Category: Blog

Saving money on a Trip!

I recently took a road trip up to see some friends that were nearly six hours away. It was a couple I had been meaning to visit for months but the distance was just too far for me to want to drive alone, finding the time when I could have someone watch my son and the money in just the trip itself. We all have friends that we would love to see. You talk here and there and always say, “I’ll come see you soon.” But different deterrence’s always delayed that road trip: time and money being the big two. Well, I can’t fix your time but here are some hints in bringing the cost of your road trip down.

First and foremost, the easiest way to get the cost down is by dividing it, so invited a friend along. We both had talked about seeing the couple and this provided the perfect opportunity. Not only did this reduce the cost of the trip but it also provided an extra driver so that I didn’t have to drive it alone. This means the time will pass by quicker and all prototypical bills like gas get divided by 2.

The next easiest thing is to bring your own snacks and drinks for the ride up there and back. Fast food places make huge margins for a reason. Buying soda, water, and road trip snacks will take a huge expenditure out of the trip. Next comes figuring out eating arrangements once you’re at your destination. Call ahead of time and talk to the party you’re going to be visiting, see if you can sleep on the couch or if they have a spare bedroom. This will cut out the costs of a hotel. You can always use the excuse of, “This will give us more time to spend together!” Also coordinate food. Cooking in versus eating out is always a cheaper option. See if they will cook something while you’re visiting or suggest you all go out and buy the raw ingredients and make it a fun time. This, again, divides the food bill.

While you’re there, you’re going to want to hang out, but bars and movies are expensive forms of entertainment, so if you’re stringent on your budget, just go mall crawling to get out. You can always just window shop and you can enjoy a different environment. At home, you can play card games, dominos, or if board games are your style, try and bring some so that you’re constantly entertained. Maybe buy a movie that no one has seen out of the $5 or less dollar bin so you can all hang out.

These are just some of the things I did when visiting friends to reduce the cost of the trip. There are probably several other ways. Think of a few and pick a couple and be diligent in sticking to your budget. Friends last a lifetime and you should never let money be the reason you lose contact and don’t see your friends.

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How I Became a Groupie for Bart Crow!

Bart Crow

My brother is a huge fan (biggest fan “girl” I have ever seen). He has been to 4 or five of his concerts in the last 4 couple of months. On December 27 (my birthday) I was spending the evening at my brother and sister in law’s house because she was cooking me her famous enchiladas. While indulging in their cheesy goodness they told me they were attending a concert December 29th to see the famous Bart Crow and I was invited. I made a couple of arrangements and bam was able to attend. Since it was 3 hours away from the house we decided to get a hotel room. I was excited and thrilled the concert was great with us ending with everyone singing Wear my Ring which is my favorite song by them!!


At the first concert I attended we met the drummer of the band, Daniel, and since my brother had been to multiple shows they offered us free tickets for whenever we wanted to drive out and watch them!! WHATTTT FREE TICKETS! I was stoked and have tried to attend every concert I can since then! And this is how your normal average everyday blogger became a Bart Crow Groupie!

After the concerts, the whole band will come over and greeted us. We have been given drumsticks, guitar picks,  and jello shots from the band. We love them and hope you can listen to their music and enjoy it too! Kind-hearted people who can put on one heck of a show!

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My New Obsession!!

My new obsessions!!

Two of my favorite things in one: coffee and saving money! Normally I would make my weekly round to spoil myself with Starbucks. I would always cringe when I would have to pay over 6 dollars for a Starbucks drink but I would tell myself “Hannah you are worth it. Treat yo self”. Well, today while making my rounds in Victoria (the city that has Starbucks in) I realized I would not have time for my Starbucks. What how could I do this with myself. Coffee is like. Starbucks is life.

I feel like that all changed when I walked into The Kahve. Holy crap it was cute, from the chalkboard menu to the decorations on the wall. It was love at first sight. I was excited, I waited patiently in line and ordered a cinnamon coffee. The Kahve is kind of like Starbucks, but a lot cheaper and in my personal opinion as good. My cinnamon coffee was to die for and only THREE DOLLARS. I repeat THREE DOLLARS. Why have I never gone to this cute little coffee shop before?? I didn’t even know a store would compare to the amazing Starbucks but I guess The Khave does. The Khave is great, cheap, and definitely, somewhere I will be returning.

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Pokemon Go

So, everyone sees these random young youth’s walking around staring at their phone. These kids aren’t lost on Facebook or Twitter.  They are trying to “catch em’ all”. Pokemon that is. These kids are playing Pokemon Go, a fantasy world that combines an interactive GPS locator with the idea of catching fictional monsters. Many of the older generation that you see playing the game were once those same kids playing Pokemon on their Gameboys in junior high. Though the game has limited battle experience or training ability which was one of the larger appeals of its old counterpart, Pokemon Go has its own pluses.

First and foremost, the best part about Pokemon Go is that you get to feel like a Pokemon trainer. You get to travel around and catch Pokemon in the wild. The leveling system is unique in that you must catch multiple of the same Pokemon to collect candy. Each Pokemon needs different amounts of candy to evolve. It also takes candy to level up the Pokemon. Not all Pokemon are equal and certain ones are stronger than others. Likewise, the same type of Pokemon has different strengths. Fortunately, with newer updates, you can appraise your Pokemon to know if you want to evolve them or if they’re strong. I would suggest going with either a strong or amazing Pokemon appraisal for evolution. CP (which stands for combat power) is the overall strength of your Pokemon. Using a combination of stardust and candy (both of which are collected when you catch Pokemon).

Each pokemon has two moves and each move has a different speed and element. The moving element usually corresponds to the pokemon element. As updates have come out, the move sets have changed so it’s more common to have different moves that differ from the pokemon’s element. The two moves Pokemon have is a quick move and a charged move. The quick moves have different speeds so do be surprised if it seems like some Pokemon quick moves are faster than others. The quick moves build up the charged move. As you deal damage you’ll see the bar at the bottom become filled up. After the bubble is charged up, you can click the button that shows the move type and you get a powered move.

Although you don’t get to battle other trainer’s (yet), you do fight over gyms. There are 3 teams to choose from and after you have picked your allegiance you can fight over the gyms. The point in holding the gyms is to collect gold, which you can turn in for items such as poke balls, incubators, and other various items. Paying real money for gold is always an option but then you’ve turned a free game into a pay to play the game and where’s the fun in that.

Pokemon Go is a fun game where you can live out the experience of being a “real” Pokemon trainer. Just remember to play safe and be aware of your surroundings. Have fun and “catch ‘em all”.

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Tex Ren Fest

One of the top shows on television right now is Game of Thrones. It has all the appeal of a magical land of knights, princesses, and dragons. Unfortunately, there is no such real-life environment. At least for most of the year. But this last year I got to attend The Texas Renaissance Festival in Todd Mission, Texas, just a 15-20-minute drive outside of Houston. There, you step into that magical land. They have knights, beggars, kings, and queens. They have jousting, archery, and axe throwing. They have unique shops, exotic drinks, and delicious food. From the Greek Amphitheatre, to the medieval coliseum, to the pirate ship, with its different areas throughout you can stop, you can put dress up and bee anyone.  It’s a place everyone should take time to visit.

So as my first experience, we are driving out and it kind of feels like the boon dock country. But every few minutes as we’re driving down this road, there’s signs “Tex Ren Fes This Way” so we just kept going. And when you get there, you’re immediately immersed in the world. You park in a field, the rows set by these tall trees. The main road that takes you into the festival has chariot runners that for a fee will run/walk you up to entrance. Depending on how far down you are this might not be a bad idea. And the driver’s, true to character, act like 10th century road-rager yelling at passersby “Get out of the way!”, “My dead mother moves faster!”, “Speed up or I’ll turn you into a chariot bump!” It’s all hilarious and in good fun and these people never break character. As you pass by you’ll be passing, knights, archers, princesses, pirate wenches, captains, monks, and a variety of fantasy dressed characters. But these aren’t employees of the festival. These are the attendees, dressed to immerse themselves in the world. We didn’t dress up this last year but next year it’s definitely on. As you enter the gates (and yes, I mean like caste gates) you see this layout of shops lining the streets on either side. It’s exactly as a bazaar or medieval marketplace would look, just with more modern clothes and souvenirs. Everything is decorated on point, from the aged wood, or the stone built walls, it looks and feels like you’ve entered a new world.

One of my favorite spots in the festival is the enchanted garden. A path that winds through next to a stream, with beautiful flowers and vegetation everywhere. Every so often you reach a spot that will have a new statue or landmark from a different part of the world. At these spots they have unique sitting places. From Greek statues to Chinese elephants, every one of these stops has a photo opportunity. In the enchanted garden, they also have a place where you can learn dancing. The classes are at different times but it looked like a fun experience.

That is one of the coolest parts of the entire festival, the different interactive shows. Each area has a show that they put on at a designated time, with the center most show being the jousting show which instead of being a one of show, it actually carries a story throughout. And when I say interactive, I mean interactive. In the coliseum, depending on where you sit, you are asked to cheer for your knight as they take on the other “nations” knights. Or at the barbarian belly dance show, they ask for volunteers to come up on stage with them. Much of the same is found throughout at all the shows and it just adds to the experience. And if you’re not an out-going person, no worries, with the crowds at each place, there’s no worries of feeling like you’re the only one. And who knows, after a few rounds of mead you might even be the one raising your hand for an event.

Speaking of edibles, each section has their own specialty drinks and food. I highly suggest trying a little bit from each one throughout the day. They all have your normal food and drink, coke, hamburgers, margaritas, but each also has something unique. My personal favorite was the honey mead in the medieval section. Absolutely worth the price if you’re of legal drinking age and want something different. And the food is some of the best you’ll ever have. Even the simple foods like chicken tenders is top quality.

Besides immersing yourself in costume, and stepping into a new world, the Renaissance Festival also has things you might not get to try elsewhere. They have an archery and axe throwing station where you can try your best and compete against your friends. Or you can dunk the village idiot or village wench. Now I know this sounds the same as something you’d do at the local town fair, but trust me it’s far from it. These people know how to throw some real insults that can get under your skin. It’s so funny to watch a random person pass by and get bombarded with these side-splitting insults that they can’t help but pay for a chance to throw something at them. Where else also, especially in Texas, are you going to get a chance to ride an elephant. Yeah, a real elephant. That’s a story will make your kids the king of the playground. There’s tons of activities there that for a small fee you can partake in that you might not get a chance anywhere else.

Finally, after a long day of photos, eating, drinking, and having one of the best days of your life, you get to come back to the coliseum and see the grand finale: the pyrotechnic show. You crowd into the stadium to get a seat and watch as professional fire dancers play with fire like we do jump ropes. The show is very mesmerizing. And when you start think it’s through, BANG! The fireworks show, that puts almost any other to shame, starts. For 15 minutes or so you get to watch this amazing fireworks show continue with a finale that leaves stars in your eyes.

At the end of it all, those same cart runners will be there to take you back to your car for a fee, which after a long day on your feet is worth every penny. The neat thing about the Renaissance Festival is it’s always different every year. We plan to make it an annual event and we are going all out this next year. If you’ve been before and are looking for new things to do, there’s a camping ground, where you can meet other’s and enjoy a different experience around a giant bonfire. And not to worry, the grounds keepers are also in character. The Renaissance festival is a great place for families to have fun and create lasting magical memories.

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