Sunday, September 23, 2018

Announcing my new series: Day Trips for $40 or Less

My new series is all about affordable day trips for $40 or less. My strategy is simple. Find a destination that you can get to and back in one day. Then figure out how you can get there and back while staying in budget. At the end of each video I'll cover everything step-by-step, so you can learn how to do it.

Ground rules are:
  • The budget has to cover everything. --This means gas, breakfast, lunch, dinner and any admission fees, snacks and souvenirs for two people. 
  • To treat this like any other trip. -- This means combining with items that I may already have. Usually this means raiding the fridge and utilizing whatever gas is in the car - without making a special fill-up beforehand. Coupons and passes are okay when they're something the average person has access to. For example Smithsonian Days count, but my Tennessee Aquarium Membership won't.
You'll be able to learn from the videos to see exactly how I did each day trip. You'll also be able to see if I went over budget, how and why. This way you can replicate my success and learn from my mistakes.
Will it work? Follow my YouTube today page to find out. 

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

EarWell ear cleaning wipes for dogs : product review

Tomlin is one lucky dog. The EarWell ear wipes for dogs that I reviewed may have forever changed my service dog care routine. Tomlin has adorable half-prick ears. But, as cute as they are they have a downside. Yeast can develop anytime moisture gets trapped in his ears. Sloshing in creeks, splashing in his water bowl and bathing after skunk spray can cause water to accumulate. Yeast is a given in these situations.

Until now, we've been using an ear drop solution. This works fairly well when we can get it into his ear. My service dog hates it. The solution is literally only in for a split second before Tomlin shakes his head and the solution goes flying. My vet tech daughter yelled at me for using green tea (which didn't stay in any longer than the ear cleaning solution).

You can see why I was happy to try the EarWell ear wipes. The solution smells good and is much easier to use than the ear drops. This ear cleaning routine is an improvement. You can see how Tomlin responds to the ear cleaning wipes in the video below.

EarWell is giving a limited time, single use discount code for people who want to try the ear wipes on your pet or service dog. Just use 15RVW at to get 15% off your order. I also answered a couple of your service dog questions in the Q&A video. Comment directly on the video or the box here to let me know your thoughts and questions about service dog life.

Other blog posts you may enjoy:

Things to consider before owning a service dog helps answer the "should I or shouldn't I question".

No service dogs on this trail - why it isn't always wise to hike with your favorite four footed friend.

Wednesday, August 01, 2018

Tips to help you buy your first DSLR

So, you're thinking of buying your first DSLR? Great! Confused by all the DSLR buying choices? Not so great. This article will cut through some of the confusion to make buying your first DSLR (also SLR) a little easier. The two different formats for SLR cameras are full sensor and crop sensor. This article will focus on the crop sensor. Full sensor cameras can cost thousands of dollars and are unnecessary for newbies.

Another thing to know is that SLRs are sold differently than other cameras. You aren't buying a single unit like with a bridge camera or other point and shoot. Instead, you will be buying the components separately, or in a kit. This means that you will buy an SLR body, and a lens. Sometimes you can buy an SLR camera body and lens together. When that happens, you are buying a kit.

You'll benefit from a couple of other pieces as well. We'll get to those in a minute. All you really need to get started is a body and a lens, plus a battery and charger. (The battery and charger will come with the camera body.) You'll also need a lens cap and lens cap which should come together. You'll also need a memory card, a padded camera bag to carry it in and a neck strap (which often comes with the body).

The two most popular brands right now are Canon and Nikon. I like Nikon, so these are what I'm showing you. However, Canon is also an excellent camera. You can't go wrong with either brand and Sony makes some great cameras too.

Like cars, cameras come in different models. I'm showing you the information for the Nikon D5500 because that is the one that I shoot with the most often. My husband started out on the Nikon D90 before acquiring my Nikon D7200. You can see how the different models can quickly become confusing. Thus the rationale for focusing this article on the camera that I like to use.

Here are the links that I promised. This one is of the camera body only. There will also be a cap to cover the front of the camera. This picture shows a little of what the camera looks like inside. A cap should come with the body and will cover up the inside of the camera. 

Now let's look at the lens. This photo is of the lens by itself. Shopping for a lens can be confusing. I'll try to simply it. If I'm unclear, just leave me a message in the comments section and I'll try to muddy the waters a little more.

Camera lenses come in different sizes. Although there are others sizes, I'll tell you about the most common ones and give you a basic understanding of how it works.

The size you need depends on the focal length that you need. The most common sizes for newbies are either an 18-55mm, an 18-105 or an 18-140mm. Notice that each of these begin with the number 18. This is a short focal range. It may help to think of a camera lens like you would a telescope. You can't see very far out in front of you if you don't turn the telescope at all (example 18mm). Turn it a little farther out and you can see more (55mm). Another twist and you can see father (105mm) and a few more twists and you can see a longer distance (140mm).

If you buy a camera and lens kit, you'll likely get an 18-55 mm. The lens is good for close up work like portraits. The 18-105 mm lens that is pictured below gives a little more flexibility. The longer lens will let you get farther away from your subject. My husband really likes this size lens.

The other way that you can shop for an SLR is to buy a kit. This simply means that you are buying the camera and lens together as one purchase. Clicking on the link will take you to a listing that shows the Nikon D5500 camera and 18-55 lens together.

Another way to buy a camera is to buy a bundle. This is like a kit on steroids. In a bundle, you can buy everything you think you need, plus the kitchen sink. I couldn't find a bundle to show you for my camera, but I did find one for the Nikon D5600 which is the next generation from mine.

See what I mean about the kitchen sink? This bundle has the camera body, an 18-55mm lens, a 70-300mm telephoto lens, camera bag, short bendy tripod and a lot of other extras. Over time, you will probably want to buy many of the things that are included. A bundle like this can be a good value, but can be overwhelming to a newbie.

If shopping for a newbie I would get the items that I talked about above. Just to recap, those items are:

Camera body with charger, battery, neck strap and cover
Camera lens with lens cover
Memory card
Inexpensive padded camera bag
Plastic bag to keep everything dry when it rains.

Next, I would download the camera manual and a free app or two on how to use the camera. Then I would go out and have fun. In fact, I think I'll go do that now. :)