Sunday, September 28, 2014

Dreaming of France -- Where in France Would You Live?

Please join this weekly meme. Grab a copy of the photo above and link back to An Accidental Blog. Share with the rest of us your passion for France. Did you read a good book set in France? See a movie? Take a photo in France? Have an adventure? Eat a fabulous meal or even just a pastry? Or if you're in France now, go ahead and lord it over the rest of us. We can take it.
For some people, Paris is the penultimate place to live. We love Paris, but when we imagine settling in France some day, we don't picture our lives in Paris. We think about a little village.
For the longest time, we imagined that Provence would be our home some day, but Provence has become so popular that the price to live there has become extravagant.
We've begun looking at other areas and think that Languedoc-Roussillon might be a good match.
The climate looks to be very similar to Provence and I hadn't realized that we have actually visited a part of Languedoc-Roussillon.
It was when we took our great bike trip in the south of France. We left Avignon and headed out of Provence and into Languedoc-Roussillon to cross the Pont du Gard and end that day in Nimes.

Of course, before we decide, we'll need to visit a few more times to explore. Sometimes, the exploration can be the best part.
Thanks for joining in with Dreaming of France. Please visit each other's blogs to enjoy other snippets of France.

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Saturday Snapshot - Family Day at Ohio University

We got to spend some time with our boys at their college this weekend. Don't get me wrong, they weren't hankering for us to come down, but we went anyway.
We didn't go to any of the organized activities. But we drove down Friday evening to have dinner with Spencer. His phone had stopped working so we weren't sure if he was anxious to see us or to get the new phone. 
We dropped him back at his dorm around 9:30 then met my brother and his wife at BW3 -- that's a sports bar chain. Their daughter attends the same university. We had drinks then headed back to the motel. All of the hotels were booked for miles around so my sister-in-law lucked into finding this place. It looked pretty rough on the outside but it was clean on the inside and was probably the bomb back in the 1970s. 
We feared it might be awkward sharing a hotel room with another couple, but it was a lot of fun as we lay in the dark remembering humorous memories about our childhood and as we raised our own kids. I think we need to plan a vacation with them - maybe separate hotel rooms though.
This morning we went to a coffee shop with a balcony. Both the boys were sleeping in, so we face-timed with Grace. 
We finally got some time with both boys at brunch, then we took them to the grocery to stock up. 
Just the right amount of time to reconnect with our sons.
Man, am I short compared to all my guys. 

Thursday, September 25, 2014

High-Priced Cell Phones

As a family of five, we have a number of expenses. College is the number one expense right now, with all three kids currently attending.
But another big monthly expense is our cell phone bill.
We don't have a home phone any more, so we are all reliant on our cell phones. And everyone has a smart phone. Earl and I use ours for work a lot. The kids use their smart phones for frivolous things, like social media, but also to check their assignments at school and their emails.
I use my phone for important
things, like keeping track of
my runs each morning.
Our cell phone bills have slowly crept up until we have reached about $320 per month -- for phones!
Like anyone else who watches television or gets  on computers, I'm sure you've seen the ads touting the low prices of some family plans.
AT&T says $160 for four lines with unlimited talk, text and data. Sprint and T-Mobile offer $100 deals with five lines or even more.
When Spencer's phone shattered, and Grace complained that her phone wasn't holding a charge, I decided it was a perfect time to start looking for a new cell phone plan.
I could have gone to each website and read through the offers, instead, I found this interesting website called Whistleout which compares plans.
All I had to do was enter the information about how many lines and what kinds of phones. I entered iPhones for each of us, since that's what we currently have.
And the phone plans look good.
Whistleout shows me that I can get a $100 per month plan with Sprint that includes 30 gb of data. Right now, we only have 14 gb of data per month.
Or, I could go with T-Mobile for $110 per month with only 12.5 gb of data.
Since the kids are on college campuses, their phones are usually on wifi so they don't use a lot of data.
Saving a few hundred dollars per month is nothing to sneeze as. That's $2400 per year. I should be ready to jump right into these plans, except for the little + sign underneath the monthly price.
Because we use Verizon, our phones are compatible with Verizon. We would all have to get new phones. The cost for five new phones under the new plans is a start up fee of about $2500. There goes my yearly savings of $2400.
Of course, if the phones lasted for years and we never needed to upgrade, that might still save me money in the long run.
I'm afraid the only way I'll end up saving money on my cell phone plan is if my kids graduate from college and get jobs. Then each of them can take on their own cell phone bills.
I know it will happen some day. For now, looks like I'm stuck with my current phone bill.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

First Paragraph -- French Leave

Every Tuesday, Diane at Bibliophile by the Sea posts the first paragraph of her current read. Anyone can join in. Go to Diane's website for the image and share the first paragraph of the current book you are reading.
Yes, I'm still obsessed with France, even though my most recent novel takes place in the U.S.
Here's a novel by P.G. Wodehouse called French Leave about 3 American sisters who go on vacation in France, leaving behind their chicken farm on Long Island.
A chicken farm on Long Island?
The print in this book is really small, though, so I  might have to break out my reading glasses for the first time for this one. Here's the intro:
If you search that portion of the state of New York known as Long Island with a sufficiently powerful magnifying glass,  you will find, tucked away on the shore of the Great South Bay, the tiny village of Bensonburg. Its air is bracing, its scenery picturesque, its society mixed. You get all sorts there -- the rich in their summer homes -- men like Russell Clutterbuck, the publisher -- and mingled with them the dregs or proletariat, the all-the-year-rounder-ers who have to scrape for a living. The Trent girls, daughters of the late Edgar Trent, the playwright, did their scraping in a small farm at the bottom of one of the lanes that led down to the water.