Monday, May 24, 2010

Things I Love: The Mouse

Say what you will about Disney, but I have never had anything but fabulous experiences when involved with them. Case in point: the Disney Movie Club. After we had two kids, we began talking about building up our Disney movie collection. The problem was that they're just so darn expensive! The new ones are rarely on sale outside of the first week after release, and even the old ones are still fairly pricey compared to other DVDs. For example, a newer, more popular Disney movie at Costco will cost $19. An older movie will run about $13. So for someone hoping to build up a little collection for the kids to choose from, it was simply too pricey.

Then one day I received an offer in the mail to join the Disney Movie Club. It seemed a bit too good to be true, so I researched extensively and found almost exclusively positive reviews. So I decided to give it a shot. Two years later, I've amassed quite the collection at a fraction of the cost and I am thoroughly pleased.

So here's how the math works out. Your initial offer includes 5 movies for $5 with free shipping if you include your credit card. If you accept this offer, you are on the hook to purchase 4 more movies at full price over the course of a two year period. However, you are offered two bonus movies in your initial order: one for $11.95 and one for $8.95. The $11.95 movie counts towards your commitment, which leaves you to purchase 3 more full price movies.

This is what your out of pocket spending looks like so far:
5 movies: $5.00
Bonus #1: $11.94
Bonus #2: $8.95
Shipping: Free
Total cost: $25.90 for 7 movies.

Ah, you say, now here's the catch. You now have to pay FULL PRICE for the other 3 movies. That's where they'll get you. Not really. If you don't take advantage of any special offers (which is a big if, but we'll pretend), each movie is usually $21.95 with $3.95 shipping. So here's what the rest of the math looks like:
Commitment #1: $21.95 with $3.95 shipping
Commitment #2: $21.95 with $3.95 shipping
Commitment #3: $21.95 with $3.95 shipping
Total for commitment movies: $77.70

So your total cost up to the point when you're able to cancel: $103.60
Total cost per movie: $10.36


But it gets even better. They're constantly offering deals like, "Buy one, get all others 50% off!" or "Special combo price when you buy these two movies and free shipping on your entire order!"
So your cost per movie could be even lower. And once you fulfill your membership, you become a VIP member and get "Buy one, get all others 60% off." Pretty sweet.

You can choose Blu-rays as well (but not for the initial super cheap movies). It's slightly more, but not ridiculously so.

You do have to know that you will be responding to movies about every 4 weeks. If you do not respond, you're automatically sent the movie. But they make it really easy to respond. You get an email when your feature selection is available, you click on the link and sign in, and then you decline. They then send a decline confirmation. Easy. You can also decline by phone or mail.

But what happens if something goes wrong and you get a movie you thought you declined? This happened to me today. I just called up the number (which is on all information you're sent by DMC), told the operator that something must have happened because I got a movie I thought I declined and that we already owned. He cheerfully told me that he was sorry and that he would send me a prepaid postage label this week. As soon as they got the movie, they would credit the account. It took about 3 minutes start to finish. Talk about good customer service.

So here's the breakdown:
Pros: Cheap Disney movies, including new releases
Only a 3 movie commitment
Excellent customer service

Cons: Have to constantly decline offers if you don't want to be surprised in the mail

If this seems like this would be good for your family (and it's been great for ours), let me know. I can send you a referral (the offer for free movies is usually better if you've been referred) and then I'll also get a free movie. No pressure at all, though!

Do you guys have any questions? I've been through most scenarios, so I'm sure I could help you out.

Spice Rack

I wanted to share our latest home improvement project.  We’ve lived in our house for four years, and I’ve wanted a spice rack for, oh, four years.  We went through configuration after configuration, but nothing worked with the way our kitchen is laid out.  And then we had an epiphany.  Our design is so ridiculously simple, I don’t know why it took us four years to come up with it.  We’re not quite pros at this woodworking thing, you see.  It’s just a 1x2xsomthing piece of the cheapest wood with moulding attached to the front and sides and then spray painted a high gloss white.  Easy.  Peasy.  Love it!

Here she is:



Saturday, May 22, 2010

Updated Enchilada Sauce Recipe

I was just informed that I made a typo on my enchilada sauce recipe--sorry if anyone's made it and it turned out weird! This tastes delicious with my bean and cheese enchiladas. Here's the corrected recipe:

10 Minute Enchilada Sauce
(It's actually more like 15 minute sauce, but who cares.)

1/4 cup vegetable oil
2 tablespoons self-rising flour (I've always used all-purpose, and it's turned out okay)
1/4 cup chili powder
1 (8 ounce) can tomato sauce
1 1/2 cups water
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon onion salt
salt to taste

1. Heat oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Stir in flour and chili powder, reduce heat to medium, and cook until lightly brown, stirring constantly to prevent burning flour.
2. Gradually stir in tomato sauce, water, cumin, garlic powder, and onion salt into the flour and chili powder until smooth, and continue cooking over medium heat approximately 10 minutes, or until thickened slightly. Season to taste with salt.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

It’s nice to have perspective…

Raising kids is hard.  It’s even harder on Sundays.  Today was no exception.  After hearing that the child I can depend on to be good was, to use the words of the Primary Presidency member, “a living nightmare” in Primary, poop explosions (Aaron had the joy of cleaning up that one), ruined naps, muddy clothes, and far too many “MOMMMMMMM!!!!  Paul (pushed me, threw mud in my hair, took my toy, looked at me, breathed on me!!!!),” we were only too happy to put the kids down for bed.  I came in to check my email and found this article that my dad forwarded to me:

“I would do it all again—but with cuter clothes”

And it reminded me that, yes, there were those moments, but there were also other moments:

Flushed cheeks and tousled morning hair

Cheers and a march for the “right” cereal spoon

Hugs in the hall on the way to Primary

Perfectly polite “pleases” and “thank yous”

Happy shrieks as they played in the mud

Chubby legs trying to keep up with her big brother and sister

Giggling as the neighbor’s dog gave kisses

Bear hugs for “Grandpa John”

Balancing on the wall on our walk home

Spontaneous “Mom, I love you!”

Cute flannel jammies

Sloppy goodnight kisses

“Mom, nite-nite!!” yelled through the door

Thanks, Dad.  I really needed that.  I guess time will only tell if we really will do it all over again :)  but it was sure nice to have the reminder that the little things are what you remember in the long run.


(One of the the little things.  Averi figured out how to apply mascara.)

Sunday, May 9, 2010

10 Things I’ve Learned (or Hope to Learn) from my Mother

1.  Just let them try

When we lived in England, we lived in a cute little house that had a small pond in the back.  Since it was a rental, no one had kept up the pond, but I desperately wanted to have a working pond with goldfish in it.  I was a teenager, but on my own, I drained and cleaned the pond and stocked it with goldfish.  I also wanted to install a fountain.  I was convinced that I could do it because I had learned how to wire plugs in my physics class.  Despite the dire warnings from our electrician-bishop and my complete lack of experience, my mom let me try.  And it worked.  I have gained so much confidence from experiences like that.  I feel like I could do most things, and I owe that to my mom.

2.  A hot shower and a nap cure most ills.

My mother doesn’t believe in doctors.  Mostly.  I can count on my fingers the number of times I can remember going to the doctor as a child.  Whenever we got sick, she would tell us to go take a shower and a nap and we’d be alright.  And we usually were.  Of course, there was the time I got an excruciating rash and she refused to take me to the doctor because I was “being a baby.”  It wasn’t until I came up with a self-diagnosis of shingles that she agreed to schedule an appointment.  It turned out that I was right about the shingles, but she was right about the shower and nap.  It really does cure just about anything.  Headache, stomach ache, heart ache—a hot shower and a nap helps them all.

3.  Kids learn by experimenting

I have always been opinionated.  Throughout my entire childhood, I refused to let anyone tell me how I should cut my hair.  I have had every haircut under the sun—hair down my back, hair to my chin, hair to my ears, layered, bobbed, permed (twice!), bangs, no bangs…everything.  My mom would try to talk some sense into me (“Are you sure you want it that short?  Really, really sure?”) right up until the time I got into the chair, but she always let me have the final decision.  And it wasn’t always a good decision.  I have had some terrible haircuts in my 27 years.  But I learned by doing.  I repeated some mistakes more than once (how anyone can perm their hair with such disastrous results twice is beyond me), but I eventually developed my own sense of style.  I learned what looked good and what looked dreadful.  And now I’m absolutely fearless when it comes to my hair.  It will always grow back.

4.  Be available.

I like to think that I was a pretty easy kid to raise.  As a result, my parents were very lenient in terms of curfew.  There were a few ground rules to follow, but as long as those were adhered to, I came and went without much restriction.  The hard and fast rule, though, was that I had to check in when I came home.  It could be two in the morning, but I was to come and wake up my mom to let her know that I was home.  Despite the late hour, she was always interested in how my evening had gone.  She cheered with me when it went well, and let me cry when it went poorly.  These conversations were often very long.  But she never seemed to mind.  She must have been completely exhausted, but I always felt like I could talk to her, no matter how late.

5.  Look for ways to serve.

My mom always has someone she’s helping.  It might be a college student in need of a home, a parent in need of a babysitter, a sick person in need of dinner, or a first-time mom in need of a ride to the doctor.  She seems to attract those that need help.  She’s still raising an eight-year-old, but she serves more than most empty nesters.  Even though she can’t be called as a temple worker because she still has a child at home, she has become a “permanent sub” in the baptistry because they arewere so short-handed.  Her home is always open, as is her wallet.  She has taught by example that when we “are in the service of our fellow men, [we] are only in the service of our God.”

6.  Don’t sweat the small stuff. 

When I was 13, I asked my mom for permission to dye my hair purple.  It was summer and time for Girl’s Camp, and our ward’s color was purple.  My friend and I decided it would be great to dye our hair purple to show our camp spirit…or something like that.  While most moms would have freaked out and refused permission, my mom said okay.  Of course she wasn’t wild about the idea of her daughter having purple hair, but she was reasonable.  School was out.  I was a good kid.  And hair grows out.  So I dyed my hair purple and got it out of my system.  The big things—church, school, behavior—were important.  Purple hair?  Not so much.

7.  It’s okay to have cereal for dinner.

Until I was 15, my mom worked full-time.  I don’t know how she did it.  I do know that I never felt neglected.  She always made it to every school function, our house was always clean, and she always found time to read to us.  But something had to give.  And so we learned that it was okay to have cereal for dinner sometimes.  In fact, it can be rather enjoyable.  Each person has exactly two dishes to put into the dishwasher, and dinner is ready in approximately five minutes.  She knew that her children would much rather have cuddletime with Mom than a fancy dinner.  And who doesn’t enjoy a bowl of Frosted Mini Wheats?

8.  Don’t argue with a two-year-old.

My sister Heather was, shall we say….difficult.  She was that child.  You know, the one that is always giving you a run for your money.  (We won’t say who that child is in our family.  But you could probably guess.)  She would have mornings that got to be too much, and she’d call my dad, wondering what on earth she was supposed to do with such a strong-willed child.  My dad would ask, “Why are you arguing with a two-year-old?”  Now when I call her, telling about the day’s battles with that child, she’ll remind me that I shouldn’t be arguing with a two- (or three-) year-old.  It’s empowering.

9.  A mom’s gotta do what a mom’s gotta do.

I remember feeling sorry for my mom because it seemed like she always missed out on the fun stuff.  If the family was watching a movie, she’d be doing dishes (don’t ask why we weren’t in helping her).  She’d miss the fun rides at the theme parks because she was in the kiddie section.  She was always the one to miss the skiing trip if someone was sick.  Now I realize that that’s just what moms do.  You don’t watch the movie—because that means that you can clean without someone making a mess right behind you.  You stay in the kiddie section—because the spinny rides make you sick anyways.  You stay behind with the sick child—because no one can do that better than a mom can.

10.  It’s hard to give too much praise.

My mom wanted to be sure that her children would be confident.  So she always made sure to tell me how beautiful I was.  She realized she had created a monster when she found my two-year-old self twirling in front of the full-length mirror, repeating, “I so bootiful!  I SOOOOOO bootiful!”  I don’t think the damage was too long-lasting…right?  Right?  My mom thinks I’m amazing at EVERYTHING.  Seriously.  Sometimes I’ll be on the phone with her, and I’ll hear my dad tell her, “Tone it down, Gayle!  She’s going to get a huge head!”  That’s what dads are for—keeping it real.  But moms are for building us up.  For letting us know that we are SOOOOOO bootiful.

Mother's Day Gifts

My parents sent me this beautiful bouquet of tulips for Mother's Day. I love flowers, and I was beyond thrilled (and surprised!) to get these. They look beautiful on our kitchen table and make me smile every time I walk past them.




They also came with chocolates. Paul asked if I was planning on sharing, but I’m completely selfish. No way!

I’m really enjoying gardening. For those of you who don’t know, I’m a sun worshipper, and I love being outdoors, so gardening seems to be a perfect fit. Aaron got me a beautiful large container, and I’m really having fun planning what I’m going to plant in it. AND he made blueberry pancakes from scratch with homemade strawberry sauce and bacon for breakfast. With 9 o'clock church, no less. And right now he's frying up some cod for fish tacos. Yum!!! And he made FRESHLY SQUEEZED strawberry lemonade. Sorry ladies, but I seriously have the best husband ever.

Katie put together a fun little book in her Joy School class, and she’s been asking all week when Sunday was so she could give it to me. It’s such a sweet little gift from the heart, and she’s so proud of it.

And this was Paul’s Mother’s Day present:



See that chunk out of the spatula? That’s where the metal MELTED. I am SO grateful this had a wooden handle, or we might have been spending Mother’s Day in the emergency room. He just HAD to do this. I caught him earlier this week trying to stick a screwdriver into one upstairs. I think this might have scared him enough that he won’t try it again. Oh, and in my defense, nearly all of my plugs have protectors on them. I had been vacuuming, so this one was out. And Averi, who the protectors are for, has never tried anything. Just Paul. Always Paul. I love him…really. I do.