My smiledirectclub journey

I hate my teeth. It started in middle school. I was playing softball with my girl scout troupe and I was at bat. The pitch seemed to be “on the inside” and I was so proud of myself for not flinching. So I stood, waiting for it to be called a ball… but that’s not what happened. The ball actually hit the bat, just above my hands and ricocheted into my mouth. Just like a movie, something felt immediately “bad” and I spit out a tooth. It actually knocked out my eyetooth. My mom and I both thought that it was an adult tooth and it was gone forever and we had really bad/no dental insurance, so I didn’t go to the dentist. Fast forward almost 4 years and the tooth started coming in, but since it had been so long, the other teeth had been moving forward and closed up most of the gap so that tooth started growing in over the other teeth. I talked to the dentist and asked if they’d pull it but was told by many dentists over the years that the eyetooth is important and they’d pull a tooth behind it and then put me in braces and move the rogue tooth into place. Yeah.. still no dental insurance and it wasn’t going to be cheap.

Before aligners
Before aligners

Fast forward about 35 years and I recently lost the tooth they said they’d need to pull to get my eyetooth back in position. On top of that.. over the years a lot of my teeth have shifted and they’re crowded and overlapping but I still have really crappy dental insurance.

This is where smiledirectclub comes in. After seeing a lot of ads, I signed up. I made my appointment at a Smile Shop and got my scan done (one of many promotions they run, the scan was free and they gave me a teeth whitening kit). From there, they notified me that a dentist had reviewed my scans, that my aligners were being designed, then crafted, polished and finally shipped. The box arrived!!

One thing that’s really cool is that on my smiledirectclub dashboard, they have a video of how my smile is going to change over the length of my aligner journal. I’m excited.

Thanksgiving evening, I opened the box, read all the instructions, and put in my first pair of aligners. I won’t lie, it was hard to get them in at first.. they were pretty tight. They rubbed in a few places. The instructions said I could use a simple nail file to help. I did.. it’s surprising how little filing makes the difference between discomfort and comfort.. so if you get aligners and you want to file them.. DON’T go crazy filing away for 5 minutes LOL… file a little.. try them on.. file a little more if necessary. The instructions do say that should cover some of your gums… it really does need to grip something and if you file them down too much.. you’re going to have a hard time getting them out.. and probably keeping them effective. I didn’t have any trouble sleeping in them, but honestly, having something in your mouth is weird and my mouth was watering. I was sure I was going to drool in my sleep. I didn’t 🙂

After a couple of days, they’re getting looser. They go in and out really easily now. And a week later, it’s time to put in the next pair. I’ve been counting down the days, but I also get text and email reminders. The next pair is REALLY tight. I had a hard time getting them in, but I did it. I wore them all night and the next morning they were really hard to get out, so I used the aligner removal thingamabob to help for the first time. After about a day and a half, they’re coming out much easier now. I only take them out 4 times a day.. in the morning to brush my teeth and 3 meals a day (where I also brush my teeth and floss as much as I can). I did soak the first pair in vinegar and baking soda, but I invested in some invisaligner safe retainer cleaning. Even though I wash and brush them every time I remove them, it’s still good to give them a good cleaning. You can easily do this while you’re eating.

The 3rd pair of aligners is worn for 2 weeks. This pair fit beautifully right out of the package. I wish they all fit like this pair. Overall, the fit does change from pair to pair. Trim and file them when necessary for comfort.

They are effectively braces. They will be uncomfortable at times. Especially the first couple of days of a new pair.

I had read a LOT of reviews before signing up and one of the biggest complaints was broken aligners. I never had any issues with any of mine. Every pair seemed very durable. When they were really tight it felt like my teeth would break before the aligner would LOL I didn’t break any teeth either)

month 1
After 1 month. I can definitely see some movement.
Yes, it really is a thingamabob LOL
Yes, it really is a thingamabob LOL

Month 2: Definitely a little more movement

Month 2: Different angle that shows more of the work being done
Month 3. Eyeteeth are much closer to where they should be
Month 4. i swear my mouth isnt this crooked. I just cant take a decent picture.
Month 3. Second angle
Month 5. You don’t realize how weirdly shaped your teeth are til you start straightening them. My one front tooth is longer and about twice as thick.
Month 6. I technically have a week to go but this is pretty much the final result.

My teeth are by no means “perfect” but, I did wait over 30 years to straighten them so they’re worn down very unevenly. Overall, I am very happy with the result and I wish I had done it long ago.

Saving at the Grocery Store (Part 3)

A lot of my friends and family ask how I save money at the store. When I tell them, they often tell me that they “don’t have the brain for math” or “I don’t have time to do that”.  I do spend roughly an hour planning my trip and looking for coupons. The math I do at the store is typically limited to figuring out which size package is a better deal. Most larger stores have the information on the tag that shows the price per unit (although that unit isn’t always the same.. one size may show price per ounce, while another shows price per pound).

How can I save money with little time and preparation?


Saving at the Grocery Store (Part 2)

You’ve probably heard the old saying, don’t shop when you’re hungry. It’s absolutely true. Grocery stores are designed to sell you things you didn’t intend to buy. There’s actual psychology behind store design and it’s solely for the purpose of selling you (or your kids) things you don’t want.  Seems obvious right? But we all fall in the trap. How often do you walk into the grocery store and there’s a table of freshly baked cakes or cookies just begging you to pick them up.. if you’re not hungry, you have a better chance of looking the other way. Stomach growling, you easily spent an extra $20 on things you didn’t really want, took home and now feel guilty for eating.

What can you do?


Saving at the Grocery Store (Part 1)

I’ve been asked to share some of my tips on saving money at the store. I know there’s a million articles that will tell you that you can save a LOT of money if you follow their tips.  Some will even tell you that you can spend nothing at the store.  You may have even watched Extreme Couponing and thought, how can I do that.. Honestly, almost no one can. Even if you could, do you need 100 bottles of mustard. Food banks probably don’t even want the tons of mustard that people are donating because they earned .01 back on each bottle. So, here’s the first in a series of tips for shopping for a real family and saving money.

We’ve lucky here because we have a selection of at least 3 large chain grocery stores, another half dozen family owned local stores, and several discount grocers (both chain and local). My first tip is to try out a couple of stores and get to know them.  You may be able to check them out through their websites and looking at their sales flyers to see if they have good prices and good selections of things you buy.


Inexpensive Halloween Costumes

My kids and I love Halloween. There’s just something fun about dressing up, but costumes from the store are not cheap (they’re typically not good quality either). While a store bought costume can give you a lot of options and is certainly the fastest way to get a costume, with a little preplanning you can create something cool and fun.

Some of the best costumes can be make from clothes you already have or inexpensively from thrift stores. Because I sew, over the years I’ve had some extravagant costumes (that weren’t very cheap but made a huge impact), to fun costumes that cost under $10.

Thrift stores typically have a rack of costumes near the front of the store right now, although I find most are for younger children where I’ve shopped.

Red Riding Hood (just need a red cape and just about any “little girl” clothes and a wicker basket. I made my cape, but you can check thrift stores or halloween shops for an inexpensive one. Everything else I already owned.


free cookbooks – You don’t need a smartphone or tablet to get free e-books

I absolutely LOVE cookbooks. They are definitely my weakness… BUT… my husband HATES clutter. They’re so tempting sitting at the checkout aisle (they’re like candy), but I can’t tell you how many I bought, liked one or two recipes and never make the ones I do like regularly, so, I had wasted a lot of money on cookbooks.

My solution comes in many flavors.

1) The public library (this one is obvious) they have tons of cookbooks in many topics. My library is always getting new cookbooks and has a huge selection. I get one or two a week, photo copy the ones I like or think I’ll use.

2) This one might not be as obvious to everyone. E-books. A smartphone isn’t in my budget (I do get to use one for work and it’s opened my eyes to resources I might not otherwise have looked at).

Ease the stress of grocery shopping during the holidays

(ARA) – Hectic schedules often make meal-related decisions a chore. And planning for a bigger family meal over the holidays just adds to the stress. Affordable and simpler shopping routines could help you start savoring family meal time again.

Regardless of whether you’re planning a holiday feast, a birthday celebration, or just day-to-day meals throughout the year, it’s easier and more cost effective if you go into grocery shopping prepared.

Consider these tips from national grocery retailer Save-A-Lot before your next shopping trip:


Time-saving Tips To Help You Enjoy The Holidays

(NAPSI)—As the holidays get closer, it can be easy to feel like there is too much to do and too little time. Fortunately, there is no need to panic.

The good news is that there are plenty of ways to make the holidays simple and stress free, cutting down on chaos and making more time for what matters most: family and friends. Now is the best time to utilize your Amana brand appliances to make the mixing, cooking, prepping and baking easy. Here are some tips:

Start with smart planning. Two weeks before guests arrive, look over your recipes and write out your menu to make shopping quick, organized and easy. Stock up the week prior to the main event and store produce in your refrigerator crisper to keep it fresh.

Make as much as you can ahead of time. A week before the main event, take a closer look at the menu. What can you make ahead of time? Prep deli meats and cheeses and make what you can of your appetizers and even side dishes. Set them on a serving platter and store in the refrigerator. All you have to do is unwrap and serve when your guests arrive.

Make good use of your microwave. With your side dishes already prepped, pop them in the microwave so they’re ready to serve in seconds. Reheat as needed during your dinner and—of course—use your microwave when feasting on leftovers.

Let the freezer be your friend. Whether you’re hosting a big holiday dinner or bringing a dish to pass, if your schedule is hectic—fear not. Freeze cookies, dessert bars and breads. Thaw them out and you’re good to go. Keep a few extra batches on hand in the freezer during the busy holiday season and never be left empty handed.

Clean as you go. Just like whistling, try cleaning up while you work. Keep dishes moving from the counter to the dishwasher so they’re ready when you need them. It’ll keep you from facing a mountain of cleanup at the end of the night.

With a head start on holiday planning, entertaining friends and family couldn’t be any easier or more enjoyable. And that’s really the whole point of the holidays.

For more useful tips, visit

Holiday Meal Planning

It’s almost time for American thanksgiving and for those cooking the big meal, it’s time to start planning. Locally the frozen turkey’s are going on sale and if you’re buying locally fresh, don’t waste any time, they may already be sold out.

Make your list of main course(s), side dishes and desserts, check your pantry and make your shopping list of all the ingredients you’re going to need. This time of year, more than over makes it easy to overspend, and impulse buy, just adding unnecessary cost to your holidays (I couldn’t help buying leftover discounted halloween candy.. I’m a sucker for Laffy Taffy).

Many home made pies can be prepared in advance and frozen to help make the actual holiday less hectic (I cook the Christmas meal and personally, I like to put the turkey in the oven and crawl back in bed for an hour)

If you’re thinking of trying something new this year, now is the time to try it out in advance and if it’s not as good as you thought it would be, you still have time to adjust your menu and try again.

Are you making your centerpieces (or having the kids help), this is definitely a “do ahead” project and not a night before stress to think about.

Here’s a funny article on the

Ten Steps to a Less Than Perfect Thanksgiving

Remember, this is the NOT to do list 🙂

#5 Begin to defrost your turkey on Thanksgiving morning. You know how magazines tend to exaggerate how long it takes to defrost and roast those little gobblers. And who cares if dinner’s not ready until 9:00 p.m.?

Time to turn the clocks back

It’s that time again for many of us to “turn the clocks back” ending Daylight Saving Time. Your local fire department also reminds you that now is the time to change the batteries in your smoke detectors. I know that batteries can be expensive. Look for coupons or special sales, but don’t skip this. With the holidays right around the corner and winter heating in full swing for many of us, fire risks are serious. If your battery operated smoke detectors are more than 10 years old, it may be time to replace the entire smoke detector. Just like any piece of electronics, they wear out and don’t work as well (or at all). Simple smoke detectors can cost under $20 each and smoke and carbon monoxide detectors can cost under $40 each. Replacing just one a year even on a tight budget is very do-able.

Smoke detectors are often your first chance at saving your property and maybe your life.

More information on fire safety:

Now is a great time to look at one more common household fire starter: your clothes dryer. Do you clean your lint trap after every load of laundry? That’s not the only place that link collects. Here’s an excellent video on how to clean your dryer.

Even if you don’t want to take your dryer completely apart, taking off the vent (the silver tube) and pulling out any visible lint is extremely easy in most cases and allows you to reach into the machine as well. You can a purchase dryer cleaning kit that allow you to vacuum out the inside of your dryer without removing screws and cover plates. I personally use one from that works very well for me.

Simple tips for clothes dryer safety