Friday, May 31, 2013

Party - Not so much - Getting Things Done

I have a "To Do" list always going. Sometimes it is on my phone and alarms are ringing all day. Other times I have an actual list, sometimes on Sticky notes around the house. Sometimes, if the list get really large, I will type it up. Today, I feel like I got nothing off my list but I went all day. 
By noon, I felt tired already and had calls and texts all morning and I kept trying to get to the main things on my "list" but nothing got done. I did lots of things that should have been on my "list" but weren't. 

Things on my "list" right now are: 
1 - Clean out the rain gutters (which entails borrowing an extension ladder. That has been on my list for about three weeks.)
2 - Change out the flood light bulb in the back yard. (Added on the list today.)
3 - Change out the weather stripping on the trailer windows. 
4 - Remove the trailer windows and put in the putty.
5 - Put in new edging around outside trailer. 
6 - Climb on top of the trailer, scrape old weather caulk and put in new. 
7 - Drive trailer to lot
8 - Clean out old swamp cooler and list it for sale.
9 - Clean the outside windows and window wells.
10 - Plant the garden.
11 - Replace part on the broken edger and finish edging the yard. 
12 - Clean the carpets.
13 - Get new video transfer software and transfer videos off SD cards to DVD's 
14 - Sort and scan all mom's bins. 
 etc, etc

Well, as you can see, some of the things on the list take about 15 minutes and other things I have been working on for months. The trailer is still needing lots of things done and I have worked on it for many days but either it is raining or it is so hot that climbing up on the top holds no interest for me. 

My friend Sara (who talked me into doing this blog), gave me a swamp cooler from the house she bought as she wanted central air. I picked it up a few months ago and today, I finally got it in the window. One would have thought that would be easy but let me tell you why it wasn't so easy. 

Her cooler is much newer than the one I have. However, the motor on the one she gave me is a smaller motor than what I have now and what I have now is smaller than what I had before. I worried that if I used the smaller motor, we wouldn't have enough cool in the house. So, I took out the motors and exchanged them. That took me at least an hour. 

I installed the motor on mine the summer before last so it is new and in good shape. I then drained them both. I don't know how they both ended up with water in them as they were both drained but I cleaned them out, used a metal brush and cleaned it out really well and then spray painted any rust spots where the water goes. 

I then put in new cedar pads after scrubbing the sides and using a knife to clean out the slits where the water goes. I had one of the girls help me pull out the old one and put in the new one. I take it out of the window in the fall but just leave it on a table all winter so I don't have to move it the next year as I don't always have the girls around to help. 

So, I finished all that today and also put in some dirt around the base as it has eroded away with the water draining year after year. I glued the door on the entertainment center which broke at Christmas time. It was not my best repair job but I learned that I shouldn't have used the tan "Gorilla Glue" as it dries white and foams up for some reason. But, we can now close the door without the string holding it together so I am glad that is off my mental list anyway. 

I wanted to wait to tell Sara "thank you" for the cooler until I had it in and could show her how much lovelier it is than my old one. They are the EXACT same size unit and is so much nicer looking than the old one. This size unit is over $500. I got everything working and I am so grateful to Sara and her wonderful husband for giving us this unit.

I will clean my old one up and sell it or give it away. I called one family member who I know didn't have anything and they seemed offended when I offered to give it to them since someone had shared with me, I wanted to pay it forward. I figure I will put the proceeds towards Princess Fours Thailand trip or one of the many other trips she is taking this summer.

I was hoping to get the trailer done this week but today we had softball pictures, a game (yea! we WON!) and I had a viewing/wake and took Princess four for her drivers permit test (Yea! She Passed!) and made a cake for the funeral tomorrow of a dear neighbor and church member. I also had to pay my bills and finish all the laundry so Princess Four and Five can pack for their week camp. I also went around and touched up some furniture with my Sharpie. Here is a post about that.

I am hoping to get most of the things on that list done in the next two days. That depends on my mechanic who is working on my car as I need new tires and to get it inspected and registered in the next two days! If not, I will probably get more on the list done but I just won't have a car!

What is on your list? The cracked sidewalk is now off of mine! YEA! And it only took two years!

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Human Barometer - Ear Piercing - 111

Each of my princesses have to wait until they are 14 to get their ears pierced. I think it is a good time and have posted about that before when Princess Three and Four went to get their ears pierced. They don't have to get them pierced and actually, Princess Four is the first that ever got her ears pierced at age 14 as all the rest waited until they were older not wanting to deal with the whole earring thing. Here is the post where I explain it.

Princess Two went to the mall at college and got her ears pierced on her own about two years ago after her sisters did theirs. So, it was my baby Princesses turn. She is going to go to a church camp next week and wanted them done before she went. I was good with that so we went down before our game and had them done. I wanted to give her as close to a week with them as I could before she left for the week on her own in case there was any problem with them. 

She was cute as she thanked me over and over for paying and taking her to get her ears pierced. She has started collecting cute earrings and I had the girls all pick a few pair from my old stash when I first got my ears pierced. I had bags of potato chips, Vegemite from New Zealand, Carrots, and all sorts of novelty earrings from the 80's. They each took turns until they were all gone. I made sure that Princess Five got as many as her sisters so they could all enjoy them. 

She is so excited to be able to wear something other than the studs that she chose. Right now, as I type this, she is putting alcohol on her ears. She said they aren't hurting her at all so that is good. With her ears pierced, another new era has begun in our home. With each new thing Princess Five does, I am closer to the "empty nest" and that is a bitter sweet thing. I love to see them grow but when they are gone, it will be weird not having so much to do to keep up with them.

I also wanted to post about the 111's in my life the past few weeks and was excited that my blog has over 100,000 views. It has only taken three years to get to that mark but in the end, I am not doing it for views, I am doing it for my family. Just this week the girls were talking about how they like that they can just type in one of their favorite dishes and see the pictures and recipe online and make it. 

My youtube account also had 11,100 views this past month. I keep seeing 111 or 1111 everywhere. Just today, I saw it twice but will post about that next week perhaps. 

If I help someone in the process of journaling for my family, so the better. I have had to reference it a few times myself if I forget something I have done to change up a recipe, it is nice to be able to go back and see what I did to make it better. 

There have been lots of storms lately and my head has been letting me know. I had nose surgery after a boating accident and ever since then when there is a pressure change, I can tell. I always know 24 hours or so before it rains and there is a pressure storm. When I was working in the ER, the days I would have a headache, we would always have a few people come in for "Migraine" shots. I would often ask them if they had noticed a correlation between the weather and the headaches. Mine get so bad I "lose my cookies" and if I don't take something early enough, that is a for sure. For the most part now, I catch them and take some Tylenol, Psudaphed and drink a 20 oz Coke. For some reason, that combination drains them and I am ok. However, there are days like this day last week where I took all that and then took ibuprofen as well and ended up not feeling any better. It just depends on how high the pressure is in the storm. 

The other trigger for me is driving or flying through different altitudes where my sinus can't regulate the change. Peru was horrible for me going up thousands of feet and then back down in a few hours of time while on windy dirt roads on diesel smelling buses where the fumes get to you anyway. I had to actually have the bus pull over before while the entire bus got to watch me relieve myself of the three liters of coke I drank trying to calm it down when the medicine didn't work. 

Best bet for me, take the pills at the first sign of a pressure change. Now, I just drink Coke before driving up the mountains and that usually helps. It is hard if I wake up with a headache as I am trying to play "catch up" all day. 

At least I will always know when to take an umbrella! See, there is always a bright side to every situation! :-)

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Happy 14th Birthday SURPRISE for Princess Five

Since Princess Five has her birthday in the summer and has had to go for visitations over her birthday most years, and, her friends are often gone if she is here, she hasn't had very many birthday parties. 

She has probably had less than half the amount of parties her older sisters had. I used to throw one each year for the girls when they were younger. Princess five said she would like a party this year. 

I tried to talk her out of it by suggesting that the trip out of town shopping with her friends could count  and I would pay for the gas. She said she would rather have a party (this was before we went out of town with her friends.) So, I thought I had better do it right. I asked her if I threw her a party, who she would want to invite. She wrote it down. 

So, with a list in my hand, I called all her friends inviting them to a surprise party for the last day of school and thought it would be fun to have a sleep over as well. 

I contacted one of the other moms and asked if she could have Princess Five over after school got out for a few hours so we could decorate and have her friends over and then I could pick Princess Five up and get some food and we could go to the house and have everyone already there. 

She said her daughter wanted a party for her friends the last day anyway so she suggested she invite all the girls over to the house and when I picked up Princess Five, she would then take the girls to my house before we arrived. 

I finally got the indoor yard sale out of the house (for which I am VERY grateful) and we got the house all clean for Prince and Princess one to come visit and I got Princess Three to come home from college for the weekend since most girls weren't here for Mothers Day weekend, I asked that we have a weekend together. I wanted Princess five to have everyone home for her birthday for a change. 

This year, Princess four will be gone to Thailand over her birthday and her sisters will have work so if she wanted to have anyone besides me at the party, we needed to have it early.

In the picture you can see I bought some of the window gels one said, "Happy Birthday" and the other said "Princess" and then some little ferries as well. I thought it was cute having it on the window and some on the mirrors in the house. 

We had streamers, hats, noise makers and tiaras for every girl. I had Disney princess plates, cups and napkins and then we matched the cake and her hat. She had four hats to choose from but in one picture she is wearing one of the Pink Zebra hats I had for everyone but then she changed to the tiara for the Birthday girl. 

I am not sure what she is doing in this picture but she looked cute doing it so I snapped the photo. 

Somehow, I missed the opening of the presents and also didn't take photos of eating the cake and ice cream but we finished off five pizzas in the mix. 

I rented two shows they wanted and when I went down later after visiting with the other Princesses and Prince, there were three girls sleeping on one couch! None brought pillows or blankets and they didn't have a blanket or were just using our TV watching stash of pillows and blankets. I am not sure why they didn't bring sleeping stuff but we ended up putting down blankets and getting the three off the couch. I still don't think they slept well but after hanging out most of the day together, they were tired.  
I bought several types of magnetic photo frames on clearance and I took a picture of Princess five with each girl at the party and we went to Walmart that night when we got the movie rentals and printed out the pictures of the girls together and each got to pick out a frame and we put the picture of them in it. I thought that was a cute party favor and the girls liked that they got to choose which frame they wanted. 

The next morning, they all slept in. Prince one never sleeps in as he always has early classes and work etc, his clock is on auto pilot so he got up and read. This is what I found the next morning. I made crepes with real cream and berries, bananas and peach sauce for breakfast (I'll post about those this week) and the girls started trickling home. 

It wasn't until I posted this that I realized I didn't get a picture of the entire group together other than the surprise part but no posed pictures with them all with Princess Five. Three girls had to go home after having a late night for various reasons so only some girls slept over but I know they all had fun. 

We had a WONDERFUL weekend and I may post about that later but Princess Five enjoyed her birthday and I enjoyed having all my Princesses home for the weekend. It doesn't often happen anymore but I just enjoy it when it does. 

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Scanning Road Trip - Two Weekends in a Row

Princess number five asked me months ago to take her out of town shopping and to the movies for the day with two of her friends. They planned it for some time. A week before the trip, I had a strong feeling that I should contact my mom's siblings and ask if I can put them on a blog I am thinking about starting about my mothers life. I figure it is a way to get her family history done. If I take a photo a day, and call my mom and write her memory about that picture, then I can get it done slowly and not feel so overwhelmed by the thought of writing it. 

So, I called my mothers youngest brother and asked him if I could have is "OK" to put his picture on the blog. He said, "Since there aren't any photos of us as children, you can have my permission." Basically. I asked about family photos and he said he didn't have any. My mother only has a small handful of herself as a girl. My uncle told me at one time that he had my grandfathers journal of his life while he was a missionary in the south eastern US in the Thirties. 

I asked him if it would be alright for me to drive the four hours to his home on the weekend and take anything he has and scan it at WalMart so that I can share it with the rest of the family?" He said he would get back to me as we would need to stay at his home in order for me to have time to get it done. 

He said we could come so I had to convince Princess five that she and her friends could have just as much fun in his town as the one they wanted me to take them to shopping. She asked her friends and since I said if they went to this town, I would cover all the gas and they could have a sleep over, the was a unanimous "YES" to going.

I had to ask Princess Two to come as well so that she could take the girls shopping, swimming etc while I scanned at the store so she said she would come "babysit" the girls for me.

When we arrived in his town, we went right to our temple and did service there. 

After that, we got pizza and went to my Uncles home. He and his wife were wonderful to host us. The girls went swimming and did the hot tub and then went to the theater room and watched a few new movies. 

My Uncle said he had no pictures but then pulled out several photo albums and there were lots more than he realized. Then, he said he was "done" and went out to visit with the girls. I guess when he came back in, his wife reminded him of a few boxes he had in the garage and he said I could go through them.

When I got to the bottom of the box, the last two things were so amazing to me. One was an envelope of all my grandparents important papers as in "Graduation certificates" etc. The dates and history there was wonderful. Then there was a file with news article of my grandfathers career in the law and politics. It was also wonderful stuff.

At the bottom, there was a file with all sorts of news articles about my mother in all sorts of beauty contests from about age 13 up. There were at least 1/3 of the article that I hadn't seen and I have seen lots. I think what happened was that because my mother was so young at the time, she didn't think to keep those articles on her own so my grandmother did. Once my mother was an adult and in the bigger contests, she started keeping her own articles and much of that has been lost over the years with moves and 8 children in tow.
I started crying. I thought it was so sweet that my grandmother kept all those and that my uncle moved them so many times since my grandmothers death several years ago. 

The very last thing I found was a poem that my grandmother wrote to my grandfather when he passed the bar. I was almost sobbing by this point. It was so sweet. They weren't married yet and I thought it was a precious find. I don't know if I hadn't gone what would have happened to that box of stuff. My guess is that my uncles kids would have figured that we probably had plenty of copies of those articles and thrown them out. 

My sister reminded me that we were in my uncles wedding as princesses with the pointed hats and everything so to ask him about 8mm movies. I remember seeing those movies at some point in my life but he looked and looked and couldn't find them. He told me as he was leaving Saturday morning that I could look in his movie area. I found an 8mm reel that my grandmother had in her stuff of my mother as a beauty queen. I haven't been able to watch the reel yet as my bulb on my projector is gone but I can't wait to get that transferred over and watch it. I still have hope that he will be able to find the wedding movies for us to add to the collection.

On Saturday, I had Princess 2 help me some with scanning at first. The one Walmart in town had all their scanners down so we had to go to the other store a bit further away and she stayed until lunch giving me a chance for a potty break as you can't leave the scanners once you start scanning. I was there from 11 a.m. until 9:30 p.m.on my feet using two scanners and I just finished what we found in that time. I scanned about 1500 scans which included my grandfathers journal and all the documents, new articles and pictures he could find relating to anyone in the family. 

I rushed back to the house once Princess 2 picked me up and as I was loading the girls up to head home, my uncle pulled out some audio tapes from my grandmothers house. One had "Grandpa's pig story" written on it. I have a tape deck in the car and on the way home, I got to listen to my grandfather tell his life story. 

It was WONDERFUL! He told how his mother had 8 children and lost 3. I cried to hear the emotion in his voice as he explained how his sweet sister died giving birth as well as the baby. He shared how sweet the other babies were that died and how he worked and worked to get through law school eating mostly cheese and crackers.

We arrived home at 1 a.m. and I felt bad getting her friends home so late but had no idea that he would have so many treasures to share. He didn't know either! I was able to get it all copied and will distribute copies to everyone at the reunion planned in a few weeks.

 I called my mothers sister and guess what? She had my grandmothers photo album of her growing up and one of my grandfathers that had about 13 pictures in it. 

She was willing to let me take it and scan what she has. They dropped it off to Princess one as they live near each other. This weekend, I scanned for four hours some documents and obituaries of my Grandfather as well as those two albums. Since the pictures were on the pages and the pages had writing, it was time consuming for me to save each picture individually as well as saving copies of each page to know who was in the pictures. It will be worth it to have that information however. 

I am so grateful they allowed me to gather that information. It seems like I am the "gatherer" in my family. Gathering information from the tapes, aunts, uncles and my mother and then piecing them together. It was weird how one had some of the articles and one had the certificates and one had the pictures and tapes. I have learned who my grandfather was this weekend in a different light than I remember him. I saw him as a boy and man and student and father. It was a WONDERFUL few weekends and I am sure I will be gathering a bit more as I want to go and finish going through the box I saved from my mothers stuff for her side of the family. I am hoping to get to that before the reunion so I can add it to the group of items I want to share with everyone. 

What an amazing family I have!

Monday, May 27, 2013

Treasure Hunting For Gold - Part Three

 I wrote a blog post about over three years ago about building up a savings or retirement account by buying gold and silver jewelry.

I have continued buying gold and silver jewelry at yard sales and second hand stores. I always check out the jewelry case when I go shopping at second hand stores. I have had some great finds.

Over the past year or so, my local second hand store hasn't had any jewelry out. Talking with the workers, I guess the person that does that moved or something so rarely have I seen any jewelry there. A few weeks ago, they started putting out jewelry again. I talked to one of the workers and they told me that they had two huge bins of jewelry needing to go out.

What this store typically does, is put several things in a bag and sell them as sets. Then, anything that doesn't sell, they throw in large bags like "grab bags" and let you take them all for $10 or $20. The large bags are taped up and they won't let you open them but most of the time, they put things in there that they can't probably sell otherwise and then sometimes they will throw in some silver pieces maybe mis-matched earrings that have value as a metal.

In the past, as I posted in these two posts here: Part 1 and  Part 2, I mention that sometimes I have gotten some great deals. I had another winner this week. I very long 14 K gold chain in a  $10 grab bag. There wasn't much else in there that anyone would want but I could see the chain and it was all wrapped around a few other pieces and I guess they just threw it in thinking it wasn't worth the time to unwrap it from the other items.

I also bought three smaller sets of jewelry. These one's they do let you open and look at before buying. I opened them all and made sure they had something of value in them and they were $5 and $6 each.

One bag had several silver items including a long beautiful necklace that is Italian silver. It had a charm on it and two larger silver earrings. Those were all worth more than the $5 I paid for the bag. In addition, There was a really cute Disney earring and necklace set. Also in the bag was a necklace and in another bag that I purchased were the earrings for the necklace in bag one. So for $5, I got two necklace earring sets and a silver necklace and charm and silver earrings.

In the other two bags, there were several silver earrings with gold overlay and semiprecious stones. Princess Two is having a problem with her ears being sensitive to the earrings she has been wearing. I figured these earrings would be great for her as she likes the little diamond type studs and these are all silver with real gold overlay so she shouldn't have any problem with allergies with these. We polish and alcohol all the jewelry we get before I store it away for safe keeping. I label it with what it is and where I got it and how much I paid for it.

I also wrote another blog post (click here) about looking for silverware and platters, candles sticks etc on the shelves at second hand stores. I have found many silverware pieces and several bowls and platters for sale there. Sometimes, I also check the children's jewelry as they think because they are small pieces, they aren't real. Several cultures put gold and silver jewelry on their children so I check that just to make sure. 

Thought I would just update you on that as a reminder to keep your eyes open because you never know what you will find. 

Friday, May 24, 2013

Last Dance Recital Ever - Princess Five Has Flexibility

It seem that I have having a few first this week. My youngest is graduating from Middle School so I will only have kids in one school, which hasn't happened since Princess Two started school years ago. 

I had my last band concert which I posted about here.

I had my first experience with a Jack Hammer taking out my sidewalk. Click here for that post 

Tonight, I had my last dance recital ever! Yahoo for that! There were about 30 dances, and many solos. Unless it is your child dancing, watching 5-10 year old girls running around the stage isn't my idea of a great evening. The team groups make it more interesting and the younger the team, the more entertaining the dance. I love watching the little four year old girls try and tap dance. There are always a few telling the others what to do and usually one of them is pulling one trying to get them to do the dance right which is more entertaining than the dance.

I really enjoy the girls dance competitions for the high school team as they are more put together with props, synchronization and I usually have at least one girl dancing. Even watching the other team isn't bad as some are really talented. My favorite part of the older girls dance recitals was video taping the younger girls dancing in the isles doing the dance along with their sisters.

The lighting where they had this recital is about the worst in town. I had a very difficult time getting a good picture while she was on stage. I had her go out in the hall afterwords and do some poses so I could take our last "dance" pictures. 

I have been going to dance classes, recitals and performances for about 22 years straight. That is a lot of money in costumes, lessons, competition fees and gas to and from classes. Princess One started in Ballet when she was three or so. She took from a dear friend whose son I posted about three years ago this week. That post is about one of my favorite life lessons. Click here to read post 1 about Erik and what he taught me. Click here to read part two about Erik.

When we moved from the East Coast, I would drive about 45 minutes one way to dance twice a week for the girls to continue taking classic ballet. Their teacher after a few years developed cancer and quit teaching. From then on, we did Jazz only because there were no Ballet teachers in town. Some had point classes but one hour a week isn't safe to build up those muscles and I felt driving over two hours one way several times a week with smaller children in tow to keep up with Ballet was a bit more than I could handle.

To keep the girls in dance when I had all five dancing, I used to drive 15 minutes one way about 6 times a week and I also cleaned the dance studio and did the yard work and parking lot care as part of the tuition. I felt that the self esteem and poise that dance gives them along with keeping them healthy and giving them opportunities to be on teams and learn to be part of a group were  important enough to make that sacrifice. 

We tried cheer, tumbling, all the community sports teams along with ballet, clogging and jazz dancing. They took piano but I think I should have put them in voice and guitar lessons over the piano as none of them really ever took to it. We tried several different methods of piano but for some reason, it just wasn't their thing. 

I have cleaned homes, and studios as well as trading out crafts and other services for lessons at times.

I ask myself if I think all of that was worth it? I have to ask you? Does that smile seem genuine? Every time I see one of my girls dance, they are smiling. Some of the other girls don't look like they are enjoying it. They have sneers or unhappy looks on their faces or even looks of concentration. But, when I look at my girls dancing since they were little up until graduating from the high school dance team, they are smiling all the way through. No prodding on my part, no reminding them. Just real smiles of enjoyment. 

YES! It was worth every moment sitting around for hours in the car, taking the little sisters to the park while we waiting, raking leaves, scrubbing the floor and toilets with toothbrushes (yes, one woman had me do that.) Driving all over the state for competitions. Driving each week many times over for each girl to try several different styles so she could choose which she liked better. Worth the stress of figuring out how to fund raise for them to enjoy the Dance teams in High school. 

Just this week, Princess Five needed to order warm ups for the high school dance team. I had to purchase them for the older girls as they had new designs but after praying how I could cut the cost for the younger girls, I felt to call my friend who does embroidery and asked if  I purchased a warm up set from one of the girls that didn't try out for the team again this year or from a girl that had graduated, would she be able to take their name off without ruining the jacket and be able to embroider my daughters name and number on it? She told me that it wouldn't be a problem so Princess four and five both bought warm up suits for $20 or less and my friend charged me $5 to put their names on them. 

Those warm ups are about $200 new. They never look worn as they are that thick polyester and always look sharp and never wrinkle so by trading out and being frugal, doing fund raisers with recycling etc, I have been able to allow my girls to take any classes they wanted and be on any team they wanted all with God's help and inspiration as to how I could make it work. 

Car pools were my other life saver. I would drive one way and get another mom to drive back or I would take one week and they would take the next. Four or five moms could only have to drive once a month. I share this information so that if there are others out there that may be in my same situation, they know that God can help inspire them how they can make it work with His help.

You did well tonight Princess Five and I can't believe your flexibility! I am excited to see you and Princess four perform together. It should be an amazing year!

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Comparing Food Vacuum Sealers - And the Winner is.....

I have purchased several food saving systems over the year. Each time I find a newer version I like, I get rid of the older one. As you know we have been doing our "indoor yard sale." (click here for that post)

I was going through stuff in the garage and found that I had three Vacuum sealer food saver systems. I thought I would take the time to compare them and see which I liked the best and get rid of the other two in the "yard sale" so last week I finally got to that.

I have the "Food Saver" system with the sealing canning jar lid, the bags and the system. I have the Seal-a-Meal system and one called Deni. 

I have used the older types but when I got the Deni system with the vacuum in it years ago, it was pretty new age. Now, it is really old school. 

I'll start with the Deni because there isn't much about it that I do like other than the sealing bags are contained in the unit. The bags seals and melts off where it seals and melts right through the bag so the seal isn't that great as it can leak. 

The bags are thinner than the other systems but I like that you can choose how much of the bag you want to use so there isn't waste of the plastic as with some of the other systems. The vacuum port is only right in the center so you have to have it centered to make it work. That is the Deni System.

The Food Saver system... Online, many people say this is their favorite system. For me, it had two pluses over the Seal-a-meal system. One is that the bags come on a roll and you can choose how much to use of it. It takes up much less space to store a roll than boxes of bags used for the S-a-m. system. I have lots of boxes of bags for the S-a-m system and I don't like that if I want to seal something small and all I have is a gallon bag, there aren't any other options. The other thing I liked about the system is the placement of the jar accessory port. It is on the bottom of the unit so you can leave it attached all the time and not lose it but still open and use the machine. Those were the only two pluses to that unit.  

The thing I didn't like about this unit - I didn't like that I had to really push the jar sealer attachment really hard to get it to seal. Even when it did seal, when I opened the jar, it sucked up air like it was sealed and I thought that was great until I tried the S-a-m jar sealer. - I didn't like that you have to hold the button down the entire time you are sealing something. You have to lock the sides down and then push the button till the stuff is sealed. That would have been fine until I tried the S-a-m unit. 

Seal-a-Meal Vacuum Sealing system..... I liked everything about it except the bags and where the placement of the jar port is on the top of the machine so you have to remove it to use the other parts of the machine. Other than that, I liked all the features better except the bag system. You have to purchase boxes of bags. They are expensive and I don't see myself washing them out to use them again. I don't like that option so once something is sealed in it, you don't want to open it for the fact that you are spending $.60 a bag. You can find them a dollar cheaper if you search but even then, you spend $0.50 cents to seal something that probably wouldn't cost you that much to purchase more if it did go bad. Is it really worth it?
The canning jar sealer worked so well I was really impressed. When I took the lid off the sunflower seeds, the seeds flew around the jar they were so vacuumed. I have never seen that before with any other unit. The sealing mechanism on both seemed to work the same but the one on the food saver actually broke making me think that I really don't want to use that system. I like the thicker heavy duty material for both the systems and how it seals but not enough to cut through the plastic. 

So, what I did is try all the bags on the S-a-m system and guess what? They all worked on that machine so I kept all the bags and rolls of saver bags to use on the S-a-m system. The canning jar attachment is universal on both machines so I kept those to use as well. I LOVED the hands free system on the S-a-m! No questions, by far, this unit was my favorite for several reasons. I would suggest to the makers of Seal-a-Meal that they offer the rolls instead of the bags. I will continue to buy the Food Saver rolls of sealer and use them on the S-a-m machine. 

I always keep my eyes open for bags and rolls of saver at yard sales and second hand shops and have been able to get new boxes for $4 or less several times over. You can see on the food saver two roll pack, I paid $2 for the entire box which was new. If you keep your eyes open on the online local sale sites, you can find some deals on these as well. I took a short VIDEO explaining the ups and downs of each and here is a link for that.

I did the hand free sealer on a few different cheeses just to compare sealing times. I will NEVER go camping without sealing my sliced cheeses up like this as well as my deli meats. It takes less space in the cooler and it keeps them fresh and my favorite is that if the ice melts and the cheese falls in the water, it will still be air tight and dry. I have thrown out pounds of cheese and meats over the years because it fell down in the water and the baggies aren't air tight and who knows what bacteria is in the cooler and water so I throw it out. Now, I can just seal it all in different bags for each day so I can use the one for that day and the rest will be dry and safe for the next day.

The winner in my book is the Seal-a-Meal! Just make sure to buy the Food Saver rolls instead of the expensive baggies! 

I have no connection to either company and have nothing to gain in any way through my honest opinion. I am sure you can find people in favor of any of the three machines but hands free and airtight win in my book!

To see my use of it for storing silver and keeping it tarnish free, click here for part 1.
Click here for part 2.