From the monthly archives:

September 2009

Back in April I built two garden beds with dreams of free produce and delusions of grandeur. In May I planted what I thought would be the perfect mix of greens and fresh vegetables. In June I had some beautiful pictures of my garden and still I thought I could handle it. We live and we learn I guess.

I ended up with out of control tomato plants that took over an entire half of my garden. They got to a point where they were crowding each other out and they completed murdered my green beans. The worst part was I just didn’t understand the process of harvesting them. I would wait to long to pick the tomatoes and they would split, making them useless to me. The few that I was able to pick in time were used, or for the most part, composted.

The Zucchini had no problem growing. I planted two zucchini plants and ended up with enough zucchini bread to give all of my neighbors at least one, if not more loaves. I still have two loaves in my freezer. That doesn’t include the enormous zucchini’s I had to trash because they were bigger than a 1 yr old child.

What I Did Wrong

  1. My eyes were bigger than my stomach. I just planted too much. I couldn’t use what I had when it was ripe. I could use some of it, just not all of it.
  2. Poor planning.  I picked plants I thought I would like to have, I didn’t really think through what plants I actually would use. Romaine is great lettuce but it didn’t work out so great in my garden.
  3. I didn’t understand when to harvest. My spinach was awesome, I just didn’t use it when it was ready. I let it get too big and wasn’t any good anymore.
  4. I overcrowded the important stuff. The one thing I really wanted to get was green beans. My tomatoes overtook the green beans and they never really caught on.

How I Plan to Improve

  1. Less is More and More is Less. Less tomatoes and less zucchini will get me where I want to be. More green beans will get me something I will actually use.
  2. Better planning. I plan to do more research and get better at knowing when to harvest my crops. It doesn’t do me any good to grow stuff and watch it rot on the vine.
  3. Only grow what I think I can use. I don’t mean less food, I just need to grow the right food.

The Two Things I Have Done Right

  1. Blueberries. My blueberry bush is growing great and I have great expectations for next year.
  2. Blackberries. I have a massive blackberry bush growing that I planted and an even larger thicket of wild blackberries.

Overall my garden was a bust because I wasted more than half of it. I plan to do better next year, I don’t expect it to be perfect but I hope it is more successful.

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If you have ever though about volunteering before but didn’t do it, 2010 may be the year for you. Starting January 1, 2010 Disney will be giving 1 free day of park admission when you volunteer 1 day at participating organizations.

Once the program begins you will be able to search for a list of participating organizations at either or Once you complete the volunteer work you will get an email to print off your voucher for a free one day, one park ticket. If you can’t use the ticket you can even donate it to charity. You only get one ticket so a week of volunteer work will just get you a happy heart, not a week at Disney. You can register up to 8 members of your household, provided they are over 6 years old, to each get the free ticket after they do the volunteer work.

Tickets for this offer are limited and you will have to preregister online at or to be eligible for the offer.

For more on this deal check out the post on the Disney Parks blog, the detailed terms and conditions are posted on Disney’s site.

Photo: (Caza_No_7)

Do you think you will take advantage of this offer?

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I got a notice yesterday that my identity maybe, could have, probably, possibly been compromised. The scariest part of it is the information that was compromised is essentially my entire life, it was a background investigation file. I am fortunate to be close enough to the issue that I know the risk associated with what happened is extremely low if not non existent. Just to be on the safe side I have been provided with 1 year of complimentary credit monitoring.

The product they signed me up for is the Triple Advantage product from Experian. You probably recognize it from the catchy commercials under the brand. In honor of my obtaining this service I otherwise wouldn’t pay for I thought I would give a run down of what I get:

  • Daily credit report monitoring,
  • Email alerts when key changes are detected so you can act quickly,
  • Assistance with fraud resolution,
  • Unlimited access to your Experian Credit Report and PLUS Score, and
  • $50,000 in Identity Theft coverage.

You even get a “super cool” graphic,


The first time I went in I was able to pull my reports from all three agencies, oddly enough the differences were pretty scary. Some things were on one report and not the other and none of them list the correct employer. But I was able to validate all of the information on my credit was mine, kind of sad to see but I own it.

The main part of the service is the monitoring, they provide monitoring of all three bureaus for changes to your credit, they monitor for:

  • New public information,
  • Credit inquiries,
  • New Accounts,
  • Potentially negative information, and
  • Address changes.

Credit monitoring is supposed to allow you to identify fraudulent accounts opened in your name. I think the only benefit to this program is the fraud assistance in the event something does happen. I wouldn’t really know where to start if someone opened an account in my name, this service will help me figure it out.

One thing that I didn’t like was their password policy. Anytime I put a password in and the system comes back and tells me I used invalid characters I want to slap the developer for being stupid. There is no good reason to not allow me to use special characters, and the complexity makes me happy and makes it harder to crack.


I just don’t see the value, it is like the those identity theft “insurance” agencies. While you won’t get the constant monitoring of your credit you can still get three credit reports per year if you space out your free annual credit report and pull one bureau every 4 months.

Really it comes down to your comfort level, or paranoia level as it may be. If you are down with it check out, I will use up my free twelve months and then leave it at that.

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70% Off Dragon Naturally Speaking 10

September 28, 2009

Now through September 30th you can get the speech recognition software Dragon Naturally Speaking for $29.99 after instant savings and mail in rebate from CompUSA. This software regularly runs for $99 and for a limited time comes with a free headset microphone. The instant savings are $50 leaving you with $49.99 to pay and you […]

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Review – Secrets of a Stingy Scoundrel

September 28, 2009

About the Book Secrets of a Stingy Scoundrel is essentially extreme tips for saving money and losing any semblance you may have of dignity. Phil Villareal provides 100 tips to help you learn how to do things like: Get free meals at restaurants Finagle your way into a cheaper hotel room Save money at the […]

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