Love Weekends: Work it!

gluten-free whoopie

Gluten-free whoopie pie

“This semester is almost over, this semester is almost over, this semester is almost over,” I keep repeating to myself. This past weekend has been another busy one. George and I sold some wares at a local neighborhood yard sale with friends. My friend, Gabby rewarded me for helping her with the yard sale with a homemade gluten-free whoopie pie. It was stuffed with cannoli cream! It was insanely decadent and delicious.

Working on the computer
Then, George and I high tailed it to the mountains because I have a conference this week. On the way, we stopped by Asheville– one of my favorite cities. But instead of puttering around and enjoying the beauty of the city, we sat in a coffee shop and did more work. Some weekends are like that.

But the summer is almost here. I’ve got trips planned and there will be time to relax… one day.

How was your weekend? Let me know in the comments!

love,
melanie

 

 

 

 

 

Frugal Friday: Change The Way You Speak about Money

I’ve been pushing myself to learn more about how our mindsets and sometimes even our language affects our spending. The psychology of why we spend is so fascinating! On the way to visit my parents last weekend, I serendipitously heard this story on the TED Radio Hour. The speaker, Keith Chen argues that language can positively or negatively affect the way people spend or save money. People whose language uses the future tense are more likely to be spenders and people whose language do not use the future tense, like Japanese, are more likely to be savers. You can listen to the whole TED talk above.

What are your reactions to the talk? Will you change the way you talk about money? Let me know in the comments! And happy Friday!

love,
melanie

Airstream Livin’: Nine Months Update

Trying to keep the day we purchased the Airstream in my mind.

Trying to keep the day we purchased the Airstream in my mind.

It’s been about nine months living in the Airstream full-time. I love our little tin can, but I have to admit there are days when it is really, really hard. I’m under quite a bit of stress at work to finish up projects before the summer and it’s easy to bring that stress home with me.

A small space gets more cluttered more quickly and the cooking area just never seems big enough. George has been working super hard to take on more commissions and I am super proud of him. But that also means that he has less time to help out around the ol’ Stream. I have so many dreams and goals for this blog, the Airstream and my life, but sometimes they seem too far out of my reach.

I know things will look up. It’s almost the summer time, my work will lighten up, there will be beach trips and time to get organized. There will be time to live those dreams, to grow something with my own hands, to grow this blog and to spend time with the people I love.

I don’t regret one minute of our journey in the Airstream, it’s just a rough patch. I still love the ol’ girl and I know we’ll get through this together.

love,
melanie

 

Love Weekends: Come On, Spring!

 baby fern

I sure know how to pick the best time to live in an Airstream. Last summer was tough with all the rain and crazy storms and then this winter was longer and harsher than I most I remember. I’m more than ready to just feel like my old self. I’m ready to shake off the winter funk and frolic in the outdoors. This weekend we did just that.

creek through park

I never thought I’d call myself a “hiker,” but it’s becoming my new favorite hobby. It’s free, it’s exercise and it gets me outdoors. Bonus, dogs like hiking too. This weekend at our local park, I made George take one trail just so we could follow a pair of pugs… and their owners. I’m such a creep.

little white flowers

These first little signs of spring are so encouraging.

bridge through woodsSee all the little green stuff trying to poke it’s way out?!

Sprouting tomato plant

Also, I’m insanely excited about the first little sprouts for my garden. I hope I can keep them alive! I check on them multiple times a day. I’m trying not to be a helicopter parent and overwater my little beauties, but I’ve never grown something from a seed before! (Crazy, I know.)

How was your weekend? Are you seeing spring in your neck of the woods? Let me know in the comments!

love,
melanie

 

 

Frugal Friday: Cheapness and Health

I've spent much of the past week sick in bed, but at least the view is nice.

I’ve spent much of the past week sick in bed, but at least the view is nice.

This week I’ve been battling a nasty cold. You know the ones. Those colds that wake you up sweating. Those colds that make you spend most of the day with your sweaty palms glued to a box of tissues and all you want to eat are Popsicles and soup. Those colds that can only be healed with television marathons followed by marathon sleep sessions.

I knew that I was getting sick before we boarded the plane back home from Memphis on Sunday. I just knew it, but I was too cheap to buy overpriced Airborne from the airport or take any other preventative measures. I know that those preventative measures don’t always work, but man, oh man, I wish I hadn’t been so cheap and just bought the damn stuff.

Sometimes frugality is a good thing. I don’t need that new bag or that cup of coffee, but sometimes frugality takes a nasty turn into cheapness, I pay for other preventative health measures like regular doctor appointments and a gym membership, but I cheaped out this time and now I’m paying for it. My health is one thing that I never, ever want to discount (pun intended.)

What’s something that you don’t “cheap out” on? Let me know in the comments!

love,
melanie

 

How to Make Extra Money Recycling Scrap Metal

how to make extra money recycling scrap metalRecycling scrap metal is our latest money-making weekend excursion. We live on a property where people used to dump trash. It’s unfortunate, but it happened. Instead of being bummed about our situation, we’re being opportunistic and profiting from recycling the old metal that was left on our property. You don’t have to live at a dump (ha!) to profit from recycling. My sister and I saved a thousand dollars a piece as kids from recycling aluminum cans.

Locate your source
This is the most important part of scrapping. Here’s a couple of ways to locate a scrap source if you aren’t lucky enough to live on a dump. :) Ask family and friends if you can haul off their old appliances. Ask your neighbors if you can go through their recycling and pick out the aluminum cans— that’s what I did as a kid. Notice that your workplace doesn’t recycle? Offer to take the recycling to the dump and profit from the aluminum cans (and in some states, the glass bottles!). Post an ad on Craigslist to haul off old junk for free.

Locate your local scrap metal yard
Different scrap metal yards will be take different kinds of metal. Look up your local scrap metal yard and check to see what kind of metal and objects they accept. Some metal yards are wide-ranging and they’ll accept anything from coat hangers to Christmas lights. Others may just accept aluminum or old car parts.

Check the pricing
The price of metals can change on a daily basis. Certain metals will be more profitable than others. Copper, for example, fetches a high price. Aluminum is much easier to locate, but will fetch a lower price.

Check the weather and consider time of year
Scrapping in the rain is no fun. Also scrapping in 90 degree heat may give you heat stroke. Use common sense, people. If you are scrapping metal in the woods or outdoors, the early spring is prime time to scrap. The poison ivy isn’t out yet and neither are the snaaaaakes.

Wear appropriate clothing
No one should spend their scrap metal profits on tetanus shots. Wear thick gloves. If you are going out into the woods, like we did, wear long pants and long sleeves to protect yourself from poison ivy, brambles and the rogue sharp object.

Keep weight in mind
If you come across a large source of metal, you’ll want to keep weight in mind. When we moved scrap from the woods, we picked out the largest, heaviest objects because we knew that they would bring more cash. We avoided the flimsy, small and “roached out” pieces of metal.

Invite your strongest friends
If you plan to scrap appliances or large barrels, like we did, you might need to split your profits with a strong friend. I could carry out a few of the barrels, but George did the majority of the heavy lifting. We found a couple of stoves and a bed frame back there and there is no way my spaghetti-noodle arms could have carried that stuff out alone.

Borrow a truck
Scrapping can get dirty. We borrowed my father-in-law’s truck to haul our junk to the scrap yard. My car didn’t get dirty and we were able to put much more scrap into the bed of a truck than in the bed of my Honda!

Scrapping metal can be a profitable little side gig and a great workout. George and I joke that we should invite people over to our house for “country crossfit” and make city people do all of our chores— chopping wood, pulling scrap metal out of the woods and tilling the garden.

Have you ever tried to trade in your scrap metal for cash? Let me know in the comments!

love,
melanie

18 Tips for Traveling to Memphis, Tennessee

18 tips for traveling to Memphis TennesseeI finally surprised George for his 30th birthday. Big time. With a trip. To Memphis. Because I’m the best wife ever. Surprising George was a huge feat for me. Something always happens and that little stinker somehow figures out his present. Not this time. Oh no. This time I waited until I could hardly stand it anymore (12:01 PM on his birthday) and whipped out those tickets with so much pride.

We had the best time. No stress. Just relaxing and sight seeing. And Memphis is perfect for that. Of course I learned a bunch along the way. And as I learn, I like to share it with you all. Learn from my triumphs and tribulations, folks.

Here’s what I learned along the trip, along with some phone photos because I remembered the camera, but forgot the charger. Story of my life.

1. Memphis is in on Central time (duh!).
I did a lot less planning on this trip because I had to keep it a secret. Much of this trip was loosely planned or not planned at all which was a little nerve-wracking for me. I didn’t even remember that Memphis is on Central time! We went to bed much earlier than many of our Memphis friends, but we got up earlier too and avoided some of the crowds.

Memphis Trolley

The inside of a trolley in Memphis.

2. A downtown trolley ride is a steal.
The downtown trolley in Memphis is a steal. The trolley doesn’t travel very far, just in a large loop around the downtown area and up and down the main drag, but it’s only $1 per ride or $3.50 for a day pass. The trolleys are heated, and beautifully restored. I was ready to move into one, they were that pretty. We even took a ride on the trolley at sunset right by the river. Gorgeous.

3. There are weird alcohol laws in Tennessee.
If you are a drinker, especially a wine drinker, be aware that the alcohol laws in Tennessee prohibit you from buying wine at a convenience or grocery store. You’ll have to visit a liquor store for to purchase wine. And the liquor stores, especially in the downtown area, where we stayed are not plentiful. But you are allowed to enjoy adult beverages on the street. I did some researching and the wine laws may change soon, but as of April 2014, you still can’t easily buy wine in Memphis.

4. There are weird smoking bans.
I’m not a smoker, but apparently in Memphis if the bar, restaurant or establishment is 21 years of age and up (even for breakfast!) people are allowed to smoke. This may have been more of a problem if we were traveling with kids.

5. Be careful if you have food allergies or intolerances.
The food allergy and intolerance wave hasn’t hit the south yet. I love the south, it’s my home, but people are still fairly clueless about food allergies and contamination. And it can be dangerous for folks like me. Almost every single thing was served with a biscuit or on toast. I would suggest doing your research and asking your waitstaff how your food is prepared. Some places surprised me with a gluten-free items that weren’t on the menu.

Beale St. in the morning

Beale St. in the morning

6. Visit Beale Street in the morning to avoid crowds.
Crowds don’t bother George and I, per say, but if we can avoid crowds, we will. Beale Street doesn’t get going until the late afternoon, but if you like to keep it a little quieter, visit Beale Street in the morning. We went about 11:00 am. The bars and restaurants were just opening. Beale Street didn’t get crowded (and obnoxious) until we swung through at 4:00 pm.

7. There’s no breakfast restaurants on Beale Street.
Really. It’s hard to imagine because breakfast food cures hangovers, but there are no restaurants serving breakfast on Beale Street. You’ll have to get a couple of blocks away to get your breakfast fix. We stopped at a little diner called the Bon Ton Cafe, just a short walk away.

Sun Studios8. You can walk from Beale Street to Sun Studios.
We had debated whether or not to get a car on this trip. It would have been convenient, but after doing the math, I decided against it. Parking fees can be steep and other than Graceland, you can walk to most attractions if you stay in the downtown area. Walking from Beale Street to Sun Studios, for example, was no problem.

9. Be prepared for crowds. Check local events.
I had booked a hotel and bought our plane tickets for this trip months ago. I’m also pretty oblivious to sports. Little did I know that Memphis was one of the hosts for the NCAA tournament. There was an insane amount of people in town for the games. It was also spring break for schools in Arkansas which is right across the river. Luckily I booked early so the hotel rates weren’t outrageous, but the restaurants and the streets were a little overwhelming at times.

Wearing our nerdy headphones at Graceland.

Wearing our nerdy headphones at Graceland.

10. Sun Studios does guided tours. The Graceland tours are self-guided.
I was a little disappointed that the Graceland tour was self-guided. We wore nerdy, Walkman-esque headsets and it was distracting trying to figure out if I was on the correct audio chapter. Sun Studios, on the other hand, had a guided tour. It was obvious that our tour guide had a passion and respect for music history. It made such a difference. She even played a bit of guitar for us! Just get to Sun Studios early. The tours fill up quick and the waiting area is cramped.

11. You can’t walk to Graceland from the downtown areas, but the taxis from Graceland are plentiful.
You’ll probably have to call for a taxi to Graceland, but the taxis will be waiting to whisk you back to your hotel. I considered staying at the Heartbreak Hotel for a night—its right across the street from Graceland, but it was more expensive for us to stay at the hotel than to commute via taxi from downtown.

The living room at Graceland

The living room at Graceland

12. Graceland isn’t open late and it’s smaller than you’d imagine.
I splurged and purchased the “platinum” tickets for Graceland. It was a good decision. In addition to the house, we also visited most of the exhibits. I think I would have been disappointed with the house-only pass. The platinum tickets gave us access to other exhibits where we saw boat loads of costumes, artifacts and videos. It’s also important to note that Graceland is only open 9:00-5:00 pm Monday-Saturday and 9:00-4:00 on Sunday. And the lines can be long.

13. Buy your Graceland tickets online first and pick them up at will-call.
In order to avoid the long lines, I would highly suggest purchasing Graceland tickets in advance. You will avoid the long ticket lines and you might even be able to find an online discount code like I did!

14. For souvenirs, get away from the tourist areas.
I try to stay away from souvenirs. Instead, I take a lot of pictures for mementos. If you must purchase souvenirs in Memphis and in other big cities, get away from tourist areas. The local drugstore or even Wal-Mart will carry similar souvenirs at half the price.

15. Check the weather report, especially if you are staying downtown. The streets fill with water pretty quickly and without boots, your feet will get wet.
I packed in such a hurry that I didn’t even check the weather report. I really wish I had packed boots. It was rainy for two days out of our trip and the older streets of downtown Memphis were filled with water in a matter of minutes. I genuinely thought I might get trench foot from this trip.

16. The highlights of Memphis can be seen in a long weekend, but the museums and sites are plentiful.
There’s plenty to see in Memphis. Memphis is steeped in music and civil rights history. And there’s plenty of museums to prove it. And although there’s much to see, if you get your priorities straight, Memphis can be seen in a long weekend. With just four days in the city, George and I felt like we saw almost everything we wanted to see, but also never felt rushed.

Memphis Skyline from the top of the Peabody hotel.

Memphis Skyline from the top of the Peabody hotel.

17. The view from the top of the Peabody Hotel is the best in the city.
The Peabody Hotel is a sight to see— especially if you appreciate architecture. It’s a seriously majestic hotel in the middle of the city that was built in the opulence of the 1920s. The hotel is also home to live ducks! The view from the top of the hotel is awe-inspiring. On a clear day, you can see all the way across the Mississippi river to Arkansas and most of the city’s sites. And the best part is that the view is free and open to the public!

Ducks in the Peabody Hotel fountain!

Ducks in the Peabody Hotel fountain!

18. If you want to see the ducks march at the Peabody, get there early.
The Peabody Hotel is home to a parade of ducks which at 11 am everyday march from the roof to the fountain in the lobby of the hotel. Then at 5 pm, the ducks are wrangled up and marched back up to the roof. The original ducks were put in the fountain by some boozed up guests who were going to use them as decoys on their fishing trip. Years later, a hotel employee, who was a former Ringling Circus animal trainer, trained the ducks to march on the red carpet and the tradition is carried on to this day. The march is super cute, but a bit crowded. We arrived 30 minutes early to the march and got a pretty good view. But we definitely weren’t the first folks there!

Have you ever been to Memphis? What kind of tips do you have? I’d love to hear them in the comments!

love,
melanie