June 30, 2013

my (current) favorite things, june 2013 edition

This post has been a long time in the making. I've been thinking about it since before school got out, but then I had yearbook deadlines, book review deadlines, the excitement of searching for and buying a house, and an obsession with Covert Affairs that kept me from blogging. But finally, here we go—my current favorite things!
  • Vaseline Spray and Go Moisturizer: I have just about the driest legs on the planet. I also can be incredibly lazy when it comes to moisturizing my skin. So the instant I saw the commercial for Vaseline's new spray lotion, I knew I needed to try it. It is absolutely fantastic! It does everything the commercial claims ... and it seriously takes like 10 seconds. Even I can handle that!
  • ipsy: ipsy is one of those $10 monthly subscription boxes that's been popping up over the past couple of years. I went back and forth between ipsy and Birchbox, but I ended up choosing ipsy because most of the bloggers who compared the two favored ipsy. It's so fun to get beauty products in the mail! My first ipsy glam bag came in May, and I am currently using or have already used up four of the five items. The June glam bag wasn't so much "me" as the May bag was, and so far I've only used the Cailyn eyeliner. I'm going to stick with ipsy through the summer and then reevaluate. (I'm working on a post that talks about my items, but for now these pictures will have to suffice.) If you're interested in trying ipsy, you can sign up here.
My May glam bag.
My June glam bag. I got an extra item (the Baublebar bracelet) for referring people to the service.
  • NCIS: Back when I had cable (almost three years ago now), I watched NCIS fairly frequently. Then I moved, and I no longer had TV. NCIS is one of the shows I didn't bother to keep up with online. Then in February, I came down with the flu, and I spent a week on my parents' couch. USA runs NCIS marathons several times a week, and I started watching them. Suddenly, I was completely hooked. Blendy and I are taking an accounting class together this summer (a decision I seriously regret...), and we decided to reward ourselves after completing our assignments by watching NCIS episodes. I picked up several seasons on sale on Amazon, so we started with the pilot, and we're working our way through. Currently, we're in season two. Honestly, the promise of more NCIS is just about the only thing motivating me to do my homework. (On a side note, I've often wondered if I missed my calling and should have gone into accounting. The answer to that question is an unequivocal NO!) 
  • Covert Affairs: Not since Dawson's Creek have I been so entirely addicted to a TV show. I watched the first three seasons of Covert Affairs in about three weeks, and I'm now eagerly anticipating Season 4, which premieres next month. (And I'm ever so thankful that my parents now have cable, which will enable me to watch the show as it airs!) Blendy calls Covert Affairs "Alias lite," and I suppose it is. (Lead Piper Perabo even bears a striking resemblance to Jennifer Garner.) But it's also a whole lot of fun. Christopher Gorham as blind CIA operative Auggie is adorable as usual, and if you didn't know he could see, you'd swear he was blind. Then you have the fabulous Peter Gallagher (Sandy Cohen from The O.C. and Peter on my favorite movie of all time, While You Were Sleeping) as CIA bigwig Arthur Campbell, a great love triangle, and intriguing story lines ... basically, you end up with a show that may not be as mind-bendingly awesome as Alias, but it sure is fun to watch! If you have Amazon Prime, you can stream the first three seasons free. Check out the pilot here.
  • Xtra Bacon: Sometime during the last season of The Bachelor, I stumbled across a hilarious podcast that recaps/mocks the show. That podcast is part of the Xtra Bacon Network, a group of pop culture podcasts and blogs. If you're a fan of The Bachelor/ette, I highly recommend you check out Knox & Jamie's hilarious commentary. They even mentioned one of my tweets (at 15:45) in this episode!
  • Steel Cut Oats: I have always thought I hated hot oatmeal. Then several months ago, I stayed overnight with my aunt, and she made steel cut oats for breakfast. Oh. My. Goodness. They were so good! I've started making them about three times each week—I just throw 1/4 cup of steel cut oats and 1-1/2 cups water in my little crockpot right before I go to bed, and it's ready in the morning. With a little brown sugar and cinnamon, it's fantastic ... and it keeps me full throughout the morning.
  • That Guy ... Who Was in That Thing: When I decided to dump Netflix, this was the only item in my queue that I knew I wanted to watch before my subscription ran out. It's a documentary about character actors, and it features lots of people I recognized, including Timothy Omundson (Lassiter on Psych), Gregory Itzin (Henry Wilcox on my new fav Covert Affairs), Xander Berkeley (Percy on Nikita), and Bruce Davison (he's been in a million things, including X-Men and X2, but I'll always remember him as the teacher in The Wave, an ABC Afterschool Special that we watched in my college speech class). I really enjoyed it! You can watch it here.
Are any of my favorites your favorites? Now that I've finished Covert Affairs, do you have a show I should binge-watch? What are some of your favorite things that I should check out? Let me know in the comments!

Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

June 14, 2013

dumping netflix

I joined Netflix in the summer of 2007. At the time, streaming video was fairly new, and members could stream 1 hour of video for each dollar they paid per month (or something like that). There wasn't much available to stream then, but Netflix soon began devoting large amounts of money to acquiring streaming content.

When Netflix announced its price hike in 2011, I ditched the DVDs and selected a streaming plan. And I remained happy with Netflix.

I'm still happy with Netflix ... but as of July 7, I will no longer be a subscriber. Why? Well, the answer is twofold. First of all, I'm buying a house, so I'm trying to save all the money I can. Netflix is far from being a necessity. Secondly, I also have Amazon Prime (which I get at a reduced price through Amazon Student). Prime includes free two-day shipping and free streaming of select movies and television shows. Amazon's selection has improved vastly in the last year, and now that Amazon Instant Videos can (finally!) be streamed through the Wii, I've been watching more Prime videos than ever. Prime doesn't have as many movies or TV seasons as Netflix, but there's more than enough to keep me occupied. In fact, I'm currently watching two shows that aren't available on Netflix: Covert Affairs and 7th Heaven. Couple that with the fact that I only watched three of the last 100 things streamed on my account, and I have to conclude that my money would be better spent elsewhere. (Multiple family members use my account ... and apparently they use it a whole lot more than I do!)

Of course, as I've been sitting here typing, I've been thinking about the myriad of items in my queue. Felicity isn't on Amazon Prime. Neither is Nikita. Or The Artist, which I've been intending to watch for the past year. And that's the key—I have 330 items in my queue, but how many of them will I actually watch? Maybe 5 or 10 percent? Just last night, I queued up an episode of Felicity, thinking that if I ever wanted to finish the series, I should do it now. I watched about two seconds before switching to Covert Affairs through Prime. I honestly can't think of one thing that I would be bummed about missing if my subscription ended tomorrow instead of three weeks from now.

As of right now, I think I'll come back to Netflix someday. But maybe I'll discover that I don't miss it much at all.

June 13, 2013

buying a house

About six years ago, my aunt told me I should buy a house. She said it was a good investment and I was at a point in my life where I should be thinking about such things.

I ignored her completely.

To be honest, I really never considered buying a house before because it seemed like to do so would be admitting defeat. Admitting that I truly might never get married. Admitting that I might stay in Central City for the rest of my life.

But here's the thing: I like living in Central City. I enjoy my job. Yeah, it took me awhile to get to this point, but in recent years, any time I've thought about moving away, it's because someone else suggested that I should—really, I'm very happy here. And it's time I embraced that. Besides, buying a house somewhere doesn't mean you'll live there forever.

As for the singleness issue, I'm well aware that I may have said sayonara to my one chance at marriage last year. But maybe I didn't. Maybe the man who will make me feel what Abbie feels when she sees Nate is still out there. Why would I think that my buying a house would prevent him from showing up? That's just ludicrous.

So I'm taking the plunge. I'm buying a house. And now that I'm doing it, all my previous hesitations seem completely ridiculous.

It's really amazing how it has all worked out, and I'm still a little bewildered by it all. God definitely orchestrated this. As one of my Bible study friends said last night, isn't it crazy that, while I had no clue, God knew that during this week, while I was crazy-busy with VBS, He would bring me a house?

Here's how it happened: A little less than a month ago, a coworker asked me if I was interested in buying a house. She and her husband had purchased a house in Central City for her and their girls to live in while they attended Nebraska Christian. The girls graduated this year, so they are looking to sell the house. I went to check it out, and I liked it, but I didn't love it. But looking at that house made me realize that I really did want to own a home, so I kept looking.

I looked at a second house two weeks later. This one looked amazing on paper, but the basement was a complete deal breaker. It reminded me of my great-grandparents' basement. It was damp, it smelled musty, and it just looked ... unpleasant. I liked the upstairs, loved the backyard, and hated the basement.

After that, I wasn't sure where to look. I thought about checking out the first house again. And then one day last week, my dad told me I should look at a house that he had just noticed. I looked it up online on Thursday and decided it had definite potential. Friday afternoon, I called the realtor, and he said I could look at it Friday evening. I took Blendy and Dad with me, and we all liked it. Well, Blendy and Dad liked it; I fell in love the instant I stepped inside! I looked at the house again on Monday, this time taking my mom along as well. As we walked through the house, I couldn't help but talk about how my things would fit into the house. I spoke with a loan officer from a local bank on Tuesday afternoon and then made an official offer on the house. Tuesday night, I dreamed that the sellers decided they didn't like me and wouldn't sell it to me no matter how much I offered. (This was such a realistic dream that I woke up believing I'd lost the house.) On Wednesday morning, I learned my offer had been accepted! Now the only thing left is to get the loan ... so I spent a couple hours yesterday filling out the application and a couple hours today locating all the documents the loan officer requested.

This house is perfect for me! Two bedrooms, one bathroom (recently remodeled), remodeled kitchen, living room, family room, fenced in backyard. The only thing I don't love about it is the lack of a garage—the garage was converted into the family room. I'm very excited to have a dishwasher again, and I'm looking forward to letting my cats be in the house.

And I will be especially happy to say goodbye to the dog next door, who recently did this to my welcome mat:
Is it okay to say you hate an animal? 'Cause I certainly don't have any positive feelings for that dog!

No pictures yet, but I promise to post some after I get moved in. It's looking like we'll close in early August.

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