness."  Send this lady a photo of your kids drawing and she will make a softie of it.  This HAS to be one of the cutest most creative things I've EVER seen.

Img found at Child's Own Studio here

And under the "holy crap, why didn't I think of this before category"....DIY drawer dividers/organizers from Ana of course...

Img from Ana found here

Oh, and this would be great IF I ever actually made teacher gifts.  Sometimes I feel like I'm that ONE mom in the class that just doesn't do it all.

Img pinned here

That's about all for this week.  This week I'm linking up to The Vintage Apple's "Oh How Pinteresting Wednesday."

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Wednesday, February 1, 2012

My Pinterest Dream Kitchen

Today marks my SECOND Pinterest Wednesday.

Today rather than share my favorite pin's of the week, I'm going to be daydreaming a bit with you about my vision for my kitchen.

*Disclaimer.  I do a LOT of daydreaming. (a.k.a. pinning things that I may never actually accomplish)

**Disclaimer TWO* This vision is subject to change within six months with or without warning.

I say that because six months ago my vision for my kitchen was dark floors, white cabinets, faux dark beams across the ceiling.  I called it "modern farmhouse".

img from

While I still think that this is gorgeous my husband wasn't extremely fond of this idea.  (Yes, ladies it is their house too.)  He likes the idea of darker cabinets, which I don't mind either, but the thought of re-staining my cabinets was a daunting task.  I learned during my bathroom renovation that staining cabinets is a LOT of work.  MUCH harder than painting.

So I started thinking about painting my kitchen cabinets black.  Yes.  I said black.  For better words lets call it espresso (sounds fancier doesn't it?).

So I started searching images and came up with some ideas.

You can call it French country or European country.  Here is my vision.

image from Rustic Woodworks, Inc. pinned here

I'm really starting to LOVE LOVE LOVE rustic looking wide plank floors in a walnut color.  Since I have pets if I went dark you would see every scratch and nick, every single bit of dog hair.  If I go more rustic I think it would eliminate a TON of stress for me.  Of course my taste is expensive.  Siiiighh.

I'd LOVE to do something like this for my range hood:

img from pinned here

And NOTHING goes better with a French country theme than copper.  Who would have thought that I would start to LOVE copper?

Image pinned here

Image Pinned Here

Doesn't that copper with the distressed black just scream French country?  Ahhh.  I love it.

Img from pinned here

Of course what TOTALLY freaks me out is that my tastes change like every few months, and when you are doing something like a kitchen, well, you are gonna have to LOVE it for a LONG LONG time.   We are a LONG way away from a kitchen redo, so I have time to really think about this.  In the meantime though I'm gonna keep pinning away ideas for my dream kitchen.

img pinned here

To follow my board "kitchen ideas" you can see it here on Pinterest

Today I'm linking up with The Vintage Apple "Oh How Pinteresting Wednesday".

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