I love the internet. And I've come across several sites that make life easier or more amusing and I thought I'd share.
My family used kaboodle at Christmas. This is a website that lets you and your friends/family amass a gift wish list and everything each individual lists is linked to the site where you can purchase the gift. It has a place to mark size and color, too! You not only get to avoid the mall and crowds, but your loved ones get what they hoped for and you don't have to insult anybody (ok any girl) by getting her an XXL just to make sure it fits.
Through mypoints.com, Andrew and I have "earned" (altogether) about 4, $50 gift cards (to anywhere -- Macy's, target, best buy, wal-mart, olive garden) by clicking on emails mypoints sends us about 3 times a week. The emails are all neatly ordered, so no flashing lights or anything like that, and if you click on them you get 5 points. If you shop "through" mypoints to get to amazon, barnes and noble, target, overstock, or any of the merchants you might typically use online, they "double" or triple the points you earn and log them in your mypoints account. Once you've reached a certain number, you get a gift card. I've earned 5,000 in about 5 months and almost have a Macy's card just for shopping where I always do and clicking on a few emails that I promptly close and rarely read. Yay free money.
I have to fly every year to get to conventions for my job. Travelzoo is a comparison shopping site that compares flights so I have finally been able to stop going to expedia, travelocity, pricegrabber, cheapoair, etc separately. Travelzoo searches them all at once. Voila.
This is the funniest satiric blog I have ever seen. I check it regularly -- just can't miss a single post. The "graduate school" post is my favorite.
For the women, and for guys who have to buy women presents, this is "elf." It's the site where every woman can buy all the stuff they ooh and aah over at sephora but can't afford. Shipping is cheap, quality is pretty good, and the price is outstanding.
I make a menu every week of about 3 recipes from this website. Cookinglight has a button on each recipe's page that says "save to shopping list" where it automatically categorizes everything you need to make that recipe into a shopping list (that you can edit). As you add recipes, the shopping list's categories grow longer. When you're done, you print the list and the recipes are hyperlinked at the bottom for convenient printing, too. And since all of the recipes are rated and reviewed, it's been a long time since I've made something inedible.
This is the home web site of the ING savings account. I'm the bookkeeper in our family, and it's hard to save money when you're in grad school, so I needed every cent to work harder for us than the %.4 Bancorp South's savings account. ING is an internet banking account that links directly to whatever bank you currently have, and the Orange savings account has no strings attached and earns you %3.00. No strings means no minimum deposit, no hidden monthly or yearly fees, etc. They're able to give you more interest because they have no overhead -- no building, no lights to keep on, etc. And you can automatically draft your savings from your checking, monthly, if you like to save on an automatic draft plan. I've had it for a couple of months now and it's wonderful, took maybe 2 minutes to set up. Oh, and they're FDIC insured for $100,000 (or more?). If they go belly-up like Coldwell Banker, they will still be able to give me my money back.
Andrew and I are into circuit training but it's so easy to get in a rut. This is a website from women's fitness that lets you build your own circuit training routine by dragging and dropping exercises into a fitness plan that you can then print and take with you to the gym. It's free free free. And there are so many different combinations, it's difficult to get bored.
You've probably heard of oxfam, but if you haven't, this is an organization that lets you buy gifts for your loved ones that won't sit on their closet shelves. You can order school supplies for the needy in Africa, donate supplies to build a well in Ghana, or buy 30 trees to be planted in South America. OxFam sends the person receiving the gift a creative card saying that whatever deed you've selected has been given in their honor. A great idea for green people! And it "fits" everyone.
For myspace fanatics. They have the loveliest layouts here and they don't require any code pasting.
Upload and share photo albums, slideshows, even, I think, videos with your friends and family. For all of my friends who have babies but their grandparents aren't too keen on signing up for myspace to see your pics.