Friday, October 23, 2009

Confessions of a Ripped-off Consumer

A few months ago, I watched 'Confessions of a Shopaholic,' very much a chick-flick, a movie that required nothing of me except to get lost in its goofiness and silly charm. While the movie provided an excellent 2-hour escape from reality, there was a song played toward the end of the movie that instantly struck a chord with me, and I had to know what it was! A quick search later, and I discovered the song: “Don’t Forget Me” by Macy Gray.

Well, since I simply had to own the song, my plan was easy; go to iTunes and pay the $. 99 to download the song, something I had done many, many times.

However, it was not to be, not this time.

When I found the song in the iTunes store, the “Add Song” option was not available to me; instead, there was a “View Album” option in its place. After clicking on this link, I was routed to a page where my only option was to “Add Album” for $9.99.

The awful truth hit me at that moment.

I couldn’t buy individual tracks off the album; I was being forced to purchase the entire album! Does this really happen? I didn’t really know where to direct my anger…is it iTunes fault, the recording companies’ fault? Whoever’s to blame, don’t they realize that not only are they angering their target consumers, they are losing revenue they would otherwise be making, especially if the 560 customer reviews (most of which are derogatory for this same reason!) are to be believed.

What I DO know is I REALLY don’t like feeling as though I'm being ripped-off! So, in protest, I REFUSED to pay iTunes the $9.99 and that was that.

Fast forward a couple of months. I still want the song. And my options haven't changed.

So, I finally caved in last night and purchased the entire album/soundtrack…but NOT from iTunes. Instead, I went to (who I love simply for their trustworthy $2.95 flat shipping fee, no matter what and how much you purchase) and gave them my business. All I can hope now is there are other songs on the album that will redeem this whole experience…but even if not, I have to believe “Don’t Forget Me” will be worth every ripped-off penny I paid for it. :)

Thursday, October 22, 2009

thankful thursday

because i have much to be thankful for
because i don't acknowledge it often enough
because i don't ever want to forget to remember

here's my list for today
thankful for
  • enough focus in my work day to result in a productive day indeed
  • leaving work at 4 (came in at 7, so it's a wash, really, but traffic is SO MUCH BETTER during the 4:00 hour vs. the dreaded 5:00 commute)
  • sailing thru the carpool lane WITHOUT getting caught; my lucky streak has continued for days now...
  • a dear friend who kept me company on my commute and shared news of her unborn baby's healthy status, as of a doctor's appt today
  • a phone conversation with a sister many miles away
  • arriving home before 5!!!
  • time to take pups for a long walk
  • the crispness in the air, the crinkle of red leaves under my shoes, the front porch pumpkins; all a sure sign that autumn is indeed here, a fact i was still in denial about, but today decided i will embrace
  • laugh out loud new blog entries from two of my favorite bloggers: Nomers and Lyg; yes, they're my sistas!
  • a hubby who comes up with delish dinner ideas on the spur of the moment; it's a gift!
  • for providing a fun and free way to discover music i love and remind me of songs from the past
  • rocking out to Abba and other 80's goodies while cleaning house
  • tomorrow's Friday!

Friday, October 16, 2009

El Sal pics are coming, coming, coming...

They're coming, I promise! Technical difficulties have prevented me from posting any of them in the almost 2 weeks that we've been back from El Sal and it might be a few days yet. My laptop (the same one that no longer reads the wireless signal) decided to choose this month in time to run out of space, which means that there is NO WAY I can download the more than 1400 pictures I took, much less start sorting through and editing them before I can share.

I am determined to buy a new computer this weekend. This time, I want a desktop, much to my hubby's dismay (still don't quite understand why, though), and TONS of memory so I can go to town on all the pictures I intend to take in the future.

So please, be patient with me...the wait will be worth it, I promise! :)

My Ultimate Luxury

Those who know me know I don't often indulge in luxuries--unless eating Swiss Rolls or Flaming Hot Cheetos counts! However, once or twice a year, I'm fortunate enough to be able to indulge in what I consider to be the ultimate luxury: a MASSAGE. I would splurge more often, but let's face it, massages are insanely overpriced, so I often rely on them as gifts.

Imagine my giddiness, then, when I received an email from Dosha Salon last week informing me of their "Exclusive Offer for Dosha VIP's" (apparently the only requirement for being a Dosha VIP is that they have your email address): a one-hour massage for $45, almost half what they normally cost. I promptly found a dear friend to accompany me and booked that massage faster than you could say "massage!"

The massage was yesterday after work, and I must give a HUGE shout out to Sarah Todd at the Dosha NW location for the best massage I have ever had! Oh, apparently, I am very stressed out, something she gauged by the amount of pressure my knotted up back and shoulders were able to withstand as she "worked" on me.

The VIP offer lasts until October 27th, so for anyone interested, here is a link to the offer. You must print off a copy and bring it in with you...enjoy!

Rules According to Mackenzie

Last weekend I baby-sat my 3 nieces for 3 full days. ALONE. It was a weekend full of adventures to say the least, the biggest challenge being how to keep three girls under the age of 4 (4-almost 5, 3 and 1) constantly entertained inside the home (I was not about to attempt to take them out in public b/c even I know I can't run in three directions at once!) Also, I sincerely hoped that the more energy burned would translate to longer nap times and seamless nights.

So, we had Abba dance parties, baked cupcakes of random sizes with altogether too much frosting, raced the length of the backyard more times than I can count (there was a certain fascination around "READY, SET, GO!" that never got old for them,) picked tomatoes out of the garden, swung on the jungle gym till my arms gave out, and had silly conversations.

One such impromptu conversation came from Mackenzie (4 going on 5) as she began to tell me the "Rules of the House."
  1. Your hands always have germs on them (I think my constant reminder to cover her sneezes with her elbow sunk in over the course of the weekend.)
  2. Listen to God
  3. Always keep your toys safe (didn't realize that was a problem in their house.)
  4. Always keep your house clean and safe

It was one of the most exhausting 3 days I've ever had, I'm not going to lie, but it was filled with many moments where my heart overflowed and I was reminded of how blessed I am to be an aunt to three of the sweetest, spunkiest and insanely adorable nieces.

It also gave me a new found respect and admiration for my sister and other moms like her who do this, day in, day out. And lastly, it gave me some much needed perspective for my own life. While I can't wait until the day where the crazy mommy life will be mine, there is much I have to appreciate about my life the way it is right now, and I intend to do a better job of remembering that!


FOOTNOTE #1: I was fortunate enough to get a couple of breaks during the 3 day period, first from my dear sis Jen and her hubby (when I was finally able to take a shower!) with who's help we took the girls down to the lake to feed the duckies and to McD's, b/c let's face it, it was only a mile down the road, it was easy, and the girls love playing on the jungle gym. Thanks, J&B for helping out a sista in need!! :)

Reid provided the second break when he brought Zoe and the movie "Hotel for Dogs" over. Zoe was a big hit, much bigger than the first time the girls met her. In fact, the remainder of the weekend, Mackenzie said things like "Tabi, when I'm big like you, I want a dog just like Zoe." Awww...

FOOTNOTE #2: The rest of the pictures can be viewed at: The pics in the set are in chronological order, so make sure to scroll to the bottom to see the most recent (these.)

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

30 dreams and aspirations for my 30th year

I'm inspired and determined to make this year the best one yet, and what better way to get started than by making a list? Here goes...
  1. Visit a water park, preferably one of these
  2. Learn to make a killer risotto
  3. Get my spiritual life back in shape; regular time in the Word and prayer, both lacking of late
  4. Bake my first pie, beginning with Sue's delish apple pie and then moving on to berries
  5. Stop procrastinating, or at least curb the procrastination. I've learned I primarily hurt myself when I do this
  6. Take a kite boarding lesson in Hood River
  7. Finally compile all my Europe pics from 9 years ago, all 3 months worth
  8. Begin creating a Heler Family Romanian cookbook, a dream of mine for a while now
  9. Read a biography or auto-biography (contenders: Billy Graham, Mother Teresa, The Bronte Myth, C.S. Lewis, Abraham Lincoln)
  10. SLOOOOOW down, aka, take time to smell the roses. I seem to have an especially difficult time with this because there's always more to be done...problem is, the to-do lists never end and meanwhile, I'm afraid I'm missing out on what life's all about.
  11. Take a Willamette River kayak tour using them
  12. Attend my first opera
  13. Become more confident in my decisions
  14. Visit a National Park, maybe this one next
  15. Travel to a foreign country (Thailand, you're at the top of my list!)
  16. Take a cooking class, either here or here
  17. Find a place to go para-gliding and go!
  18. Ditto for zip-lining
  19. Choose to be happy, one day at a time
  20. Spend more time with Grandma Carlson
  21. Take a bona-fide photography class
  22. Visit an orchard and pick apples, preferably in the Hood River "Fruit Loop"
  23. Discover new hikes in the beautiful Columbia Gorge
  24. Stop comparing myself to others. Not in the materialistic sense, but in ways that make me less confident about the gifts and talents I've been given.
  25. Watch all movies based on Jane Austen novels, preferably Masterpiece Theater style
  26. Grow a garden, however small, especially one with tomatoes, because there's really nothing like biting into a tomato off the vine
  27. Continue diving into the world of Sushi and finally learn to use chopsticks
  28. Learn the ins and outs of my first SLR, my 30th b-day gift from the hubby, and the first serious step into my very real passion for photography
  29. Take my cupcake baking to the next level...not sure what this means yet, but it'll be exciting!
  30. Make a photo book and give as a gift

Not sure if a year's long enough for all this, but I certainly aim to try! :)