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Monday, March 7, 2011

Some of my Favorite Things I

As my longtime readers know, I’m always on the lookout for tools and products that either make life a little more convenient by saving time and money to be spent on what I enjoy in life; or are innovative and fill a niche I previously was unaware of, but now can’t imagine living without!

I see this post topic becoming a more regular feature as my time grows shorter, and as the list topics and product reviews that I want do remains the same! This is a list of MY favorite things. I can’t wait to see your list on your blog (ie – feel free to steal this idea and run with it – that’s what I did…) is my new favorite online resource. I used to use Quicken, but it was tedious to import and enter all of my data. It was the bane of my existence to update it once a month, but I felt compelled to detail my financial life, because I like data and trends and numbers, and even if it was a pain to do, I liked going back through the numbers and analyzing them. As with anything else, I took it way too far I was secretly relieved when the program died late last year and immediately went on a cash only system. The fun of that lasted a whole 2 months, and then I went hunting for a new system that I could use to analyze my spending. I found It only lets you see and analyze your accounts, it doesn’t allow you to do any kind of transfers or other financial transactions. It’s easy to set up, and completely free. It’s pretty good about categorizing your transactions for you, it’s very easy to tag different expenditures that fall across different categories (for example, “Farley” or “endurance”), set up budgets, set up goals (and track your progress towards your goals), and run reports that analyze your spending/income. Because all accounts are viewable from one spot, I can easily check ALL my financial institutions once or twice a day and make sure there’s no fishy transactions going on. I bank at 7-8 different institutions and it’s very handy not to have to check each site individually. In addition to weekly summaries of your spending and income, will also send you an e-mail (or text) notification letting you know if an area of spending exceeds your “normal” history. For example, if I normally spend $50/month in vet bills, and this week I have a charge of $800 from a vet office, notifies me. They will also notify you of low balances, due dates on loans, and if your spending in a certain category is approaching or exceeding the budget you have set up. is limited to accounts that offer online access, but as this covers 90% of my financial life, it’s been very helpful. I spend a fraction of the time setting up and reconciling books that I used to with Quicken. I love having the data with minimal effort on my part, and because it is so low maintenance, I will be able to maintain this type of financial tracking while in school. Of course….many of you may not want to find out how much you are spending on horses and endurance!

Frozen Peas
Frozen peas are my new best friend. Farley’s leg is getting iced for 20 min a day for 3 weeks! I own the ice horse boots, and must admit I am less than impressed with their ice packs. For seven bucks a pack (and two packs per boot), I expect a pack that has a decent shelf life with regular use! But no, the packs leak and get nasty very quickly, and don’t stay cold for every long. After 10 minutes, the pack is hot and the leg is hot – I feel like the pack actually retains and heats up the leg over 10 minutes. My solution is a pack of frozen peas in place of the packs. I have filled the boots with regular ice before, which works well, but is messy and you have to watch the time closely to avoid getting the leg too cold. The peas don’t leak, are biodegradable, conform to the leg, available at stores in any town and are CHEAP. Let’s do some math.

2 ice horse packs for one boot @ 3 weeks = $14.

1 frozen pea for one boot, @ 0.89 a pea. Assume 1 pea lasts 3 days of icing before it goes all mushy and yucky from partially thawing. 7 bags of peas needed = 7x0.89 = $6.23. The cost of having to store nasty ice packs that are now leaking strange chemical sticky stuff all over the freezer = priceless. I personally HATE peas – but if you like them, then there’s a added benefit of having peas on hand for casseroles and soups!

I can hear the muttering now…..”even though the peas are biodegradable – how about the plastic bags they come in?????”. My advice would be to buy the biggest bag of peas you could find and put a portion into a ziplock and reuse the ziplock if you are concerned.
An awesome online suite of imaging and other (audio etc.) tools. A great, free alternative to photoshop etc. I haven’t had a ton of time to play around with this, but what I’ve seen, I’ve liked. I have plans to finish my website and make it fabulous this summer – I’ll be using a lot of Aviary’s resources!
I’m on my third (free) audio book from, and although I was at first skeptical of how I would like listening to books (I’m a very visual person and have trouble processing auditory information), I have really really REALLY enjoyed the books I’ve listened to. All the books are in the public domain. Some books are read by a single author, others by a range of different authors. I’ve used this to reread a book I enjoyed in high school (Tess of D’Ubervilles) and read two others that I always meant to get around to… (Dracula, Jane Eyre). All have been enjoyable and rewarding. To make this horse related…..In one chapter of Jane Eyre that I’ve just finished, the male character just mounted his horse and “with a touch of his spur” his amiable mount reared and set forth. *rolls eyes*. Of COURSE the horse has to rear as it’s asked to move forward. *sigh*.


  1. frozen corn is good if you hate peas! or even frozen okra.

    also, your PUBLIC LIBRARY can be a good source for audiobooks (on cassette, CD, or as a download for your iPod) and e-book downloads for readers like the Nook. (Kindle is proprietary and you can only get books for Kindle from Amazon). My favorite recent (non-horsey) titles: the Bloody Jack series by LA Meyer, and The Gurnsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society , both excellent books with outstanding readers!

  2. Yes... frozen peas are awesome. They keep my laptop from overheating. True story.

  3. ok, you've inspired me. I've got to do a post on my fave kitchen tools.
    Peas and corn are the cheapest. and I'd guess that frozen corn will last longer than peas with the re-freezing before they go mushy.


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