Thursday, August 27, 2009

Before you buy makeup...

check out this book.
My friend, Kristin, found it a couple years ago when we were hanging out at Barnes and Noble, and I've referenced it ever since. She rates all kinds of skin care products by brand and also by type of product. So far I've liked all of her recommendations.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

This kiiiinda makes me want to go to jail

You guys know how much we LOVE our yellow lab puppy, Bella. Well, I was watching Oprah a couple weeks ago and there was a segment about an organization called Puppies Behind Bars. At first I thought it was going to be about puppies being abused, but I think that was just a way to get the audience's attention. Phew. I don't think I could have taken another one of those.

The organization places 8 week old puppies, mostly labs and golden retrievers, with prisoners. The puppies live with them in their cells and are around them 100% of the time. The prisoners have been taught how to train the puppies to be service dogs and explosive detecting dogs. It's a wonderful cycle of rehabilitation. I had tears streaming down my face watching the inmates talk about how the dogs had taught them to love someone/ something. Many of them were not as fortunate as many of us to be raised in loving and caring homes, so feeling and acting on this emotion were totally new experiences.
If you even kind of like dogs, you will love the videos on their website. They are amazing.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

East Coast Yay Yay

Ryan and I had such a fun trip to South Carolina last week. The Assuntos have a family friend who let us stay at his house on the beach, and it was amazing. The house was super nice, the beach was gorgeous, the restaurants were delicious, and we really enjoyed the down time.

While we were there we visited the Citadel. This was really cool for me because some of my family graduated from there.

The house was located on a great spot on Folly Beach. The view was very South Carolina-ish, and we had so much fun hanging out on the deck playing cards and reading.

Ryan played a couple rounds of golf that spread into the three days because of some rain, and I rode along in the cart with him. The courses were really beautiful. It made me want to play golf, and nothing has ever made me want to do that before!

We had a lot of fun hanging around Folly Beach. We ate at some great places and loved just getting to ride around town on bikes. I for sure almost fell like 6 times. It's been awhile....

And, probably one of the best parts of our trip, were the restaurants. If you've ever been to the Charleston area, you know what I'm talking about. We ate at so many good places. We meant to go out for a big, fancy dinner, but every place was so good, we got burned out and had to eat Mexican food for a break... Fat kids!!!
On Friday when we got back, we landed at the Houston airport at 2:30pm, and we needed to be back in Austin as quickly as possible. Ryan's best friend Thomas got married on Saturday and his rehearsal was at 4:30pm that Friday. So, we rushed back as quickly as possible- didn't make the the rehearsal, but we got to the dinner right on time.
The next night was the wedding, and the whole Assunto clan had a blast. Ta da!!!

And now it's back to school....

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Aren't these GORGEOUS?

My friend Robin Lind MADE these for me!!! I can't even make a scrapbook with pre-cut shapes, but she can make jewelry...lots and lots of cool pieces. Check her portfolio out at . Her link is at the bottom.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

She works haaard for the money!

I must confess... I LOOOOVE to save money and find good deals. I think it's important to steward money well, silly to waste it on dumb things and I want to make my momma proud. Sandy Lynch is the QUEEN of money savers, and I like to think I've learned a thing or two from her. Plus, much more than makin' momma proud, I want to make my Heavenly Father proud. What he blesses us with, actually belongs to him, and if I want to strive for every aspect of my life to glorify him, this must go along with it.

None of the things I/ we do to save money make us go very far out of our way. We have busy lives, so saving money can't be our full time job. And, I don't say no to things very often, just because they're a dollar or two more than I wanted to spend. I just try to be careful with the little things that can add up.

I got so excited the other day thinking about all of the bargains I found when doing stuff around our house this summer that I decided to make a list of some of my favorite ways to save money. I would love love love to hear your tips too, so send them my way!

1. I heart Costco... a lot. Yes, some of their items have to be bought in large quantities (I may or may not have enough Ziploc bags to get between 3 and 4 children through elementary school with a sack lunch every day) but not all of their items are bulk. They have great prices and great quality meat, frozen food, bread, cakes, cookies, glasses, contacts, medicine, etc. etc.

2. Costco has awesome coupon specials that they send you in the mail. I have saved $29 in one trip before and, yes, it made my day.

3. I found out the other day that Mr. Car Wash will give you 5 bucks off your wash if you have a competitors coupon. I paid about 6 bucks to get my car washed- inside and out, which is cheaper than you'd even pay at a gas station. Thank you sir, may I have another? I will be asking more often about competitor's coupons. We also saved this way when we bought our refrigerator because we found it cheaper at one store, so Lowes gave us that price and 5% or 10% off... I can't remember now.

4. Red Box. I love it! We are sporadic in renting movies, so having a Netflix-type thing isn't our best option. We rarely even pay to rent movies at Red Box because you can google search for promo codes and get tons of free rentals. Free movie at Red Box or 4 bucks at Blockbuster... hmmmm, let me think about it.

5. As mentioned in number 4, I aaaaalways google for coupons. When we went on our Decade of Friendship Trip to Mexico, we saved 50 bucks off of each room, just for having a silly promo code. It doesn't get much easier than that!

6. This one is a no-brainer. I never... EVER... buy anything at Bed Bath and Beyond without a 20% off coupon. They never expire and the manager told me last week that they could be used for anything, even the stuff that they say they can't be used for on the coupon.

7. Ryan and I put EVERYTHING on our credit cards and, obviously, pay them off at the end of every month. Then, we save up our reward points for travel. In the past two and a half years we've gotten 6 round trip plane tickets and a four night hotel stay in San Francisco without spending a dime. I almost feel bad because we've never paid the credit card company even a penny.

8. We rarely eat lunch out. For me it's easy because I'm at school, but Ryan is good about it too. We eat leftovers for lunch or make something at home. If we do go out, we split a Subway sandwich or something like that. If I go to lunch with you and spend more than 4 dollars, you're special.

9. I try to wait for sales. This is a toughy. But, it's so hard for me to buy clothes at a store like the GAP when I know if I wait a couple weeks I'll get it cheaper. It depends on the price, but I'm trying to get better at this. I also love shopping at outlets. We have one within about 20 minutes so it's pretty convenient. The J. Crew outlet, to me, is like entering the motherland.

10. Consumer Reports is my go-to. We've used it to help us find the best value on our camera, tv, car, ipod, smart phone, vacuum, etc. etc. It's really helpful in finding which product is what you need. Without it I might have bought the Dyson vacuum and any of the other items listed above with many more gadgets than what I would use.

11. I ask about discounts for being a teacher (you can use this for lots of jobs). For example, who knew that Verizon would give you a 20% discount on your portion of the wireless bill just for being a state employee? Not me, but I asked and now I save every month.

This is a lot of text, so if you made it this far, way to go! Yes, it bothers me that I could only think of 11 items, which is not a round number, but I'm going to get over it. I'd love to know about any other little tricks out there, so send your tips my way!

Sunday, August 2, 2009

When the cat's away... the mice will play.

What's a girl to do when her husband is on a business trip or hanging out with the guys on a Saturday night?

The only answer we could think of was to have a


Complete with some dinner...

And dessert...

And maybe a one of these...

A special thank you to our sponsors:

Chuy's jalapeno ranch

Real Simple's Zesty Chicken Enchiladas

You Tube

The cable that connects You Tube to your TV

Your husband's computer speakers

A new cute apron from Pier One

Lisa Loeb

Wilson Phillips

Reba McEntire


N Sync



of course...


We couldn't have done it without you.