Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Thoughts after a year of Sling TV

We've had Sling TV for well over a year. The first time I talked about it, I was super obsessed with HGTV and not much has changed, but I wanted to do a full post on it in case you were considering cutting the cable cord.

Thoughts after a year of Sling TV - a much cheaper alternative to cable

First, a little background. I never had cable growing up. I'm much more of a DVD kinda gal. KC did, so it was a bit of an adjustment when we moved out. I had gotten used to having cable when I lived with them as well, aka I had gotten used to say yes to the dress and HGTV. We briefly looked into cable, but holy expensive.

We are way more into the internet as a whole, I know some people couldn't survive without cable, we could not survive without internet. Well we could, but then we'd most likely kill each other. So we chose great internet, no cable. We had his dad's log in to something or other so KC could watch some sports, or we would go to friends/his mom's house if he just had to watch something. When we moved out of the apartment and into the house, we looked into it again, still just as expensive, but this time we decided to go ahead and do it.. but AT&T never showed up to install it (twice) so we just cancelled it before it had begun.

Then we discovered Sling. It was like the cable gods heard me say 'I would totally pay $10 for HGTV per month' and KC saying 'I would totally pay $10 a month for ESPN'. Would you look at that, Sling has both HGTV and ESPN and it's only $20 something a month.

Thoughts after a year of Sling TV - the channels offered on the basic $20 a month package

Their slogan is take back tv. No hidden fees, no long term contracts.

Thoughts after a year of Sling TV - their mission statement. Take Back TV!

You can add extras (at a price, of course).

Thoughts after a year of Sling TV - Extras available with Sling TV

So what's the catch? Well, honestly, there really isn't a catch. There is nothing that you'll be kicking yourself about, in my opinon. But there are definite pros and cons.

Pros:

Um, it is $20 a month. TWENTY. How much do you pay for cable?

It is $20 a month, did I mention that?

You can rewind! Some of the channels. Look, I'll be honest, I am in a monogamous TV relationship with HGTV and I don't stray. I do know you can't rewind on ESPN because KC has tried it, but on HGTV I can go back like 5 days or something, which means there is always something on.

It's available anywhere. I can log in at work and watch HGTV if I want. Computer, TV, xbox, phone. I don't have an ipad but I'm sure it's on that too.

No set up, no cancellation fees, no contract. Can your cable say that?

It's by Dish so it's not some crazy weird company you've never heard of.

New channels all the time. They are adding new channels all the time, and sometimes we get HBO or whatever for a week or something. Like I said, I'm married to HGTV but I think I have seen new channels because I have to scroll further to the right to get to HGTV now.

Cons:

One device at a time. This isn't a big deal because up until recently we only had one TV,  but generally KC and I don't fight over what to watch. I do get pretty cranky around football season when I just want to watch some bloody HGTV, but now I can go into the other room (and take the amazon fire stick with me) and KC can watch football on normal TV, because I think it's on normal TV, right? Anyway, so this might be an issue for you if you want to watch HGTV and someone else wants to watch ESPN. They do have another service that allows multiple devices to stream at one time, but I don't really get the difference apart from that and our service works fine, so...

Connection. This is a pretty big one... we have pretty damn good internet but sometimes if we are downloading or if we have multiple devices going, the sling app will get all distorted and blurry. It usually rights itself within like 10-20 seconds, and it doesn't bother me on HGTV but it might bother you when watching a serious sport thing.

Connection 2: This is a different issue but I don't know what to call them because techie I am not. Sometimes we will click on the sling app, and it will show us the loading screen and then kick us out, like 5 times. We restart our amazon fire stick thingy and it normally fixes it. It's annoying, but not life threatening, again I'm sure it would be way more annoying if you super wanted/had to watch something right this very minute.

For both of these connection issues, honestly, they were fairly bad when we first got Sling, but it rarely happens anymore.

No DVR. Not a big deal to me, might be for you.

Lack of certain channels. Again, not a big deal for me, but if you don't see your favourite channel (bravo, E, etc) that might be a deal breaker for you.

Smart TV / Amazon fire stick - this isn't really slings fault, but it is annoying all the same. We just got a new tv a couple months ago, and it's one of those smart doodads- we have a netflix button on our remote, how cool is that? We also have other app thingys, but not sling. womp. womp. womp. That really annoys me because I HATE the amazon fire stick. It is so annoying. But, it's a small annoyance for having such a cool service like sling. I hope that somehow sling is added to our tv down the line, but I don't know if that's a thing. The reason I don't like the amazon fire stick is because it's small and annoying. It works fine and all that.

So are you interested in Sling?

What are your options? Well, first off, you can do a free 7 day trial! You do have to put in credit card details and such, but you can just cancel online before the 7 days are up if it's not your jam.

Here is what we did: we signed up for the free 7 day trial and realised we had no way to watch it on our TV. You need some sort of something in between, like an amazon fire stick or a roku tv. So I jumped back online and realised they were offering a free amazon fire stick, all you had to do was pay for 3 months up front, so we did, and we've been happy sling tv watchers ever since. But now, alas, no free fire stick.

But, you can get $50 off the amazon fire tv thingy, which is $100, so you only pay $50. Click here to get this deal.

Thoughts after a year of Sling TV - get $50 off the amazon fire tv


Or you can buy an amazon fire stick thingy, which is what we have. It's only $40. You wouldn't have to pay for 3 months up front if you did this.

Thoughts after a year of Sling TV - we use the amazon fire stick, which is only $40

If you don't want to go with amazon, they have roku deals:

Thoughts after a year of Sling TV - Roku deals with Sling TV

I obviously don't know anything about roku so I can't give you my opinion on that.

All of these deals are for new customers by the way, so when we got the amazon fire stick after doing our free trial, we had to switch email addresses to become 'new' customers, if that makes sense.

Pricing - I know I keep saying it is $20 a month, but with taxes or whatever else, it's $21.07.

Now, if you are happy with cable or you have no desire to get sling, or you have some other sort of service, whatever, that's cool, I'm just sharing our experience and how much we still love sling. Obviously this is 100% not sponsored, I get zero anything for talking about it, we pay for this service every month and will continue to do so unless they get rid of HGTV.

We also have Netflix, which is less than $10 a month, and we normally use this for TV shows and some movies, but we definitely use Sling more because it feels more like 'real TV'. You know?

It might not be as good as cable in some aspects, but for $20... It's pretty good.


Monday, August 15, 2016

The real 'before 30' list

Sometimes, I walk into the bathroom and I am surprised that I can see myself in the mirror. Because I remember, so clearly, for so long when I was younger, the mirror in my childhood home was a bit higher and I would have to stand on the edge of the bath to see myself. Obviously, that was many years ago, but it is still so fresh in my memory that I forget that I am not that child anymore. Now, when I visit my childhood home, I have to slouch because I am taller than that mirror.


Sometimes, I am doing my hair and makeup, getting ready, jamming to the spice girls or justin bieber, and my eyelid doesn't snap back as quickly as it used to when I am done with the eyeliner. It's kind of freaky. And when I am examining that, I notice little spots and lines around my eyes and mouth. I am not mad about them, but they are there.

Sometimes, in that split second in between sleep and waking up, I reach out with my foot to touch the wall. But the wall isn't there. Because I am not in my childhood bedroom, where my bed was always up against a wall.. in fact, I am not even in the same country. Normally the feeling is so fleeting that I barely register it, other times it's like a sucker punch. I lived in that room, slept in that bed, until I moved to the US.


The point of this is, when I was younger (and clueless), I always screwed my nose up and rolled my eyes when older people would say that they still felt the same, or still saw their younger selves in the mirror. I know I am only 29 but I know what they mean. I am not sad, I am not scared. It's just a bit disorienting sometimes, to have something feel so fresh and recent and you realise it was 20 years ago. Or the fact that you can say 20 years ago, but you're thinking 80s instead of 90s because the 90s were only 10 years ago, right?

Anyway. I truly am not one who is afraid of turning 30. I really am not. Life is short and I am grateful for every single day I'm living it. But I'd be lying if I said I am exactly where I thought I would be at 30. When I was 15, or 20, I thought for sure I would have kids by now. However, I thought I'd never get married or be in a long term relationship, so I am not quite sure where I was getting the kids from, but whatever. I was wrong about both, but I'm mad about neither. I like the way my life has gone.


I think it's funny that I am older now than my mum was when she had me. My benchmark for having kids was always 28 because that's how old mum was when she had me, she had Matt at 26 I think, so I don't know why I settled on 28, but whatever. I'm now approaching 30 and I think I'll be 31 - if I'm lucky enough to get pregnant when we start trying - by the time we have kids, which I never thought I would be. I don't think there is anything wrong with that though, right?


The point is, while I am okay with some things that aren't like I expected, there are certain things I wanted to do, there is a certain person I wanted to be before I turned 30.

So. I had a 30 before 30 list that, truth be told, I haven't really looked at it in 6 months. It was fun, but it was silly and my life won't change if I do or do not complete those things before my age starts with a 3. I know my birthday won't magically change anything, I still get to be me and do what I want, I don't think life will be perfect if I cross a few things off a list. But I really like lists.

So I wanted to do a 'real' before 30 list - my birthday is less than 6 months away, and while I know my life will not stop at 30, there are certain things I want to fix and leave in my 20s. I love fresh clean slates and a new decade is so shiny and pretty and I'd like to pretend not to screw it up immediately... or rather, find new ways to screw it up.


So here are 10 things - because ain't nobody got time for 30 things in 6 months - that I want to cross off my life list before I wake up a 30 year old.

1. Pay off debt.
I would like to enter my 30s with zero debt. I'm not talking debt I share with KC, like cars and house, but the stuff I've racked up by being a shopaholic. I have made this a goal every year since I was like 18, I have succeeded several times and then racked it back up. I have got to be done. I am so over this.

2. Budget & save money.
This is separate from #1, but just as important. Sometimes I think that just because we pay our bills and have a certain amount in savings, that we are doing great, because me at 20 didn't even have a savings account, let alone any money in checking. (Actually, at home, checking accounts are called savings accounts so shit just got confusing, didn't it? Guess what savings accounts are called? Savings ha). But anyway. I want lots of money in savings so I can spend it all on a trip to Australia.

3. Be the healthiest, fittest me I can be.
Hard to define, and this will always be something I am always working on. I feel pretty good about my exercise routine and habit right now, but food is a constant struggle. I would also like to lose just a little bit of weight. Not exactly a number, but based on how I look and feel.

4. Break 2 hours in a half marathon.
Will I ever let go of this goal? I am not sure if I will do this exactly before my birthday because it depends on what races I do, but I'd at least like to get faster than I am now.


5. Develop and stick to a skincare routine.
Seriously.

6. Find some doctors.
I would blame it on moving to a new country, but truthfully I didn't have specific doctors at home either, and I've lived here for 4 years, so that excuse is getting old. I have a skin cancer doctor, I need a lady doctor and a normal doctor.

7. Do yoga consistently.
I have been running off and on for like 6 (or more, I lose count) years, I have been lifting weights for over 10 years. I am not amazing at either, I'm not winning races or competing or anything, but the habit is there, that base skill or whatever. I want to get there with yoga, because my relationship with yoga is way more off than on. Nothing crazy, just maybe 3-4 times a week.


8. Get my american driver's license.
Okay, I wrote this list and then I finally went and got my permit (seriously, 4 years of procrastination will get you nowhere fast) and I have to book a driving test after 30 days. Wish me luck!

9. Book NZ & Australia trip.
Not all of it, but most of it. I still haven't actually decided if we will go to NZ, or do anything extra in Australia yet.


10. Stay happy.
All I have ever wanted was to be happy, and I'm not saying I am not happy - I am, very much. I want to stay happy. This might sound silly, but life is a bit silly. Appreciate what you have, do more of what makes you happy, stop comparing and complaining, focus on yourself and your life.



I know this is still a silly list, because 30 doesn't change anything, but I like deadlines. So, wish me luck! Also, help a girl out with a skincare routine. I use cetaphil and olay moisturiser every day. That's it. I feel like I need some masks, eye creams, night creams, a better moisturiser with more SPF and something that will magically make me look 21 again. Thanks! Seriously, throw your recommendations out or point me to skincare posts you've done, I'll be super appreciative!

Friday, August 12, 2016

Friday Favourites

So happy it's Friday. It's just been one of those weeks. Can't wait to do a whole lotta nothing this weekend, but first - some favourites with Amanda.

This.

No further explanation needed.

Virginia Beach Public Library
And this.

Ran 9 miles with my bestie last Sunday, and I mean it wasn't all rainbows and happiness, but it's such a good feeling when you're done! As you can see, we pretty much collapsed at the end. Okay, not really, we just relaxed on the ground for like 20 minutes.


I am sad because she's out of town this Sunday and I'm not sure I'll be able to kick myself out the door on my own. Who can I be accountable to on snapchat or instagram? Someone tell me to go running on Sunday, k thanks.

And this.

Hate to be all me me me but this is my blog so........... Anyway. The scale went down you guys. Yesterday. Below a number that I haven't seen since July last year. I am *so* close to being under a number I haven't been (consistently) below since early 2015. I know the scale isn't everything and doesn't own me and blah dee blah blah blah, but I can't go by clothes considering I had to buy new clothes when the old ones stopped fitting, so yeah. I like to see the number go down, and I am proud.

But then, you get free ice cream at work and how am I supposed to say no? I tried, I really did. But then everyone else went and got some and peer pressure.


But can I make a complaint? I know I'm not the only one who hates this - that front one is supposed to be mint chocolate chip. That means minty ice cream with chocolate chips, NOT vanilla ice cream with minty chocolate chips. Drives me bonkers you guys, I want green ice cream.

And this.

This fish from Costco. Not sure I should admit that I buy fish in a box that's like ready to eat (well, after you cook it) but I like it better than plain fish that I have to do stuff to, so sue me. Now of course I threw out the box and don't remember the brand, but this stuff goes like hotcakes in my house and it's aaaahhhmazing. It's called tilapia.. and it's parmesan something or other, maybe garlic? So basically I am no help but it's really good, so if you guys go to Costco and like fish, check it out. It's in a box in the freezer section. I know, I'm helpful. It's just really good.


As for the potatoes and zucchini, I just tossed them in some italian seasoning and olive oil, chucked them in the oven for the same amount of time as the fish. They were so good.

And finally, this.

I still had access to ebooks using my library at home, but I obviously couldn't get real books. I wasn't able to join the library here without a state issued ID or birth certificate, so I just went without a library for a couple years. Occasionally I was able to snag a book on a friend or family member's account, but it wasn't a regular occurrence. Once I got my permit, I was finally able to join the library!


Sing it with me now, having fun isn't hard when you've got a library card!

As you can tell, I am ridiculously excited about this. Why? Because I love real books, and having access to only ebooks is kind of a bummer. I love my kindle for sure, but I like a good mix. Without the library, that means shopping and you all know I have an issue with that. So I am super excited because now I have access to so many books, and they told me my limit was 50! They probably shouldn't have done that....


Yep. Not even I can read that many books in the short time I have them. Unless I stop sleeping or working, then I could totally do it. Probably. Maybe.

I am so ready for the weekend you guys. We've had pretty relaxing weekends since we got back from the cruise, and I'm not gonna lie - I am not mad about it at all. So here's to another relaxing weekend, and working on that massive pile of books!

Tell me - what's your favourite flavour of ice cream? Mine is mint chocolate chip.

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Calling all book lovers!

I was gifted a box from Hello Book Lover for review, but as usual, all opinions are all mine. I know what you're thinking - Kristen, a book lover? It's true, I know you never would have guessed.

I know not everyone loves books, and the biggest book day in blogland was yesterday so we're probably all overdosed on books and book posts but sometimes you just have to share something.

If you've stepped foot in the blogging world for .2 seconds, you know there are these little things called subscription boxes. Makeup, jewelry, clothes, you name it, there is a subscription box for it.

Including books. Did I just blow your mind? It blew my mind when I first discovered it as well. There are quite a few out there, it's pretty overwhelming. I have tried one before and was wanting to try them all (gotta research, you know?), but I honestly think I've found the one for me - and maybe you as well.

Hello Book Lover - A subscription box for book lovers!

I had heard about Hello Book Lover before, so when they reached out to see if I would be interested in receiving a box I basically squealed and jumped out of my chair. YES PLEASE.

I know lots of people love the library (me too!) or borrowing from friends, because none of us want to waste our money. But as I've mentioned a thousand times before, I love to own things. Especially books, I love buying and owning books, it fills me with such joy.

Something I do quite a lot of is I will read an ebook or a borrowed book and love it so much I want to own the real thing. That might seem like a waste of money, but I love to support authors and bookstores, I never want real books to not be a thing. Bookstores are the best, my mum would leave me in them for hours when I was a kid (at my insistence, she was not a bad mum! She just didn't want to listen to her brat screaming and crying while she shopped, I dig it). So I love bookstores. Quite a lot - which is great, because it is basically the theme of this month's box - Bookstore Obsession.


As soon as I saw their August book options, I instantly knew which one would be coming home to me. Funnily enough, I had already read both of them. One I liked well enough, but the other I loved and kept meaning to buy. I read The Storied Life of AJ Fikry over a year ago, and this was legit my review:


I still feel that way. This is one of those books. I look at it, I smile and I'm full of all the feels. A book like this makes you want to hug the book, the people you love, and bookstores. It is the absolute perfect selection for their 'Bookstore Obsession' theme, perfect for any book lover. If you haven't read this yet.. you should.

Hello Book Lover - A subscription box for book lovers!

On top of the book, the box includes 2-3 fun goodies. I am honestly never really impressed with some of the things included in bookish subscription boxes because I can't see myself actually using them. Hello Book Lover, on the other hand, sent me items I can actually see myself using.. and already have started doing so.


How cute is that little reading nook candle? And Cinderella matches? I only use matches and the like for candles at home, so they go together perfectly. I always seem to find my gas guns (um, I am not sure what you call them here? The long lighter thingys) empty when I go to use them, and am always wishing I had matches (yet always forgetting to pick them up from the grocery). Now I have cute little Cinderella ones, I mean.. so freaking cute.

Also, it's a pity you can't smell through a computer screen - the candle smells divine.


My favourite thing in the box though, besides the book of course, was this adorable little notebook/journal for reading. I primarily use goodreads or blogging to write reviews, but I am always scrambling to finish my book posts in time for Show Us Your Books and keep telling myself I should have a notebook to jot down thoughts so I could be ready to go when the link up comes around.. Now, would you look at that! It's like fate, you guys. 


Inside, you've got spots to write feelings and thoughts... and bonus things, like the question asking where your favourite place to read is, or my favourite.. the quotes! I love quotes. Love. Them. Especially about reading. I'm like, hey, look! Other people who love reading as much as I do. High five!


^^ Yes Harper Lee, you are the bomb.

I flicked through a few, and then made myself stop so I could leave a few of the quotes a surprise. 

And of course, the true test of anything in this house is if the cats like it...


I'll take that as a yes.

Anyway, on to the information!

What I absolutely love about Hello Book Lover is that you can choose which book you want in your box. You can also choose to be surprised, but at least you will know your two options.

So how does it work?


1. You subscribe! You can do 1 month, 3 months or 6 months. You must sign up by the 15th of the month to get the following month's box.


2. On the 15th, you will receive an email with the two book choices for the month. Which will look a little something like this:


3. You wait, patiently, until a super fun exciting box turns up at your doorstep!

Tip: Make sure you follow them on instagram, they share tons of pretty pictures but also they will share the book choices for the month - normally before the 15th, so you can know before you sign up which book you will get - if you are anything like me, this is huge! Surprises are great and all, but so is knowing which book you are forking over your hard earned cash for. 

September's theme is 'Make It Happen'. They have shared the two books on instagram already:


Better Than Before & You Are A Badass - both books are on my 'list' and I have heard good things about both from people who have read them and linked up with Show Us Your Books.

I get a lot of comments about how much I read, especially in regards to how I find the time.. well, honestly, we all have the same amount of time in a day. I am not special. I just dedicate more time to reading vs other things, like socialising, watching TV or sleeping. But lots of people - perhaps yourself included - have way more responsibilities or people to look after, and don't have the luxury of ignoring the world for 8 hours just to finish a book. I also spend way too much time on goodreads or browsing bookstores. It is fun to me. It might not be fun to you, and I get that.

Perhaps you like reading but don't have the time to waste/dedicate to searching for the perfect book, especially since you could be spending that time reading. In that case, Hello Book Lover is for you.

Maybe you haven't read a book in ages and have no idea where to start and want someone else to make the decision for you. In that case, Hello Book Lover is for you.

Or maybe, you want some fun little bookish things to go along with your next book purchase. In that case, Hello Book Lover is for you.

Or perhaps, you love books, reading and spending time looking for books to read. In that case, Hello Book Lover is for you.

Or maybe you just love shopping, buying things and owning them. In that case, no judgement here my friend. None. 

But those who love shopping also love a good coupon code, am I right? Get 15% off your first Hello Book Lover box - just use the code PORRIDGE15.

Also, just FYI - they are currently doing a giveaway for their September box on instagram - check it out here!

Basically what I am trying to say is if you like books.... Hello Book Lover is for you.

I really don't ever like to accept things that I don't think I would spend money on myself, and I would never say that I would if I wouldn't - and I would. K? K. So go check them out, and don't forget that 15% off code. This definitely won't be the only box I get from them.

So tell me - where is your favourite place to read? Mine is my couch. Super exciting, I know. Ideally, if I was a millionaire it would be something like this:


You know, nothing crazy or anything. How bout you - couch casual or extravagant library?