Welcome to another riveting edition of “Things I’m Loving Lately”. It’s been awhile, but there’s a few things I’ve been able to think of that continue to make my life better, so why not share.
Armchair Expert With Dax Shepard
I know on my last post like this I shared that I was loving podcasts, and that is still true. However, Armchair Expert with Dax Shepard is one I just found (well, it only just started) and I am LOVING IT. SO funny, yet also interesting and at times quite thought provoking. I suggest you start with the Kristen Bell episode, because obviously. Each episode is almost two hours long, and they make me want to drive around LONGER so I can listen more. Perfect if you have any road trips coming up.
Antibacterial Hand Wipes
Ok, these antibacterial hand wipes are a must have. I keep a bottle in the door of my car, and every time I leave a store, or the beach, or the gym (#yeahright), or prepare to eat in my car like an animal, I give my hands a quick wipe down, and then pass it back to my kids so they can do the same. I also keep a smaller pack in my purse, so that I can wipe down any questionable shopping carts, tables, toys while we are out. Especially right now, when this cold/flu season is not a joke, I find them to be so useful, and hope that maybe they have at least kept us from SOME of the bugs going around. Plus these ones from Target smell like piña coladas!
Power Strips on Nightstands
Maybe you are one of those people who put your phones away at night and charge them in the kitchen, away from your bed. I am not one of those. My phone is directly next to my face at all times, so that I can make sure the world isn’t falling apart at a moment’s notice. Having a power strip attached to my nightstand comes SO in handy. Not only can I plug in my phone, but also the chargers for my kid’s devices (so I can keep an eye that they aren’t in my kids’ hands when they SHOULD be sleeping), lamps, humidifiers when we are sick, a hot plate when I want some macaroni…the list goes on.
As I mentioned in my DIY nightstand post, I attached a couple vertically using screws and the keyhole mounting slots on the back of each power strip. I also have a set attached to the dressers in my guest bedroom, which I think is especially handy for visitors. In there, I mounted the power strips horizontally by drilling two small holes through the side of the dresser above and below where I wanted the power strips to sit, and then used zip-ties to secure it to the dresser. SO much easier than having to fumble around on the floor looking for the outlet (that is ALWAYS behind the bed).
If you don’t use Target Cartwheel, you should start. For those unfamiliar, Target Cartwheel is an app that allows you to use your phone camera to scan item barcodes while you are in Target to see the item’s price AND if there is any discount/cartwheel offer available on that item. If there is, it will automatically save that offer and when you go to checkout, you scan/have the cashier scan the barcode they give you in the “Wallet” section of the app and it will apply any discounts it found on items you had scanned.
You can browse all the cartwheel offers available to better prepare your shopping list, but generally I just get what I need and then before (or while I’m checking out if I’m using self-checkout), I scan each item so that if there is a cartwheel offer, it will be added to my barcode before I checkout. (You have to have added the item before you checkout, and you have to scan/have the cashier scan your barcode before you checkout. You can not go back and add offers later and have them apply to items already purchased.)
I’ve been using Cartwheel since 2013 (I think?) and according to the app I have saved a total of $721.56. That’s nearly $150 a year I’ve saved just by doing a few extra steps every time I shop at Target! In addition to having the Target REDcard, which is basically a debit card connected to my regular debit account that saves me 5% every time I shop (and free shipping online!), it certainly adds up. And even though I’ve already written enough to sound like I have a personal stake in Cartwheel, let me add that they recently included an update that allows you to add your REDcard to the app, so that when you scan the barcode at checkout, it not only automatically applies any cartwheel offers you added, but pays your total automatically through your REDcard, so you don’t even have to swipe your card! Magical!
Arlo Pro by Netgear
This one is a bit expensive, I will admit, and we actually didn’t even buy it ourselves. It was a Christmas gift two Christmases ago from my grandparents. BUT, I can not imagine living without it. Arlo Pro is a wireless security camera system. There is a base station that plugs in and connects to your wireless router (so I guess that part isn’t wireless…), and our package came with four wireless cameras. Also included is four magnetic mounts that the cameras can attach to, and one outdoor security mount that is a bit more secure (the camera screws onto it).
Each camera has a rechargeable battery that, depending on your camera schedule, last for months before needing recharged. I have four cameras; one on my front door, one on my house facing the street, one in our kitchen and one in the garage. This allows me to have eyes on every door that enters our home. The cameras record when they sense motion and/or audio, and you can set schedules, so that my camera that is in my kitchen is not recording motion all day long while the kids and I are home. Also handy is a “geofencing” feature that allows my system to know when I have left my house and automatically arms my system.
The camera facing my street is always plugged into a power source because with all the cars passing it runs out of it’s battery the quickest, and because of it’s location it is the hardest to get to. However, the other cameras only need to be charged for a couple hours once every two or three months, and I just remove them from their mounts and plug them in with the included charger.
Also handy is a two-way talk feature, so that when Cody is in the kitchen getting himself a snack, I can go into the app and tell him through the camera in the kitchen to make sure he gets me one too. Theoretically I suppose you could also use this feature to talk to people at the front door if you don’t feel safe to open it, but I just hide whenever someone comes to the door instead, so I haven’t used it for that.
I HAVE used it to make sure the garage door is closed when we are gone, and to make sure the dog sitter has arrived when we go on vacation. I also usually take one of the cameras and place it in my master bathroom (my dog “crate”) so I can keep an eye on the dogs when we are gone as well. Because the cameras are wireless, this is incredibly easy to do. The cameras automatically record video when they sense motion, but you can also use the app to see what is happening on your cameras at any time.
The app will record all video taken for free for 7 days on up to 5 cameras. If you add more cameras or want to retain your video history for longer, you have to pay for more cloud storage. Right now, with only four cameras, we don’t bother saving anything past seven days. If we see something unusual, we can easily download that video to our phone so that we have it in case anything else suspicious happens in the future.
Again, I sound like I have a personal stake in Arlo too, but it really has been such a great peace of mind, and I can’t imagine living without it. Although expensive upfront, I think it will easily be cheaper in the long run than paying a company for a wired security system that might not be as versatile!
Alright, that’s it for this round of “Things I’m Loving Lately”, brought to you by Target Cartwheel and Arlo by Netgear. (Just kidding, but if they want to pay me that’d be fine I guess…) Let me know if you listen/have/use any of these, and if you have anything that makes YOUR life easier that I can check out! Always looking for ways to spend all the money I don’t have!