Hear Ye! Hear Ye! Without Further Ado…

I’m so happy to finally be able to say this – It’s here! The Witty Bean has received its much needed makeover.

All summer long I have been brainstorming, redesigning, drinking outrageous amounts of coffee and just taking a step back.

I will spare you the assisted virtual tour and just talk about what you can expect! But seriously – click around, *EVERYTHING* is new. It’s like seeing the pirate ship in Goonies for the first time.

  • New Categories – I know, I know. I really liked the “bean” themed categories, but there were a lot – and they got confusing. I did keep “Little Beans” for all of the fun things that happen with the tiny-humans. Since, let’s face it, finding a snake in your backpack is a story that simply has to be told. There are also new categories for travel and writing.
  • New Ways to Interact – Not only with me, but with each other! There will be two new regular weekly posts, Coffee Chat Tuesday and Friday Favorites! I’m also introducing Coffee Review Monthly, where I will review a coffee related item – the tasty brew itself, a new coffee gadget or something you recommend.
  • Updated Social Media – There was a HUGE push to overhaul the Facebook, Pinterest and Instagram pages. So I did. They are all linked at the bottom of the page.
  • Writey Things – I’ve been working diligently…meh, okay trying to work diligently, on my novel, The Traveler and I have finally crested into 30,000 words. Hoorah! The goal is to take all of you on the journey with me through the last 50,000 during NaNoWriMo in November.

So aside from those few *little* things I’ve been working on- we have had a pretty awesome summer. We took a lot of trips in the RV and to the beach. All of the kids have turned another year older. Jack started middle school, Fisher started Kindergarten and Miles has taken a profound interest in repeating swear words. What more could you want from a summer, really?

The last few months have been filled with so many exciting new beginnings and I want to thank my family and friends who have been tireless supporters of me making this dream a reality.

Lastly, this thank you is for you, my dear readers, for your support and patience. Without readers and followers like you, none of this would be possible.

Thank you again and again.

I can’t even right now because I’m so excited for all of this to start moving forward! Stay tuned everyone. Stay tuned.

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My Writing Playlist

I received an email from a reader the other day that asked what my writing playlist was. At first I wanted to say “Supernatural episodes on repeat,” but I knew what she meant.

This got my hamster running. I hadn’t really given much thought to what I listened to specifically when writing. Let me say this though– I am a music tramp. I love listening to anything and everything with a beat. This means that my playlist changes often and is usually random to the naked untrained eye.

So! I am going to share my current playlist that I listen to when I’m doing practically anything that requires me to breathe.

  1. Cassie O’ – George Ezra
  2. Afire Love – Ed Sheeran
  3. One – Ed Sheeran
  4. Hook – Blues Traveler
  5. Better Man – Pearl Jam
  6. Cream – Prince (I was not lying when I gave the random disclosure, wait it gets better)
  7. Midnight Train to Georgia – Gladys Knight
  8. Shake It Off – Taylor Swift
  9. Shut Up and Dance with Me – Walk the Moon
  10. Pony – Ginuine

Seriously. I was not lying. I listen to EVERYTHING – clearly at the same time. I’m ok with that though. Because I’m a perfectionist, I feel like I need to provide the reasoning behind each song and why they are ALL on one list.

The “belt it out” tunes

  • Hook
  • Midnight Train to Georgia

The “I just need five minutes” tunes

  • Afire Love
  • Better Man
  • One

The “dance it out” tunes

  • Shake It Off
  • Cassy O’
  • Pony
  • Shut Up and Dance with Me

And because Prince is the most fabulous creature on the planet – he needs no category. I just love him.

The Cable Challenge

I made a post similar to this a few years back when we decided to get rid of cable entirely. However, times have changed and we fell back into our old cable-lovin’ ways and jumped back on the overpayment wagon.

This weekend as I was lining out monthly expenses and looking at everything we had going into our bank accounts and out of them, I realized cable was one of the higher bills, aside from our vehicle and house payments. Isn’t that ridiculous?!

I thought so too.

Let’s talk about what we had and then we can get into what we have now, shall we?

We had already invested in the Google Chromecast devices for the playroom, living room and master bedroom. These were $35.00 each and it allows us to stream basically anything to the boob-tubes, including Netflix, Hulu and YouTube. I am a bonafide Netflix junkie and would rather binge myself on series than have to wade through four minute commercial breaks.

For cable/internet we went with Time Warner Cable as they were the lucky ducks who has monopolized in our area. We signed up for their ultra-high speed internet (I work from home, so that is a non-negotiable need) along with the cable package that came with a box and two hundred some-odd channels.

The grand total per month for that was around $160, but with taxes and fees it was closer to that $180 mark. If you add in the expense of the Netflix and Hulu our combined cost for visual-entertainment was over $200.00 per month.

There were always issues with the box, we had to trade it out once and it still didn’t resolve the problem, which was disheartening. Regardless – we only watched a handful of channels anyways. This was our breaking point. The only reason we had cable was for one show and one show alone…The Walking Dead.

My initial decision was, “Once Walking Dead is over, we can get rid of cable.” I just wasn’t willing to risk not being able to see skull-smashing zombie slaying. Sorry. I’m human.

This is the part where we talk about what we did to solve this problem.

So my hubby started doing some reviews and research – he is the KING of reviews, fact-finding and consumer product testing, no lie. After talking to a friend, we discovered this great fantabulous service called SlingTV. Seriously. Best thing ever. Go look…I’ll wait.

Done yet? Good.

I can’t even being to tell you how awesome this service is. They have a ton of live-streaming channels for $20.00 a month, including AMC which aires The Walking Dead. This means I didn’t have to wait until the next day to watch, which was awesome. I hate spoilers. They also have a kids package you can add for an additional $5.00 per month. Since we have tiny humans who enjoy Saturday morning cartoons we sprung for this option as well.

However, SlingTV won’t be available to cast via Chromecast for a few more months, so this required us to invest in a ROKU. Not entirely bad, we ended up paying three months in advance for the SlingTV and got a free one shipped to us, plus we went to Walmart and bought a second one. Total spent around $50.00 for the ROKU we bought and about $75 for three months of service, which ended up being cheaper than if we had initially paid per month and bought that second ROKU.

Don’t worry – I’m going to itemize everything for you so it’s easier to follow. I know it still looks like we’ve spent a lot of money, but I swear we haven’t. Like any good plan you have to make initial investments and buy hardware, after that you’re in the clear.

Initial Investment:

ROKU – $50.00
Chromecast – $35.00 x 3

Total devices $155.00 – Keep in mind though, we had the Chrome casts prior to this endeavor and bought them gradually, not all at once. Technically you would only needed the ROKU for this challenge.

Total services:

Netflix – $15.99/monthly (This is their second package that allows up to 4 devices to stream at once)
HuluPlus – $7.99/monthly
SlingTV – $25.00/monthly
Internet – $60.00/monthly

Total services $109.00. BAM! Over 80 thin-sliced pieces of cheddar back in the pocket each month.

I say all of this to say, look at what you’re using versus what you’re paying for. There’s generally a huge difference and a better way to approach it. I’m not saying that this will work for everyone, it’s working out well for us. Play around with your options and see what you can make work for your lifestyle.

I now challenge you to see how you can save. Be sure you share your story!