Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Budget Traveling

I am probably the last person to figure out priceline.com, but my sister recently got a nice hotel room in downtown Houston for $60 a night by bidding through the site. Since Mr. J and I are traveling to Denver/Cheyenne in a few weeks, I thought I'd give it a try.

Here's the thing, though: You can't be picky. You basically choose what kind of hotel you'd like (up to 4 stars), indicate the area of town where you'd like your hotel to be located, plug in your credit card number, and post your "bid" -- how much you'd be willing to pay per night for your hotel. Now, I know what you're thinking.... I'll just bid a ridiculously low number and just up my bid in $1 increments. Unfortunately, Priceline is on to you and your crafty tricks. You can only bid once a day, so if your bid is too low and isn't accepted, you're kicked off the site for 24 hours.

But, if your bid is accepted, you're good! Just remember, there's no backing out. You'll be charged and you'll have to be ok with wherever you end up. (But is that really that scary if you know you have a 4-star hotel booked? I don't think so.)

I knew we wanted to be near downtown Denver, so I checked that location, typed in my credit card number, and decided that $65 was a reasonable amount. Priceline then put me on hold while it scoured 4-star downtown Denver hotels that would accept my $65 a night bid. If no hotels in your area/star rating accept your price, then you have to re-bid a higher amount.

But after waiting just 30 seconds, I ended up with this:

It's a Hyatt in downtown Denver that's normally $150 a night -- score! Now I just have to figure out how to get a cheap flight and rental car...

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

How iTrimmed my iBill

This is how I feel every month (except with a slightly less old-school phone). Mr. J and I both have iPhones, which we agree are unnecessary but kind of awesome. For the past few months, our phone and internet bills have been out of control. Usually, I just sigh and vow to look at the bill later because I typically have some other pressing activity to attend to (grading, grading, more grading).

Now that it's summer, though, I no longer have that excuse. Yesterday, I spent 3 hours combing my cell phone bill, going to billshrink.com (LOVE!) and researching AT&T's plans. I quickly found that we have WAY too many "anytime" minutes that we never use, too many text messages that we never use, and a few features that.... we never use.

So after lots of research, I found a way to shave $100 off our bill each month. Woohoo! (And I know, crazy that it was ever that high in the first place.)

On to the internet.

Every time I'm watching tv, I see commercials for AT&T advertising $19.95 internet service. My internet service is $35, so I wondered what the deal was. After calling AT&T and asking about this (and threatening to switch internet providers), they graciously offered to give me the $19.95/month rate, too. Dave Ramsey would be proud :)

Anyway, I know you are in awe of how glamorous my summer days are, but I just wanted to let you know how simple it can be to save a nice chunk of change each month.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Rainbow Salad

I think most salads are boring. Seriously, who wants to eat iceberg lettuce with croutons covered in a depressing river of ranch? Not me. I do love vegetables, though, IF they have plenty of flavor. Here's a salad I improvised after a friend posted this recipe on Facebook; it came from the awesome food site Chocolate and Zucchini.

It's so good and has so many different colors and flavors that I look forward to lunch from the minute I get to school.

Rainbow Salad
Combine the following ingredients:
1/2 package of shredded carrots
3-4 small beets, chopped into small cubes
1/2 chopped green apple
3-4 scallions, diced

Then, drizzle olive oil and apple cider vinegar over the entire salad. Add about a half teaspoon of
Dijon mustard and toss all of the vegetables around in the mixture. Finish by sprinkling blue cheese crumbles over the top of the salad. Yum-O.

Monday, April 4, 2011

I have way too many shoes -- if you ask my husband, that is. Somehow, I have green canvas wedges and purple Gladiator-style sandals, but no practical brown or black shoes. When I was out shopping at Target this weekend, that meant, of course, that I needed to get some new sandals -- in the ever-practical orange hue.

Ok, I know what you're thinking. But orange can go with black, navy, purple, and green, right? Plus, just look how cute these are:

Here are their selling points:
1. They're $15!!!
2. They are super-comfy
3. They look good with jeans and skirts -- maybe shorts, too, but I'm not really a shorts-wearing gal.
4. They come in 4 or 5 different colors, so if orange isn't your fave, check out the sea-blue, black, metallic, and white shades.

Happy shopping!

Friday, March 18, 2011

Spicing up the ol' playlist

This week, my spring break, has been my little staycation. I've done lots of sleeping, cleaning, writing, reading, designing... it's been awesome. I've also discovered that despite the fact that I don't run nearly enough to be tired of my playlist, it's gotten pretty stale. If you're needing a little cardio pick-me-up, feel free to swipe any of these tunes to your iPod:
1. Imma Be (The Black Eyed Peas)
2. Dog Days Are Over (Florence + The Machine)
3. Forget You (I went with the G-rated Glee version since the original is a bit more colorful.
Instead of "forget," the original lyrics use the word -- actually... I'm sure you can figure it out.)
4. Power (Kanye)
5. Empire State of Mind (Jay-Z)
6. Paper Planes (M.I.A.)
7. That's Not My Name (The Ting Tings)
8. Run This Town (Jay-Z)

Sunday, March 13, 2011

*Tiptoeing* into the Crafting World

I love crafting. Or at least I love the idea of crafting. Usually I find some way to procrastinate instead of completing actual projects, so I have to really focus when I decide to take on something new. When I first mentioned I wanted to create more crafts for the house, my husband thought I was going to make a quilt, a birdhouse, or a giant tree painting showcasing my family's genealogy. And while his ideas would make excellent ones for nursing home occupational therapy, I'm not sure I'm mature enough for them yet.

Here's my latest project: the very regal family portrait series with our matriarch Izzy the Sheltie as the centered canvas:

It was a fun process that only cost about $30 for paints, canvases, and ribbon (to cover the stapled edges of the canvases). Here's what I did:

1. Took profile pics of Jacob and Izzy (and had Jacob take one of me; Izzy was being bratty and refused to hold the camera) against a blank wall for easier Photoshopping.

2. Used the magnetic lasso in PS to trace our profiles. Then, I clicked "Select" --> "Inverse" and deleted the background.

3. Used curves to turn the profiles black. At this point, I could have just printed out the profiles and framed them, but nooo... I like to make things complicated.

4. Printed out the profile pics at 5X7 and cut them out. Then, I traced around them in pencil on my round 8X10 canvases.

5. Painted the inside of the pencil tracing.

6. Some bleeding occurred with the paint, causing the edges of the cameos to look a little fuzzy, so I traced around the cameos with a black Sharpie marker.

7. Used fabric glue and black satin ribbon to cover the stapled edges of the canvases.

8. Nailed three nails in the divider between our kitchen and hallway and hung our oh-so-elegant family cameos.

I'm not going to lie -- there were some minor snafus that I encountered and it's obviously tougher to paint the canvases than to just print out a cameo created in Photoshop.

I'm thinking of trying a few more versions of the cameos with different media, so stay tuned...

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Dieting is for the birds...

Like most people, I hate things I'm not good at -- which means I REALLY hate dieting. Fact: I once went on Atkins in college and lasted 8 hours with carbs before I found myself crying in my closet, clutching a box of Girl Scout Thin Mints. It was a real low.

So since I'm a dieting flunky, I have been scavenging for healthy-ish food that I like. Here are my big winners:

If you, like me, hate diet soda but like carbonation, La Croix is where it's at. I highly recommend the lime and lemon flavors. It has no sugar, no calories, nothing -- just flavored sparkling water. Sometimes during lunch at school (possibly even less glamorous than it sounds), I pretend I'm drinking champagne. I don't usually believe myself, but it's still a more fun alternative to plain, boring water.

Ok, this isn't technically "healthy" -- well, it's not really healthy at all -- BUT I used to drink flavored lattes almost every morning from the coffee shop on my way to school, and I'm pretty sure that this delicious Almond Joy flavor mixed with some low-fat milk and a shot of espresso is less sugar-filled and lower in fat. Plus, Mr. J makes it for me every morning, and it's pretty much my reason for getting out of bed.

Oh, how I love Ezekiel Bread. It's low-glycemic and it's got more fiber and protein than a bagel. Just put a smidge of cream cheese on a piece of this toast, and you've got yourself a mighty fine breakfast.

I used to think all Greek yogurt was an acquired taste. I liked most brands, but it's pretty tart, so I can understand why my sister had gag reflexes the first time she tried it. Yoplait, however, makes a much more mainstream version that is oh-so-tasty, low in fat, and high in protein. Yum.

The term "burrito" once scared me. A lot. It conjured up images of the middle school cafeteria where ladies with flabby arms and hairnets would scoop soggy tortillas filled with week-old chicken onto a plastic tray, then cover it with a neon-orange "cheese" sauce. Amy's is not that burrito. Instead, it has very non-suspicious ingredients like organic beans and rice inside a very normal (and tasty!) tortilla. Plus, it's easy to heat up in the school microwave. Score.

Dear VitaTops,

Where have you been all my life??? How is it possible you taste JUST LIKE CHOCOLATE CAKE and yet only have 100 calories and a third of my daily fiber? How do you only take like 30 seconds in the microwave to turn into a delicious dessert?! You are ridiculous, VT (hope you don't mind me calling you that.)

I also hope you understand I'm not technically stalking you, even though I visit your aisle in the grocery store every single time I'm there. And even though I put you front and center in my freezer, just in case I need a little afternoon pick-me-up. And even though I like to put you on my fine china and eat you with a little fork...



Thursday, January 27, 2011


Howdy, and welcome to my home sweet e-home. My name is KK, and I live in Austin with my husband Mr. J and our precious little dog Izzy. Most of the time, I'm at school, teaching a writing and design to high schoolers. It's a fun job but can be very consuming -- which is why I started this little online space. Those of you who know me may think of me as a bonafide gangsta (hence my shout-out to my homey Michelle P. and the Dangerous Minds crew via my blog title) but I'm gonna take it down a notch for this blog. No brass knuckles or gripping stories from my days dodging the po-po here. Right...

Here's the deal: I'm a *recovering* oldest-child-perfectionist-color-inside-the-lines kind of girl. I wanted to be a corporate lawyer and make tons of money until I realized that a) it did not seem so fun after all to wear pantyhose to work; and b) I really want to use my days to craft and create instead.

A trashed law school app, a journalism degree, a (currently useless) master's degree, and a couple of jobs later -- including a terrible stint in marketing and a couple of cool but low-paying journalism gigs -- I'm finding out what makes for a full, well-lived life. I think it involves copious amounts of creating. And wine. But mostly creating.

And because I'm just really not dependable unless you give me a firm deadline and threaten me with horrible consequences (like no cheese for a week), I figure I need some sort of framework to spur me on. Otherwise, I will find other more pressing matters to attend to... like Facebooking or looking for online recipes I'll never cook. So here's to hoping that this blog will help me be accountable in exploring what kinds of designs, writings, crafts, and other fun creations can emerge with a little structure.